Collaborating for sustainable chemistry
A new laboratory being constructed on The University of Nottingham's Jubilee Campus will be a Centre of Excellence in the field of sustainable chemistry. The GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry will focus on research that is of particular relevance to the pharmaceutical industry, and which complements established expertise at the University.
The laboratory – supported by a £12m grant from GSK – will deliver advanced undergraduate teaching and outreach to the wider scientific community to embed sustainable chemistry principles in the next generation of scientists. The Centre of Excellence will serve as a global hub to catalyse new collaborations with other institutions and industry partners and will bring together leading UK academics, postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers and GSK chemists, developing expertise in sustainable chemical synthesis.
The focus on sustainability will be reflected in the building itself, which will incorporate the latest technologies to allow it to be carbon-neutral over its lifetime. The laboratory will be built from natural materials and energy required to run the laboratory will be met by renewable sources such as solar power and sustainable biofuel. Excess energy created by the building will provide enough carbon credits over 25 years to pay back the carbon used in its construction.
An outstanding opportunity
Christopher Moody, Sir Jesse Boot Professor of Chemistry at the University, said: "The carbon neutral laboratory is an outstanding opportunity to put in place an innovative new research training framework and develop an ethos for sustainable synthesis that will be unique in the UK. We will investigate new methods to address problems in synthetic chemistry, whilst building a greater awareness of the environmental impact of choice of solvents, reagents and procedures."
Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK said: "The carbon neutral laboratory will help affirm the UK as a global hub for the future of the life-sciences industry. Our vision is that the science researched within the laboratory will be as iconic as the building itself. This is an opportunity to invest further in science in the UK, re-think how we approach the drug discovery process and play a role in contributing to environmental stewardship."
Adopting sustainable chemistries from the start of the drug discovery process will help to reduce the impact of both the discovery and subsequent manufacturing of drugs on the environment, whilst optimising the use of increasingly scarce natural resources. GSK will also fund a research programme to gather information on aspects of the carbon neutral laboratory that could be transferred into the existing GSK estate to increase efficiency, reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Professor David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: "This development will be transformational in several dimensions: the built form will break new ground in sustainable construction; the Centre of Excellence will shape the future of drug discovery; and innovation in training and development will accelerate the translation of discovery to application. This is all tremendously exciting and will underpin a unique partnership between GSK and the University of Nottingham."
GSK's donation is a key contribution to the University's fundraising campaign, a five-year drive to raise £150m, launched in October 2011. 'Impact: The Nottingham Campaign' focuses around the five themes of Sustainable Futures, Health & Wellbeing, Ingenuity, Nurturing Talent and the Nottingham Experience.
GSK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council have also announced that they will jointly contribute to the funding for a Chair in Sustainable Chemistry, to be based at new laboratory. The Chair will be responsible for developing and sharing best practice in green chemistry and catalysing new collaborations with other institutions and industry partners.
Construction of the laboratory will begin in the spring of 2013 and it is expected to be completed by the end of 2014. It will be one of the first laboratory buildings designed to Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) 'Outstanding' standard, and will be located on the University's Jubilee Campus – an exemplar of brownfield regeneration, with buildings that demonstrate best practice in renewable energy technologies and environmentally-friendly design.