BAB Projects, a solar shading specialist, has helped the Wellcome Trust restore the effectiveness of its motorised blinds system at the Gibbs Building on Euston Road. The glass–fronted building is the UK headquarters of the charity which undertakes pioneering research to improve human and animal health.
Stephen Aproskie, project manager in the building services team, explained, “Providing a high quality working environment for our staff and minimising the environmental impact of our work here reflect the ethical values of the charity.”
Specific problems were identified by BAB Projects during an initial technical survey conducted by project manager Wayne Halligan. Original equipment installed on the building included 164 roof tension blinds and 430 external venetian blinds (EVB’s), all under the control of the building management system (BMS). Most of the vertical blinds were installed in the thermal break, a one metre cavity between the inner and outer glazed external walls. Every unit was meticulously examined to determine the condition of each component. Repair was found to be an economic option in most cases and only 170 complete new blinds were required.
Refurbishing the blinds included the renewal of ladder tapes, control tapes and thorough cleaning of the individual blades. New motors were installed throughout along with new transformers, actuators and a weather station. A new control system, independent from the BMS, was also fitted. Testing of the power cabling established it to be in satisfactory condition, as was the control circuit. This was retained with hub repeaters to boost control signal strength.
The new control system was sourced from Warema, makers of the class- leading Climatronic system. BAB staff undertook in-depth technical training in Germany to understand and fully exploit the capability of this system. A bespoke control program was then developed for the building, placing the emphasis on occupier control so that in each work zone they could regulate light and cooling in their area.
Before roll-out of the complete refurbishment programme a trial installation was undertaken on floor eight. This comprised 33 new blinds with localised control. “The completion of phase one was crucial in two ways,” Stephen Aproskie noted, “The trial proved the performance of the proposed system upgrades but also allowed us to establish the most effective method of working that would minimise disturbance to the normal working of the facilities.”
Work on the comprehensive re-fit took six months to complete. This included removal of existing blinds with examination and refurbishment wherever possible, refitting and commissioning of the new systems outside working hours to minimise disruption.
Stephen Aproskie observed, “We could have taken out the whole system, but this would have been expensive, highly disruptive and resulted in needless environmental impact. Staff now report higher levels of satisfaction, have more control, and a much more productive environment. The building performance has been restored with reduced energy costs as a financial and environmental bonus.”