LABC Central Building Excellence Awards 2017 – Best Large Commercial Building

Best Large Commercial Building


Compliance Building, GlaxoSmithKline, Ware

GSK Compliance Building_Hertfordshire Building Control

Glaxo Smith Kline Compliance Building


Project team:

Simons Construction Ltd, Simons Design Ltd, GlaxoSmithKline, Ross & Partners, Couch Perry Wilkes

Local Authority:

East Hertfordshire District Council (Hertfordshire Building Control)


This project required the construction of an Archive Facility for pharmaceutical manufacturing sample and documentation retention. The build consists of 1050m2 over two floors with structural timber frame, roof and cladding, hempcrete structurally insulated wall panels and CLT first floor slab. The structure was designed around the principle that GSK seek to operate carbon negative buildings. This project was a pilot, to test sustainable technologies and materials in a highly regulated manufacturing environment.


The facility was designed to minimise energy demand from the strict temperature and humidity requirements for storage of samples and documents. Part of the brief was to ensure the archive was protected against future weather extremes which might arise due to climate change, by maintaining a steady temperature and humidity, with the minimum energy input. To achieve this, the design team developed a passively designed envelope and incorporated hempcrete and thermal mass to actively regulate the internal environment. Innovative “Fourier Filtering” IES modelling was used to assess how stable the fabric would be without HVAC energy input. In addition to this a number of further features help to reduce energy demand in the building:

  • 200m2 solar array on roof and connection to site wide CHP hot water main
  • Below ground air intake system (Rehau Ltd) combined with heat exchange between spaces
  • Orientation shielding the storage spaces from direct solar radiation
  • Lighting scheme is entirely LED and DALI controlled, natural daylight to all office spaces, opening of rooflights and vents controlled by occupants with BMS linked advice “traffic lights” display
  • Occupants were involved in the design of the facility through stakeholder workshops
  • Occupant linked BMS panel in the entrance hall showing live performance against the design benchmarks
  • Air tightness tested at 2.28m3.h1.m2@ 50 Pa

The building aimed to have a zero embodied carbon impact due to the presence of significant quantities of timber. Where very low carbon materials and naturally sequestrating products could not be used, the design team selected high recycled content (such as roof cladding and plasterboard). 40% GGBS cement replacement mix saved the equivalent of 13 tonnes of CO2e. The impact of transporting materials to site has been estimated at 23tCO2e. We systematically assessed the building fabric for embodied carbon footprint throughout the design and construction process. This included risk review for alternative constructions and materials proposed.

Hertfordshire Building Control Involvement:

The designer’s most significant challenge of the project brief, was to achieve an industry leading energy performance certificate. Furthermore, meeting fire standards in a timber building, with suitable access and accommodation for the archive and maintenance staff was key. Alongside this, internationally applied standards for document and sample storage for the pharmaceutical sector needed to be met.

The design inception commenced in 2011 and included a number of changes in regulations. These were reviewed and accommodated by LABC colleagues at Lincoln City Council  – a convenient arrangement for their Lincoln based design office. Consequently, this approach ensured that any questions surrounding achieving customer requirements were always discussed and resolved with knowledgeable Building Control professionals, before submissions were made.

Having undertaken over a hundred new build and refurbishment projects of various sizes for GSK over the last 20 years, Simons Design Ltd have developed a good ongoing relationship with East Herts Building Control. (Now merged into Hertfordshire Building Control). We were able to provide a service to carry out all requested Building Regulations checks at agreed stages throughout the construction phase. This resulted in Hertfordshire Building Control giving support to a successful entry in the LABC Central Region Building Excellence Awards for 2017.

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