Creating something outstanding in Bristol

The Aurora Building is Bristol’s first to achieve a BREEAM 2014 Outstanding rating. Operations manager Gareth Williams explains how it was delivered.

I knew Aurora was going to test all my years of experience.

Located on an incredibly tight site in central Bristol close to Temple Meads railway station, we had to create a superb office environment with the highest levels of sustainability – one that was BREEAM 2014 Outstanding.

Stepping up to the challenge

From the start it was clear that success would need a true ‘one team’ approach to deliver the aspirations of Cubex, the developer.

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Protecting trees was just one aspect of planning on a very confined site

Logistically, we only had access through the main South boundary, while also taking into account existing protected trees very close to the proposed façade and making allowances for an existing contractor building a Premier Inn to the West.

We also had to devise a plan to maintain public access to existing apartments on the North elevation and retain our delivery access between the East elevation and another building – all on top of achieving the incredibly demanding BREEAM Outstanding certification!

Deciding where to put the tower crane was the biggest challenge as I couldn’t service the entire concrete frame without over sailing an adjacent apartment block. When locating it, I also had to consider cranes on a neighbouring, existing site as well as site it for future developments proposed for the site. In the end, I put it closer to the façade to enable access past the crane to get to the hoist location.

Good job we like a challenge!

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A collaborative approach

In order to achieve the Cubex’s vision it was going to be key for all parties to work together closely. From the start I instigated planning workshops for each of the project elements. These workshops helped our supply chain partners to understand each other’s needs, how they were dependent on one another, and also allowed them to decide in advance a way to coordinate works. Doing things this way allowed everyone to take other people’s needs on board and get to know what others were doing around them, improving the quality of work all around.

Our inception workshop with the customer, designers and supply chain team also gave a solid platform. As well as building better relationships, the workshop helped extract what was important to each party and also create a shared communications strategy to use going forward.

Understanding each other better meant relationships between the teams remained positive throughout resulting in a great quality product.

Hitting the BREEAM scores!

As the project was being put forward for BREEAM Outstanding and LEED Gold, I had to make sure processes were put in place to capture the evidence required. This meant making sure the supply chain gave us what we needed and gaining expert sustainability advice which was passed to the team during briefing meetings.

I was mindful of any changes that could have a negative impact on the BREEAM and LEED requirements; we needed to achieve 85% to obtain BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ and the initial tracker was at 85.65%. There was little room for error!

We had already bundled the specifications together based on their BREEAM score so we could build in pre-supply chain orders early. The M&E plant and materials were set in stone, so any value engineering had to be very precise.

A building to be proud of

The final building provides 95,000 square foot of Grade A office space and achieved BREEAM Outstanding at 91%. It was the first BREEAM Outstanding building outside of London and was 85% let before we had even finished!

It just shows what can be achieved with a collaborative approach!