Fantastic 4

09 Jul Fantastic 4

A prestigious, £20m building in the heart of Liverpool’s commercial quarter is not only set to be Merseyside’s first speculative office space with a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating, but is also meeting further exacting sustainability targets

No 4 is the final phase of development at St Paul’s Square in Liverpool by English Cities Fund (ECf), a joint venture between Muse Developments, Legal & General and the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA).

The St Paul’s Square scheme, which comprises office, retail and leisure space, car parking and accommodation, is a focal point for the city’s new business quarter and is seen as an integral segment in Liverpool’s commercial renaissance.

Due to be completed in May 2011, No 4 will comprise an eight-storey, 10,126m2, grade A office building designed to achieve a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating. From the outset it was ECf’s aspiration for a city centre office building that would complement Liverpool’s built heritage and yet show how a flexible, multi-let office space could still meet high sustainability standards.

ECf secured £8.8m of investment from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and Northwest European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and worked closely with the NWDA to produce a comprehensive sustainable procurement programme that would fit with the NWDA’s sustainable buildings guide. This included:
• an 18% improvement in carbon emissions over the target emission rate
• offsetting at least 40% of materials going to landfill with recycling equivalents
• local recruitment and training provision, bringing money into the Merseyside economy
• 15% of the water used on-site coming from non-potable sources.

ECf’s appointed project team included architect RHWL and main contractor Shepherd Construction, both of which had worked on earlier phases of the St Paul’s Square development. During the preconstruction phase, the project management team value-engineered the project, resulting in a £40,000 reduction in the cost of piling and £600,000 reduction in the cost of the curtain walling package. In addition, consulting engineer Buro Happold was commissioned by ECf to produce a detailed sustainable procurement plan.

Construction work began in August 2009, and with just a few months to go before it completes, No 4 is making a striking addition to the Square, with its distinctive fully glazed unitised curtain walling system and a glass fin that has been designed both as an architectural feature and to provide solar shade to the building.

In fact, No 4 is set to have a 22% improvement over target emission rates compared with current building regulations, exceeding the original standards set. A vast array of features incorporated into the design are boosting the BREEAM rating, including an air-sourced variable refrigerant flow (VRF) heating and cooling system, which will provide more than 15% of the building’s energy requirements; sub-metering for tenancies; solar control glazing; and enhanced building fabric U-values.

The building has also become the first in Liverpool’s commercial district to be fitted with a sedum roof, with the 213m2 matting absorbing rainwater, boosting the insulation properties and helping to filter out pollutants.

Unfortunately, the relatively small roof area precluded the installation of rainwater harvesting. However, other features in the water conservation strategy, which included the fitting of water-efficient taps, low-flush toilets, leak detection and monitoring systems, will help reduce the amount of water used to 4.31m2 per person annually – equivalent to 78% net water from potable supplies.

The location – close to the city’s major transport links – and the provision of cycle racks have also boosted the building’s BREEAM rating, along with pollution prevention measures, such as oil interceptors to prevent water pollution and lighting regimes that will minimise light pollution.

Throughout the project, Shepherd Construction has been committed to implementing the sustainable procurement programme, with impressive results that have exceeded the industry standard.

On the waste management front, 100% of material is now being diverted from landfill – up from 92% – following a partnership made between the appointed contractor, White Recycling Group, and Tarmac, which means that all waste that cannot be recycled is now used as biofuel on a Tarmac plant in Derbyshire.

Jason Dimelow, senior build manager for Shepherd Construction, explains: “Throughout the project we have sought to minimise the amount of waste that goes to landfill, and through this latest partnership we are now achieving our goal. Particularly now that we are reaching the internal finishing stage, more waste is being generated through the product packaging.

“To minimise wastage at this stage, the team have planned stop days and regular benchmark milestones on the project programme when the quality of work is assessed. This enables the project team and the subcontractors to act more promptly to minimise wastage.”

All materials that are being used on the project by the supply chain are environmentally-procured materials from responsible sources using certification ISO14001: 2004 or the equivalent. Wherever possible, materials have been ordered through local suppliers, and it is estimated that around 10% of the total build will be locally sourced.

As well as exceeding the target score of 32 on the Considerate Constructor’s Scheme – the latest score has been a 37 ‘performance beyond compliance’ – Shepherd Construction has continually looked for local recruitment and training opportunities.

It has been crucial to involve and communicate closely with the supply chain so that all subcontractors understand the contractual obligations accompanying the local labour requirement. The project is on target to reach the requirement for employing a minimum of six trainees across the various trades.

Shepherd Construction has also forged a close relationship with Liverpool John Moores University’s Built Environment Department, providing guest lecturers, site tours and 16 weeks of work placements throughout the project to help students with their coursework and to enable them to gain practical experience as the various construction phases go live.

In a separate exercise, project management-related questions were posed to students to see how they would handle a range of different situations that commonly occur on construction sites, before they were put through a rigorous boardroom interview in the style of The Apprentice, enabling the project management team to assess their performance.

Commenting on the scheme, Michael Broadhead, project manager for English Cities Fund, says: “We wanted No 4 to be the focal point of the St Paul’s Square scheme, and we think this has already been achieved. The building has set very high standards in terms of architecture, new-build quality and best practice in sustainable design.”

He continues: “In these times of uncertainty, ECf has continued to show its commitment to Liverpool. St Paul’s Square has played a major role in the renaissance of Liverpool’s commercial offering and is now the focal point for Liverpool’s new commercial district.”

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