An iconic Greater Manchester landmark has been saved from demolition and transformed into a sustainable, energy efficient media hub following a £4m refurbishment and major regeneration project which included the installation of intelligent energy controls from CP Electronics. The Grade II-listed Ashton Old Baths sat empty for 40 years before Manchester property developer PlaceFirst and Tameside Council implemented a complete refurbishment programme, which was designed and project-led by Modern City Architecture and Urbanism (MCAU).
This was made possible with the support of grants of £1m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and £1,712,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The result is a new digital, creative and media hub which is segmented into several self-contained, free-standing office pods inside the original structure of the building, which dates back to 1870.
As part of this modernisation programme, creating an energy efficient environment was important, not least because the audience for the office pods consists of innovative start-ups, for whom finance is often limited. To reduce unnecessary energy costs, and enhance the overall sustainability of the building, the refurbishment was completed using a number of presence and absence detectors from CP Electronics, the UK leader in energy control.
To maximise cost savings, it was important to install a lighting control solution which provides a good level of coverage without being obtrusive for tenants. Presence and absence detectors provide automatic control of lighting in the building. This also contributes to occupant safety by illuminating dark corridors and stairwells. To deliver this level of lighting control, a combination of adjustable head, flush mounted MWS3A microwave detectors, and compact, flush-mounted EBDSPIR passive infrared (PIR) presence detectors were specified.
An alternative implementation which went swimmingly
Installing standard lighting control products was a challenge in this project, because although the interior of Ashton Old Baths uses a modern, contemporary design, the external fixtures of the building are still dated. Typically, the MWS3A microwave detector would be installed utilising a suspended ceiling, with the PIR sensor either flush or surface mounted into a ceiling tile. However, as Ashton Old Baths is a building which dates back to 1870, this conventional ceiling implementation was not possible. Instead, Performance Electrical, the contractors chosen for this project, worked closely with CP Electronics to find a more convenient and effective installation method.
Joel Schofield, Project Manager at Performance Electrical, explained: “We often specify solutions from CP Electronics on projects such as this one, because of the adaptability of their products for installation, and the specialist support and advice they provide. As we could not continue with a typical ceiling installation for this project, we had to work with CP to come up with an alternative solution. Both the EBDSPIR and MWS3A detectors have been designed to facilitate a simple plug-in connection and can be provided together with specialist wall mount brackets. This meant that they are ideal for retrofit projects such as this one, and we were able to quickly and easily install the controls on wall brackets, with minimal physical impact on the building’s structure.”
Meeting energy efficiency targets
As a council-run building, meeting energy efficiency targets was always going to be a major factor in the regeneration of Ashton Old Baths. As a result, it is important that CP Electronics’ detectors can demonstrate energy efficiency savings in these areas. By utilising a combination of PIR detectors, which pick up infrared radiation and wavelengths created by body heat when a person enters a room, and automatic microwave presence detection, intelligent lighting controls can identify when these shared spaces are being occupied, automatically switching the lighting off, and saving money, once they become vacant.
The three month installation period for these energy controls was part of a project of work which started a new chapter for the Grade II listed baths, which were initially built to improve the living conditions of the working classes. They served the Ashton community until closure in the 1970s when they remained largely derelict and on English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk register before this recent regeneration.
Today, Ashton Old Baths have been transformed into a building within a building, with a modern creative space contrasting nicely with nineteenth century architecture. The project has already achieved a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating, demonstrating its green credentials when it comes to management, energy use, health and wellbeing, pollution, transport, land use, ecology, materials and water.
Nick Booth, Area Sales Manager at CP Electronics, says that this project was one of the most rewarding of its kind for the company. He concluded: “The work that has been done to transform a derelict and at-risk building into a modern creative space, without impacting the original structure of the building, is very impressive. The regeneration of Ashton Old Baths shows what can be achieved when you retrofit an intelligent energy control solution to an ageing building.”