CONSTRUCTION of a pioneering £21million building at the University of Essex has begun.

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Staff and students attended a ceremony yesterday to mark the official start of work on the three-storey building which is set to be one of the most sustainable in the region.

Once completed, it will house the Essex Business School at the University’s Colchester campus.

The project is being over seen by construction company Morgan Sindall and leading architectural practice BDP, which has designed the building to be carbon neutral.

Using renewable technologies and energy efficient design, the School will feature a 200-seater lecture theatre, seminar rooms, learning and teaching areas, common rooms and social spaces for students.

Essex Business School director Professor Michael Sherer said: “This will be an outstanding building which will provide a beacon for sustainable design in the region and beyond, while offering exceptional facilities to students and staff at our University.

“Essex Business School has seen huge growth over recent years with students attracted by our distinctive approach to nurturing the leaders of the future.

“I am pleased our sustainable principles and our commitment to recognising the social, ethical and environmental implications of business practices have heavily influenced the designs for this new University building.”

The designs feature a range of innovative sustainable elements including a “green” sedum roof, photovoltaic solar panels and sustainably sourced materials.

To minimise energy use the timber clad building is shaped so that it benefits from natural day lighting and ventilation.

The building will also feature transparent panelled roof similar to that used in the Eden Project, which is made from self-cleaning and recyclable fluorine-based plastic.

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