Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

British PM opens new £7m environment centre in Wales

A new £7m centre of excellence for environmental science was officially opened in Bangor this week by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

'Environment Centre Wales' brings together the scientific expertise of NERC's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and Bangor University. Housed in a new, purpose-built laboratory on the university campus, the centre will allow CEH and University staff to work together more closely to provide a focal point for environmental research and training in Wales.

Vice-Chancellor of Bangor University, Professor Merfyn Jones said, 'This new £7m project represents the largest concentration of scientists working on environmental issues in Wales. With around 80 Bangor University scientists and 40 scientists from CEH we are well placed to make a major contribution towards resolving some of the great environmental challenges facing the world today.

'We are also proud to be associated with NERC in this venture, knowing that together we are providing world-class environmental science.'

Professor Alan Thorpe, Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council said, 'With changes in the global climate and increasing pressures on natural resources, our world is facing some tough challenges in the years ahead. The NERC research community is striving to provide the knowledge that will enable the solutions needed to tackle these challenges. At the same time we are playing our part in reducing our own environmental footprint. This partnership goes some way to achieving these goals. The Environment Centre Wales not only provides state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and equipment to do the research, but also benefits from a range of features that will reduce the building's environmental impact. I am delighted that our vision for this centre is now a reality.'

The new centre brings together and builds on the strengths of the two organisations. It provides fresh opportunities for research spanning the boundaries of terrestrial, freshwater and marine sciences, to develop new approaches to managing both the land and sea in a sustainable way.

Additional funding has been invested to ensure this building demonstrates many aspects of environmental and sustainable construction.

Dr Bridget Emmett, Head of the CEH site at Bangor said, 'This Centre is built with the environment in mind. For example, photovoltaic panels have been installed to generate electricity from sunlight, ground-source heat pumps air-condition the building using minimal energy and at low cost, and a rainwater recovery system is used to reduce dependency on mains water supply.'

The design also addressed the needs and wishes of the people who work in the building. Results from a staff survey indicate that natural light, better ventilation, improved storage areas, modern equipment and an environment that would encourage interaction between the CEH and University staff were all important factors to be taken into consideration. The final design was commended by the Design Commission of Wales.

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