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CREWW Topping Out_group photo

Topping Out ceremony marks major milestone in water sustainability research Centre in Exeter


Morgan Sindall Construction has topped out of the Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste (CREWW) building on the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus, a new £8.5m pioneering facility.

Due to complete in Autumn 2023, the new centre brings together academics from the University with industry experts in South West Water to explore and co-design solutions to the most pressing challenges facing the water and waste sector in the South West, the UK and the world.

Part funded by a £10.5m UKRPIF grant from Research England and investment from both partners, CREWW will be the first purpose-built, transdisciplinary research centre in the water sector, building on many years of collaboration between the University of Exeter and South West Water.

CREWW will be in the heart of Streatham Campus, located on North Park Road, opposite the Laver and Harrison buildings, the latter of which Morgan Sindall completed a remodelling of engineering workshops and laboratory teaching spaces to inspire collaboration and creativity, and prepare students for their professional careers.

CREWW building project

Work commenced on the 14,000 sq ft building in January 2022 and comprises a basement and two floors built into the bank of the Campus. The BREEAM excellent rated building will be net zero in operation aided by air source heat pumps and rooftop solar panels.

The collaborative research centre is the contractor’s 19th development on Campus, brought to life through a strategic partnership with South West Water.

Professor Lisa Roberts, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter, said:

It is wonderful to mark this significant milestone in the creation of CREWW with our partners at South West Water and Research England.
The unique facility supports our 10-year Strategy 2030 to use our world leading research to provide solutions and lead meaningful actions against the climate emergency and ecological crisis.
CREWW researchers are already making huge strides in collaborative, solutions focussed research in sustainable water and waste management. The new centre will provide the teams and other external partners with access to the very best facilities to conduct research that will have a positive impact on the future of water supplies in the UK and across the globe.”

South West Water will play a leading role in the development and success of CREWW, investing £21m into the collaborative programme over seven years, and beyond.

Tour of the CREWW building site

Susan Davy, Chief Executive Officer for Pennon Group, parent company of South West Water, said:

Seeing the CREWW building taking shape today symbolises the growing strength in our partnership with the University of Exeter and the vital research that will be carried out at the centre for many years to come.
Globally the pressures from climate change facing our environment and security of water supply have never been greater and in bringing together the best minds, investment and resources, we can all play our part.
With this new collaboration, we’re also setting our sights higher, turning projects into viable solutions internationally and globally, and in turn driving commercial benefit, and investment back into the South West.”

South West Water’s Upstream Thinking project, a research project led by CREWW, is focused on investigating pollution sources and water management processes upstream in catchments. Research partners are working with landowners and land management organisations to implement changes to deliver huge benefits to the quality of drinking water, as well as ecosystem protection and enhancement, representing a truly progressive way of working to safeguard water resources for the future.

Professor Richard Brazier, co-director of CREWW from the University of Exeter, said:

''The CREWW building has been five years in the planning, so it is wonderful to see it reach this point and exciting to begin to visualise the spaces within where we will undertake our ground-breaking research with South West Water and wider partners.”

Brian Rice, area director at Morgan Sindall Construction, said:

We are incredibly proud to play our part in delivering this state-of-the-art facility which will place the South West at the forefront of research and reducing water waste.
We are using a site team and supply chain which is well experienced in working on educational campuses having completed a number of projects on behalf of the University in the past. This knowledge and existing relationship has allowed us to work considerately and keep disruption to students and academics to a minimum. We will also continue to engage with the local community through employment opportunities as part of our social value commitment and Intelligent Solutions approach.
Once complete, the facility will provide an excellent space for collaborative, pioneering research, adding to the university’s reputation as one of the top institutions in the country.”

CREWW will accommodate state-of-the-art, specialist laboratory facilities and designated space to encourage collaborative research and training between academics and experts from the water industry, Government and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

From ensuring clean drinking water for everyone, all the time, to creating sustainable water networks and supply solutions, to preventing pollution in waterways, including microplastics, CREWW’s research is focussed on making impactful positive changes that will make a difference to communities and ecosystems.

For more information about CREWW research, please visit and for regular updates on the CREWW building project visit: