Efficiency and sustainability for Percy Gee Students Union Building

Warmafloor helped the University of Leicester in minimising their environmental impact in their award winning Percy Gee Student Union building by installing an underfloor heating system supplied by a biomass boiler.

Fact File

  • Year: 2010
  • Size: 1,000m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Type: New build
  • Floor Type: Solid Floor Screed
  • Floor Type: Structural Concrete Floor

The project

Percy Gee Students’ Union at University of Leicester opened after a £17 million re-development project. It has since won a staggering 20 environmental awards and commendations, received a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating, won the Leicestershire Building of the Year 2010 award, and was the only UK finalist in the Global Greenbuild Competition.

The challenge

This state of the art multi-use building was a complex and ambitious project, designed to reduce carbon impact, save energy and improve the well-being of its users. Warmafloor, the UK’s largest surface heating and cooling provider, was appointed to install an underfloor heating system across almost 1,000m2.

The underfloor heating was installed over multiple floors, and is the primary heating source for the student union, night club, café/bar, walkway and market place areas. Almost 80kw of output was provided to these areas by for manifolds being supplied by a constant temperature from biomass boilers.

The solution

Made of Polybutylene pipes which come with a guarantee of 100 years, the system is ten times longer than radiator pipes made of steel and copper, which require regular repairs due to joints that leak, attract scale and decay. Surface heating systems need less energy to heat therefore are natural partners for new low-energy heat sources such as biomass boilers, which allow them to work at their most efficient with less CO2 emissions, resulting in an energy saving of up to 40%.

Surface heating removes physical objects such as radiators which enables maximum flexibility and created an extra 15% more space to accommodate the irregular blueprint on the building. Another challenge was the amount of glass used at Percy Gee. Glass has high emissivity and it is estimated that as much as two-thirds of all heat generated in buildings is lost through windows. Surface heating systems combat such heat stratification, as they radiate warmth across the whole floor surface area, ensuring a more even temperature is delivered in the bottom two metres of rooms, where it is needed most.


“The Percy Gee building is a tangible demonstration of building, design and engineering excellence. Every aspect has been carefully designed around the values of efficiency and sustainability. It is, therefore, no surprise that it has won a number of significant awards and we were delighted to play our part in helping to deliver such an iconic project on time and on budget.” Mike Lamb, Managing Director of Warmafloor