Overbury's fit out for University College of Estate Management supports important move to new sustainable premises.

After receiving ‘university college’ status last year, this move marks the next step in UCEM’s development – and further establishes its independence as the leading provider of online education for the Built Environment. The move has also provided UCEM with the opportunity to showcase its commitment to sustainable construction, by refurbishing its new premises – christened Horizons – to the highest levels of sustainability. The property has been assessed and certified as ‘Excellent’ on the new BREEAM 'Refurbishment and Fit Out 2014' rating scale, earning one of the highest scores ever recorded in the UK - currently the highest in the education sector.

The sustainability measures UCEM incorporated into the existing 1980s building – with support from Overbury – include solar panels, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, low-power LED lighting, water control sensors, recycled waste, sparrow boxes, environmentally friendly VOC free paint, and even carpets harvested from discarded fishing nets, while future plans include beehives.

At the grand opening, Martin Townsend, director of sustainability at BRE, officially presented the BREEAM Excellent certificate, saying: "I would like to congratulate everyone involved in this project for securing a BREEAM Excellent rating, and with such a high score. This building is an exemplary example of sustainable development and a showcase of what can be created through close collaboration and working towards a common goal.”

Ashley Wheaton, principal at UCEM, added: "We are very proud of the efforts we have made to uphold our commitment to sustainability, and are honoured to be recognised by BRE in this way. Despite the challenges associated with moving into and refurbishing an existing 1980s building, we achieved a highly sustainable outcome – with help from our partners at Overbury, Hilson Moran and GVA. Together we created an amazing environment for our staff, and their health and wellbeing. As one of the two universities in Reading, we are looking forward to a long and happy future at Horizons."