Building type Civic
Building age post 2000
Location Bury St Edmunds
Cost of work £ 20,600,000
District St Edmundsbury
Features Solar Hot Water Heating,Solar PV Panels,Groundsource Heat Pump,Rainwater Harvesting,Insulation and Glazing,Ventilation Systems,Climate Adapted

West Suffolk House is a purpose built public sector office building. It forms the first phase of a larger Public Service Village, integrating staff from both St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Suffolk County Council under one roof. The building occupies a prominent corner position providing a landmark structure with a strong presence in the town, and will act as a catalyst for future phases of development along Western Way. The four storey building provides approximately 4,500m2 of flexible open plan office space, along with conference and meeting rooms, public access areas, a flexible democratic space/council chamber and ancillary support areas including a staff café. West Suffolk House has recently achieved a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, as well as being in Energy Performance Band A.

Sustainability Features

The building has been designed to a very high energy efficiency standard to achieve a 47% PERC (Percentage Emissions Reduction Commitment) benchmarked against conventional modern office buildings.  This has been achieved through incorporation of the following measures into the design and operation:


Exposed reinforced concrete structure to provide high thermal mass for night cooling aided by automatically controlled ventilation.

Ground Source Heat Pump

Open loop borehole type ground source heat pump linked to embedded pipework in a “bubbledeck” concrete floor slab, the first of its kind to be constructed in the UK.  This allows both heating or cooling of the building mass to control room temperatures.


Natural ventilation as far as practicable throughout. The roof is pitched in a manner designed to improve natural ventilation buoyancy.

Building Management System

A comprehensive BACNet building management system.

Insulation and Glazing

Solar performance double glazing.

Solar Thermal Water Heating

20m sq solar thermal collectors which track the sun in order to generate approximately 25% of the hot water demand


Enhanced efficiency lighting systems above the Building regulations. Rooflights installed on the atrium roof to increase daylight penetration in the office, supplemented by daylight dimming control linked to artificial perimeter lighting installation.

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting to provide some of the water for toilet flushing.



Design Process

Both authorities are committed to sustainability together with effective and efficient use of resources.  Therefore, the aims of the project were:

  • To integrate services as fully as possible resulting in one point of service delivery for members of the public as they enter the building;
  • To bring together a range of public sector services on one site, providing better, more cost-effective services and better value for money for customers;
  • To build to a target BREEAM “Excellent” standard of environmental performance incorporating low/energy carbon heating and power technologies (awarded in November 2009).
  • To move to more flexible ways of working to benefit both the staff and the business of each organisation.




Green Lifestyle

The site as a whole was designed with a staff travel plan in mind and as such there is significant provision of cycle stands.



By sharing a building the two councils also share facilities, such as meeting rooms and conference space, a reception area and parking.  This makes the running of the building more efficient and it is envisaged that it will keep operational costs down.

Other overheads, such as heating, lighting and maintenance, will also be cheaper in a more modern building.

West Suffolk House is in its first year of operation and during this time we are still developing our understanding of actual building performance and working to get all elements of the building infrastructure fully functioning.  However, since the building has been designed using low carbon heating, natural ventilation and rain water collection systems, we remain confident that it will reduce the carbon ‘footprint’, energy and water use of both councils so reducing cost compared with modern conventionally constructed offices.


Suppliers and Professional Services Used

Architects, Electrical Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Civil Engineers, Structural Engineers, Environmental Team: All Pick Everard

Quantity Surveyor: Gardiner and Theobold

Landscape Architect: Elwood Landscape Design

Project Manager: Suffolk County Council

Principal Contractor: Wates Construction