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Ellen Hutchins Building

The Hutchins building is home to the Environmental Research Institute, which was established as an inter-disciplinary research institute in 2000 to facilitate and support environmental, marine and energy based research at University College Cork, Ireland. The Institute brings together expertise in the biological, chemical and environmental sciences as well as environmental engineering, energy and environmental law.

It is fitting that this building is a research project in itself. It is the first naturally ventilated laboratory building in Ireland and was funded by the HEA supported by Sustainable Energy Ireland. This low energy building optimises solar power, cross ventilation and daylight and draws heat from a local aquifer. The building has no boiler, using instead the aquifer and a heat pump. The building has a 65 m long rectangular frame, oriented along the East-West axis, producing clear North and South facing elevations. The laboratories are located along the northern edge of the building, while the offices are along the southern edge. The internal stair cores act as ventilation flues, and the laboratories themselves are naturally ventilated, with cedar windows sitting in the exposed concrete frame. There are sensors located in the building fabric that track environmental performance. The high density of sensors and technology monitor the building performance on a continuous basis, and thus inform the inhabitants of the building so that they can make decisions that minimise energy consumption. This campus-wide commitment to sustainability resulted in UCC becoming the world’s first Green Flag Campus for third-level institutions in 2010 awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), a status that has been maintained. UCC is also the first third-level institution worldwide to be awarded certification for ISO 50001 Standard (Energy Management Systems).  

On 21 September 2022, the building was named after Ellen Hutchins (1785-1815) who is widely recognised as Ireland’s first female botanist. She overcame a series of challenges in her personal life to identify several previously unknown species of plants, in and around her native Bantry Bay. 

Speaking at the event, UCC President Professor John O’Halloran said:

We are delighted to make this announcement, and to give Ellen Hutchins the recognition her pioneering work so richly deserves. Her spirit of inquisitiveness and love for her natural environment inspires us all. While the symbolism of this honour is important, it is equally crucial that our work aspires to continue Ellen’s legacy. Here at UCC we are committed to matching this through our UCC Futures and Sustainable Futures projects, which will deliver cross-disciplinary solutions to the great environmental challenges of our time.”


The building has won the following awards:

2007 Irish Concrete Society - Winner of Sustainability Award

2007 RIBA European Award (Royal Institute of British Architects)

2007 RIAI Award (Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland)


Location: Lee Road, Cork T23 XE10, Ireland

Architects: Bucholz McEvoy, Dublin and Berlin

Size: 3,000 m2

Construction period: Jan 2004-April 2005


More information

Bucholz McEvoy Architects: Environmental Research Institute, UCC

Environmental Research Institute, UCC

UCC ERI News and Media, 'Introducing the Ellen Hutchins Building'. 21 September 2022


© UCC 2022

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