Ulster Hospital Acute Services Block, Belfast

Vaughan Engineering Services Ltd completes THE second block on Ulster Hospital redevelopment plan...

Vaughan Engineering Services Ltd (VESL) returned to the Ulster Hospital to provide full mechanical services for the Acute Services Block (ASB) on the overall master plan to redevelop the site. VESL had previously completed the Inpatient Ward block under the same framework agreement.

Mechanical building services included: natural gas / fuel oil, LTHW, CHW, domestic water services, drainage, ventilation, air conditioning, BMS controls, medical gasses, pneumatic tube, dry riser and sanitaryware.

As Project Manager Stephen Buchanan explained, “There were lessons learned from the previous phase of construction that were then adopted to improve methods of construction and to improve value and efficiency without compromising performance and functionality.”

Healthcare project experts

The project was executed by a highly driven team of managers, engineers, supervisors and tradesmen with a wealth of experience in delivering such large-scale healthcare projects. During the pre-construction phase, the project team expended considerable efforts in validating the mechanical services design to fully understand the systems and products to ensure the design intent was being met; and exceeded where possible. “In doing so we were able to offer significant added value to the project by sharing the knowledge and experience of all team members and thereby improving the end product,” said Stephen.

The state-of-the-art building is an eight-storey Acute Service block with a footprint of 30,000m2. The block houses an A&E Department, Imaging Department, Nuclear Medicine, main kitchen and restaurant, Mortuary and wards [including renal] with a capacity of 230 bed spaces. The vast majority of inpatient accommodation is provided in spacious single bedrooms and ensuites delivering a hotel-style environment to enhance the patient experience.

The mechanical installation included three Hoval boilers that provide a total heating capacity of 7MW; the base heat load for the building is generated by a 350kW [thermal] Combined Heat and Power plant. The chilled water system has a capacity of 2.5MW provided by three Daikin Chillers. The chilled water and heating system serves 23 Daikin Air Handling Units supplying conditioned air to individual departments and wards throughout the building.

A 60,000l water storage capacity is provided by two sectional water tanks along with two duty/standby 2,000l domestic hot water storage heaters to cater for the full hot water demand in the building.    

While the installation of considerable plant capacity provided the beating heart of the mechanical systems, the brains of the building were equally as impressive by virtue of a comprehensive, complex Building Management System. This provides the end user with a very high level of real time visibility to monitor system performances, provide various levels of alarm notifications, provide information on degradation of consumable items and log consumption/metering of all energy and water sources. No stone was left unturned in terms of what the client could possibly want to know about the operation of all services in the building.


On such a large scale project it’s inevitable that issues arise, as Stephen explained, “The co-ordination of the services was particularly challenging due to the complexity and quantity of systems required for such a highly serviced healthcare facility; all the while trying to fit these services within the building fabric to uphold a high standard of installation and future maintainability.  Significant consideration was given to future maintenance and ensuring this has minimal impact on the patient experience.”

With the risk of Legionella, Pseudomonas and other pathogens in the domestic water systems being a prominent concern for vulnerable patients in hospitals, the design of the boosted cold water system incorporated an innovative control system to help mitigate this risk by selectively implementing water-changing measures to maintain potable water hygiene. 

The Kemper Hygiene Control system encourages the constant circulation of water throughout all pipework while maintaining a maximum temperature that falls below the range known to encourage growth of pathogens.

There are two areas of the building where patients are exposed to radiation therapies, such as iodine treatment. “The challenge was to provide a bespoke drainage system capable of efficiently carrying away radioactive human waste while safeguarding patients and staff from risk of radiation exposure,” said Stephen.  “We were involved in the development of the design and coordination of this system to provide a solution with minimal maintenance requirements while minimising potential points of failure along with providing an early warning facility should a leak occur.”

In this regard, the system comprised a fully welded stainless steel pipework distribution (encased in lead), extensive leak detection facility and secondary leakage containment along the full length of the drainage pipework within the building.

Commenting on the project, Stephen said, “The relationship with the main contractor was a highly inclusive and respectful one throughout the project. They considered us to be experts in delivering such turnkey mechanical services installations of this scale and nature. This led to a very successful project for all parties involved and allowed us to deliver a first class, high quality building for the end user and public who will eventually avail of the healthcare services that the facility will provide. 

“Equally, the supply chain came to the table with a similar attitude of working cohesively with all parties in the common goal of providing the highest quality product possible.”

Gavan Toman, Construction Director for Vaughan Engineering Services Ltd added, “One of our teams’ biggest accomplishments was the delivery of the project at the height of the first Covid-19 lockdown. It was inspiring to see how, when the rest of the country went into lockdown, our team and supply chain switched to 24/7 working to expedite the handover of the project and provide the client with the additional clinical facilities should it be required in the fight again the pandemic. 

“We are so proud of our team and this building stands testament to all of their efforts undertaken at this time and will be for years to come.”

Project team…

Client: Department of Finance Construction and Procurement Delivery and South-Eastern Health and Social Care Trust
Main Contractor: Graham Bam Healthcare Partnership
Architect: Avanti Architects and Kennedy Fitzgerald Architects
Project Manager: Avanti Architects
Mechanical Contractor: Vaughan Engineering Services Ltd

Vaughan Engineering Services Ltd.
T:+44 (0)28 9083 7441

Waterloo Air Products is your supplier of choice for air terminal devices…

Leading UK manufacturer, Waterloo Air Products, was asked to schedule and select the correct air terminal devices for the Ulster Hospital project in Belfast.

To ensure a comfortable climate was maintained in this busy hospital environment it was vital that Waterloo delivered the correct diffuser/grille to give the exact throws and velocities required. 

As Andy Wardle, Sales Director for Waterloo explained, “Within a hospital there are a broad range of requirements due to the range of functions eg from lobby, to dining room, to treatment room, to ward, to staff rest areas. So the air terminal device you select needs to have flexibility and adaptability. As well as efficiency of the ventilation and occupant comfort – a priority in any healthcare environment – hygiene and infection control need to be optimum.”

To ensure the correct outcome was met in every setting, a range of Waterloo’s products wes used, including: egg crate grilles, airline linear grilles, vane swirl diffusers, louvre face tegular diffuser, exhaust valves.

Waterloo is renowned for their fast lead times and flexible approach. Andy said, “We offer innovative designs, technical support and a collaborative approach throughout the project life cycle. We aim to make it easy for people to work with us.”

Commenting on the job, Andy said, “This was the second phase we were engaged in for the Ulster Hospital project. By coming back to us, this confirmed that our selections and service had been at a high level for them in the first phase.

 “Vaughan Engineering was extremely professional in all aspects of the project throughout design and supply. They had a good understanding regarding any issue that may have come about from Waterloo and had a positive attitude to assist and change if needs be to get round them.” 

Waterloo Air Products,
T : +44 (0)16 2271 1500

WILO UK, Providing wastewater management systems you can rely on…

Wilo UK worked with Vaughan Engineering Services Ltd to offer a range of different products and solutions, including the Wilo-Cronoline IL-E, Wilo-Cronoline IL pumps and the Wilo-SiBoost Smart Helix VE for the Ulster Hospital Acute Services Block project.

The Wilo-SiBoost Smart Helix VE is a compact and highly efficient pressure boosting system, it’s suitable for all types of BMS systems and offers a wide range of features including dry-run detection, 0-10 volts signal runs, built-in air-cooled converters and automatic pump control. 

The heavy-duty system features a stainless steel high-pressure multistage centrifugal pump from the Helix VE series with integrated frequency converter, with a super proportionally and large control range from 25 Hz to a maximum of 60 Hz. 

This system also offers high energy savings due to pressure-loss optimised hydraulics and optimum load adjustment via variable pressure control (p-v) and parallel synchronous speed control.

With its UK HQ based in Burton-upon-Trent, Wilo provides innovative and trusted solutions for a range of projects across the UK. The company has supplied pumps and pump systems to hospital projects for over 45 years and has worked on over 350 sites, including: new builds, ward blocks, extensions and refurbishments. With a range of different products that are both cost effective and highly efficient, they offer water management you can rely on.

Commenting on the project, Mark Mills, Area Manager NI for Wilo said, “It was a pleasure to work with Vaughan’s on this project as with so many in the past and more to come in the future. They have a great team with a wide range of knowledge, and we always work together to find a solution to any challenge that arises.”

Wilo UK Ltd, Mark Mills, Area Manager Northern Ireland
T: 07794 337634

SE Insulation keeps their cool on complex hospital project… 

SE Insulation was contracted to supply and install all thermal insulation required for H&V systems throughout the Ulster Hospital Acute Services Block (ASB) project along with the fire-rated kitchen extract ductwork insulation. In total, 62,500m of pipe work insulation, and 15,000sq m of ductwork insulation were fitted during the project. Additionally, over 5,000 insulation jackets were designed,  manufactured and fitted. 

The large scale of the project and an extremely tight programme caused challenges from day one, but the highly experienced team from SE Insulation was well trained to overcome such issues. “The fact that the project was moving forward at pace in various sections simultaneously meant careful workforce and material management was required, combined with increased levels of supervision,” explained Seamus Evans, MD SE Insulation. 

Despite the challenges, Seamus praised the smooth running of the project and is delighted to add it to the company’s rapidly expanding portfolio.

“We completed the GWB building over the previous three years with the same client, so it was great to be able to remain on site to undertake the ASB project which we delivered on time and within costs.”

Commenting on the mechanical contractor on the job, Vaughan Engineering Services Ltd (VESL), he said, “We have built a very close and successful relationship with VESL over the past 20 years, and have undertaken many prestigious projects with them. It was very satisfying to see this relationship maintained by undertaking the ASB project.”

SE Insulation Ltd
T: +44 (0)28 90629477
E: seamus.evans@btinternet.com