Neil Lewis, Managing Director of our Building Services business, entered an industry when steam boilers, cast iron radiators and lead pipework were common place. Not at all concerned to be reminded of his years in the industry, Neil’s fascination for engineering history reminds us that the name “plumber” originates from the Latin plumberium “worker of lead”.
It would be fair to say that since the 70s, Building Services have seen changes far greater than any other part of the construction industry. This change has been brought about almost entirely due to increasing scarcity of fossil fuels and the onset of global warming, causing a need to rethink the entire manner with which buildings are designed and energy used. Heavy reliance on mechanical ventilation has been challenged by sophisticated natural ventilation solutions, heat recovery is everywhere and state- of-the-art digital systems accurately control and monitor the energy we use.
This constant reinvention makes things difficult in running a repeatable and predictable business. Neil observes that “once a solution or system has become mastered, in no time at all it is replaced with a more sophisticated, less energy consuming alternative and the cycle continues”. This is seen most notably in Building Control pass criteria, where every few years the rules are ripped up to be replaced with far more challenging figures.
Whilst challenging, it is this dynamic nature of the industry that makes it such a rewarding and exciting place to be and provides opportunity to improve, reinvent and be better than the rest.
In the past four years, the building services team have increased turnover from £5m to a current turnover of around £12m and are targeting a growth to £20m within the next 4 years.
The management team, formed from the directors of all the UK offices, believe that design excellence, diversity, national coverage and a passion to achieve customer satisfaction will continue to be the bedrock of their notable success in future years. Offices are located in London, Bristol, Nottingham, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and Dublin and all offer bespoke abilities to specific market sectors and regional markets. Over the years we have fine-tuned the engineering design of commercial office space and high rise residential accommodation to class leading solutions including Two Fifty One, set to become the latest addition to London’s iconic skyline. 10 Fenchurch Avenue, a new mixed-use office development located in the heart of London’s insurance district and Trinity Square, one of London’s landmark buildings, originally designed as the headquarters of the Port of London Authority by Sir Edwin Cooper.
We have considerable expertise in facilities for performing arts and our recent contribution to the Everyman Theatre, the 2014 winner of the Stirling Prize, certainly places us amongst world best practice with the RIBA judges agreeing that it was as much the services strategy as the architecture that secured the award.
Elsewhere, we are the sole M&E providers for working building assets on the largest current PFI scheme, Aspire Defence, designing a major manufacturing facility for Rolls Royce in Nottingham and appointed by Argent to help develop Airport City, a £600m development at Manchester Airport. We work extensively within the retail sector and are currently providing detailed design duties for the landmark Hammerson owned Victoria Gate Shopping Centre in Leeds.
All offices are now fully functional in Revit led BIM solutions with software linked to our thermal modelling and CFD capabilities.
With the Group having such a rich heritage in Structural design, our building services engineers enjoy seamless working with our structural engineering colleagues with over 50% of our work being multidiscipline.
This extends to holistic design solutions in fire engineering, acoustics and BREEAM appraisals which combined with pure MEP supports a team now in excess of 140 staff.
As technology and invention continue to strive towards a carbon neutral world of construction, Waterman Building Services look set to continue to grow and achieve industry pre-eminence as part of a multidiscipline, world leading consultancy.