Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Green Sky Thinking: Green Tea - Fit for the Future?

  • Comment

Footprint tours AHMM’s Green Tea Building


The Tea Building, Shoreditch

As the recent winner of the AJ Retrofit Awards, AHMM’s Tea Building, originally known for its celebrity visitors, has become a celebrity in its own right. Located in the heart of Shoreditch, the 1890s warehouse building is dramatically changing the market’s perception about office retrofit projects.


The Tea Building being constructed in the 1890s

After a progressive retrofit over the past decade, the units have been constantly in demand, with rents increasing from £12.50/sqft to over £30/sqft.


New entrance into the Tea Building

With retrofit hot on the sustainable agenda and the rapidly approaching 2011 Energy Act which will make it illegal to rent a property with an EPC rating below E after April 2018, AHMM’s Fit for Future programme and the current Green Tea fit-out are extremely topical.


Open floor plan allowing flexibility within units

Supported by client Derwent, AHMM’s Fit for Future programme aims to adapt today for a better tomorrow with a strategy of progressive refurbishment of existing buildings. Initially tested on the Tea Building following the realisation of the cost Carbon Reduction Commitment for the client [which was estimated as £21,252 for 2008-09], the Fit for Future programme hopes to reduce Tea’s annual carbon emissions from 63kg/m² to 31kg/m².


Reception space including the shipping container bought for £500

Following the refurbishment and Green Tea fit-out, Tea has improved from an EPC rating of E to C, with some units achieving a B rating.


As part of the Fit for Future programme AHMM have developed PAC, a simple strategy which they hope can be applied to existing buildings to improve the environmental credentials.


Communal corridor showing the simple application of lighting and services

Focussing on Passive, Active and Comprehensive measures, the PAC strategy has been applied to the Tea Building in the following way:

Passive Measures:
Window Upgrade - New Critall-style W20 section windows
Controllable Background Ventilation - Openable vents in windows
Solar Control - Solar Thermal Film to glazing
Active Measures:

New Lighting - Encapsulite MT 70 Fittings
Lighting Zones - PIR sensors

Comprehensive Measures:
Rooftop Main Heat Exchanger - For complete energy sharing across the entire building
Thermal Loop - Transferring heat from the south side of the building to the north to reduce
the overall energy consumption of the building.
Local Heat Exchanger - Within units demise for heating and cooling distribution


Diagram showing the window upgrade and new lighting system

With a clear lack of ‘eco-bling’, AHMM demonstrated how energy use could be drastically reduced in an existing building while maintaining the character.


Typical stairwell in the Tea Building

The process wasn’t easy. With all retrofit projects come additional challenges. Cost, legislation, planning and agents were highlighted as the main hurdles for retrofit projects. Raising interesting topics, AHMM questioned the cost of cooling and necessity of BCO Benchmarks. At what point do tenants expect comfort conditioning as part of the spec?


Diagram showing AHMM’s lighter touch approach to retrofit projects

Not only is Tea lowering the energy consumption through design, technology and services, its also lloking at ways to sustain the use of the building. By allowing the floor plan to be constantly adapted to meet the tenants needs, Derwent and AHMM are maintaining life within the building and the ethos of the Tea Building.


James Santer presenting in the reception space of Tea

Guided tours followed the presentation and provided a behind the scenes look into the Tea Building’s units for Method, Mind Candy and Mother. All units displayed flexibility where the tenants have been given the opportunity to create spaces which work best for them.


The tenant board which used to be full shows the growth of the tenants within Tea

On each floor the Green Tea fit-out is evident along the communal corridor. New services have been installed and can be seen behind a metal casing with graphics taken from the M&E drawings. A series of holes have been cut ready for when each unit gets ‘Green Tea’d’.


Part of the Green Tea fit-out

With a constant progressive refurbishment, AHMM have the opportunity to monitor, assess and learn from the performance of the Green Tea fit-out to progress further to new retrofit projects in the future.


Should RIBA have an annual sustainability award?

Vote in the AJ poll

Subscribe to Footprint by email and follow Hattie Hartman on twitter.


  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.