The REGAIN Building 

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Project of the Year Award Winner 2012

Name of client Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, Regeneration Division
Contract value £1,292,000.00
Architect & Project Manager Jim Allen – BGCBC
Quantity Surveyor Lee Richards – BGCBC
Mechanical Engineer Robin Cornelius – BGCBC
Electrical Engineer Phil Rees/Matthew Mallett – BGCBC
Clerk of Works Mark Harding – BGCBC
Main Contractor Kier Western
Architect (Contractor) Stride Treglown
Mechanical Engineer (Contractor) Darren Gibson – Intentium Solutions Limited Darren Gibson – Intentium Solutions Limited
Electrical Engineer (Contractor) Victor Okpevba – Intentium Solutions Limited
Structural Engineer (Contractor) Tony Spencer/Darren Badham – SHEAR Design
Planning Supervisor Chris Arnold – Arnold Faulkner PM Ltd

Project Description

The REGAIN building is a 500m2 business incubator located on the Works site in Ebbw Vale. It is designed to provide sustainable, cost-effective and attractive accommodation for up to 35 people.

Jointly funded by the Heads of the Valleys and EU Interreg IV B programmes, the building is intended to demonstrate the highest levels of sustainable design. REGAIN (Reducing the effects of Greenhouse gases through Alternative INdustrial management) is a collaborative European project, with partner buildings in Belgium, France and Scotland. The principal objective for the project is to promote sustainable construction between countries, and across projects by information sharing and using a common evaluation methodology.

The Works is the regeneration of the former Corus Steelworks site at Ebbw Vale. This £250m project is a unique opportunity to deliver high quality mixed use development incorporating community facilities, business and commercial space and new homes.

The building is designed to embody the broadest definition of sustainability and to achieve a high level of performance under the international SBTool sustainability assessment methodology, and achieve the BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard. The project was procured under a Design and Build contract with the contractor’s team developing the design from RIBA Stage D/E.

Construction commenced on 14th March 2011 and was completed on October 3rd 2011. Construction period was 28 weeks, with practical completion being achieved 2 weeks over programme. Despite being match funded in Euros with a fluctuating exchange rate, the final account was approximately £5000 under budget.

The project is required to monitor in-use performance for 1 year.

Sustainability Aspects

The regeneration of the former Ebbw Vale steelworks sets out a series of overarching strategies governing the design of all buildings on the site. These relate to energy, biodiversity, and sourcing of labour and materials.

All Works contractors are required to source labour from the surrounding area, and performance is monitored by BGCBC against set targets. All contracts have social clauses dealing with targeted recruitment and training.

Designed following extensive software modelling by Cardiff University throughout the design stage, the building performance has been analysed and the design optimised to achieve a predicted performance of 19kW/m2/year, which compares extremely favourably with the Passivhaus limit of 15kW/m2/year.

The building achieves a 49% improvement over the 2006 Part L SBEM requirements.

Building heating is provided by an air source heat pump, linked to underfloor heating, which should achieve around an 80% saving in comparison to a gas boiler or similar. There is no conventional boiler.

There is a large PV array roof to the bin store and cycle shelter, which offsets the energy used by the ASHP. In Summer the roof-mounted solar thermal panels will provide all the domestic hot water.

The building uses a variation on the Passivhaus design principles, but achieved using a locally-sourced, low-tech strategy, to ensure that maintenance (costs of which are estimated to be 80% of the total over the life of a building, with construction costs making up the remaining 20%) is minimised, and that servicing can be undertaken by local contractors largely using traditional techniques requiring little specialist knowledge.

The entire exterior envelope is zero maintenance, with only periodic cleaning and decorating required internally. A bespoke electronic signage system has been developed to avoid damage to the walls from fixing and removal of occupants’ corporate signage over the life of the building.

Complexity has been kept to a minimum, with natural ventilation and high levels of natural lighting used to reduce costs in accordance with the passive design principles employed.

Cllr.Ann Minshull of Flintshire County Council presenting the CLAW 2012 Building of the Year Award to Clive Rogers of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council.