Case Study

Nottingham BioCity

Overview & Challenge

Sygnature Discovery is the UK’s largest independent contract research organisation, providing facilities to the pharmaceutical industry. It is the anchor tenant in the new £30m Discovery biosciences building in Nottingham’s life-sciences incubator hub, BioCity.

Sygnature occupies three floors and about 30,000 sq ft of the new 50,000 sq ft building, and its premises include six large laboratories in addition to office space. It required a fume cupboard system that would support the building’s goal of achieving an excellent BREEAM energy-efficiency rating.


Fume cupboard specialist Clean Air Ltd was commissioned to create a bespoke energy-efficient fume cupboard solution that enabled Sygnature Discovery’s scientists to work in safe conditions.

Leading airflow monitor and control company, TEL, supplied 78 AFA1000 variable airflow volume (VAV) airflow controllers and six of the UK’s first AFA5000 room space controllers.

The VAV controllers automatically adjust the fume cupboards’ airflow according to need, consuming up to 75% less energy than conventional constant air volume (CAV) units, while the AFA5000s enable demand-control ventilation.

TEL’s AFA5000s were the first on the market to communicate directly with fume cupboards, precluding the need for a building management system (BMS) and providing an unrivalled degree of control, comfort and energy-efficiency.

Together, the two products enable Sygnature to sustainably achieve complete environmental control.


“The launch of the new Discovery building really emphasised how seriously the city takes its role in the biosciences sector.

From inception, energy-efficiency was a primary stipulation for the facility, and TEL’s airflow and room space controllers played an important role in enabling it to achieve BREEAM excellence.”


The building was launched in spring 2017, and its sustainable fume cupboard system contributed to the building’s achievement of its desired excellent BREEAM energy-efficiency rating.

Said Sygnature Discovery facilities manager, Tracey Allford:  “After Oxford, Cambridge and London, Nottingham is probably the most vibrant area for bioscience research in the country.

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