Case Study: Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation

Case Studies

Natural Building Technologies supplied materials for the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation which was completed back in 2013. The Centre is a redevelopment of the 18th century Royal High School in Edinburgh’s Old Town with new atria plus social and teaching space stitched between and around the historic buildings. The integrity of the historic buildings is restored while the whole complex delivers the breakout and flexible working space that exemplar modern teaching and business practice demands.


The main reason that NBT were asked to provide materials for the building was that breathability, thermal performance and environmental performance was needed for the old walls, new walls and roof. Working in conjunction with Malcolm Fraser Architects, NBT achieved this by providing materials such as Pavadry for the walls in the old section of the building, and Pavatherm Plus for the roof and walls of the new build. These Pavatex products were provided along with all ancillary components, such as fixings, tapers, etc. ensuring that all the materials work together within the build.


The ECCI is a partnership between the three Edinburgh universities. It is a flagship teaching and business innovation hub for the knowledge, enterprise and skills required to create a low carbon economy. As such, the building’s own environmental performance is significant and it has just been confirmed that this will be the first refurbished building in the UK to receive the industry’s top BREEAM “Outstanding” award at design stage. Compared to the standard demolish-and-new build “sustainability” model, this represents a radical alternative and, as a general rule, we suggest that the achievement of a low carbon economy should start with the joyful renewal of sturdy historic buildings, rather than their replacement.


This recognition, of the importance of the integrity of the existing built environment, extends out from the building into the surrounding urban fabric. The historic Surgeon’s Square (where Burke and Hare once delivered cadavers to Dr Knox’s Dissection Theatre) to the rear of the Centre, is recovered and transformed from a forgotten car park to a valuable urban focus. Routes are opened-up through it, connecting the Centre to the Parliament and general institutions and amenities of Edinburgh by foot.


  • Edinburgh Architectural Association’s Building of the Year Award 2014
  • RICS Building Conservation Award 2014
  • Scottish Design Award for Education Building 2014
  • Shortlisted for Edinburgh Architectural Association’s Wood Award 2014