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BAM and Co-operative build ‘outstanding’ efficient office

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When the Co-operative Group wanted to build a new head office in or around Manchester, it wanted it to achieve the BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating.

After identifying the centre of Manchester for the building, it worked with architects 3DReid and construction firm BAM to bring its vision to reality.

But BAM wanted to go further, and helped Co-operative to make its vision to construct the first commercial office building in the UK to achieve the BREEAM ‘outstanding’ rank.

When the building was assessed in 2012, shortly after other new offices such as 7 More London and Port Talbot Works for Tata Steel also reached the outstanding criteria, but the Co-operative’s One Angel Square office received the highest post-construction review score of 95.53 from BREEAM.

Earlier this year, Co-operative moved into its new head office and is now seeing the benefit of the vision through huge savings in energy costs and even supplying additional energy to the grid.

But the process to achieve all of this started very early with the architects and construction contractor involved at the beginning to work out exactly how the goal of the ‘outstanding’ assessment could be achieved.

Building information modelling was used to highlight any logistical issues that were likely to arise. This prevented unnecessary wastage of material and time, making the construction as smooth as possible.

“More and more we are getting involved earlier in the process, and this was the case with One Angel Square,” says BAM director of sustainability Nitesh Magdani. “We have a bigger say in the materials used and how the building will react with the wider environment. With One Angel Square, the client wanted us to be as green as possible.”

Co-operative headquarters One Angel SquareTo achieve the BREEAM ratings, the sourcing of the materials is critical, as the design produced by the architect is largely complete at the beginning of the process.

“We always have targets on site in terms of carbon, waste and energy,” adds Nitesh Magdani. “The contractor then feeds those messages down the supply chain to ensure we source the materials as sustainably as possible.

“One of the things we did was to look at how we optimised materials so that we were not creating waste.

“This included looking at packaging, so we would say to our supplier, if you are providing us with a sprinkler, we don’t want you to provide a sprinkler in a box, just bring the sprinkler on its own. Or if something needed packaging, we asked them to bring it in reuseable packaging.”

BAM also wants its sub-contractors and suppliers to consider the impact they have on the waste of a project.

“Ideally, sub-contractors should be dealing with their own waste, and at the moment they are not. We pay to remove the waste, but we don’t want to do that.

“What we need to do is design something to come exactly as we require it. So for example, the plasterboard should come in the correct size so that we don’t need to cut it and create waste.

“We are also trying to influence designers to design out waste. So things such as doors, windows etc should come in set sizes that fit exactly into a space, so again we can put them in without having to cut anything and create waste.

“Ideally, we don’t want to pay for waste removal, so it is vital we are more efficient through design, procurement, delivery and construction.

“Part of this is to say to our suppliers that if they provide us with a product that contains waste, then we want them to take back that waste and reuse it.”

BAM is currently trialling a scheme in and around London where if it has an excess of materials such as plasterboard, paint and hoardings on a project, then it will look to share that excess with other projects.

“We are trying to encourage circular economy thinking,” he adds. “So part of this is making sure our waste can be reused as part of our construction processes.”

For One Angel Square construction waste was minimised, but prefabrication was also used to ensure the project was more resource efficient.

Chilled beams and toilet units were prefabricated meaning a decrease in the number of material deliveries and a reduction of the waste caused by assembly on site.

Waste pallets were upcycled to create unique and stylish furniture for use in the building once it was occupied.

The majority of the remaining waste was recycled through waste segregation, with a can collector and cardboard compactor installed on site. The cardboard could even be sent to the customer’s recycling facilities, which were adjacent to the site, reducing carbon emissions and transport costs.

With One Angel Square, there was a holistic approach needed to ensure every part and piece of the construction process worked efficiently.

“You can’t achieve the highest BREEAM rating by doing one or two things.” Says Nitesh Magdani.  “You have to consider everything and there is no one thing that will give you that outstanding rating.

“But energy is very important and gives a high percentage of the credit you need. If you don’t hit energy targets, you won’t get either excellent or outstanding.”

The building was designed to be south facing to allow natural light to come in to help reduce heating and light levels needed.

Co-operative headquarters atriumA double skinned façade and soaring open atrium were key to creating natural heating, cooling and lighting.

The atrium, for example, floods the building’s interior with light which is reflected by exposed white painted concrete coffered floors, reducing the amount of artificial lighting required to light the building from 550 to 300 lux.

Air is drawn from under the building to provide ventilation, cooling and temperature regulations.

While the on-site combined heat and power plant, fuelled by plant oil grown by the Co-operative’s farms, provides the majority of the heating and electrical requirement with surplus energy being fed back to the grid.

Heat is also recovered from the IT systems and this is then used to help heat the rest of the building.

Low energy LED lighting and IT equipment and systems were also installed.

As a result of this, it is estimated that the Co-operative will save around £500,000 per year on its energy bill from the building.

BAM is now working with Google on its proposed new UK head office at King’s Cross in London and hopes to go even further than it has with Co-operative while also achieving the BREEAM ‘outstanding’ assessment.

“Google wants to go further than the industry has before,” adds Nitesh Magdani. “It wants the best air quality and to eliminate particulate matter from the air. The materials we put in can affect that, so we are going to our suppliers to get 100 per cent transparency on what is included in the materials, such as the chemicals used in the glue.

“We don’t know everything, and our suppliers don’t always know, so we are having to push them to find out.

“Everything, whether it is construction materials such as plasterboard or the tables and chairs used in the office, will impact on the air. So to get the air as pure as possible, we are having to check everything.”

With commercial clients, like Google and Co-operative, BAM is noticing that more and more of them are keen to ensure their buildings are as sustainable as possible. But this isn’t the case with public sector work.

“The Government-funded projects are less interested in sustainability than they were as they want to reduce costs. There is a 20 per cent cut in construction costs and reducing of square footage.

“They don’t always want sustainability and BREEAM assessments. Compared to three or four years ago when we were installing biomass boilers and the like, it is very different.

“But now we are looking to future-proof buildings even if they don’t ask for it through things like natural rather than mechanical ventilation and other basics of passive design.”

Find out more about BAM's project with Google:



Co-operative, BAM, 3DReid

About the building:

Co-operative’s new head office is at One Angel Square in Manchester and the 16-storey building contains 325,000 sq ft of open plan office space and a large central atrium.

Two basement floors include underground parking, auditorium and fitness facilities.

The internal layout allows flexible use of the space and state-of-the-art technology.

BAM also completed four and a half acres of public open space.

It was completed in December 2012 and has been given the BREEAM ‘outstanding’ rating for its sustainability.

The building is the centrepiece of the £800 million NOMA development in the northern quarter of Manchester city centre.

Visit BAM Sustainability Microsite




Category: Design
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