The most sustainable building is one that already exists:

Dulux Trade supports the retrofit of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership HQ

As one of the most environmentally polluting industries according to the World Green Building Council, construction has a lot of work to do to meet the net-zero ambitions that are required by the government and demanded by people. That’s why when the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership set out to retrofit a former 1930s telephone exchange in the centre of Cambridge, the organisation knew that it needed to be a bastion for excellence for the industry across all disciplines and materials including paints and coatings.

The signs on the site hoardings announced: “This is not an ordinary project. But it needs to be”, highlighting the progressive nature of the upgrade. The pioneering project not only aimed to set an example for the rest of the Cambridge University estate but the entire construction industry.

The £12.8m green retrofit of the Entopia Building has been refurbished to Passivhaus EnerPHit standards – a standard reserved for retrofit which improves the thermal comfort, durability, cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency of the building. Admirably, the project team were also aiming to achieve BREEAM Outstanding and WELL Gold certification too.

To meet these exacting standards all aspects of the build - including air quality, water consumption and waste management – needed to be reported throughout the duration of the project.  This led to some challenges as well as new ways of working. For instance, leftover furniture in the building was diverted from landfill, avoiding 21,000 kg of CO2. Furthermore, the project is one of the first to reuse lighting from another building refurbishment, re-testing and re-warrantying more than 350 LED lights that were then reinstalled in the Entopia Building.

On behalf of Dulux Trade, Duncan Lochhead, Commercial Sustainability Manager (and CISL graduate) supported the project by supplying Dulux Trade Evolve Matt, a high opacity emulsion made with 35% recycled paint content. This paint is an exemplar for the circular economy and was incredibly fitting for the Entopia Building and its sustainability goals.

“Over 6,000m2 of walls and ceilings were coated using Dulux Trade Evolve Matt. We work with our partners to recover waste paint destined for landfill or incineration and use this as a raw material in a finish comparable with our standard vinyl matt but with a lower carbon footprint”, says Duncan.

He added: “The paint also meets BREEAM VOC content limits and LEED EQ limits on VOC content helping to deliver on the sustainability objectives that were essential for this project.

“Paints and coatings can at times be an afterthought when planning for sustainability objectives. However, it is vital for the future of sustainable construction that contractors, building owners and managers spend time planning how paints and coatings play a role in improving the sustainability of a project. It was great to get an early call from ISG and CISL to discuss decorative finishes over a year before painting was due to take place.”

CJ Decorators Limited was contracted to complete the painting application for the project. Mark Kirwan, Director at CJ Decorators, commented: “To ensure success, it was important for us to understand and embrace the ambitious project goals and work collaboratively with the wider supply chain to deliver the highest quality in a sustainable way. We worked closely with the in-store team at the Dulux Decorator Centre in Cambridge to ensure that paint was available as we needed it, keeping work on schedule.

“Our operatives found that the Dulux Trade Evolve Matt paint was easy to work with and its performance equalled that of a traditional Vinyl Matt product. The coverage, quality and ease of application was impressive and using a paint product that is 35% recycled ticked a lot of our company ideals, as well as project goals. It was an easy winner.

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