Foleshill Health Centre is the UK’s first PassivHaus primary care healthcare building, breaking new ground in NHS’s drive towards zero carbon. The 619m2 2 storey 14 module building to PassivHaus standards provides GP premises serving 10,000 patients.
Following Outline Business Case approval, the client and design team chose an offsite modular solution to achieve the desired high quality low energy solution, which travelled through almost 5 years of conceptual and analytical friction before approval for the scheme to go ahead released the brakes of a fast-paced design finalisation, offsite construction and site based fit out. To make the best use of the delays and harness Early Contractor Involvement by Portakabin, the Client chose to use an existing NHS Shared Business Services (SBS) modular framework, thereby according with the Construction Playbook on both offsite and procurement.
Speed of onsite construction has been critical with foundations laid on the inner city
brownfield site in November 2020 and the 14 modules manufactured offsite by Portakabin, built and fitted out in 7 weeks, lifted in to place over 2 days in mid-December 2020. Project completion in May 2021 will be achieved. Once the Final Business Case approval was given in July 2020 the entire team were geared up to “get it done” successfully and safely. The offsite fabrication shaved 13 weeks off of a traditional construction programme whilst reducing site operations over the winter months, achieving an early watertight construction and providing a high quality external envelope suitable for the achievement of the PassivHaus airtightness specification. Cost savings from the modular approach helped to reduce capital costs in a challenging balancing act of construction costs vs energy savings needed to gain NHS approval. In addition, the reduced site works not only reduced probability of on-site accidents but delivered unplanned added benefit of manufacture offsite in a Covid19 safe controlled environment.
Despite the post business case speed at which design was finalised, it developed over a number of years of Early Contractor Involvement and underwent independent Design Quality Indicator assessments; the last facilitated by Rider Levett Bucknall in November 2018, concluded that with scores in excess of 5 out of 6 across all ten Sections the project “has the potential to be a very good public building”. Offsite modular design and manufacture had no negative impacts on project quality or its satisfaction of stakeholder aspirations.
Benchmarked against other health centre projects, this BREEAM Excellent building has modelled annual energy consumption of just 31kWh/m2 GIA compared to 98kWh/m2 for an equivalent traditional build health centre. Initially higher PassivHaus construction costs are offset by energy savings creating a 2.5% reduction in life cycle costs within 25 years, increasing to 8.6% over 40 years.
This breakthrough NHS project stands out from the crowd as an exemplar UK health care solution, demonstrating a different way of creating innovative low carbon emission assets and gaining significant benefit from application of MMC and offsite manufacturing, which can be shared with the CE movement.