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Sustainability Award

The Sustainability Award recognises those projects that are not only future-proof, but those that are working to ensure the quality of that future through innovative practices that reduce emissions and a building’s overall impact on the environment.

The Awards panel look for projects that demonstrate outstanding contribution to improving the sustainability of the built environment including in terms of carbon emissions, energy consumption, reduced waste or resilience to climate change.


The winner of the CABE Sustainability Award 2019 is Onyx Solar for University of Washington. 


Alvaro Valverde & Mila Plaza of Onyx Solar receiving the Sustainability Award

This project at the University of Washington features 650 sqm (or 7,000 sqft) of transparent photovoltaic glass manufactured by Onyx Solar in their ‘Life Science Building’, dedicated to Research and Development activities.

It is a seven-story construction, including two below ground, which has been envisioned as a benchmark project in terms of energy efficiency, innovation and onside renewable energy. The deployment and usage of clean energy sources were a primary objective of the University’s Climate Action Plan for Sustainability.

The University of Washington Solar student group, which ranges from undergraduates to Ph. D level, worked to design and install a 100-kilowatt solar system, featuring an innovative vertical photovoltaic fin system installed on the South West elevation of the building.

These fins are the first of its kind in the United States and made from amorphous silicon solar cells that capture the sunlight and convert it into clean electricity.

They are all glass, semi-transparent, letting 20% visible light to pass through each fin. Each fin consists of a three-ply laminated tempered glass and offers 3.15 watts per square foot. They are frameless and installed vertically and a 90-degree able to the curtain wall.

The lobby of the building will feature a dashboard that will let students and visitors learn from the system and monitor the energy production in real time. They will be able to compare the building’s energy demand against the renewable energy sources on site and explore the model.



Highly Commended in the Sustainability category is Gateshead Council and Groundwork North East & Cumbria for Land of Oak & Iron Heritage Centre.

This project responds to climate change issues through mitigation and adaptation.

Building ‘fabric first design’ approach was taken within the budgetary constraints of the project. 

The polished concrete screed and the green roof provide thermal mass for the building. The building heating is provided by high efficiency gas fired condensing boiler. This is controlled by a building management system. This allows the building heating system to be weather compensated and provides an optimised on/off control. All fans are controlled by the action of local passive infrared detectors and LED lighting is used.

To ensure that targeted performance is met, the client’s team was given appropriate training on how to use the building. The client is able to use the in-built building management system infrastructure to ensure continuous central monitoring of the building performance.

The project has achieved EPC ‘B’ Rating. 


Entry to the awards is currently open to an organisation, individual or project where there has been substantial involvement of a CABE member. The subject of the nomination for the award will have demonstrated a range of building engineering skills through invention, research, design, education or other related activity and has produced a leading edge, innovative and exemplary project which was completed in the previous year.