Science and Engineering Research Support Facility (SERSF)

Penryn, Cornwall

Project Details


University of Exeter


Stride Treglown


Kier Construction



Contract Period

December 2017 – February 2019

Form of Contract

NEC Option A with design

Project Brief

The design and construction of two buildings for laboratories and research facilities to allow further growth of Exeter Business School, the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences and the College of Life and Environmental Services.

This new Science Engineering Research Support Facility (SERSF) building provides facilities for around 200 researchers and postgraduate students specialising in science and engineering.

The new facility accommodates many disciplines, including the newly established Business School, the Centre for Ecology and Conservation, Renewable Energy and Camborne School of Mines. It is also the new home for Law, Energy Policy and Mathematics

A large glazed atrium forms the main entrance and the vertical circulation route to all floors. The installation of a key operated lift allows lab users to access the autoclave area on the lower ground floor which creates a link for users to transport any contaminated waste, safely through the building.

A new seminar facility provides space to facilitate linkage with external agency researchers in marine science and wildlife research.

“As with previous investments at the campus, the aim is to grow the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, creating jobs and wealth by building on existing education and research assets, and supporting the development of high-value businesses, people, knowledge, investment and research.”

Key Challenges

The project consists of three linked buildings. The first phase of the project had already been constructed, which made the construction of the next two phases more complex as we were connecting and linking floor levels.

The site was riddled with existing services and diversions impacted the main vehicular route into the campus. These works were brought forward in an enabling package at a more convenient, less disruptive time for the university.

Project Takeaways

Our Success

  • Monthly visits were held for the client along with tours around the building at key milestones of the project.  Kier also facilitated open door events which proved successful, schools and University departments attended the events.
  • The building includes a large proportion of office space as well as laboratory spaces designed and built to an ACDP Category 2 and five separate controlled environment rooms. Parameters such as temperature, humidity and light can be altered to create real-life environments. Extra over to a typical scheme, SERSF 2 & 3 services includes Gas, Domestic Services, Deionised Water, Lab gases – CO2 & compressed air, Ventilation, Fume extract, Cooling – chilled water, DX cooling, Controls, Above ground drainage (incl lab drainage

Our Learnings

  • Due to the sensitivity of working on a live environment, thorough logistical planning was put into place and reviewed weekly.
  • The building is naturally ventilated, wherever possible, to reduce the energy load. The laboratory spaces are mechanically vented to achieve the highest standard CL2 environment. Of the 5 temperature controlled rooms, 3 are APHA licenced – meaning air locks and extra security protocols were required.

Value Added

  • The project achieved a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.