Bruntwood, a Manchester-based developer, has recently obtained planning permission for a groundbreaking £31m mass timber office in Greater Manchester. The project, known as the Ev0 Building and designed by UK architect Sheppard Robson, is set to become the greenest of its kind in the country.
Ev0 Gets the Green Light
Video Credit: Bruntwood Works/Youtube.com
Located at Didsbury Technology Park in the southern part of the city, the Ev0 Building promises to be the most operationally efficient new build workspace in the UK, with projected running costs 58% lower than those of a traditional new build.
The new 80,000 sq ft 6-story building will be situated between Sir William Siemens House, Spire Hospital, and Bruntwood Works’ Ohm Building. Construction is set to begin in Fall 2023 and is expected to be completed by late 2024.
Carbon Capture with Mass Timber
Bruntwood's latest project is a mass timber building that will, according to the developer, capture and store more than 4,000 tonnes of carbon over its lifetime. While the use of mass timber products in construction is on the rise, there are still uncertainties surrounding the sustainability of the material.
With its cross-laminated timber panels, posts, and beams, the mass timber construction method has already been adopted in Europe for several decades, particularly in Nordic countries. However, it is now rapidly gaining popularity around the world.
Critics question the environmental impact of mass timber, particularly the logging and manufacturing processes involved in producing the wood products used in construction. While the carbon capture potential of the material is impressive, this potential is only realized if timber is appropriately stored or reused at the end of the building’s lifespan.
There are also concerns about the sustainability of logging required to supply mass timber factories. However, advocates believe that with proper forest management and supply chain practices, the material can play a crucial role in achieving a more sustainable future.
Parametric Design Principles
The façade of the new building features an innovative parametric design that minimizes solar gain and overheating on the south and west elevations while maximizing solar gain on the north and east elevations.
Image Credit: zaeball/Shutterstock.com
Parametric design relies on algorithmic processes to shape building elements and engineering components, allowing for a more precise and efficient design that balances form and function. Rather than designing elements directly, this approach uses rules and parameters to establish the relationship between design intent and design response. By harnessing the power of algorithms, parametric design enables designers to optimize building performance, reduce energy consumption, and enhance occupant comfort.
Wind from Scotland
The new building is set to be a trailblazer in energy usage, with up to 94% of its power generated by photovoltaics and the remainder supplied by Bruntwood's co-operative wind farm in Ayrshire, Scotland.
This innovative energy supply model is powered by Unify Energy, Bruntwood's own energy supply business, which has partnered with a co-operative made up of households and businesses to support the wind farm's development.
Bruntwood recently acquired a significant 42.4% stake in the Kirk Hill wind farm, located in Ayrshire, Scotland. This investment enables Bruntwood to source 80% of its annual energy needs directly from the wind farm.
Chris Oglesby, CEO of Bruntwood, said: “Bruntwood was the first commercial property company in the UK to sign up to the 2030 World GBC Net Zero target and this investment will provide a huge step in us reaching our goals.
“We recognise the significant impact our buildings have on the environmental performance of our cities, largely through their energy consumption.
“Our portfolio in Manchester, for example, accounts for 0.6% of the city’s emissions once you also include our customer’s energy use. Sourcing power from Kirk Hill will make a major dent into this.”
Setting the Bar High for Greener Construction
The Ev0 Building has set its sights high with a targeted 5.5 NABERS rating – the highest currently in use. Similar to the efficiency star ratings found on household appliances, the NABERS rating system assigns one to six stars to office buildings, providing valuable insight into their performance compared to similar structures. Originally an Australian concept, NABERS has since been exported to the UK and other regions.
In addition to its high NABERS rating target, the Ev0 Building will meet the upfront carbon design targets set by the Low Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI), a voluntary network of over 1,000 built environment professionals collaborating to achieve a zero carbon future for the UK and beyond.
It will also satisfy the whole-life carbon targets laid out by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for 2025, as well as the “Paris Proof” operational energy use targets set by the UK Green Building Council – a membership organization dedicated to transforming the way the UK's built environment is planned, designed, constructed, maintained, and operated.
Bruntwood says that achieving these targets will make the Ev0 Building a net zero structure in both construction and ongoing operation.
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References and Further Reading
Frazer, J. (2016). Parametric Computation: History and Future. Architectural Design. doi.org/10.1002/ad.2019.
Gayne, D. (2023). Green light for £31m mass timber office in Greater Manchester. [Online] Building. Available at: https://www.building.co.uk/news/green-light-for-31m-mass-timber-office-in-greater-manchester/5121839.article (Accessed on 24 February 2023).
Morby, A. (2023). Manchester 6-storey mass timber frame office approved. [Online] Construction Enquirer. Available at: https://www.constructionenquirer.com/2023/02/21/manchester-6-storey-mass-timber-frame-office-approved/ (Accessed on 24 February 2023).
Pilkington, B. (2021). Green Building: Where Are We Now? [Online] AZO Build. Available at: https://www.azobuild.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=8453 (Accessed on 24 February 2023).
Robbins, J. (2019). As Mass Timber Takes Off, How Green Is This New Building Material? [Online] Yale Environment 360. Available at: https://e360.yale.edu/features/as-mass-timber-takes-off-how-green-is-this-new-building-material (Accessed on 24 February 2024).
Robinson, J. (2022). Property giant Bruntwood buys significant stake in a co-operative wind farm. [Online] Business Live. Available at: https://www.business-live.co.uk/enterprise/property-giant-bruntwood-buys-significant-23935323 (Accessed on 24 February 2024).
Shin, B., et al. (2020) Mitochondrial Oxidative Phosphorylation Regulates the Fate Decision between Pathogenic Th17 and Regulatory T Cells. Cell Reports. doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.01.022.
Websites should be referenced as below:
Pesheva, E. (2020). Tackling Coronavirus. [Online] Harvard Medical School. Available at: https://hms.harvard.edu/news/tackling-coronavirus (Accessed on 26 February 2020).