Company - Network Rail and partners

How was this solved?

Designing a major station refurbishment provided the perfect opportunity to develop a whole new way to build stations.

Good design is seen throughout the building, which connects the station to the Bullring shopping centre and addresses the major challenges the old design presented to those with accessibility needs.

Addressing that challenge, however, presented another as the increased energy requirements in installing dozens of additional lifts and escalators meant serious thought was needed to be able to achieve the overall BREEAM Very Good rating and create a more sustainable development.

Features include use of Combined Heat and Power linked to a district heat network, a green wall using 24 different plant species, a green roof on an adjacent accommodation building for a train operator, natural ventilation where possible, rainwater harvesting and deep consideration throughout the supply chain to ensure waste was designed out and reused where possible and standards such as FSC for timber were enforced to maximum effect. Birmingham New Street is the first station to generate energy on site, improving resilience for the future with further potential to expand the district heating network in the near future.

All this was only possible because we started before designs were drawn up. Too often projects start to think about sustainability too late in the process and the opportunity is missed says Azhar Quaiyoom from Q Sustain, sustainability advisers on the project.

The input from the funders was critical, with organisation such as the local council and Advantage West Midlands wanting to ensure that their investment was delivering a sustainable station. Getting all the parties involved, from funding, through design to final stages of completion was critical – a major challenge when the timescales involved can mean some parties may never work directly together.

Communication was key to keeping continuous links throughout the project.

Use of standards including ISO14001, ISO50001, BS8903 and the BREEAM process help to provide some benchmarking and maintain consistency.

A project of this scale also presented risks around skills, which was addressed using apprenticeship schemes, enabling individuals to develop highly transferrable skills.

Learning from this innovative project could be replicated at refurbishments at Manchester Piccadilly, Euston, new builds at Old Oak Common, Curzon Street and more. Tying such projects in with local redevelopment programmes opens up the potential for CHP and Heat Networks and use of other smart technology.

Engaged senior sponsors are key, we have a great opportunity, we just need the drivers to make it happen adds Azhar.

What were the outcomes?

  • 98% of construction waste (40,000 Tons) diverted from Landfill
  • More than 3,000 Tonnes of CO2 saved every year through CHP
  • 10% reduction in energy bills
  • BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating for overall refurbishment


Reducing our environmental impact, Carbon smart

Asset / operations


Organisation type

Infrastructure Manager