The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

World-first sustainable office retrofit for the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
  • Customer
    University of Cambridge
  • Completion Date
    February 2022
youtube thumbnail | ISG


CISL’s new HQ will be in The Entopia Building, a retrofitted 1930s Telephone Exchange at 1 Regent Street, Cambridge. The building will be transformed into an ultra-low carbon sustainability hub, and home for CISL, fostering academic, government and industry leadership, collaboration and innovation to accelerate the global sustainability transition.
The project is the vision of outgoing CISL Founder Director Dame Polly Courtice who has led an Institute for more than 30 years; inspiring many companies, policymakers and civil society leaders to take leadership for sustainability.

“CISL’s new HQ at The Entopia Building will exemplify and enable our mission to support and inspire the leadership and innovation we need to transition to sustainable economy. Our aim is to create a highly collaborative and sustainable workspace to bring together Cambridge’s academic and innovation communities with our network of companies and sustainability leaders to accelerate solutions to global sustainability challenges.”

Dame Polly Courtice, Founder Director, CISL 

Site hoarding | ISG

Making a sustainable difference

The standard-raising project aims to be a world first for a retrofitted sustainable office building with energy use, carbon emissions, impact on natural resources and user experience and wellbeing measured against multiple benchmarks.The building will accommodate the Institute’s CISL’s Cambridge-based staff, currently spread across five buildings, as well as a providing a virtual hub for its staff in Brussels and Cape Town offices, its 16,000 international network, of alumni, fellows, associates, researchers, visiting academics and corporate partners. 
The Entopia Building aims to achieve multiple sustainable building certifications, including BREEAM (Outstanding), the Passivhaus ‘Enerphit’ standard, Well (Gold) certification, alongside the application of ‘circular economy’ principles to minimise the volume and impact of natural and made-made resources used in the building. 
In terms of construction, the team is working with number existing construction methods (concrete, steel etc) to meet Passivhaus standards, reducing thermal bridging and heat loss, while using sustainable materials where possible. RIBA Stage 4 presentation.

“The significance of this project cannot be underestimated in the wider context of the UK achieving its 2050 net zero emissions target. With the built environment contributing around 40 percent of the UK’s total carbon footprint, this ground-breaking project is a pioneering case study on the smart transformation of an existing building, prioritising sustainability criteria as core drivers for every single element of the retrofit.

We confidently expect the new design modelling, material and methodology innovations at the new CISL headquarters to provide the springboard for greater collaboration at an industry and client level to fast-track the reduction of carbon emissions from our built assets.”

Paul Cossell, CEO, ISG