UK: The Ship, one of Plymouth’s most iconic buildings, has been relaunched with the help of Mitsubishi Electric air conditioning.

Built in 1993 on a 12 acre site, The Ship was formerly home to The Herald and Western Morning News but since 2013 has been left empty and was even being considered for demolition until a leading city property development company, Burrington Estates, acquired the building.

Now The Ship is being restored to its former glory, and has been renamed Spirit of Enterprise with hundreds of jobs being created by the businesses that will take up residence.

Burrington Estates was looking to refurbish and upgrade the derelict office within weeks instead of months. For this it needed a team of installers able to hit the ground running, and a flexible air conditioning system that would deliver the energy savings needed.

“When we first decided to buy The Ship we knew that the existing HVAC system was just inadequate and the whole system would need upgrading,” said Burrington Estates MD Rob Monroe. “New tenants were keen to move in so we also had limited time in which to make the drastic changes that were required.”

What was needed was a company that would be able to design, install, commission and maintain a far more energy efficient and sustainable system and be able to do this in a very short space of time.

“We would normally expect the timescale for completion of a job like this to be three or four months and we were given 10 weeks,” said Kurt Hedgley, managing director of JCW Energy Services Ltd. 

“Not only this, the client needed us on site just seven days from the date of receiving the purchase order.”

With HQ in Cambridge, JCW Energy Services was able to build a team from a number of its nationwide offices and called upon the technical and logistical support of manufacturer Mitsubishi Electric.

“It was clear that reducing the building’s energy consumption was of paramount importance to Burrington Estates, who are renowned for their sympathetic development of historic sites in the region,” commented Kurt Hedgley.

For the first phase of the project, 12 City Multi VRF outdoor condensing units and four Mr Slim split air conditioning systems were installed to serve 89 individual ceiling units.

City Multi was chosen as it could be installed in a modular fashion providing JCW engineers with the flexibility needed to work around the other elements of the refurbishment.

“We chose this VRF system because of its high performance and that fact that it only uses two pipes rather than the usual three which was ideal in a job with such tight deadlines,” added Hedgley. “It also comes with intelligent controls that make it easier to interface with the Building Management System.”

Working around existing equipment was a challenge due to the need to integrate systems and negotiating new pipework around old. The shape of the building and also the positioning of the plant added to the challenge with some units being fed through pipe runs of over 150m, putting added pressure on the system.

“One of our engineers told me that this was one of the most challenging but also the most rewarding projects he’s ever worked on,” added Hedgley.

The Ship’s next phase will include the completion of the restaurant and gymnasium for the use of the staff within the offices. And finally, a boardroom with spectacular views.