John Hope Gateway Centre at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is Scotland’s Most Sustainable Building

The John Hope Gateway Centre at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) has been named the most sustainable building in Scotland in this year’s prestigious Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in Scotland awards.

The judges said the design of the visitor attraction “enhanced the wider environment and in the process formed an environmentally friendly building” which was “both sensitive to the historic nature and natural sense of place of the Botanic Gardens themselves”.

It is the latest in a string of awards for the £15.7 million building, which has been a runaway success with visitors since opening in October 2009. The building has a restaurant and can be used for conferences, business meetings, weddings and product launches.

Roddy Langmuir, the project director with Edward Cullinan Architects, which designed the building, said: “We are delighted to receive this award for a project that we hope is seen as taking an optimistic view on sustainability. We have tried to show visitors to the Garden what great opportunities there are in creating a low-energy building with activities, views and daylight all framed in a carefully wrought timber shell.”

Ian Lawrie, Head of Facilities Management at RBGE, said: “When developing the architect’s brief for the building, great importance was placed on the environmental and sustainable factors that were to be incorporated into the design. We are, therefore, pleased and excited to receive such a prestigious award in recognition of how successfully we have achieved that aim.”

Sustainability is also at the heart of the food and services provided at the Gateway Centre’s restaurant by caterers Sodexo Prestige Scotland.

The company tries to source as much of its produce as possible from local suppliers who are able to prove their sustainability through schemes such as Red Tractor and the Marine Stewardship Council.

Paul Mitchell, operations manager for Sodexo Prestige Scotland at RBGE, said: “Prestige Scotland works hard with customers, teams and suppliers to ensure the  food, drink and services we provide at the Gateway Centre are as sustainably sourced as possible. This includes serving fresh herbs and produce such as sweet cicely, bay leaves and wild garlic from the Royal Botanic Garden itself straight to the restaurant table. We are delighted to play our part in helping the Gateway Centre to be a great sustainability success story.”

Annual visitor numbers to the Botanic Garden have increased by more than a third since the gateway Centre opened and catering at venues across the Garden, which is provided by Sodexo Prestige Scotland, has more than doubled to almost £2 million.

Last year, Edward Cullinan Architects was named Public Building Architect of the Year in the Architect of the Year Awards for its work on the Gateway Centre and the Herbarium Wing at Kew Gardens in London.

The Gateway Centre was also named Best Unusual Venue in Scotland at last year’s Scottish Event Awards.

The John Hope Gateway – which was named after the eminent 18th century teacher and botanist, who was RBGE’s Regius Keeper from 1761 to 1786 – can cater for venues for meetings, conferences, weddings, corporate events and product launches.

The RICS in Scotland awards recognises the achievements of land, property and construction professionals in four categories – Sustainability, Building Conservation, Regeneration and Community Benefit. 

Belmont House in Unst, Shetland, won the overall ‘Scottish Building Project of the Year’ award in the RICS Scotland awards. Springside in Edinburgh won the Regeneration award, while the Hippodrome cinema in Bo’ness, was named Community winner.

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