Graham Headquarters Office Building, Hillsborough, Northern Ireland

Project lead
Jacqueline Gibson, Sustainability Co-ordinator, Graham Construction


Key Project Team Members

Amanda Gallagher, Easlar

Alan Geddis, Caldwell Consulting

Trevor Hyde, Dominic McLarnon, University of Ulster

Graham Asset Management, Graham Energy Management


Sustainable Office, Low Carbon Design, Biomass, Thermal Mass, BREEAM Excellent, Northern Ireland, Office Building


Project Description

Graham are a Construction and Asset Management company with over 1000 employees in regional offices across the UK and Ireland.  In 2009 Graham constructed their new company headquarters in Hillsborough, Northern Ireland. The building is a three storey office building and was designed to be sustainable with low energy and water usage.   Graham set an ambitious brief that included achieving a BREEAM Excellent rating with an EPC rating of A.  BDP were the project architect and Caldwell Consulting the M&E consultants on the project.  Graham were involved throughout the entire process of the design and they were also the main contractor. 


The floor area is 3200m2 and there are approx. 200 permanent members of staff on site.  The building consists mainly of open plan office space with a mix of cellular offices and meeting rooms.  A south east facing orientation results in the building benefiting from heat from the sun in winter months.  Solar shading and brise soleil are installed on the outer fascade to control overheating and reduce occupant exposure to glare. The building achieves high levels of natural daylighting and uses daylight sensors and occupancy controls to minimize electrical lighting loads.


The building is naturally ventilated using floor to ceiling motorized louvres and manually openable windows.  There is a large central atrium which creates a stack effect for the ventilation and cooling of the building.  CO2 sensors have been installed in the building and the motorized louvres adjust automatically to improve air quality within the office areas.  Exposed concrete ceilings and openable louvres allow for nighttime cooling as well as providing thermal mass to regulate the buildings internal temperature.


Heating is provided via a Biomass Wood Pellet boiler using pellets from a local supplier.  The central server room is also naturally ventilated and provides heat to the rest of the building during winter months via heat recovery. A BMS system has been installed and there is a full time facilities manager located on site. Rainwater Harvesting has been used for WCs and water efficient fittings have been installed throughout the building.


The building has won a number of high profile awards including the RICS ‘Sustainability Award 2011', ‘2011 Corporate Workplace Award' from the British Council of Offices and Northern Ireland's ‘Most Sustainable Building of the Year 2010',


Building Performance Evaluation Study

Graham are very keen to find out how the building is performing in operation in order to continuously improve environmental performance and provide feedback to the construction and facilities management industry.  The BPE study will include gathering results and data on energy performance, fabric efficiency, user satisfaction and maintenance/operational procedures.  In addition Graham are planning on utilising University of Ulster's Thermal Mannequin to take measurements in specific locations around the building.  This information will provide unique information relating to occupant comfort and environmental conditions.


Technical Data

•         Floor Area: 3200 m2

•         BREEAM: Excellent

•         EPC: A (18)

•         Thermal Performance (as designed):

o    Roof: 0.11 W/m2K

o    Floor: 0.25 W/m2K

o    External Wall 0.28 W/m2K

o    Windows: 1.98 W/m2K

•         Air Tightness: 4.98 m3/hr/m2