University of Manchester invests in sustainable student accommodation with £4m refurbishment

University of Manchester invests in sustainable student accommodation with £4m refurbishment

The University of Manchester has made a key step forward in its zero carbon strategy with the £4m refurbishment of its Graham building. Situated on the Victoria Park Campus, the build was completed by the property services division of North-West based contractor, Seddon. The project’s large scope entailed making vast improvements to the building’s thermal performance.  

The build was completed shortly after the University launched its Environmental Sustainability Strategy, which provides guidance on the actions the University plans to take to reach its zero carbon 2038 target. A key focus within the strategy is construction and refurbishment, highlighting the University’s achievement of running on 100% renewable electricity. The Graham building refurbishment helps deliver improved thermal efficiency, as well as renewable energy sources, support the University in its efforts.

The project saw Seddon remove and replace all asbestos from the building, including ceiling tiles and Artex surface coating and connect mechanical and electric services to the ceiling. Extensive refurbishment works were also delivered across the accommodation, including bedrooms and circulation spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms.

The project included a three-storey extension, comprising a water tank room on the ground floor, bedroom spaces on the first floor and a plant room on the second floor. The improved plant room helps heat water far quicker, saving water wastage. Alongside the improved sizing of its 48 bedrooms, the extensions will greatly improve the student experience whilst maximising the energy efficiency and heat retention of the building.

Works on the student accommodation building began in January 2023. Seddon completed the project to schedule in mid-September ahead of the new academic year. With the eight-month project delivered across term time, Seddon had to adapt its processes to accommodate a live campus environment and establish clear lines of communication with stakeholders.

Sustainability features of the project include specialist composite windows, procured from Denmark, made from a combination of timber and aluminium for optimum performance. Solar panels have also been fixed to the roof to support the University’s 100% renewable electricity commitment.

John Shannon, Managing Director of Property Services at Seddon said: “We are pleased to have supported the University of Manchester in its efforts to achieve net zero. We completed this eight-month project in a live environment, working to minimise disruption to students and staff. The works will greatly improve the building’s thermal capabilities, minimise the property’s running costs and offer impressive improvements to the student experience. It represents a vital step on the University’s journey towards carbon neutrality.”

The project succeeds a long line of building and refurbishment the contractor has completed for the UK’s universities. It follows £4.3m worth of projects for the University of Derby, alongside contracts with the universities of Leeds, Birmingham, Lancaster and Worcester.

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