Construction work at what is touted to be Barnet's most environmentally sustainable educational building reached its pinnacle last week.

University officials, builders, council officers and architects donned hard hats and illuminous jackets for the official topping out' ceremony at Middlesex University's new Hendon building.

The event last Thursday afternoon celebrated the near completion of the Hatchcroft building, in The Burroughs, which has reached its highest point of 14.3m.

To mark the occasion project manager Russell Lane, of Carillion builders, presented a silver hammer to Lorna Cocking, chairman of the Middlesex University Board of Governors, on the building's roof terrace.

The £30 million teaching and research complex, built to accommodate 3,000 students from the university's old Ponder's End campus, promises to be the most environmentally friendly building in the borough.

Building work is scheduled to finish in early August.

University vice chancellor Michael Driscoll said: "We are absolutely sure that the staff and students here are going to be thrilled with this building and it's going to be something that they can be proud of.

"The building will come with the highest environmental specifications. We want to set a precedent for the highest standard of excellence possible not just in the university, but in the whole of Barnet."

The building will be assessed by the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), a voluntary scheme that rewards environmentally friendly building designs, rating them either pass, good, very good or excellent.

University leaders hope the building will gain the top ranking which, it is thought, no other educational building in Barnet has achieved.

The new building will include renewable energy sources to heat it in the winter and cool it in the summer, a ground source heating pump dropped 60m into the parkland to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 12 per cent, and solar panels on the roof to provide all the building's hot water.

It will contain a natural ventilation system to reduce the building's temperature by allowing cool air to circulate overnight, and will be built entirely from materials selected for their environmental sustainability.

The three-floor centre covers 5,500 square metres. It has two lecture theatres and two wings for laboratories housing psychology, computer science and sports facilities. Students will take their first lessons in the building in September.