Grand Opening of council’s HQ: A Beacon of Sustainability

PUBLISHED: 10 August 2023

Colchester City Council is delighted to announce the grand re-opening of Rowan House, the head office and administrative hub for the council, following an extensive refurbishment project.

The refurbishment means residents will benefit from a ground-breaking deal, which brings together a unique partnership of local services in one of the city’s greenest buildings. 

Rowan House now stands as a shining example of sustainable infrastructure, with carbon reduction at the forefront of the renovation works. The building has undergone a remarkable transformation, aligning with Colchester City Council's commitment to achieve a carbon neutral footprint for council services by 2030. The refurbishment project aimed to optimise the building's energy efficiency, reduce its carbon footprint, and create a healthy and comfortable workspace for council staff.

Central to the project has been an energy-efficient heat exchange system (Mitsubishi Hybrid VRF) powered by electricity, which has a much lower carbon footprint than gas, and has been delivered thanks to £527,000 funding secured from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme in 2021. This mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system uses warm air from inside the building to pre-heat cooler air entering from the outside, thus preventing heat loss from having to open windows to provide ventilation.

Energy-efficient LEDs now help reduce electricity consumption associated with lighting and extra roof insulation has been installed to reduce heat loss, while a new building management system provides a constant temperature and helps ensure the air source heat pump is used efficiently.

The new heating system is expected to save an estimated 108.7 tonnes of CO2e and the LED lighting 30.9 tonnes of CO2e, per annum, contributing significantly towards the council’s aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

Rowan House is a prime example of sustainability in Colchester, showcasing how responsible environmental choices can go hand in hand with progress and development. Not only will the renovated building serve as the headquarters for Colchester City Council, but it also represents its commitment to a more sustainable and resilient future.

In addition, Essex County Council and Colchester Borough Homes will share space in Rowan House with Colchester City Council, in an arrangement that will not only help to cover the operational expenses of the building but will also foster closer collaboration between all three – opening up increased opportunities for closer relationships and opportunities to work together to support residents.

Cllr David King, Leader of Colchester City Council, expressed his pride and excitement at the grand opening of Rowan House, stating: “Today marks a significant milestone for Colchester City Council and our community. Rowan House represents our unwavering dedication to combatting climate change and creating a sustainable future for Colchester. This remarkable transformation demonstrates that environmental responsibility can coexist with progress. We are thrilled to provide our staff with an eco-friendly workspace that reflects our values as a council.”

Pam Donnelly, Chief Executive of Colchester City Council, also shared her enthusiasm about the project, remarking, “Rowan House is a testament to the council's vision and commitment to environmental sustainability. Our aim was to create a workplace that not only reduces our carbon footprint but also inspires our staff and the wider community to embrace sustainable practices. We believe that by leading by example, we can encourage positive change and make a lasting impact on our environment. We are immensely proud of Rowan House and the opportunities it presents for collaboration, innovation, and a greener future.”

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Chancellor of Essex, said: “Consolidating our Colchester offices into Rowan House will help reduce our annual operating costs, providing value for money for Essex taxpayers. It is also an exciting time for our teams as the move will create a greener and more modern working environment from which to deliver important services, including adult social care and children and families, whilst supporting our own net zero ambitions.
“We have collaborated closely with Colchester City Council on the refurbishment project in order to bring benefits to residents of Essex and this collaboration will continue.”

Pictured above, L to R: 
Laura Taylor-Green, Director of North East Essex Alliance; Matt Armstrong, Director of Business Improvement Colchester Borough Homes; Cllr David King, Leader of Colchester City Council; Cllr Tom Cunningham, Cabinet Member for Planning a Growing Economy, Essex County Council, and Pam Donnelly, Chief Executive Colchester City Council.

Page last reviewed: 10 August 2023


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