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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

Office furniture inside the Entopia Building - photo by Chris Loades

6 March 2023 – Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership’s (CISL) sustainable office building and green business hub, Entopia, has been shortlisted for the AJ Retrofit Awards.

The Entopia Building is an energy-efficient, sustainable retrofit. What used to be a 1930s telephone exchange is now a world-leading example of ‘deep green’ retrofit, aiming for BREEAM certification (Outstanding), the Passivhaus 'EnerPHit' standard and WELL (Gold) certification. 

The building has been shortlisted in the ‘Workplace £10m and over’ category alongside 11 other contenders. 

James Cole, Chief Innovation Officer, CISL, said: “Our vision for Entopia was to set a new bar for sustainable retrofit, and inspire higher ambition in creating sustainable workplaces for people and planet.  Achieving public recognition is a welcome way to share our case study - so others can learn from our successes and failures, and go on to set an even higher bar.” 

With a huge spend on upgrading housing, commercial and industrial buildings, retrofit plays a major role in the future of UK construction. 

Run by the Architects’ Journal, the AJ Retrofit Awards recognise and celebrate the design expertise behind the vital renewal and repurposing of existing buildings, setting a precedent for ways to slash the industry’s carbon footprint in the process. 

The Entopia building project was a collaborative effort of an ambitious partnership team, who bought into a new way of working together which put sustainability as a priority goal, alongside the usual issues such as cost and quality. There is a big focus is on circularity, cutting energy and carbon impact to help tackle climate change, alongside social and wellbeing factors for people in the building – and in the supply chain. 

Project partners include 3pm, Architype, BDP, Envision, Eve Waldron Design, Feilden and Mawson, Gardiner & Theobald, ISG and Max Fordham. 

Associate Wendy Bishop, Architype’s lead architect, said: “It is brilliant to see that ultra sustainable retrofits are being celebrated through the AJ Retrofit awards. Re-using and enhancing our beautiful historic buildings has to be our focus in the climate emergency. Congratulations to the Institute and many partners who worked so hard to make this happen, and to all the shortlisted projects.”   

Eve Waldron, interior designer for the Entopia building, said: “We took on a stimulating and technically challenging role with the interior design and are delighted that Entopia was shortlisted for the AJ Retrofit Awards! The furniture industry generates over 900,000 tonnes of carbon per year, and we were pleased to source 63% of the furniture from the second-hand market - breaking new ground to challenge the industry.” 

Alex Reeve, sustainable buildings adviser for Cambridge University estate management, said: “I’m delighted to hear the Entopia Building has been shortlisted.  The building has only been occupied for a short period however it is already looking like the Passivhaus process really does deliver what it promises. The building has also pioneered practical methods for lowering embodied carbon and promoting the circular economy - so I really feel the project team are deserving of an award.” 

Peter Kelly, Group Director of Sustainable Operations at ISG, said: “An AJ Retrofit shortlisting is a significant recognition of the importance of The Entopia building as a global exemplar for deep office retrofit. Meticulously recording and documenting every stage and element of this innovative project, allied to a commitment to measure the long-term post-occupancy performance of the building, provides a true low carbon retrofit benchmark, and helps elevate expectations on what can be achieved through enlightened and collaborative project partnerships.” 

As well as creating an open and healthy workplace for CISL staff, Entopia is also home to the Canopy business and innovation hub. Canopy is both a physical workspace for startups and SMEs in the sustainability space and a virtual ecosystem for members to gain knowledge, network and collaborate.  

This year, judges of the AJ Retrofit awards include industry experts Biba Dow, founder of Dow Jones, Lee Bennett, Partner at Sheppard Robson and Duncan Baker Brown, founder of BakerBrown. 

Last year’s winner in the ‘Workplace £10m and over’ category was FaulknerBrowns’ Newcastle Civic Centre.  

Shortlisted entries

Those shortlisted for the 2023 workplace £10 million and over category are as follows: 

  • The Rowe by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris 
  • Entopia/University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership by Architype and Feilden+Mawson 
  • Rose Court WPP Campus by BDG architecture + design 
  • Technique by Buckley Gray Yeoman 
  • The Fulham Centre by Delvendahl Martin Architects 
  • Bridge House by Emrys Architects 
  • HYLO by HCL Architects 
  • Henrietta House by MoreySmith 
  • The Bailey by Orms 
  • Sycamore House by Owers Warwick Architects 
  • Eighty Strand by PDP London with Duncan Mitchell Architect 
  • The Gramophone Works by Studio RHE 

The date of the Retrofit Awards is 4 April 2023. Winners will be announced at a ceremony taking place at The Brewery, Chiswell Street, London.

Find out more about the Entopia Building

How the built environment sector can find a way to lead the transition to a sustainable economy


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