In Progress

Owls return to Ullet Road

The owl cake of life

We had a wonderful time at our Open Day. Many friends came along with their families to our launch party in the morning - we were especially pleased to see Jan Myerson, who grew up in the building in the days when her father ran the doctor's surgery. Architect Daniel Smith and therapists Beth Hunt and Tracey Kiernan added a few words to John's wecome speech and we were treated to a song from Soul Purpose before opening the doors to the public in the afternoon.

In keeping with our theme of owls - because "Ullet" means owlet, a little owl - the day's entertainment featured owls in abundance.

Murray and new friend

Terri of Lets Party Cakes provided cupcakes and collected donations for Sunflowers. Lucy Fiori of Ullaloom Theatre Company entertained children with drawing and decorating pictures of owls, among other activites. Kim Ford did a wonderful job of face painting.

The real star of the day was Murray the Burrowing Owl, who was kind enough to bring his pet human Anita along to give everyone an experience we won't forget.

On a more serious note, some of our resident therapists gave taster sessions throughout the afternoon and were joined by Alicia and Martin from Planet Yoga Liiverpool, while John's tours of the eco building proved very popular.

  

Open Day - Sunday 6th September

Anita with Murray the owl

Everyone here is getting very excited about our Open Day, which will be on Sunday 6th September, 12.30 - 4 pm. On offer will be  free taster sessions and informal consultations with therapists, live owls Murray, Idris and Mango from therapeutic organisation hack-back.org.uk, Children's entertainer Lucy Fiori, and yoga sessions from Planet Yoga at 2 and 3 pm – first come first served for these.  Also regular ‘Eco Building’ tours showing some of the technologies and products used in the refurbishment.  Families welcome. You can download the flyer here.




Acupuncture and more

We have now acquired an acupuncture licence for office 1Office 1 bed and our first  regular users are running weekly group sessions for  "acu-detox".  This has successfully been used in post traumatic stress disorders and de-toxification as well as promoting relaxation and helping to relieve a range of physical ailments. You can download the flyer here.

In another exciting development, training in a wide range of holistic therapies,  suitable for beginner and professional therapists alike, are held here by Blend Therapy and Training. Coming up in April and May, First aid in the workplace and Holistic Deep Tissue Massage! Reiki training can also be arranged by our therapist Beth Hunt.

Natalie Bennett pays a visit


Natalie Bennett's visitIn the run-up to the General Election Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Riverside candidate Martin Dobson made time to visit us here. John gave a short presentation about the materials used in the refurbishment and Natalie posed with some of the Ullet Eco family and neighbours out in the sunshine. Natalie, a builder's daughter herself, was already familiar with low carbon building techniques, and had closely followed the construction of the first UK cavity wall Passivhaus by the Green Building Company in Huddersfield, one of the inspirations for the Ullet Road Eco Offices.

 

 

 

Tenants move in

As the final touches go into the building, tenants are moving in.  The flat is now let.  For the offices, a group of holistic therapists have taken office 2, and a number of pychological therapists are sharing offices 4 and 5, taking anything from half a day a week upwards.  One of the therapists who used to work in the GP surgery has actually moved back into the same room where she used to work over 10 years ago!

Front elevation July 2014

Other tenants are JB Estates, a local student property development company, and Liverpool Community Renewables, a new cooperative aiming to raise money by public subscription and install renewable energy on larger public and private buildings.

More on our tenants soon.

Putting the Ullets back into Ullet Road

Owl and birdboxOn Wednesday 16th July, our final owl took pride of place at the front of the Eco Offices, an illuminated oak owl to add to the wrought iron owls in the front railings and Ully, our stained glass owl and mascot.  Hopefully, it won't scare away the smaller birds for which we've provided a number of nesting boxes.  
Our new owl, sculpted by Shrewsbury  based Justin Davies, sits above a matching oak bird box made by Tom Farrell from his mother's old sewing table, which cunningly houses an LED spotlight.

Eco Offices Shortlisted for Echo Environment Award

With the rush to complete, the website has suffered from a bit of neglect.  The two shared internet lines  are now finally in, each with an impressive 49MBs download speed and upload speeds of between 5 and 6MB.  The door and door entry systems are now working, and so are the two mechanical ventilation and heat recovery units.

We were shortlisted for the Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce Innovation and Technology Award, and duly attended the Echo Awards Ceremony in the Isla Gladstone Conservatory on May 15th.  Disappointed not to win, of course, we were pleased to meet the winners of our category, Symphony Cars, and will be talking to Oscar with his Priusthem in due course about using one of their EV conversion kits for our shared electric car, hopefully being able to recycle an otherwise good fossil fuel car into one with zero emissions.

Meanwhile, our charging points at the front, each in a steel box containing both 13amp and 32amp, are starting to be used, as can be seen from this picture of a nearby Toyota Prius Hybrid user charging his battery. Eventually, however, the parking spaces will be used by the residential tenant and our shared electric car.  

Early April Update

With the offices in the very final stage of commissioning, there are still a number of frustrating little things left to do. The office door is unable to work with the door entry system and is being replaced this Saturday. The mechanical heat recovery and ventilation units are waiting for some minor parts that prevent them working automatically with the air quality sensors. 11 weeks ater ordering the two commercial broadband lines from Virgin Media, we are still waiting for them to be installed. Conversely, the residential side of Virgin Media managed to install their services to the flat at the end of February within their service level window even though they had a harder task than the commercial.

The flat has been occupied for over three weeks, and proving to be a cosy and comfortable place for its temporary occupants to live. The triple glaze lead light windows keep the place very quiet despite its main road location. The natural ventilation provided by the passive stack openers into the chimney breasts has proved to be a really useful feature in combining ventilation with keeping heat in the building. Internal clothes drying which we expected to be a problem in an air-tight building has been helped by mechanical extract and the use of hydroscopic clay plasters.

Still, work is progressing to get the offices available for use in late April or May. The heating and telephone and alarm systems are all in place, decorations are complete. Two offices are now spoken for, with a third being kept for more informal use, for the first six months at least, with a number of people interested in renting it on different days of the week.

The grass starts to grow

Grass starting to grow

A number of new materials have been used in the landscaping, as well as traditional concrete flags for the rear amenity area. The car parking area by the vehicle charging points was recently seeded on a sandy loam soil within a framework of Bodpave an interlocking grid made of recycled plastics. Supported on a crushed aggregate base, this grassed car park can support the weight of even quite heavy lorries. The perimeter has been seeded with a mix of grass and wildflowers, and we wait with interest to see whether the slower germinating wildflowers manage to show their heads above the more dominant varieties of grass.

Pathways at the front and side are made from Flexi-Pave, again made from recycled material, this time from old car tyres, mixed with small stone and a urethane bonding agent.

Both materials are totally porous, and if used more widely instead of concrete and tarmac, would contribute to a lessening of urban flood risk with rain running straight into the ground instead of overburdened drains and sewers.

Heat Pump success

On 20th February 2014, the air source heat pump was commissioned, and so far has proved a great success. Apart from one breakdown when a circuit board fuse blew, it has worked quietly and reliably to keep the main building at a steady 20oC, which we later reduced to 19oC following complaints from our builders that it was too hot.

Air source heat pumps extract heat from outside air and pump it inside. They work in the opposite way to a domestic refrigerator, which pumps the heat from inside the fridge out into the room, keeping the food cool. In fact, the model of heat pump we used, a Daikin Altherma split system with a EHBX16C ‘hydrobox’ (see http://www.daikin.co.uk/binaries/AlthermaLT_data%20sheet_UKEPLEN13-932_tcm511-242905.pdf ) is a reversible unit which acts as a heater in the winter, pumping heat inside, and a fridge in the summer, pumping heat out.

There are single unit and ‘split’ unit versions Chris 

Sharp and Keith Miltonof air source heat pumps. Our split system comprises the external unit shown on the right, together with an internal unit, the ‘hydrobox’, which transfers heat to the hot water and under floor heating systems. The external unit, shown on the right with Chris Sharp of the installers Dalliam on the left and Daikin engineer, Keith Milton, on the right, contains two fans. These draw air at around a cubic metre a second over a heat exchanger (the evaporator) through which very low pressure cool liquid refrigerant is circulating. The liquid refrigerant takes the heat out of the air and evaporates. The resulting warm refrigerant vapour is then compressed. This raises its pressure and temperature still further before it passes into a second heat exchanger, the condenser. This then supplies heat to the under floor heating system via a hot water buffer cylinder, and also to the hot water cylinder.

Over the first 40 days during February and March, the ratio of heat ouput to the power supplied to operate the compressor, fans, valves and pumps (called the Coefficient of Performance), has been over 3.5.  Typically  we have used 10 kilowatt hours of off-peak electricity to provide 35 kilowatt hours of heat, keeping the internal temperature an average 9.5oC over the outside as well as keeping the water hot during those cloudy days when our solar thermal system doesn’t perform at its best. The system operates just 3 hours a night and only occasionally during the day.

The savings made by using off-peak electricity, together with a small income from the Renewable Heat Incentive , should enable us to provide heating free of charge to our tenants. And since Good Energy supplies 100% renewable electricity, this is all being done without using fossil fuels.

Air Tightness testing exceeds expectations

On December 18th, just in time to give us an excuse for a pre-Christmas celebration, Ian Hancock of HRS Services came out to perform air tightness tests on the flat and the offices. We're thrilled to announce that the results came in at 2.39 m3/m2h for the flat and an amazing 2.25 m3/m2h for the offices. Both are better than our target, the Airtightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA) ‘best practice’ of 3m3/m2h, and an excellent result for a retrofit. Read more here ...

 It's nearly Christmas ...

so our winter festival cards are going out to post. Here's a preview:

Ully in Xmas hat

Well, Ully's trying to get into the seasonal spirit but frankly he can't help but look a tad miffed. Almost Scrooge-like, you might say. Who can blame him? With  climate change and ecological threats being what they are, what self-respecting owl wouldn't feel a bit cynical? We're a bit more optimistic though, so we wish you all the best of the season!

 

 

 

 

 

Ully the Owl comes home to roost

Owl window

  At last our stained glass potrait of Ully the owl, created by Gary Heritage of the Lead Window Co, has been installed in what will be the entrance to the offices.

 

 

 

 

 Climate change stops play

To the annoyance of site manager EWI textured finishTerry Gray in particular, the persistent rain of the last month has prevented a number of outside jobs, especially the rendering and applying the final textured finish to the walls over the external wall insulation (EWI). It’s ironic that the climate change that’s already taken place in the form of melting Arctic ice is impeding our efforts to prevent still more. And not just ourselves either. BLD, our EWI contractors, have had similar delays at all their sites. The picture alongside shows what should be happening now, but can’t. However, progress has been made despite the weather. By the end of October the internal insulation was virtually finished. Click here to read more about our insulation strategy.

Green Roof In Place

 Arriving on the morning of Wednesday 30th October, the roof was laid by the end of the next day.  Seen here offloading the single pallet of sedum turf are Tom Mellor and Nathan Monson from Mono Roofing in Horwich (in the blue hats),  together with Terry and Brian from T.Sloyans.

Green Roof arrives

The sedum was laid over the existing concrete and ashphalt flat roof above the office kitchen, with additional drainage holes added through the roof.   After a vapour check and airtightness membrane was laid, the roof was insulated with 200mm of Thermaroof, over which a second membrane was added, followed by 50mm water retaining foam in a filter fleece, the growing substrate and the sedum turf itself.

The yellow flowered sedum is a succulent, with water-storing leaves.  Together with the foam, it should have little need for extra watering.   Green roofs improve air quality, especially in busy urban environments like the Smithdown and Ullet Roads.  They also keep the building cool in the summer and provide a haven for insects and birds. 

The view of the finished roof looks out over the Eco offices' solar thermal collector (still without evaculated tubes), the main solar PV array on the garden office roof towards the back of Hawarden Avenue.

 Green Roof Laid

The Solar Systems Go In

Solar Tiles Go On

They’d never worked with each other before, but here is James Davies from Northern Solar securing the 50 Solar Century C21e photovoltaic files on the south facing roof while Dave Ball from Carroll Roofing fills in with the interlocking Marley Modern concrete tiles at the eaves, sides, valleys and ridge. 

It was a drizzly day on Tuesday 18th September, but they managed to install 50 solar tiles, each of 50 watts. Together with the existing 3.75kw of solar PV at the back of the site, that brings the total solar electrical output for the site up to 6.25kwp. This should provide around 5,750 kilowatt hours of electricity for the offices and the flat in a year.

Solar Thermal installation

Meanwhile Geoff Haimes from Solarflair (seen working on the ridge of the west facing roof) was installing the manifold housings for the 20 Thermomax DF100 evacuated  tubes that were later installed to provide hot water for the flat (see below).  A second solar thermal collector of 30 tubes on an east facing roof (not shown) will provide hot water for the offices.  

Liquid from the sun-heated collector will then be  pumped through heating  coils in large solar cylinders  in the  offices and the flat. This heat will be supplemented on dull days  by a  second heating coil from the Air Source  Heat  Pump in the offices and  from a  small gas combi boiler in the flat. 

Flat Solar Thermal 

Collector

Placing the solar thermal collectors on east and west facing roofs reduces output by about 20% compared to facing south.  However, we  wanted priority for electricity generation from the solar PV, which occupies the south facing roofs.

 

 

 

The New Roof Goes On

The already complicated pitched roof with its front gable, rear mono-pitch and single storey extensiion proved even more complicated to re-roof. Extending the rafters to cover the 240mm of external wall insulation and adding 400mm of insulation above and between the rafters brought a number of rpactical problems. But a little imagination and a lot of cooperation beyween members of the Eco Office and Sloyan's team and tthe joiners and roofers saved the day. Seen here are joiners Bob Nelson and Owen O'Shea converting the old loft into a second bedroom for the apartment...

 Joiners 

convert the loft space

and here is Dave Ball from Carroll Roofing inspecting the new windows and tiles he's just put in at the back of the building over the new room.

Roof lights go in

The solar installations have been re-scheduled for the week beginning Monday 16th September.

Roofing set to commence on 27th August

First the 63 year old tiles will come off.  Then the new Marley Moderns will go on.  But that’s not the whole story with our roof.  The roof is our gateway to the sun, and the sun is the primary source of power and hot water for the building. 

Northern Solar, who installed our first solar photovoltaic system in November 2012 (which has already produced 2,750 kilowatt hours of renewable electricity), will work  in tandem with our roofers to lay and connect up the C21e solar tiles that seamlessly interlock with the conventional tiles on the south facing roof to supply the apartment with electricity.   A third local company, Solarflair, will install the two Thermomax evacuated tube solar thermal systems, the collector for the offices facing east for the morning sun to supply early hot water, and the collector for the apartment facing west for hot water later in the day.

 The new roof will be bigger than the old, to cover the 250mm of external wall insulation and protective render that forms the building’s tea-cosy.   The rafters have already been extended, and the new fascias and bargeboards are being installed.

 The west side of the roof from the back

The first six weeks of Phase 2

The first six weeks have been busy.  Corroded lintels have been replaced.   Steelwork installed and joists replaced for the loft conversion in the apartment.   New drainage runs have been put in place.  Internal brickwork has been replaced where faulty, and reconfigured for the new room arrangements.   Plywood box sections have been installed to support the new aluminium triple glazed windows as they move out from the brick walls into the insulation.   Flue liners have been installed in renovated chimneys to connect up to the passive stack ventilation from the rooms below.

A lot of planning has also been going on, especially around installing the insulation and achieving the air- tightness required for a low-carbon building.   The fixings for all devices mounted on the building, from external lights and alarm sounders to bird nesting boxes, have to be planned, typically fixing a wooden pattress beneath a reduced thickness of insulation to which the device can be screwed.   All possible entries of services into the building, from drainage and ventilation ducts to phones and internet access have to be located precisely and a strategy devised for each penetration, with re-sealable ducts inserted for any entry point where phone and other cables may have to be added or removed on an ongoing basis.

 Here is Terry Gray, the site manager (centre), discussing the fixing of the external wall insulation with Dan Dakin (left) and Bruce Day (right) from BLD, a job that is scheduled for mid September, weather permitting.

 Terry, 

Dan and Bruce

Sloyan's move in!

At last work has started on Phase 2. Here you can see Sid and Brian outside the site office on Ullet Road:

Sid and Brian

and here are Daz and Paul uncovering an unexpected and corroded gas pipe (out of view), which fortunately turned out to be unconnected to any supply:

 Daz and Paul at work

We are pleased to announce the appointment of T. Sloyan and Sons (Builders)

T. Sloyan & Sons from Lightbody Street in Vauxhall are our preferred contractors for Phase 2, the refurbishment and extension of the existing building.  They will also oversee and coordinate the installation of new heating and cooling, energy generation, lighting and ventilation systems.

A well-regarded firm of some 50 years standing, their portfolio of finished projects covers many of the requirements of the Eco Office project, from building low-energy homes to level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes in Lydbury Cresent, Kirkby, to working within the planning restrictions that apply to refurbishment of properties in the Canning Street Conservation Area.

 They have a strong commitment to the environment, in particular to the sustainability and recycling of materials, with their own 4 acre aggregate recycling facility in Simonswood, West Lancs.  Their Environmental Management System conforms to ISO 14001 quality standards. 

There will be some challenges for them, in particular the achievement of our air-tightness standards.   We trust, however, that by the end of the project, they will, like us, have gained invaluable experience in low-carbon building methods that will benefit other future projects in Merseyside. 

We look forward to working with them. 

Saying Goodbye to the Old Doctor's Surgery

The tenders have been opened and we will soon be announcing our choice of contractors to work on Phase 2 of the building process. We won't be seeing this for much longer ...

The building as it 

was

125 Ullet Road was built in 1950 for a GP and his family on the site of houses destroyed during Liverpool’s ‘May Blitz’ in 1941. Read more about the history (and future) of the building here

It's Spring at Last

Here at Ullet Road Eco we are committed to enjoying greenery both for pleasure and its contribution to carbon- offsetting. We have now planted six espalier apple trees and two pears in the garden areas. Later on we will be using Bodpave planted with grass and self-heal under the carpark, and we have a number of aquilegia plants which we saved from the original planting. In the meantime, here's our first tree to show blossom. What a pity the flowers have to be removed this year to help the trees build up their strength!

 Apple blossom

Elektrobay Installation Completed!

Our brave electricians Greg and Josh fought the bitterly cold weather to install our two elektrobay charging points.

Greg and Josh

Tendering now in Progress

After much thought the team finally put together a shortlist of contractors, some big, some small, to work on Phase 2. This will involve the construction and installation work needed in the main building.

Garden Office wins A+ rating for Energy Efficiency

We're VERY happy (and proud) to announce that Office 6 has now received its Energy Performance Certificate and has been awarded A+ - the best possible rating! You can view our EPC here.

 Transition Towns Presentation

On October 10th John gave a presentation about the project to the local Transition Towns Energy Group. You can view it here.

Garden Office Completed!

At last the garden office (office 6) has been finished. You can see the story of its construction here.

Site Clearance    

Clearing the site ready to start work on building the Garden Office (Office 6)

 

Jim and his 

digger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tayo Aluko visits site

Local baritone and playwright Tayo Aluko, best known for his one man play Call Mr Robeson pays an impromptu visit to the site and meets builder Tom Farrell.

Tayo and Tom 

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