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Upgrading to EPC A rating is easier with an empty building

When the owners of Exchange Quay in Manchester wanted to refurbish a vacant office block, they knew that they would need to ensure that it was ready for future legislation affecting energy use and carbon emissions, especially as the nation looks towards legally-binding net zero targets in 2050.

Exchange Quay sells itself as an exciting and inviting place to work with seven Grade A buildings offering 472,000 sq ft of office space.

The site is in a prime location with excellent transport links to the rest of Manchester and the surrounding area, alongside extensive on-site facilities, including cafes, a nursery, a gym, restaurants and shops.

The old system was probably just about an EPC rating of C, so VRF has really helped get it to an A

Carole Titmuss Refurb projects Carole Titmuss Editor and publisher of Refurb Projects

A hub of commerce

Originally developed in the 1980’s, Exchange Quay has been a busy hub of commerce for the city ever since. One of the buildings became vacant giving the Investment Managers, Till Asset Management (Tillam), the opportunity to refurbish and upgrade the building services.

“The 5-storey, Building Number 7 on the site was empty so it was easier to plan a comprehensive refurbishment that allowed us to look at every aspect of the energy performance,” explained Les Lang, Investment Manager and Director of Tillam. “The building is 25,000 square feet of prime office space and we decided to completely strip it out to ensure we could deliver standards that met the requirements of a modern office block,” he added.

Tillam called in Cannock-based FSW, who are a Wholesaler of Mitsubishi Electric air conditioning and heating products. Oliver Broomfield of FSW worked with consultant Mark Broady of Austin Broady, to develop a system that would help increase the EPC rating of the office block.

“We estimate that the old system was probably just about an EPC rating of C, so we knew it could be improved and this is where the VRF system has seriously helped,” said Oliver Broomfield.

Building number 7

Serendipity Labs

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1146 A Exchange Quay Main

Serendipity Labs

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1146 B Serendipity Labs 4

Flexible VRF air conditioning

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1146 E Exchange Quay Plant

Flexible workspaces

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1146 D Serendipity Labs 3

Upgrading an empty building

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1146 Exchange Quay Building7

Modern levels of comfort

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1146 C Serendipity Labs 2

A flexible solution

The solution saw the removal of an old 4-pipe fan coil chiller system and its replacement with City Multi VRF air conditioning, which can be installed module by module to match the requirements of the refurbishment.

City Multi is the market leader in VRF technology and can deliver simultaneous heating and cooling, so that energy use can be more balanced across a building, with waste heat from areas that need cooling reused in other areas that need heating.

The system offers complete flexibility in design, installation and operation with the ability to connect up to 50 indoor units with one outdoor condenser.

Five City Multi PURY-EP models were installed in the roof space, with each condenser serving one of the building’s floors. These connect to a mixture of ceiling cassette, wall-mounted and ducted indoor units to deliver heating and cooling around the building.

The overall system is controlled by an AE200 centralised controller with 40 PAR-41 wall-mounted controllers giving local control to each office space.

A flexible space

The work was completed early in 2023 and the building is now run by Serendipity Labs who provide flexible workspaces, alongside meeting rooms and conference facilities.

“Our spaces are designed to be a welcoming, inspiring and productive workplace that offer flexible options for our clients and the style, look and feel of the refurbished office matches our ethos completely,” explained Dean Haslam, General Manager of the Serendipity Labs site. “Many of our clients ask about the sustainability of our spaces, so it is reassuring to know that Tillam have thought about this and built energy efficiency into the building.”

For Les Lang, the refurbishment of Building Number 7 has shown how straightforward it can be to upgraded and improve the energy efficiency of your premises, especially when the building is empty.

He’s now looking at the slightly different challenge of upgrading another block in Exchange Quay, but doing so floor-by-floor.

For now though, he is delighted with how well the VRF system is coping in Building Number 7. “Our clients expect the best and that is what we strive to deliver,” he says, adding “we’re now talking to Mitsubishi Electric about how flexible their systems can be in some of the other buildings.”

Carole Titmuss is editor and publisher of Refurb Projects