The University of Durham’s historic campus has long been one of the North East’s most treasured jewels, but the sprawling nature of the campus had long meant that the University’s core administrative services were scattered across the city.

In order to address the problem, Durham University has built the new Palatine Centre which will form the new home for the management team, academic office, communications department, IT help desk and international office.  

The new building was designed from the ground up with sustainability in mind. In order to minimise the centre’s impact on the environment, the Palatine Centre incorporates sedum roofing, solar thermal modules, solar PV panels, air source heat pumps, solar shading as well as rainwater harvesting. All of these green technologies combine to give the new building a BREEAM “Excellent” rating.

Top of the green billing is the centre’s 65 m2 TiSun large-scale solar thermal system. The collectors range in size from four metres to six metres long and are arranged in arrays of four to 12 metres across the semi-circular roof.

It is estimated that the solar thermal installation will provide half of the annual domestic water demand for the year. During the summer months, the solar thermal array could account for 100% of the centre’s hot water requirements.

For Geoff Miller, TiSUN’s UK sales director, the most exciting aspect of the installation is the data that will be provided by the system. He commented: “The TiSUN controller logs all data on the system and stores this data for analysis. We will be able to monitor exactly what the temperatures of the various components are, and use the data to fine-tune the system parameters. It is exciting to be involved in a project as prestigious as the Durham University Palatine Centre, as it is a serious renewable building.”

Professor Chris Higgins, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University concluded: The Palatine Centre is the centrepiece of our ambitious plan to ensure our built environment befits a World Top-100 University.”