Our University Strategy, “Shared Vision, Shaped by Values”, recognises sustainability amongst our
core values. We are committed to being an exemplar of climate action and recognise the critical role
that universities must play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as the blueprint for a
NUI Galway, in its Sustainability Strategy recognises that the future of humanity is threatened by
unsustainable interactions between our societies, economies and our environment. The NUI Galway
Sustainability Strategy 2021-2025 has set goals and targets to develop a roadmap to become Carbon
Neutral by 2030 through the implementation of new emerging technologies and upgrading our
current buildings. The document also sets out our vision to establish the University as a top-class,
green, smart and healthy campus.
The University has committed to sustainable capital projects including “A new Library” as it plays its
part in the transformational change of our campus, city and region informed by the national policy
of balanced regional development and sustainable cities as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.
For the New Library / Learning Commons, building on the vision to create a campus that is open,
sustainable, efficient, and that provides a high-quality experience for all who study, work, live, play
and visit, we undertook an appraisal of the strategic importance and benefits to be established for
the project. This appraisal considered national priorities and regional needs, project alignment with
the University’s Strategic Plan and long term sustainability. NUI Galway identified that the proposal
for a Learning Commons to be developed on campus would contribute greatly to the campus
community, its students and staff, together with alignment with national policies and education
Throughout the project’s lifecycle, care and attention will be paid to issues of anticipated levels of
use, longevity, and quality of materials to ensure maximum value and sustainability over the long
term. The overall configuration of spaces within the building will be capable of changing as new
opportunities arise. Space will be multi-purposed to the maximum extent possible, for example,
accommodating small group teaching sessions as easily as collective project work, peer-mentoring,
collaborative study clubs, etc. Energy efficiency will be an ongoing priority in the Learning Commons.
Early studies have estimated a building performance reduction of <30% in annual CO 2 emissions and
a saving in running costs following the transformation of the building.
The regeneration of the existing building, which is also classified as a Protected Structure, is itself a
significant sustainability initiative. Our vision for the project is to deliver a BREEAM rated
transformational space for learning, engaging, sharing and teaching. Using architecture and
specialist designer inputs we will seek to embrace these values through the creation of informal,
joyful, healthy, light filled and dynamic spaces conducive to contemporary ways of reading, playing,
learning, interacting and socialising. At the outset of the design, an Environmental and Sustainability
Plan for the project will be developed to inform the design direction and identify opportunities.
Our collective social responsibility to act upon and promote sustainable development in a world
where limited resources must be considered in the context of our society, our ecosystems and our
climate will be recognised by our Learning Commons. This responsibility will prompt and promote
detailed consideration of Passive Design, Dynamic Thermal Modelling, Airflow Simulation (CFD),
Natural Ventilation, Daylighting and Lighting Simulation during the projects design development
phase to deliver a low-energy, sustainable Learning Commons. The Learning Commons will be
equipped with the tools to monitor its environmental conditions and energy consumption in real time, promoting the excellent sustainability benchmarks to be achieved and encouraging energy
saving habits for staff and students.
It would be great to hear what your thoughts are on the development of a sustainable Learning
Commons; you may have some suggestions of your own that we would love to see. Leave your
comments below, or message us at @nuignewlibrary
Our University Strategy, “Shared Vision, Shaped by Values” can be viewed at the following link:
NUI Galway Strategy 2020-2025 Shared Vision, Shaped by Values.pdf