Birmingham City Council offices, Woodcock Street

Project: Birmingham City Council offices, Woodcock Street

Birmingham City Council’s award winning office development at Woodcock Street is using an advanced natural ventilation solution from SE Controls to create a comfortable environment for staff and visitors while enhancing the building’s sustainability credentials by reducing energy consumption.

Designed by Associated Architects, the £38 million five-storey building provides a flexible working environment for around 3,000 employees and forms part of the local authority’s plans to rationalise its office portfolio and generate more an £200 million of savings by reducing its occupancy of leased buildings.

A key focus of the building’s design was the use of a wide range of sustainable technologies to minimise energy consumption and reduce its carbon footprint. In addition to rainwater harvesting, a ‘brown roof’ wildlife habitat and photovoltaic panels, SE Controls’ natural ventilation solution also played an essential role in helping achieve the energy reduction targets.

SE Controls supplied, installed and commissioned the extensive natural ventilation system, which involved 562 TGCO chain and tandem type actuators together with 101 OS2 type 22 controllers to ensure the precise operation of automatically opening windows and vents within the workspace and four atria, which are managed by the building’s integrated BMS.

The natural ventilation system’s operation is also enhanced by the construction methods used with the building. Using steel framed construction and steel floor beams with 200mm thick hollow cellular core concrete floor planks, the design optimises the building’s thermal mass to enable the temperature to be managed without additional external cooling. The natural ventilation system is also used to ‘night purge’ the building, allowing cooler air to enter and cool the hollow beams.

SE Controls’ Project Manager, Darren Wainwright explained: “The Woodcock Street building epitomises current thinking on sustainable building design particularly in commercial workplace structures.”

He added: “Our natural ventilation system provides a highly energy efficient ventilation solution and its effectiveness is enhanced by many of the other sustainable technologies used within the building, such as solar shading and even details such as energy saving automatic lighting, which limits the heat energy being put into the building.”