More than 450 building projects entered the RICS Awards which are regarded as the "Oscars" of the built and natural environment. The McClay Library at Queen’s was one of only four category winners.

Sustainability was a critical factor in the building's design and construction. It replaced four 1970s era buildings with flat roofs, lightweight external cladding and poor thermal insulation. These old buildings were energy inefficient, and made little contribution to the quality of the campus and its wider conservation area. Their demolition allowed the construction of the new sustainable building.

The building was designed to be flexible, with an open-plan approach where possible. Meters enable data on energy, fuel and water consumption to be recorded and reviewed against targets on a quarterly basis.

During the design and specification process, BRE Green Guide ‘A’ rated materials were selected, including carpet tiling, aluminium curtain walling and rubber flooring. All contained a recycled element and can be refurbished or recycled after use.