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CISL - Sustainability consulting and bio based materials - a close up of wool


Sustainability Consulting

Project Specs


ISG for Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership




Refurbishment Research for CISL




1 Regent Street, Cambridge


Client: Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership

Main Contractor: ISG plc

Concept Architects: Architype

Delivery Architects: Feilden & Mawson


We were invited to support the research and development of bio-based and circular design solutions for the interior fitout of CISL’s refurbished workplace in Cambridge. We were appointed and worked closely with the design and sustainability teams of the main contractor on the project, which was ISG.

We were asked to research new innovative bio-based or otherwise circular materials (C2C) initially generically and then to focus on specific interior elements. These included feature ceilings, internal wall partitions and acoustic wall panels.

All solutions taken to RIBA Stage 4 needed to meet as many criteria as possible for environmental assessment methodologies, internal university benchmarks, and to work with the Passivhaus design approach impacts. Information submitted needed to capture the full life-cycle impacts and not just up-front.

We believed that the submitted proposals should also include knowledge on cognitive and emotional Wellbeing impacts, so this is something we added on top of the materiality information requested.


Materials recommended, included a variety of the following:

  • Natural bio-based and rapidly renewable sources. Many from a variety of nature sources to support diversity.
  • Waste material with natural binders
  • Natural process waste from food processing with natural binders
  • Natural or recycled content wall boards with various added value benefits and performance limitations
  • Recycled waste clothing, wood cellulose materials and rapidly renewable material compositions.

All items were proposed with assemblies that ensured a known and circular end of life. The proposals looked at how they evolved current procurement approaches and how these could be evolved to create higher circularity.

We provided knowledge on cognitive and emotional wellbeing impacts. We included details and advice on the proposed materials which identified wider holistic issues impacting occupant wellbeing from design specifications beyond just air or acoustic quality.


Economic Value

We presented options which would provide value to the users over several years, with low impacts to the environment and enabling the continuation of the material value at end of life. We created solutions that created new value from existing discarded sources, creating new jobs and valued products.


We engaged with material creators who worked independently on developing bio-based and sustainable materials. We supported local sources and the re-introduction of local crafts and heritage.


We researched options that were bio-based, meaning they were very environmentally sustainable and had high ability to circulate back into the ecosystem with little to no ecological impacts.

CISL - Sustainability consulting and bio based materials - a close up of wool
CISL - Sustainability consulting and bio based materials - a collage of materials: wool, seaweed and apples
CISL - Sustainability consulting and bio based materials - a collage of materials
CISL - Sustainability consulting and bio based materials
CISL - Sustainability consulting and bio based materials