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City centre office building refurb aims to set a new sustainability standard

WORK IS SET to start on refurbishment of a city centre office building that will turn it into the most sustainable in Milton Keynes.

The RO Group is putting the finishing touches to its plans for Silbury House, including introducing new technology that will propel the building to best in class green premises.

The group expects the project to set new standards in occupant wellbeing and is aiming Silbury House at achieving Fitwel accreditation – the world’s leading certification system that optimises buildings to support health and wellbeing.

The RO has invested in Milton Keynes for more than three decades, having developed three neighbourhood centres in North Furzton, Shenley Brook End and Newport Pagnell as well as two convenience stores.  The group also owned and operated two Jigsaw Day Nurseries, a scheme of 25 light industrial units and a small office development at Eastlake Park.

More recently it acquired a multi-use farm near Beachampton, where it has gained planning consent for a 5MW solar park, planted several hundred cricket bat willow trees and leased part of the farm for 80MW of battery storage.

Managing director Edward Rowlandson said: “Our redevelopment of Silbury House demonstrates our commitment to producing the best possible commercial property with the highest standards of environmental and wellbeing excellence.  The city’s extraordinary environmental goals surpass legal requirements, aligning with the UK’s net zero and other environmental targets.  We aim to do the same at Silbury and modernise the building to meet the highest standards.”

RO’s plans for Silbury House include state-of-the-art heating control, water saving and energy use reduction.  Cambridge-based proptech company InferSens will install sensors to measure water usage to control and reduce use.  Power sockets from measurable.energy in Reading will indicate when energy is being supplied from renewable sources, encouraging use when energy is green and enable the likes of computer monitors and printers to be turned off during out of office hours – even fridges for a few hours each night –  in order to save energy and reduce carbon emissions.

The planned works also target BREEAM Excellent and EPC A, will incorporate recovered and reused flooring, encapsulate around 40 per cent less embodied carbon compared to the RIBA 2030 target. RO will also install on-site PV solar power generation and electrical vehicle chargers, heat recovery VRF air conditioning and RESET air quality monitors.

The project is being carried out with quantity surveyors Gardiner and Theobald, architects GSSArchitecture – which has an office in Milton Keynes – contractor Thomas Sinden and joint agents Bray Fox Smith and LSH.

Mr Rowlandson said: “I am extremely proud of the long and successful association that our organisation has had with the city and the surrounding area.” Completion is planned for early next year, he added.

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