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Understanding Sustainable Construction at City Quays

CITB NI’s Sustainable Construction Interest Group met for their first site visit at the Harbour Commissioners office to hear first-hand about the sustainability design specifics of City Quays Phase 1.


The Sustainable Construction Interest Group is made up of local construction workers who participated in the ‘Building Skills for Sustainable Construction’ programme and spent two weeks in Germany learning about sustainable construction techniques e.g. air tightness, energy efficiency and thermal bridging.


City Quays 1 office is the first completed building within the 20 acre water-fronting regeneration scheme developed to high environmental standards with an emphasis on reducing tenants’ operating costs.  All the buildings have been orientated to maximise daylight penetration, therefore minimising the need for artificial lighting in the workspaces. It will also provide open plan, flexible floors designed to meet the needs of dynamic modern enterprises.

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Speaking on the energy efficiency of City Quays 1, Tim Boyle, Belfast Harbour said, “We have sought to use the most up to date technologies available to us, such as a variable refrigerant flow system paired with high coefficient of performance heat pumps for heating and cooling. This arrangement is complimented by high performance solar control glazing which reduces solar heat gain while maintaining high levels of natural light. We have also utilised demand controlled ventilation, and daylight and presence controlled LED lighting. A roof-mounted photovoltaic array will also provide energy for direct use within the common areas of the building”.

“Along with the building’s integral sustainability systems, occupiers of City Quays 1 will sign up to a Green Lease which ensures all parties work together to use the building as efficiently as possible and maintain the BREEAM Excellent accreditation. A further 124,000 sq ft at City Quays 2 is due for completion in 2016 and will create 600 much-needed direct and indirect construction jobs. The project marks a major regeneration of the area, which will also see the building of retail units, such as cafes and restaurants, 120 flats, and a 200-bedroom hotel.”

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Heron Bros Ltd was awarded the contract to build City Quays 1 which was funded entirely by Belfast Harbour.  Heron Bros Ltd are keen to share with the group the overall journey of constructing the high profile project incorporating design requirements, skills needs and lessons learned.

Shauna Young, Heron Bros Ltd who attended the ‘Building Skills for Sustainable Construction training in Germany said, “As a result of my training Heron Bros Ltd now has in-house knowledge and expertise to liaise directly with various stakeholders including design teams and BREEAM assessors regarding specific project requirements.  One example includes CQ1 where I worked along with the BREEAM Assessor relating to the BREEAM assessment and the sustainability of the products and materials specified. I was able to work with the BREEAM assessor to identify an alternative insulating product that ensured the required performance was maintained.  This direct approach increased the speed at which decisions were made eliminating any impact to the programme, budget, quality or BREEAM Assessment”.


Speaking about the site visit, Barry Neilson, Chief Executive, CITB NI said, “Those involved in the Sustainable Construction Interest Group have already showed their passion and commitment to local sustainability by attending the two week training programme in Germany. City Quays Phase 1 is a prime example of using sustainable methods in the modern day construction industry. We would like to thank the Harbour Commissioners and Heron Bros Ltd for facilitating our site visit today and illustrating the process from conception through to completion.”