Vertical challenge

high-rise buildings, HVAC, London plan, noise levels, SAP 10

Karen Fletcher explores the growing number of high-rise buildings in London and considers the importance of HVAC in delivering space that attracts the all-important paying occupants.

London is heading skywards. There are nine new high-rise buildings planned for the city that will be in various stages of construction in 2020, and even more envisioned by ambitious clients and their architects.

The Shard, completed in 2013, will remain the tallest building at 306m for some time to come. But others are coming close. TwentyTwo is nearing completion and is 278m tall. Rising from 22 Bishopsgate, the building is taller than the Cheesegrater (official name, The Leadenhall Building) in Leadenhall Street and Heron Tower at 110 Bishopsgate.

Going up 

Recently completed/underway 

TwentyTwo – 22 Bishopsgate – 278m (Office) 

Landmark Pinnacle – Isle of Dogs E14 - 233.2m (Residential) 

Newfoundland – Newfoundland Quay E14 – 220m (Residential) 

Consort Place, East Tower – Marsh Wall – 215.8m (Residential/hotel/education) 

150 Leadenhall Street – 203.7 – (Office) 



1 Undershaft – 290m (Office) 

100 Leadenhall Street – 247m (Office) 

4 Portal Way, South Tower – 237m (Residential/hotel) 

1 Lansdowne Road East Tower – 236m (Residential) 

Spire London – 235m (Residential) 

And 1 Undershaft will reach slightly above this at 290m but is still at the proposal stage. The Landmark Pinnacle is due to complete in 2020 and stands at 233m. As far as London is concerned, the only way is up.

Rob Bowden, London business manager at Mitsubishi Electric has seen these changes to London’s horizon and recognises the opportunity and challenge that it offers. The company has recently opened a London office specifically to work with professionals tackling these projects.

“With a growing demand for mixed-use buildings, office space and residential towers within the M25, there are more constraints than ever on the space for HVAC plant, and greater restrictions on noise levels,” he explains.

The height and space allowances in these buildings are not the only consideration for building services designers and installers. In order to achieve planning permission, buildings in the capital must meet the requirements of the London Plan, which include targets on energy use and emissions. And residential buildings, which represent quite a large proportion of the proposed high-rises, must also meet other requirements such as SAP 10 (Standard Assessment Procedure).

Bowden says: “The implementation of regulations such as SAP and the London Plan means that London now has some of the most stringent legislative demands in the UK, and this means that the construction industry is now creating the most efficient and sustainable working and living environments possible. We are also setting new standard for health and wellbeing.”

This last point is particularly key. The TwentyTwo building is harnessing the growing demand for wellbeing at work to market the property to potential occupants. The website for the property presents the idea of: “A place that puts people first…A vertical village in the heart of London.” Health, wellness and adaptable working spaces are how this high-rise is marketing itself in the property world.

Of course achieving comfortable, usable space of high quality requires the HVAC to be well designed and installed – as well as future-proofed. But it is something that clients are increasingly looking for as they seek to offer customers something beyond just another office.

Bowden says: “Speaking to our customers and partners, we are all faced with a similar challenge. In modern, energy efficient buildings, excellence is needed in the invisible environment parts of a building that deliver air quality, ventilation, acoustics, heating, cooling and controls. A lot of work goes into something you don’t actually see or even recognise. Quite often though, the less visible a system is, the better it is doing its job.”

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