Armstrong Helps Drop In Centre Keep a Warm Welcome


When the heating system in a housing scheme and drop in centre for vulnerable people in Bristol reached the end of its useful life, it looked as though the facility would have to shut down for maintenance during the crucially important winter months.

Armstrong Helps Drop In Centre Keep a Warm Welcome

MBS by Armstrong

But the off-site construction of an innovative integrated heating system made it possible for the changeover of the boiler plant to take place within just one day, meaning that the visitors to the centre could continue to receive support. Further down the line, the high-efficiency equipment is continuing to deliver benefits, by slashing the centre’s energy bills and reducing its carbon footprint.

The organisation managing the Jamaica Street scheme and drop in centre in Bristol, Riverside ECHG (part of the Riverside Group), was faced with a dilemma. It had been carrying out extensive internal refurbishment at the drop in centre. Surveys of the ageing boiler plant showed, however, that it was beyond repair and that complete replacement of the boiler room was unavoidable.

Budget was made available for the new boiler plant, and the work was put out to tender, but due to the timescales (the work could not commence until early December) the personnel running the centre feared that, without heating and hot water, it would have to turn people away until the work could be completed.

The Riverside Group’s facilities management company, Integral, was able to avoid the disruption to services however. It recommended offsite construction and approached Armstrong for supply of the company’s award-winning MBS integrated heating solution. While work began on site to prepare for the changeover, Armstrong set to work preassembling the system in its purpose designed factory in Halesowen.

The changeover between the two heating systems needed careful planning to keep the centre open for use. Many of the visitors to the centre rely heavily on it, and the typical installation time, which would have meant the centre being without heating and hot water for four or five weeks, wasn’t feasible. Instead the teams involved in the project set the ambitious target of moving from the old to the new boiler in the space of just one day.

In preparation for the changeover day, an old oil supply tank (which had been unused since 1985), and its bund wall, were removed. This freed up space for the installation of two new gas-fired water heaters. The domestic water supply was moved across to the new equipment so that there would no loss of services for occupants on the changeover day. Work was also carried out in advance to prepare the site for the new boiler plant. An investigation of the chimney stack had revealed that, with the addition of a new lining, it was suitable for use with the new plant room, and this was relined in readiness.

On the day designated for the installation, the preassembled MBS integrated heating solution was delivered to site by Armstrong, requiring only final connections. Temporary heating arrangements were made for building occupants for the day and the changeover began.

The old boiler plant, the old flue dilution system and ceilings, which had deteriorated to an unsafe condition, were stripped out, and the new integrated heating solution, and the prefabricated pipework, were installed in their place.

The MBS is designed in a modular format, making it possible to move sections of the system quickly and easily through a standard doorway, without the need for specialist lifting equipment. The modules were put in place in the building and quickly connected together, the water and energy connections were made, and the equipment was made ready for use. The hard work of the contractors, and the design of the new boiler plant, meant that the project met its extremely challenging 24 hour time schedule.

The equipment has proved to have many additional benefits, beyond those of fast installation. The MBS incorporates high efficiency condensing boilers, variable speed drive pumps and advanced controls, which automatically match the heat and hot water delivered to the changing demands of the building and its occupants. This has significantly reduced the energy costs for the site, and has made it possible to reduce the carbon footprint for the centre significantly. The new equipment also requires much less space, taking only around one third of the floor area of the previous system, enabling the site occupants to make better use of the premises. The boiler room is also much cleaner, improving the physical environment.

Mike Smith of Integral said, “I think it was the fastest changeover we’ve ever carried out. It was essential to maintain services for the centre’s visitors, but with traditional equipment and assembly approaches it just wouldn’t have been possible. The design of the MBS however meant that it could be brought in, moved down stairs, round corners, through standard doorways, and connected up in a fraction of the time it would have otherwise taken. And the ongoing energy efficiency performance of the system will mean a more comfortable environment for the building occupants at a lower cost and carbon footprint, throughout the equipment’s lifetime.”

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