Varming Consulting Engineers Ltd was recently honoured at the 2022 ACEI (Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland) Awards in the Mechanical and Electrical category for professional services provided in respect of its Donegal Garda Station refurbishment and extension project.
Employing over 50 people at offices in Dublin, Roscommon and Cork, Varming is a leading mechanical, electrical and sustainability consultancy with a history spanning over 75 years. The winning project involved extensive refurbishment and alteration to the existing facility to achieve nZEB compliance, and provided a modern fit-out. The works included demolition of existing two-storey extension, refurbishment of the existing station, construction of a three-storey over semi-basement contemporary extension to the rear, including a new custody suite, with rooftop plant room, new boundary enclosures, secure storage and all associated site works.
The adjudicators’ award citation read: “A contemporary three storeys over semi-basement, modern extension along with an extensive refurbishment of a Garda Station. Limited site space was overcome by the use of Air Source Heat Pump technology to allow the building to achieve its high specification energy ratings of NZEB and BER A3.”
The citation continued: “Early stage detailed design was critical in avoiding clashes and selecting appropriate routes, voids and riser location for the many services required. In-house dynamic simulation was used to validate the design’s environmental sustainability.”
Also a winner at the 2021 RIAI (Royal Institutes of the Architects of Ireland) Awards in the Cultural / Public Building and Sustainability categories, the project was carried out for client OPW in collaboration with main contractors Boyle Construction, electrical contractors O’Hara & Harrison Ltd, mechanical contractor Tim Kelly Group, architect Rhatigan Architects and civil structural engineers CHH Engineering Ltd. It formed part of the Government’s ‘2016-2021 Garda Capital Plan’ and was a key milestone plan at the handover stage.
The original building dates back to the early 20th century and was last upgraded in the 1980s. The existing building consisted of a public office, interview room and custody suite on the ground floor. The upper floors comprised offices, welfare facilities and canteen. Due to the poor condition of the custody suite, it could no longer be used to detain suspects safely.
The building is located beside an attached live restaurant on the north end and the project was surrounded on the other three sides by existing roadways and Main Street, all of which created a very complex project with significant challenges for the design team and contractors to overcome. The project achieved the highest standards of M&E performance based on agreed budget costs, using state-of-the-art engineering design to reduce carbon footprint, improve reliability and minimise operating and maintenance costs.
The new custody suite and interview rooms complies with the latest An Garda Síochana General Specification. The key M&E challenges addressed were OPW M&E section requirements, complex brief requirements from An Garda Síochana as well as the confined site and coastal location. The OPW required the M&E services installation to be cost-effective, efficient and reliable, and ease of maintenance with local service back-up.
“It was a challenging project,” Varming Executive Director and Building Services Engineer Sean Neary says.
“Due to a lack of space on the site, there wasn’t any suitable location for an oil or gas storage tank. This led to us proposing the installation of Air Source Heat Pumps to provide for the building’s heating and hot water demand. Combined with thermally efficient façade glazing, building enhanced insulation, air tightness and contributed to the achievement of the A3 BER as well as meeting nZEB standards, which was no mean feat for a protected structure.
“Everyone bought into it and the works were completed in October 2020, three years after the initial design took place.”
Varming Consulting Engineers design and engineer for the future, providing high-quality, award-winning design, specification and cost-control services coupled with expert advice on sustainable solutions. Founded in 1946, the practice is dedicated to ensuring the economic, environmental and social sustainability of its designs. It is committed to acting on climate in its own operations, limiting the impact of its clients’ developments and encouraging the transformation towards Net Zero Carbon buildings in the wider industry.
Varming boasts a large portfolio of commercial, education, healthcare and industrial projects, each having different design requirements determined by the eventual building use. The company has extensive experience in office developments, residential, retail, leisure, tourism and mixed-use developments.
Its designs continue to develop with changing objectives and the challenges set by clients, building owners and occupants. Whether they require spaces for working, living, retail or recreation, Varming strives to provide a healthy and safe environment in the most energy-efficient and cost-effective manner.
The practice has also been involved in the refurbishment of many historic buildings such as hotels, museums and theatres, using design technologies in a sympathetic way. Varming has particular expertise in theatres and museums, for which it has won awards for projects such as The Chester Beatty Library and Cork Opera House.
Varming’s greatest asset is its people. Its management and staff encompass dedicated professional specialists who have spent the majority of their careers with the practice. James Kavanagh is the CEO and Joe Greene is Chairman.
As it continues to go from strength to strength, the multi-disciplinary practice would like to take this opportunity to thank its clients, design teams, collaborators and suppliers for their continued support as well as its high-calibre team for their hard work, dedication and expertise.
Varming Consulting Engineers Ltd
Dundrum Business Park,
Telephone: +353 (0)1 4872300
This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, January 2023, Vol 9 No 1