The refurbishment of a 1990s London icon has stolen the sustainability crown from the Co-operative Group’s shiny new headquarters a mere month after the Manchester office was named the World’s Greenest Building.

One Embankment Place, which sits over London’s Charing Cross station and is the first air rights building in the UK, has been given a 96.31 per cent BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) Outstanding score, trumping the 95.16 per cent given last month to Co-op’s  One Angel Square development.

The project is the largest refurbishment in-occupation project in the UK and required a strategic, phased approach to the in order to maintain the client’s business continuity throughout the construction process. Led by architects TP Bennetts with Chapman BDSP as Building Services Engineers and Arup as Structural Engineers, it involved the refurbishment and fit-out of 380,000 square feet of office space, the decommissioning of existing and installation of new central plant and engineering infrastructure, and the design of an impressive new entrance experience.

Interior Shot 1

Interior shot

The tenant, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), demanded a high BREEAM rating as part of its corporate policy along with a good EPC score, and considered this high on the list of priorities from the conceptual stage all the way through to completion.

PwC had already cut the carbon footprint of its UK buildings by more than 25 per cent between 2007 and 2012 and aims to make another 25 per cent cut by 2017, setting itself the ambitious goal to halve carbon emissions in 10 years.

The green building services for PwC’s HQ included installation of biofuel combined cooling heat and power (CCHP) with adsorption chillers using biofuel sourced from locally collected and refined waste vegetable oil. The biofuel is certified to EN14214 making it a clean carbon neutral resource with A rated energy performance.

Other initiatives incorporated by the design team included green walls and landscaped garden planting, waterless urinals and low flush toilets and a comprehensive metering strategy and BMS.

An innovation credit was obtained for the responsible sourcing of materials. More than 95 per cent of the materials used within the construction were responsibly sourced with an ISO 14001 certificate as a minimum.

Interior Shot 2

Interior shot

Visitors to the building are able to view the building’s energy usage levels via an interactive screen in the reception area.

“The impressive BREEAM score for this iconic building shows just how much can be accomplished,” said BREEAM director Gavin Dunn. “The project is a fantastic testament to PwC’s determination to achieve a high rating and to the project’s innovative and highly committed delivery team.”

Built by Overbury, the design concept for each of the floors is centred around a ‘heart space’ which links the existing north atrium and south atria. A cantilevered staircase on the south side links staff floors, connecting refreshment and communal working spaces.

Agile working methods offer 3,150 workstations for 4,500 staff operated through a ‘hoteling’ system. Two scenic lifts on the north side connect visitors with the seminar, meeting rooms and business lounge on the first level with the executive meeting and dining spaces on the ninth floor, as well as provide scenic views across London.

This highly sustainable refurbishment has delivered a state of the art HQ for PwC designed to last another 20 to 25 years.