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Museum donation for Rylands generators

Complex extraction ensures reuse of historic machinery

Two old generators removed from our Rylands building project in Manchester are set for a new life with the West Coast Railway (WCR) in Carnforth. The engines were originally installed in the 1960s to provide back up power for the former Debenhams store which is being stripped out by main contractor Russell WBHO prior to its refurbishment into a Grade A office building.

The Russell WBHO team and specialist sub-contractor Reddish Vale undertook the complex removal using a mobile crane brought in especially for the job. The generators were drained of fluids and oils and any external components removed and set aside for future use.

The roof was opened to allow for removal and the machines were lifted straight onto an HGV for the 70-mile journey to Lancashire. Once they have been refurbished by experts from WCR, the generators will be put back into use at the rail museum.

Harry Basra, Russell WBHO contracts manager for the project, said: “Removal of two extremely heavy generators from the roof of the building in the middle of a busy Manchester day was a challenging operation. The Russell WBHO team made sure it was well-planned and ensured it was completed on time and without any issue. As part of the Net Zero targets for the project, it is really satisfying for everyone to see them going to a new home where they will be useful once again.”

Chris Beet from WCR said: “We’re absolutely thrilled with the donation of these engines. While they’re no longer suitable for a modern, low carbon building, they will be put to good use at the rail museum powering our remote workshops. The operation to remove them was incredible, we were so impressed with the project team. Our thanks to Russell WBHO, Reddish Vale and of course the building’s owners AM alpha.”

Reducing waste to landfill throughout the strip out and refurbishment is a key ambition of the project for AM alpha. The building is designed to achieve Net Zero Carbon status with BREEAM Excellent or Nabers 5* planned.

Retention of components and materials on site is preferred wherever possible, followed by reuse elsewhere or by a third party, recycling, and finally waste to landfill.

Other examples include component parts of the escalators, such as the stair treads, which have been saved for re-use in other buildings, as parts for this type of escalator are no longer produced but there are still many in operation throughout the country.

More than 600 LED lights have also been recovered by a Glasgow-based company which has saved 14tons of CO2 and 644kg of electronic waste prevention. These products can now be specified for use in other projects which will thereby benefit from reduced embodied carbon.

The reuse of the generators by the rail museum has been warmly welcomed by Stephan Schmid, senior vice president at AM alpha. He said: “It is wonderful to see these old machines on their way to a second life at the rail museum. Having them reused in this way is an exciting and innovative solution from our project team who we have tasked with reducing waste as much as possible in line with our sustainability ambitions.”

Arcadis is the project management consultant, Jeffrey Bell + Co is the architect, Woolgar Hunter Engineers are the structural engineers and Max Fordham LLP offered Mechanical and Electrical engineering design, NABERS, embodied carbon and circular economy consultancy for the Rylands building project.

Kiru Balson, principal sustainability consultant at Max Fordham LLP, is responsible for the Embodied Carbon and Circular Economy plan and, together with colleague Andrew Stephen, identified the opportunity to work with the West Coast Railways on the project.

She said: “There is so much we can do to reduce both carbon as well as waste from projects like this, but it takes a significant commitment for the client and the contractor to make it work. The targets for this project are rightly ambitious showcasing what is possible and scalable across the industry. The whole team has really embraced the principles of circular economy and worked hard to make it a reality.”

The refurbishment of the Rylands Building will see Russell WBHO add a four-storey extension to create 10 floors of high-quality office space, a shopping arcade and a leisure area on the ground floor.

Images provided courtesy of Real Estate Marketing Media.