RED Construction celebrates topping out for Zeal Hotel, the ground-breaking net zero carbon hotel in Exeter

RED Construction celebrates topping out for Zeal Hotel, the ground-breaking net zero carbon hotel in Exeter

RED Construction Group, the specialist main contractor, is celebrating a major milestone in the creation of the £22m voco Zeal Exeter Science Park, one of the UK’s first full life cycle net zero carbon hotels. Being delivered by RED Construction’s South West team, it is being constructed with half the embodied carbon of a standard hotel, while generating 100 per cent of its electricity through solar panels, beating 2030 targets for operational energy consumption and in line with the 2050 Paris Agreement requirements.

The topping out of the 4-star, 142-bedroom hotel, which achieved BREEAM Outstanding at the design stage, comes just over halfway through the construction programme, with the building on track to complete in December for an opening in January 2025. Zeal has an exclusive agreement with IHG for the 5,000m2 hotel, which will be the first net zero carbon hotel for both companies, and will be managed by Valor Hospitality.

Creating a 4* hotel with a target to be a net energy producer of carbon-free electricity was a significant challenge. However, by working with RED Construction Group and other specialist contractors, Zeal has been able to design and deliver this landmark project. Design has focused on reducing energy use and incorporating renewable energy sources on and within the building fabric, enabling the building to every year generate more electricity than it consumes. This energy efficiency is highlighted by its ability to surpass 2050 targets, dramatically outperforming CRREM’s 95kWh/m2/yr Energy Use Intensity aim by keeping below 60kWh/m2/yr.

voco Zeal Exeter Science Park will align with UKGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Framework Definition, and exceed the RIBA 2030 embodied carbon target of less than 750kgCO2e/m2, benefitting from a full life cycle approach that accounts for Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions.

Simon Lousada, developer and investor in voco Zeal Hotel, Exeter Science Park, said: “Today marks a pivotal moment in the journey towards sustainable hospitality. By harnessing renewable energy sources, implementing energy-efficient designs, and utilising cutting-edge technology, we aim to create a space that not only provides comfort and luxury but also prioritises environmental responsibility. This project represents more than just a building; it symbolises our dedication to sustainable development – we are tracking ahead of future sustainable goals, surpassing the 2030 sustainability target for carbon emissions during construction, and far exceeding the 2050 target for energy use during operation. This hotel is repeatable proof that well designed zero carbon buildings can be built on time and on budget.  Finding ways to make this happen profitably is the positive legacy we should be leaving our future generations.”

Derek Quinn, Managing Director of RED Construction South West, commented: “We are thrilled to have celebrated the topping out of Zeal’s first-ever net zero carbon hotel, a pioneering development that is paving the way in the hospitality industry. It is a milestone project for RED South West, working within the prestigious Exeter Science Park, and we look forward to completing the Zeal Hotel as part of such a brilliant team.”

Dr Sally Basker, Chief Executive of Exeter Science Park Ltd, added: “It has been very exciting to see this ground-breaking project develop over the last few months. We are proud to be the location for the first Zeal/IHG net zero carbon hotel which is compatible with Exeter Science Park’s own net zero ambitions. There are huge potential synergies between the hotel and Exeter Science Park and we anticipate these will benefit Exeter Science Park’s businesses, the hotel’s residents, and the wider Devon community.” Alongside RED Construction South West, Zeal, and IHG, the landmark scheme has been designed and delivered by a collaborative team that includes ECE Westworks, Introba, and Hydrock Bristol, all of whom having worked towards a fabric first approach that has incorporated sustainable energy solutions, low embodied carbon materials, and green technologies at each stage, while not compromising on a quality, 4-star guest experience.

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