What is this building and why is it important

BDEC at ICC-7-3Probably unbeknown to many city centre residents, much industry has been employed locally to preserve our world as we know it . Here we look into the hidden engineering that is now in operation.

Reducing Carbon Dioxide emissions into our atmosphere is essential for reducing global warming. Birmingham is playing its part in this through substantial and increasing efforts in the city centre.

This is being achieved by Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems.

These operate more efficiently than traditional systems by capturing the heat that is produced as a by-product of electricity generation, and normally lost to the atmosphere. This is then used to heat water and, interestingly, to also cool it by Absorption Refrigeration.

For an overview of the Birmingham CHP see the previous article Birmingham District Energy Scheme posted on this website on 22 October 2014.

The building shown above generates some of the electrical power, hot water for heating and cool water for air conditioning for the three massive buildings shown behind it – the Library of Birmingham, the International Conference Centre/Symphony Hall complex and the Hyatt Hotel. It also supplies the nearby Barclaycard Arena (previously called the NIA), the Rep Theatre and the Council House in Victoria Square as well as the now closed Paradise Forum/Central Library. The Barclaycard Arena also has its own CHP system linked to this.

OD4A8529The amount of Carbon Dioxide saved from polluting the atmosphere by the scheme is displayed on the outside of the building as pictured left – that’s 17,705,500 KGs!

Currently, connections are being laid in city streets to the revamped New Street Station and Grand Central shopping centre there. The connections will be continued to existing CHP systems in the Children’s Hospital and Aston University.

There is also a connection to the National Grid supplying any electricity generated that is surplus to local requirements.

I recently was fortunate to have a tour of the CHP systems in the ICC building above and also of the CHP in the Library of Birmingham. This was arranged by David Martin of Cofely who accompanied the tour guided by Electrical Operations Engineer Dave McCombie who is a key person in the running of the ICC Building.

If you like to view modern engineering achievement and its application to energy and world climate conservation read on for a gallery of photos taken on the tour.

Below are galleries of the workings of the Broad Street CHP building and the Library of Birmingham.

Having photographed the machines I now find it difficult to recall what process each one shown below carries out. However, there are generator engines, refrigeration units, heat exchangers and many pumps.

To view photos:
1. Display an enlarged gallery – Left Click on an image – use the large side arrows to move between images – Left Click outside an image or press ESC to close the enlarged gallery.
2. View a larger version of a single image in a separate page – Right Click on the image then Left Click on “Open link in new tab” or “Open link in new window”.

Broad Street CHP Building behind the ICC…



Library of Birmingham basement boiler room…

Geoff Caine

1 thought on “What is this building and why is it important

  1. Margaret Lister

    Dear Geoff, very interesting article. It looks as if all the disruption caused by digging up the streets will be worth it in the long run. Margaret

Add a comment...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s