London & South East

The most sustainable broadcasting facility in Europe: £233m Sky Studios open for business

sky-studios.The Sky Sports News ‘Good Morning Sports Fans’ became the first programme to be broadcast from the new state-of-the-art HQ facility when it opened in West London on the 4th of July 2011. The building has integrated innovative design features – including natural ventilation and an onsite Combined Cooling, Heating & Power plant (CCHP) – in order to achieve Sky’s continued ambition for sustainable and renewable power and gain the accolade of being “the most environmentally sustainable broadcasting facility in Europe.”

Sky Studios was designed by Arup Associates and comprises 8 naturally ventilated TV studios (all of which are 3D and HD ready), 45 edit suites and 14 voice-over suites. At 100m long and 50m wide, the multi-functional 23,000m² space is the size of two New York City blocks or an eight-storey London building. The building is arranged over five levels. These five levels are divided horizontally into three zones – ‘make’, ‘shape’ and ‘share – offering a multi-platform distribution hub for Sky’s Sports and Entertainment Production and its 1,300 staff.

Bovis Lend Lease were the main contractors on the project, which was funded by a £233m investment from Sky over the four-year construction

Michael Beaven from Arup Associates led the engineering and sustainability teams. He spoke to Premier Construction, saying:

“Essentially it is a steel and concrete building; due to the sheer size of the project, a huge variety of materials were used in the cladding and so forth. As part of the specification, Sky specified that green materials were to be used wherever possible. We had a careful selection process to ensure that all materials were responsibly sourced, for example all of the timber is FFC accredited. Ecological landscaping was also an important part of the masterplan; we planted trees to reinforce the landscape, and drainage and water recovery was also part of the process.

“The exterior of the building is finished in a glass and aluminium cladding, with a modern wall system that has been designed to look modern and to express the function inside the building – for instance, the chimneys protruding from the building are ventilating the studios. It is a crisp and modern

“There were existing warehouse buildings on the site that had to be demolished before construction could begin. 99% of these buildings were recycled, with only 1% going to landfill.

“We’ve innovated new ways of integrating low energy features into the building through integrating architectural engineering. We’ve used the integrated design aspects of how we work to really implement things that could not be done otherwise. We have achieved an exceptional performance for such a high intensity building and have exceeded all targets from an energy point of view. The new Sky Studios really is at the cutting edge of sustainable design and performance.”

To date, the building has won the ‘Sustainable Project of the Year’ category at the 2010 Sustainability Awards and has received nominations for The Guardian Sustainability Awards 2011, Building Awards 2011, the World Architecture Awards 2010, the Building Construction Industry Awards 2011 and the 2011 Sustainable Energy Europe Awards.

Premier Construction also spoke to Fiona Ball and Steve Holford from Sky.

Fiona Ball is Head of Environment at British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB). She said: “The new Sky Studios is extending on our overall sustainability strategy for the company. Sustainability is key to our overall business strategy and we have ten very challenging targets with respect to sustainability, including making our buildings 20% more energy efficient by 2020 and making 20% of the energy we use match the onsite renewable energy. This is part of our overall ambition to make all of the products and services on our operations as a whole become most sustainable.Sky Studios

“The new Sky Studios facility is just a natural extension of what we wanted to do as a company. We focus not only on the buildings in our portfolio, but potential new builds. This was key to the overall plan of Sky Studios and was a clear remit when we engaged the architects and the builders.

“Sustainability is not just about doing the right thing; it is also about being a good business and having a good business practice. As a FTSE 100 company, we have to bear in mind the reputational impact of running a sustainable business. From a commercial point of view, sustainability is great for cutting emissions, energy and cost, and Sky is proud to be a leader within the sustainability field.”

Steve Holford, Head of M&E Projects, said: “The brief for Sky Studios is to enable Sky to take its technical broadcasting facilities to the next level and to remain the market leader in terms of quality broadcasting. We had to achieve this whilst continuing to support the environmental and commercial targets that are set within the company, all of which are extremely challenging and ambitious. We had to look at every aspect of design for the new Sky Studios.”

He also pointed out some of the standout features. These features include the bespoke natural ventilation design, which applies not only to the office space, but to the studios also. One of the company’s targets was to maximise all the natural resources as much as possible, even though the site is in a very constrained and urban environment directly beneath the flight path of Heathrow. Therefore, an integrated and bespoke wind turbine is about to be erected. This turbine will generate all of the power for the offices and lighting for Sky Studios – an incredible achievement. There is also an onsite Combined Cooling, Heating & Power plant (CCHP), rainwater harvesting for the flushing of toilets and the whole scheme has been designed to utilise as much daylight and fresh air as possible.Sky Studios Opening

Steve Holford said: “The use of natural ventilation is a unique feature of this project. Essentially, we’re opening up a really controlled environment for sound and light to the elements in order to utilise the natural resources. This has required some clever engineering in terms of noise attenuation as our location – underneath a flight path and bordered by the M4 motorway – made noise a real issue.

“We needed to make sure that the right broadcasting conditions were maintained with as renewable means as possible; therefore we also extract the waste heat from the technical facilities inside the building and use it for space heating – there is no gas supply to the building. Due to the fresh air, it is a cooling, pleasant place to work.

“We were set a target to produce at least 10% of the energy from renewable sources,” Steve said. “We set ourselves a higher bar of at least 20%, and the CCHP both enables and exceeds this target.”

The Sky Studios has achieved BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, setting a worldwide benchmark for broadcasting facilities. It has also gained an ‘A’ rating in the Energy Performance Certificate, an award that less than 1% of buildings achieve.Sky Studios

Steve Holford believes that the sustainable design has had a positive impact. He said: Throughout the design process, we had to bear in mind that in order for Sky to be successful, it’s about the people – our customers and staff. We constantly strive to produce and deliver the best quality and we have therefore centred the design on the people that will be operating out of it. If our staff work in a well configured and laid out environment, it makes the working environment a lot simpler and quicker and aids the processing of data between people. On a day-to-day basis, the free and open plan space allows people to have chance encounters and interact with each other. It’s a creative environment, and the design feeds that. Our creative processes are enabled and simplified as much as possible to allow people to focus on quality TV.

“It also makes commercial sense – if you reduce your energy usage, you reduce your operation costs. With 28 million visitors in 10 million homes, we are part of people’s lives and it is therefore key that our reputation is at the cutting edge in terms of sustainable delivery and key entertainment. Ultimately it will bring about benefits for the long term life of the studios.”

Fiona Ball also stressed the importance of sustainability to Sky. She said: “Sustainability is not an optional add-on; it is integral to how we do business on a day-to-day basis, and is key to our overall business strategy. This strategy is led from the top by our Chief Executive, Jeremy Darroch, and we have an Environmental and Sustainability Steering Group which includes all of the key stakeholders and the key executives around the business, who constantly review the strategies and our targets that we need to adapt to maintain our leading position. It is not just about being a successful company, but being a successful and resilient company in the long term. We want to make sure we are prepared.v

“This is what our customers want too. We not only look after our own operations, but we look at how we can make our products and services more sustainable for our customers. This is all part of all our business strategy: every single element of what we do Sky Studios addresses sustainability in the long term.”

Sky has always focused sustainability issues. Sky has been taking action to minimise their carbon footprint since 2006, when they became the first media company to become carbon neutral by offsetting their net carbon emissions and in October 2009 Sky announced a set of challenging new targets including a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions (tonnes/£m turnover), which will make their buildings 20% more efficient and produce 20% of energy from on-site renewables by 2020. In addition, between 2005 and 2010 the business exceeded its target to reduce gross greenhouse gas emissions by 10%.

Sky has the most comprehensive multi-platform service in the UK and Ireland. Their portfolio of channels, including: Sky 1, Sky Living, Sky Atlantic, Sky Arts, Sky Sports, Sky News and Sky Movies reach more than 10million homes in the UK. In June 2011, the company announced that it would increase investment in British programmes by 50% to £600m a year over the next three years.

Sky work with dozens of other broadcasters on the satellite platform, online and on mobile and is now leading the UK into the age of high definition television with Sky+ HD. They have also recently launched Europe’s first 3DTV channel, Sky 3D.Sky Studios

Jeremy Darroch, Chief Executive, Sky, commented on the project:

“Opening Sky Studios is a significant step in Sky’s development, and this building stands testament to our commitment to home-grown, high quality British content. Not only is Sky Studios the most environmentally sustainable broadcasting facility in Europe, its cutting edge technology will also help us continue to create ground-breaking and innovative programming long into the future.”

Apollo pioneers lifetime guarantee for fire detection products

Apollo Fire Detectors claims that the ability to assess the true lifecycle cost of a fire detection system is being compromised through lack of clear information about product life.

Apollo Fire Detectors has demonstrated its commitment in this area by introducing a Product Lifetime Guarantee. This warranty covers Apollo products for their anticipated 10 year lifetime (5 years for CO detectors), which is the length of time the company says their products will function reliably if appropriately installed and maintained. Their Product Lifetime Guarantee is based on 30 years of experience in the industry and clearly shows that Apollo is confident about the quality of its manufacture – which continues to be based in the UK.

Richard Bramham of Apollo Fire Detectors says: “We are very proud of our British engineering heritage and of course the Product Lifetime Guarantee is a clear signal to our customers that we will back our own products all the way. But this is really a much wider industry issue – this is about transparency and responsible business practice.

“It’s important for installers, many of whom are small businesses, to know that they have the manufacturer’s full support in the event that any device malfunctions due to a manufacturing fault. Taking a broader view, in a world where resources are becoming scarcer and costs are rising, people have a right to understand exactly how much their fire system will cost – not just at the outset, but for the life of the building.”


Based throughout the UK and Ireland, Clearpower are one of the leading providers of bioenergy solutions, providing large scale biomass installations for industrial, commercial and government clients .They have a dedicated in-house design team who can design very flexible solutions from 100KW to greater than 20MW. Clearpower also provide an ESCO solution, where they fund the installation so that the client pays no capital upfront.

Clearpower has completed over 80 installations to date.

Clearpower Ltd was the turnkey design and build contractor for the Sky Studios project and are delivering the entire solution for BSkyB including fuel provision and maintenance. It is the first biomass Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) in the UK and will provide the majority of heating/cooling power required for Sky Studios.

John Heffernan, Clearpower Ltd CEO said: “There has never been a better time to replace any kind of fossil fuel heating or power system given government support through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Bio energy is competitive with all forms of fossil fuels, and delivers excellent returns on investment.”


VAS was founded in 1989 and since then has developed advanced technologies for renewable energy and the environment. They are a turnkey supplier for biomass plants; their product include: industrial biomass furnaces (2MW to 25MW), thermaloil, steam and water-boilers and all kind of waste gas cleaning systems (in particular electrostatic precipitators and condensation systems).

Besides constructing and manufacturing industrial plants, VAS is active in optimising biomass plants. They are one of the largest companies in Austria to provide energy and environmental solutions.

For the Sky Studios project, VAS delivered the biomass plant, along with the necessary emergency and safety equipment, the flue gas cleaning and the thermaloil piping and equipment.

Mr. Zakarias, VAS said: “This was an exciting project for us as it was our first UK contract. We were pleased to work on the project with the other contracts and we already have our next contract very close to Sky Studios to deliver a 10MW biomass cogeneration plant for Heathrow Airport Terminal-5 Energy Centre. We are very interested in working with clients and customers in the UK. We are a leader in the field, and every client we have had has been highly satisfied. We know what we are doing and aim to bring our technology to the UK to work towards a sustainable future.”


Brockhouse were asked by Arup Acoustics to look into providing high quality movable acoustic walls for Studios 4/5 at the BSKYB new building.

The company’s remit was to achieve an on-site acoustic division between the studios of Dntw 60 dB using movable walls, the difficulty was that they needed the wall to be 9 metres high. On top of making a suitable track and roller arrangement to move the panels easily into position, Brockhouse also had to include passdoors within the system for fire equipment access and also accommodate a sound absorbing finish to the panels making them thicker and of course, heavier. All in all a very difficult and specialist project that Brockhouse believe was only achievable by their company and their product.

The system installed was Brockhouse’s Series 600 premium robust steel framed movable wall system made at the company’s factory units in Loughborough, Leicestershire. The contractor, architect and acousticians all visited the facility to view the company’s capabilities and discuss this complex requirement with Brockhouse’s vastly experienced designers.

Fortunately the budget and timescale was sufficient to make sure the process on site ended very smoothly resulting in an acoustic site rating of Dntw 63dB which Brockhouse believe is the highest rating between two rooms in the United Kingdom.

The leading supplier of movable wall systems in the UK, with over 150 employees in the company’s factories and marketing arms, Brockhouse are by far the largest company in their industry and have worked for many contractors and architects installing their systems in education, medical, hotel, corporate, religious and government buildings thoughout the country.

 Faram Group

Faram Group have been suppliers of office furniture  to BSKYB since 2004, during which time the company has supplied a wide range of products, from benching workstations to executive desks, from partitioning systems to open space office systems.

Faram started with a first phase in 2004 for five buildings. Later they supplied the headquarters of the company with £3 million pounds worth of office furniture and partitions.

Paolo Mio, CEO of Faram Group says:  “We have been supplying office furniture for three generations, with the accumulated experience and knowledge of the Mio family resulting in the company’s ability to supply a wide range of products that are appealing and functional.”

Faram was founded in 1957, in the heartland of one of Europe’s most stable and productive areas, north-east Italy.

An innovator from the start, it was one of the first companies to produce modern furnishings. Collaboration with the best designers produced several ranges of office furniture that would make the company’s name and establish them in the market.

During the 1980s and 1990s Faram expanded abroad, taking part in a joint-venture with Arlex S.A. in Spain in 1989, opening their London branch in 1992 and a branch in the Netherlands in 1993.

Internationally famous architects and designers have worked with Faram to create some of the world’s most prestigious projects, placing Faram at the forefront of the office furniture market. Expansion abroad continued during 2003 and 2004 with the opening of branches in China and in the USA.

During these years, Faram has supplied many major global companies including Citigroup, Barclays Bank, Morgan Stanley, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte and Unilever.

Profab Access Ltd

With over 30 years of combined industry experience, Profab Access Ltd are market leaders in the design and manufacture of standard and bespoke access panels and access panel solutions for ceilings and walls. All Profab products are designed in house by a team of qualified professionals using state-of-the-art 3D computer aided design software technology and consistency and reliability is guaranteed.

Profab liaised closely with architects Arup on BSkyB’s new UK headquarters to meet the unique requirements of this groundbreaking development. Riser doors supplied by Profab were used throughout the building, in both public and back-of-house areas.

Austin Stone from Profab said: “We were very pleased to be specified by such a large and prestigious practice as Arup. We felt privileged to be working on such a ground breaking and iconic project where the impact on the environment was such an integral part of the design.”

For over a decade now, Profab Access Ltd have been synonymous with supplying large and prestigious projects with fire rated single and multiple riser doors – a niche that they have developed within this area of the access panel market.

In 2010, Profab’s Managing Director Adrian Allbrighton and Technical Director Austin Stone, along with Chris Forshaw, founded a new company – Quality Steel Doors. This company offers quality steel doors at market beating quality and prices. A full range of latched and unlatched single leaf, half and double leaf  hinged steel door products are available, complete with thresholds and seals as required.


Turboden was founded in 1980 and is a leading European company in the development and production of ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle) turbogenerators. The turbogenerators can produce electric power and heat from renewable sources like biomass, geothermal and solar and from waste heat recovery.

Advantages of ORC turbogenerators include: high cycle efficiency, very high turbine efficiency (up to 90%), long life and automatic and continuous operation.

For the Sky Studios project, Turboden provided the ORC turbogenerator  for the CCHP plant (Combined Cooling Heat and Power Plant).

Paolo Bertuzzi from Turboden said: “Of course we were very pleased to be selected as a supplier for Sky Studios. It was a very important project for us as, due to the size of the project, it provided us with a possible new application for our system

“The aim of Turboden is to design and implement a clean and efficient solution for our customers that is both reliable and feasible. I believe that the Sky group appreciated our work, and we aim to provide our energy solutions for other companies in the UK in order to work towards a more environmentally friendly future.”

At present, they are working on a range of projects, including the implementation of a similar solution at Heathrow Airport.

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