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The Heat Is Rising: Birmingham's Green Building Initiative Arrives at Colmore Row

The Heat Is Rising: Birmingham's Green Building Initiative Arrives at Colmore Row
103 Colmore Row, Birmingham, Newhall Street frontage

An ambitious Birmingham green energy project has reached Colmore Row, and could change the way developers and tenants think about managing real estate.

Sterling Property Ventures’ 103 Colmore Row will be the first commercial office development in Birmingham’s central business district to benefit from the new District Energy Scheme. 

The scheme is a pivotal part of Birmingham City Council’s climate change strategy, which aims to cut C02 emissions by 60% by 2027.

The scheme, which already provides heat and power across three clusters of city centre buildings, will provide 56GWh of heat each year, 51GWh of electricity and 8GWh of chilled water, saving more than 15K tonnes of CO2 emissions every 12 months.

Now a fourth cluster is being created around Colmore Row’s business district. The 224K SF block at 103 Colmore Row will obtain all of its heating requirements from the system, meaning no need for on-site fossil fuel burning boilers. 

Sterling said it is a highly sustainable and cost-effective solution.

“We estimate that there will be savings on operational and maintenance costs — up to 20% — whilst plant room requirements and capital costs are also lower,” Sterling Managing Director James Howarth said.

“This will allow us to deliver one of the lowest service charge levies for a Grade-A building in Birmingham, highly relevant when occupiers focus on their total cost of occupation and efficiency of their space long-term.

“Our tenants can reduce their own carbon footprint, as well as enjoying lower costs for heating their office space. What’s more, these costs are fixed for at least 15 years.”

District heating scores highly in environmental assessments for commercial buildings, such as BREEAM and LEED

The Birmingham District Energy schemes’ three networks are operated by Engie. Work began on the fourth, in the central business district along Colmore Row, earlier this year. By 2020, Engie will have laid more than 8km of heat network in the city.

The three original schemes involved contracts to supply 10 users from both the public and private sectors. Engie said that financial and carbon savings have inspired expansion to include several third-party private developments.

The Council House, Town Hall, ICC, Utilitaria Arena, the Library of Birmingham, Aston University and Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital are among those hooked up to the system so far. 

Construction work on 103 Colmore Row is expected to complete by summer 2021.