University to build £4.4m environmental research centre

The University of Sheffield is to build a cutting edge environmental research centre which will enable scientists to study aspects of global environmental change and will boast a 21st century greenhouse and green roof.

The £4.4 million facility will provide researchers at the University's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences with state-of-the art facilities to study the ecology and behaviour of plants and social insects, such as ants and bees.

As part of the project the University will also improve the building's surrounding woodland, adding more plants and helpful insects to the area, which will ultimately improve the city's biodiversity.

Located on existing University property off Northumberland Road, the single-storey building will cover 630 square metres. The building will include sustainability features, such as a green roof and a 21st century greenhouse. The greenhouse is designed to be energy efficient, storing heat during the day and recycling energy through the night. The energy saved and recycled will then be used to run the facility.

The University's Department of Animal and Plant sciences is renowned for its world-leading research into the study of organisms and their interactions with the environment. The new facility will enable researchers at the University to study subjects such as how plants respond to climate change, the impact of pollution on organisms, and how social insects interact and communicate with one another. It will also allow scientists to carry out experiments in controlled environmental conditions, simulating conditions under future climate scenarios and from different regions around the world.

Professor Malcolm Press, Head of the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield, said: "The department is already recognised internationally for its research excellence and we are extremely pleased to be improving and developing our facilities further.

"This new facility will not only improve the University's capability for world-class research, but it will also enhance Sheffield's reputation for addressing global environmental issues – a topic high on the agenda."

Professor Peter Fleming, Pro-Vice Chancellor for External Relations at the University, added: "Sheffield, with its 'green' attributes and natural and industrial sites of scientific interest, is an ideal place to carry out extensive ecological research. The new facilities will enable both the city and the University to be placed at the forefront of global environmental issues."

Construction of the building will commence in June 2007 and work is expected to be completed in summer 2008. The building has been designed by Bond Bryan Architects and will be built by William Birch & Sons Ltd.

For further information please contact: Lindsey Bird, Media Relations Officer on 0114 2225338 or email