Refurbishment at St James’

08 May 2015
Refurbishment at St James’

Refurbishment at St James’

08 May 2015

Bruntwood’s refurbishment of the eighth floor at St James’, a 280,000 sq ft Grade II listed building in Manchester, has enhanced occupier demand and rental income for the space, and protected capital value. By installing secondary double glazing, glare control blinds and concrete insulation around the windows, Bruntwood substantially upgraded environmental performance and thermal comfort within the office space, creating a more efficient, desirable space for occupiers. The works also help to future proof the heritage asset against emerging regulations, making it a more attractive investment long term.

Key Facts

  • Helping to attract new occupiers and enhancing rental income
  • 50% less heat gain
  • 40% less heat loss
  • Upgrading Energy Performance Certificate from G to D

Situation and actions

Bruntwood is a family-owned property company offering commercial space in the UK. In line with the firm’s business model of retaining and remodelling existing buildings rather than knocking them down and building new ones, Bruntwood carried out a phased refurbishment of St James’. Built in 1912, St James’ was originally the headquarters of the Calico Printers Association. Today one of Manchester’s largest multi-let buildings, St James’ provides office space, shops, work studios and exhibition spaces.

Around 80% of St James’ perimeter façades are glazed, whereas modern buildings usually have about 50% glazing on southern façades to reduce overheating. This was significantly affecting environmental performance and thermal comfort in the building, with 70% of total heat gain due to solar gain through the glazing and 30% of heat loss taking place through the glazing.

Bruntwood partnered with sustainability consultants Arup and the University of Salford to ensure that the refurbishment would deliver on expectations. Arup undertook thermal modelling calculations to assess elements such as heat loss, solar gain, heat gain and U values. The University of Salford tested the proposed solutions in a trial bay in the building, carrying out thermal imaging and closely monitoring temperatures in the room and outside.


The new secondary double glazed layer, glare control blinds and insulation around the windows:

  • Cut heat gains by 50% and reduced heat loss by 40%
  • Enhanced thermal comfort, which studies show can enhance the satisfaction and productivity of office workers*
  • Improved energy efficiency and cut costs for occupiers
  • Upgraded the appearance of the internal office space
  • Preserved and extended the lifespan of the existing windows in the heritage building.

* The World Green Business Council’s 2014 report on ‘Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices’ showed that thermal comfort has a significant impact on workplace satisfaction and can enhance productivity.


  • Secondary glazing investment to eighth floor: £530,000
  • Enhanced rental income across 28,000 sq ft of office space
  • Forecast annual cost savings for occupiers on air conditioning running and maintenance: £29,000.

The works also negated the technical requirement for air conditioning as part of category A refurbishment works, offering a potential saving on air conditioning installation of £270,000.

Challenges and Achievements




How to change the market perception that air conditioning is required?


The new secondary glazing and blinds at St James’, along with new vents in the glazing, negate the need for air conditioning at standard occupancy levels, delivering a pleasant working environment with lower environmental impacts and reduced energy costs. However, many major firms looking for office space identify air conditioning as one of their requirements and agents do not offer them properties that do not have air conditioning. To attract more viewings, air conditioning was therefore installed at St James’. Together with other BBP members, Bruntwood will continue to work to change the market perception that air conditioning is essential for comfort, as this is not the case in every building.




How to meet modern expectations in a heritage building?


Through its façade improvement works, Bruntwood improved the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of the building from G to D, successfully balancing modern demand for energy efficient space with heritage considerations. By upgrading the EPC rating, Bruntwood not only enhanced the building’s appeal to occupiers, it made it a more attractive investment, minimising the risks of new regulations such as the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards. Although there is uncertainty as to whether these requirements will apply to listed buildings, the higher EPC rating helps to future proof the building against potential changes to regulations over time.

Find out more

Daron Williams

Head of Building and Construction

*Please note that the information on this page was supplied by the BBP Member and the BBP assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content