Oakham Co-operative Society wins CIBSE award for EDP Consulting

Published:  15 March, 2011

Excellence in commissioning — the Midland Co-operative Society store at Oakham.

When the Midland Co-operative Society’s store in Oakham was destroyed by arson, a new operational store was required as soon as possible. A temporary retail facility was provided on the site, and the new 1700 m2 building was open for trading just 15 months after the original store was destroyed and a year after the design team was engaged.

A large number of environmental features were incorporated in the new store, which along with the interactive nature of these technologies and the required interaction between the various specialists meant that commissioning had to be carefully managed and controlled. The client appointed the services consultant to oversee the commissioning process — winning for EDP Consulting the ‘Commissioning project of the year’ awardin CIBSE’s Building Performance Awards for 2011

Among features of the new building were the following.

• Airtight construction to reduce infiltration.

• Large areas of roof glazing to increase daylight factor.

• Daylight linking and presence detection on control lighting.

• Heat recovery from the refrigeration system to heat the building.

• Heat recovery from mechanical ventilation to preheat fresh air.

• Natural ventilation and passive cooling in store and café.

• Overnight cooling in the Summer using outside air.

• Destratification fans to reduce heat loss through the roof in Winter and reduce the effect of cold aisles in front of chilled display cabinets.

• Underfloor heating in the sales area.

• Sophisticated control system to maximise energy efficiency and comfort.

• Solar thermal system for DHW.

• Rainwater recovery.


• Sub-metering of all separate gas services, all separate heating circuits, major water usage and electrical circuits above 50 kW.

It is self-evident that those systems will not work harmoniously by accident. The calculated payback for all the energy-recovery systems is 12.3 years at current energy costs.


Guidance in CIBSE ‘Commissioning code M, commissioning management’ was generally followed. The full requirements of the commissioning process detailed in the tender specifications, which also included commissioning the natural-ventilation system — a topic not really covered by the standard commissioning codes.

There were many meetings between the consultants and the various contractors and the commissioning specialist during the construction period to explore the commissioning process and ensure that particular nuances involved with the project were identified early. Those meetings ensured that adequate provision was made in the commissioning process and programme and that everyone involved had a good understanding of the engineering services and how they were intended to operate.

The most critical aspect of the commissioning was the interaction of the various technologies, followed by the BEMS — the successful operation of the building depending heavily on the correct functioning of the controls.

Commissioning the BEMS involved checking that the controls strategies were correct, that plant was controlled as required and the building reacted as expected. EDP’s experience on similar projects has shown that buildings using natural and passive technologies often react in a counter-intuitive manner.

That methodical approach to commissioning from the outset of the project to practical completion paid handsome dividends later. Seasonal commissioning proved remarkably simple, and problems and issues anticipated at the time of the design did not materialise. The consultants observe that poor weather during the first Summer of operation may not have tested services to the full extent. The intention is to continue monitoring the building, a task that is simplified by remote access to control logs over the Internet.

Tweaks and refinements to the controls strategy have been made based on occupant reaction. The information was obtained by contractors and consultants regularly walking around the building asking in an apparently informal manner ‘how the building is?’. One outcome was identifying a rogue offset inadvertently applied to a temperature sensor to be identified and corrected.

Detailed stories about commissioning are rare, and the judges commented, ‘The commissioning process was well planned, well integrated and implemented to the service design.’

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