A NEW £75m university building will use ground-heat pumps, ‘solar blinds’ and a ‘green roof’ in a bid to become one of Oxford’s most environmentally-friendly buildings.

Testing is underway at the Blavatnik School of Government, in Walton Street, with the aim of it winning an “excellent” rating through the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).

The building could consume half as much energy as average UK buildings its size. Its carbon dioxide emissions could be 42 per cent less.

A school spokesman said it was designed for an ‘Oxford 2040 future weather scenario’ and how the climate might be different.

Calum Miller, chief operating officer, said: “One goal was to ensure the building was as energy-efficient and sustainable as possible.

“The design team has combined modern control systems with groundbreaking technology to minimise environmental impact.”

It is hoped that in coming months students will move into the Blavatnik building, which will replace three temporary sites in use since 2012 when the school was set up.

Benefactor Leonard Blavatnik, said by Forbes to have a net wealth of more than £12bn, gave cash for the work in 2010. Work began in 2013.

The building is designed to be environmentally friendly and promote “open discussion, interaction and collaboration”, with two horseshoe-shaped lecture theatres to seat up to 120 people.

Next year another part of the building with an exhibition space is set to open to the public. Students on the top floors will get impressive views of Oxford.

This is because, at 22.5 metres, the Blavatnik is higher than the 18.2-metre limit usually imposed on buildings in 1,200 metres of Carfax Tower.

Mr Miller added: “We are impatient to start working on our new building.

“We know others want to see it too, so we plan open days for neighbours and those with an interest in its innovative features.

“As soon as we have dates, these will be publicised on our website.”

The building’s environmentally-friendly measures include ventilation using daytime solar blinds and ‘summer night cooling’, which uses its shape to help air to circulate.

The six-storey central atrium draws up warm air, creating a flow through the building, and to help keep the building cool in summer, electric blinds change to react to the sun’s position and intensity to stop the building getting too hot.

There is also a ground source heat pump, which uses an array of 72 boreholes underneath the building.

It is expected to meet 15 per cent of the heating and hot water demand and all of the cooling in the year.

The system draws heat from the ground to provide winter heating.

In the summer, heat can be sent back into the ground to provide cooling, as well as ‘charging’ the ground with heat for use in the winter.

The is part of a wider strategy in Oxford University’s Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, with a similar system at the Mathematical Institute. The systems could be linked up for better use, it is hoped.

The Blavatnik will also have solar panels on its roof, low-energy lighting, a rain harvester and a so-called ‘green roof’, where plants absorb carbon dioxide and water.