RAAC at the University of Edinburgh
The University has restricted access to some areas of its buildings as a precautionary measure owing to safety concerns around the use of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC).
For the latest updates on RAAC, please visit the Estates webpages:
In line with guidance, good progress has been made throughout the estate on additional structural assessments and some remedial work where required.
None of the affected buildings includes residential accommodation, however, some of the areas do include teaching, laboratory and office spaces. We have, where possible, arranged appropriate alternative spaces for activities scheduled to take place in these areas.
We are in contact with all areas affected by this issue and will continue to keep them updated as more information becomes available.
We will continue to follow advice from the Institution of Structural Engineers in dealing with this matter to ensure our buildings remain safe.
We are very sorry for the disruption this is causing, however our priority is to ensure that our buildings remain safe for everyone in our community.
The affected buildings are:
|Lecture Theatres 4 & 5 - unfortunately these lecture theatres will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year 2023/24.
|The Hunter Building
|Edinburgh College of Art
|Level R (all areas)
|Dan Rutherford Building
|Level 1 (all areas)
|James Clerk Maxwell Building
|The lecture theatres have now re-opened however, there are still some issues on levels 2, 7 and 8 and so these areas remain closed.
|Joseph Black Building
|Small Decant Block extension at rear of building. Office spaces in this area have now re-opened, but lab areas remain closed.
|The Grant Institute
|Whilst some rooms remain under access restriction, nine spaces have now re-opened following structural assessment.
|The Ashworth Building Extension
|Rooftop plant areas
|Institute of Genetics and Cancer
|Western General Hospital
|Rooftop plant room roofs only on Centre Building
What is Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete?
RAAC is a building material that was used in some buildings constructed between the mid-1950s and mid-1990s. It was used in the construction of roofs, wall panels, and sometimes floors.
If properly designed, manufactured, in good condition and with good bearing, RAAC installations are considered safe. However, the panels can deteriorate over time, and this can be exacerbated by water penetration.
When was the issue with RAAC first identified?
In 2017, a panel collapsed at a primary school in Kent. No one was injured when this happened. Another panel collapsed in 2019, prompting wider investigations across the UK. These investigations concluded that RAAC was the underlying cause of these building collapses.
In late December 2022, the UK government issued a notice regarding Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) with a guide for estates managers.
The UK Government notice was specific to education premises, requesting that estates managers look at their properties to identify if they had any RAAC in their buildings. It was aimed at organisations based in England but it was responded to in Scotland as well.
What has the University done about it so far?
In 2018/19 the Estates Department carried out surveys of all of our buildings to identify and record the locations of RAAC panels. Estates engaged structural engineers to assess the condition of any RAAC panel in line with guidance from the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE). The UK Government, Department for Education (DfE) guidance published in December 2022 provided good practical guidance on the identification, risk assessment and management process for RAAC panels. In the absence of sector specific guidance, we have used the DfE guidance as proportionate and relevant to our Estate. In order to determine a local understanding of the specific issues on our Estate, a programme of assessment for our buildings was being developed at the time of the most recent DfE publication.
What has changed?
On 31 August 2023, the UK Government’s Department for Education publicised new guidance on the use of RAAC in education settings in England. It said that recent cases had caused them to change their assessment of the risk that RAAC poses to building safety and advised building operators to carefully manage areas where RAAC is present whilst further actions are planned.
This was a significant departure to previous guidance and although our initial assessments have not identified any issues of concern, we have arranged to restrict access to affected areas in a small number of our buildings with immediate effect as a precautionary measure while we undertake further assessment and await updated guidance from the Institution of Structural Engineers, Scottish Government and Higher Education bodies.
How long will the buildings be restricted for?
As of November 2023, good progress has been made throughout the University estate on additional structural assessments and remedial work where it was required. We have since re-opened access to some areas where all necessary assessments and remedial work is complete. However, work is continuing in some buildings and so it is therefore not possible to say exactly how long each area will remain closed. We will provide regular updates for everyone affected by this issue.
Is it possible to get access to the affected areas to retrieve items?
We understand that some people may need access to collect items important to their work and we are organising controlled access accordingly.