More than just building at Bradford College

Award-winning Sewell Construction have gone beyond building in their new refurbishment project with Bradford College. The project adds to their range of high-profile education projects across Yorkshire, including the construction of Broadacre Primary School in Hull, building a complex extension at Harrogate Grammar School, and multiple projects for the University of Leeds.

The College has upgraded its facilities for students, creating immersive learning environments, alongside extra science and ICT facilities. Sewell Construction have ensured that the project isn’t just about bricks and mortar, but also brings in decarbonisation, sustainability, and creating value in the local community.

Work at Bradford College is split over two buildings and on multiple floors. In one building, the Sewell Construction team have stripped out and refurbished the classrooms to provide science and ICT rooms. In another building, we have created a mock nursery and simulated hospital environment for childcare and healthcare students. Chiller units will also be replaced on the roof.

Work was carried out in a live college setting, and with numerous rooms across two buildings to refurbish, it’s important that the team kept the project on schedule. Regular catch-ups with the Bradford College Projects Team meant that we could ensure everything progressed on time and to the client’s requirements.

As this was our first project with Bradford College, we wanted to make sure they understood the way we worked, and our values. We want to do more than just construct – we also want to build meaningful relationships with partners, be environmentally conscious and leave a positive socio-economic impact.

Partnering together

It’s important that we don’t work for a client on a project, but with them. We want to deliver the best educational facilities for the College, so that they can deliver the best learning experience for their students.

We began with a social value workshop with the Bradford College Project Team, so we could identify what those at the college needed, and how we could best provide experiences and initiatives to give them the best skills for the future.

Bradford College provides Certificate, T-Level, apprenticeship, diploma and degree level in construction and the built environment, so it was important we supported their lecturers to deliver. We brought four lecturers from their Construction team to one of our West Yorkshire sites for an ‘industry insight’ day, with masterclasses in some of the hot topics in construction: social value, sustainability, site management, quantity surveying and document control.

Pamela Sheldon, Head of Department: Projects at Bradford College said:

“The Projects Office was delighted to create such a fruitful partnership with Sewell Construction. Not only have we had expert help in bringing some very ambitious design concepts to life in order to promote an inspiring high-tech learning environment for our future T Level students, but also gone above and beyond to support the Social Responsibility target, while simultaneously offering technical industry placements to the Construction students. We truly hope our paths cross in the near future so that we can continue on working together to transform lives.”

Sustainable working

The journey towards net zero is important for both us and our clients. We’ve set a target to be net zero in our own operations by 2030, so it’s vital we take every opportunity to be greener.

We’ve begun using solar-powered site cabins, and as part of every project we produce a site waste management plan, identifying how we can minimise waste – actions that were recognised by our Sustainability Award win at the recent Constructing Excellence Yorkshire and Humber awards.

We’ve put in a brand-new type of energy efficient light fitting at the college, adapting the existing lights from fluorescent lamps to LED. As well as helping save energy and contributing to decarbonisation targets, this approach also allows re-use of existing assets and reduces waste. Through doing this, Bradford College are part of a decarbonisation scheme from the light fitting manufacturer, helping blaze a trail for sustainability and prove the worth of the project before it’s rolled out nationwide.

We also make sure we keep the local pound local, with 94% of our spend on the Bradford College project being kept with the local supply chain, and making sure we used local labour and contractors where possible.

Sewell Construction Joint Managing Director Mark Boothby said:

“It’s been the first time we’ve worked with the team at Bradford College, and I feel like we share a lot of values with them. They have been enthusiastic about making the project as sustainable as possible, and we’ve been happy to lend our technical expertise to help advise on the best approach to decarbonisation. Their approach of refurbishing buildings they already have, rather than building new ones, is an excellent way to make use of existing assets.

“Last year we created over £90 million of socio-economic impact in the Yorkshire region, and on every project we’ll keep striving for our work to be greener, cleaner and delivering a positive impact.”

Making a difference

At Sewell Construction, we’re always looking to give back to the community, so when we started the project with Bradford College, we made sure we planned in plenty of opportunities to engage with the students.

Before we even got on site, we saw the chance to help transform lives, by strategically planning social value initiatives that would benefit those who needed it most. The construction industry has a growing skills gap, so it’s important that young people are offered opportunities to experience working on construction sites, given insight into what different roles are available, and provided with appropriate training and guidance to enable them to gain meaningful employment once they’ve finished their training. This led to us providing 160 hours of work experience placements for students at the college.

Assistant Design Manager Aime Mangham delivered a Digital Construction Masterclass, giving students an insight into real-world applications of the digital design systems they are studying. Not only were the students able to see real-life projects, but they could look into the latest tools that we use to position ourselves at the forefront of digital technology, such as virtual and augmented reality. Amie was also able to share her career journey and routes into the industry with the eager students, giving them valuable advice on getting their first jobs.

It has been rewarding for our staff to see the enthusiasm and energy of the students throughout the project, and we look forward to following their careers as they enter the construction industry.