Bristol Civil Justice Centre, UK


The construction of the new Civil Justice Centre in Bristol was commissioned by Her Majesty’s Court Service (HMCS) to provide nine civil courts & six hearing rooms.  The new facilities replace the existing poor quality accommodation split over two sites and forms part of the re-development of the Redcliff Road area.

The client required a BREEAM assessment in accordance with the government requirement for all buildings part of the central government estate  to be BREEAM (or equivalent) assessed for new or major refurbishment projects. New buildings are required to achieve the ‘BREEAM Excellent rating’.  The design team worked closely with an experienced BREEAM assessor from an early stage to ensure that a cost effective and robust strategy for achieving BREEAM Excellent was developed.  The BREEAM strategy for the building ensured that the ‘easy wins’ were incorporated into the tender documentation and the most cost-effective mix of credits achieved.  The assessor and design team met regularly during detailed design work to review the scoring and ensure the assessment ran smoothly. The risk of attaining an ‘Excellent’ rating was transferred to the developer, via the Agreement for Lease.

The design for the building aimed to bring natural light and ventilation into the courtrooms, whilst still meeting all the essential requirements of providing secure circulation routes to the courts.  This, in part, is achieved by the use of a triangular atrium in the centre of the building.


  • BREEAM rating: Excellent,
  • Score: 72.06%,
  • Size: Gross: 9,570m²,
  • Assessed: 4,486 m²,
  • Stage: Design & Procurement,
  • BREEAM version: BREEAM Courts 2006.


  • Designed to maximise natural light in the building, particularly the court rooms to reduce the need for electrical lighting to be used,
  • Use of a previously developed brownfield site as part of a re-generation strategy which aimed to reduce the impact of the building on biodiversity by reducing the need for construction on a Greenfield site,
  • Use of a site well served by public transport with nearby amenities to reduce the need for visitors and building occupants to use their cars getting to and from the courts.  This was attributed to the development of a Green Travel plan which aided the design team in setting targets for reducing single person car journeys to the development,
  • Water recycling by rainwater harvesting provides water for 100% of the buildings WC flushing demand This reduced the usage of potable water in the sanitary system of the building,
  • Water efficient sanitary fittings were specified to reduce the water consumption of the building, including low flush volume WCS, water efficient taps and showers with a low flow rate.


  • Management: (92%),
  • Health & Wellbeing: (66%),
  • Transport: (94.12%),
  • Water: (87.5%),
  • Land Use and Ecology: (80%),
  • Pollution: (75%).


  • A whole building BMS: this allowed sub-metering of energy-use by space-heating, cooling, fans, lights and small power sources which aided the building managers and occupants to see real time energy and water consumption,
  • Efficient, well-controlled heating and hot water systems with low NOx gas-fired boilers reduced the emissions of gases associated with climate change,
  • Use of natural ventilation wherever practical reduces the need for mechanical ventilation of the building and therefore reduces the electricity required to run the building,
  • A leak detection system alerts the building users if there is a leak within the water system and allows the building users to shut off the mains water supply to reduce wastage of potable water,
  • High efficiency lighting design reduces the electricity consumed by the system. low brightness luminaires with high frequency control gear increases occupants comfort levels,
  • Office space has a flexible control system allowing for local or centralised control by building occupants.


Construction site impacts were managed through a site waste management plan; targets for energy and water usage arising from site activities were set and these were regularly compared against actual consumption rates.

Consultation was undertaken with relevant parties, and the feedback from these meetings resulted in changes to the final building design, including the facilities offered to the community and potential transport implications.

Through the proximity of public transport to the development and the provision of facilities for cyclists, the commuter and visitor based carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced.


  • Client: Scottish Widows c/o Hanover Cube LLP (Chris Richards),
  • Architect: Associated Architects LLP (Jonathon Chadwick),
  • Contractor: Miller Construction (Kevin Dickson),
  • Building Services Consultant: Hilson Moran Partnership (Keith Yeo),
  • Project Managers: Hanover Cube (Chris Richards),
  • Cost Consultant: Gleeds (Glenn Laurence),
  • BREEAM Assessor: Ian Orme, Rickaby Thompson Associates Ltd (The Environmental Assessment Consortium).


“Achieving an excellent BREEAM rating was a condition precedent of the Agreement for Lease with Her Majesty’s Courts Service. The process has been hugely informative both personally and as a team in looking beyond the services plant and systems installation to the other wider criteria set down. Having a known tenant it was also important that the management and operational aspects were capable of being adopted and credits achieved. It is testament to the hard work of the wider Project Team that the rating was achieved, particularly for a city centre site.”