Asset 4 Scottish Natural Heritage


Scottish Natural Heritage


Circa £10 Million


Keppie Design


Robertson Construction (Northern) Ltd


Design and Build


Robertson Property Ltd

Our Role

KLM were appointed as Employer’s Agent / Project Manager and Planning Supervisor for this development.

Key Aspect

The new Scottish Natural Heritage Corporate office in Inverness, Great Glen House is an exemplar building and illustrates the very best practice in design, construction technology and operation.  Great Glen House shows that with a comprehensive brief and collective mindset, project teams can exceed Government environmental targets and create the future we need for the built environment. 


From the outset, SNH were insistent that the project should model good sustainability practice and meet SNH's own environmental management goals.    Great Glen House was developed by Robertson Property Limited and designed by Keppie Architects.  URS was employed as BREEAM assessor and sustainability advisor to the developer team.  The whole design team worked closely together to meet, and go beyond, the sustainability requirements of the brief from the outset of the project.  What followed is without doubt one of the most innovatively designed and sustainable buildings in the UK.  The building is designed to:

Use 76.66 kWh/m2/year of energy (power, light and heat)
Maximise daylight - the building is designed and modelled to achieve a daylight factor of 4% plus. The average office has difficulty in reaching 2%
Use natural ventilation throughout the building with the exception of the IT server room. In the open plan areas, and library natural ventilation is achieved via motorised windows (which are sensor operated and monitored by both temperature and C02 sensors) across the office space and library up through the atrium and out the roof through the purpose designed ventilation chimneys. The Boardroom is similarly naturally ventilated using a monodraught system. This is all automatically controlled by the BEMS
Use the high thermal mass of the building and the high level of insulation to achieve natural chilling in the summer and to maintain the temperature in the winter. The thermal mass ensures the storage and dispersal of heat as required.
Fit sun pipes to bring light in to darker areas (such as the boardroom),
Fit low energy bulbs / light fittings throughout controlled by motion/light level sensors as appropriate.
Have a Building Management System to monitor and manage all the services and all fuels used in different parts of the building. (Lighting, heating, water, lifts, boilers, plant/ solar heating etc.
Fit double glazing throughout (high efficiency glass, with low thermal transmission and high light transmission)
Have a maximum carbon emission of 7.16 kg C/m2/year (best practice claims 9kg as a target that may be achievable with 15 being ‘good' practice)
Be compliant with the A rated Green Guide specifications.
Achieve exceptional thermal performance Robertson Property Ltd have confirmed the air tightness/ permeability as 4.86 m3/m2/hr

The construction process was managed such that it was one of the highest performers in the Considerate Constructors Scheme in the UK.  Environmental impact assessments were carried out each month in forward planning, the performance of the construction team and the site overall.  This was complemented further by the local contractor, Robertson Construction Northern Ltd who worked closely with the SNH Project Team to:

Establish a Green Procurement System
Segregate, monitor and minimise all site waste
Monitor carbon dioxide emissions from transport and energy use on site during construction
Develop an environmental management system for the construction project
Material re-use was chosen as the preferred option.  Masonry was crushed on site and provided 34% of the high grade aggregates used in the new building.   Slates from the roof were reused to clad the stair towers, re-dressed timber from the floors were used for internal finishes and all crushed hardcore was incorporated into the foundations.  Remaining materials were salvaged locally.


Energy efficiency - the full height atrium facilitates natural ventilation, driven by passive solar and wind effects.  This has achieved a total energy carbon rating of 7.16kg Carbon per metre squared per annum.  Reduces the predicted (TAS modelling) heating season to only 17 weeks. 

Water Minimisation - Rainwater is harvested and used to flush toilets within the building, reducing usage of potable water.  The predicted water use per occupant per annum is 999 litres.

Landscape - Plants are indigenous to Scotland and have local provenance. A dual purpose SUDS pond provides drainage to the site a wetland habitat, enhancing biodiversity and encouraging flora and fauna proliferation.  A sedum roof on the library provides a new, unique habitat for insects, plants and birds together with enhancing the thermal performance of the building.  

Procurement - very high sustainability standards set in all contracts - design, construction methods, furniture, office cleaning, new office equipment, waste management, grounds management.

Other Benefits - The relocation of SNH to Inverness has benefited the local community by providing local jobs and opportunities.  In addition, a more frequent bus service, cycle lanes, bike stores, changing lockers and showers help minimise use of the car.  Welfare facilities include separate parenting and first aid rooms, a staff fitness room and a canteen and dining area supplemented with external decking and tables.  The atrium is considered a public space and will be used for exhibitions, informal meetings and performance art.  PCs have been installed to provide public learning and education opportunities.  Passive natural ventilation, carbon dioxide sensing, the facility to freely open windows and a natural daylight factor of 4% over the entire office creates an excellent working environment with a high degree of psychological connectivity with the exterior.  This aligns the ethos of SNH but also improves user health and well being. 

What was so important about this Project?

Great Glen House reflects the ethos of SNH whilst settling into the natural landscape of Inverness.  It provides an outstanding contribution to the built environment and has delivered excellent value for money.  Great Glen House is certified "Excellent" in BREEAM ratings, with the highest recorded score to date of 84%.  This has been achieved at a base building cost which is 10% below equivalent buildings designed to BCO standards. 

SNH Great Glen House is a great example of the standard that can be achieved when all members of a project team work closely to achieve a common goal.  The success of this project is reflected in the balance achieved between the commercial aspirations of the developer, the quality of design and construction, the excellent sustainability outputs and the complete satisfaction of the client. 

"We intend our HQ to be an important statement about our commitment to sustainable development. I think what we are looking at is a building which will serve the needs of SNH and the environment very well indeed. It also lends itself to being an extremely attractive and comfortable office which will be a joy to work in.  We hope others will follow its example - and there is no reason why they should not. This is a practical working building which also embodies the best in environmental practice"

John Markland, Chairman, Scottish Natural Heritage (March 2006)

Great Glen House has won the following awards:

Building Research Establishment
Office Building of the year 2006 - UK award

Building/Building Design
Sustainable Building of the Year 2006 - winner

Civic Trust Awards
Sustainability award

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Sustainability Award 2007 - Commended

British Council of Offices
Corporate Workplace 2007 - National Award winner

Government Opportunities Award Excellence in Public Procurement 2007
Short-listed as a finalist in sustainable procurement

Scottish Design Awards 2007

Green Apple Sustainability Award 2007

Scottish Property Awards
Green Building of the Year 2007

Architects Journal
AJ100 Award for Sustainability 2007

The Safer Parking Award 2007-09