Dairy Nexus

Innovative Dairy Research Laboratory in Scotland, designed to be carbon neutral in construction and operation.

Dairy Nexus is a flagship dairy and agricultural research facility focusing on reducing the carbon intensity of dairy products, driving innovation and growth in the circular bioeconomy, and leading the British dairy sector towards a more sustainable future. 

Conceived by Scotland’s Rural College, the building contains molecular biology laboratories, biorefinery and bioreactor facilities, and milk technology and processing facilities in a cost-efficient building that also houses research into dairy waste products with their pathogens.

High levels of building servicing, biosecurity and physical security are combined with a challenging environmental brief.

Key to complying with the College’s environmental policy and funding obligations is the requirement that the building must comply with the RIBA Sustainable Outcomes 2025. This requires a thorough study into the carbon embodied in the building structure, fabric and services, a focus from the outset on maximising energy efficiency, and optimising the design of the building to capitalise on the opportunities for the collection of renewable energy. A further funding requirement demands that the scheme be carbon neutral across its design life, including accounting for the carbon released during construction.

Skelly & Couch have been involved from RIBA Stage 1 to optimise the location and the building form and maximise opportunities for the collection of renewable energy, leading the drive towards a building form that would ensure excellent daylighting throughout, prevent overheating and manage the multiple systems for optimum energy efficiency of the building services.

Our involvement will continue through construction to the completion of the soft landings process.

We led with a fabric-first energy efficiency strategy and, following extensive consultation with the scientists and Facility Management teams, we have devised systems to examine the recovery of waste energy at all points throughout the cycle of energy uses within the building and across the wider estate, including recycling of heat from the milk harvesting facility, examining energy flows across the wider farm and campus, and proposing measures to recover heat across the current and future dairy farming energy cycle.