Belfasts 1st BREEAM Building Uses Innovative Heating Solution

Description: 239,000 sq/ft of Grade A Office Space; the largest in N. Ireland

Client: Oakland Holdings & Price Waterhouse Coopers

Heating System: Electric Profile Heating

ThermaSkirt Profile: Special BMe Profile colour matched to the aluminum windows.


Merchant Square is the largest Office Project in Northern Ireland, and the 1st with BREEAM Certification

The Challenge

Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) are one of the worlds’ largest management accountants and consultants and can count a plethora of global companies amongst the list of clients they advise.

Making informed and rational business decisions is their core competence and so when they took an option on Merchant Square – Belfasts’ biggest ever office space project – all aspects of the building design and operation were evaluated and assessed.

One of the issues that was flagged up early on, was the proposed use of radiators up close to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows which gives Merchant Square its’ much vaunted, striking appearance. Designed to combat the naturally chilling effect large glass surfaces in winter can have on habitable space, the architects had designed in floor mounted radiators, a few inches from the window.

Did they really want radiators – even designer radiators – on show to the world? In addition, with each square foot worth around £6,000 per annum, every square foot lost to a radiator had a value a hundred times that of the heater. Trench heaters were considered, but these would involve significant re-engineering of the floor to accommodate their depth. Getting pipework to any heater was also a cause for concern, given the huge amount of data and computer cabling housed in the cassette floor. A review was ordered.

The Solution


Stephen Clarke; SC Consulting

SC Consulting Engineers is one of the most respected firms on the island of Ireland and operates on both sides of the border from their head offices in Belfast.

Given the brief to find a suitable low-profile heater, preferably electric, Stephen Clarke the founder and Principal Consultant at the company flew to Frankfurt to the ISH show, Europe’s largest and most prestigious plumbing and heating show. Having traipsed around the show for nearly 2 days, he had found nothing of any interest, when he sat, worn out on the Daiken Heat Pump stand as a guest to take in a late afternoon well-deserved beer.

Sat opposite at the same high table was a similarly tired and weary traveller, whom too had been pacing the vast halls in search of inspiration.

Recognising a British accent, the two got chatting. Stephen described his mission, and the idea he was fruitlessly searching for.
“Something like this?” replied his new companion as he pulled a product out of his carry case and plonked it on the table.

Nearly spitting his beer out Stephen picked up the low-profile heater, as his opposite introduced himself as Martin Wadsworth, MD of DiscreteHeat in Manchester; manufacturers of the ThermaSkirt skirting board heating system. Martin further went on to explain and show images on his phone of their ‘threshold’ version, designed to floor mount right up to floor-to-ceiling windows and doors. Eureka!


ThermaSkirt is available in a ‘threshold’ version to heat right along floor to ceiling walls and patio doors


ThermaSkirt was painted in Silver Grey powder coat to match the windows, and blended seamlessly into the structure


ThermaSkirt was painted in Silver Grey powder coat to match the windows, and blended seamlessly into the structur

The Result

Stephen Clarke;

“I simply could not believe it when this guy pulled out the exact product I was looking for. I genuinely thought it was a hoax somehow, and it took me 5 minutes before I began to believe it wasn’t a setup.

Having reviewed the technical data, the case studies and spoke to a number of clients, it was clear this was the perfect solution for PWC and Merchant Square.”

From that unbelievably fluke meeting, the electric version of ThermaSkirt was speedily presented by SC consulting to PWC and the contractors, which was quickly approved and specified.

Fast-forward and 1,200m of ThermaSkirt electric in a window-matching aluminium grey finish has been installed in Belfasts’ most prestigious office development – over 200,000 square feet of Prime office space right in the heart of Belfast’s’ buzzing business district.

UPDATE: BREEAM Certification

The BREEAM evaluation was completed at the end of 2020 and measured the steps taken on use of energy, links to public transport, efficiency of water and waste management, heat and light and the management of waste and pollution among other features.

Adam Dickson, finance director of Oakland Holdings, said:

“The delivery of an excellent BREEAM rated building meant building sustainability and ‘green’ credentials into the project right from the design stage.”

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is a sustainability assessment method that is used to masterplan projects, infrastructure and buildings. Launched in 1990, by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) it sets standards for the environmental performance of buildings through the design, specification, construction and operation phases and can be applied to new developments or refurbishment

Since specifying ThermaSkirt on Merchant Square, SC Consulting have gone on to design in ThermaSkirt on 4 more major projects in NI & the RoI. These include residential, health care and assisted living as well as commercial spaces. It’s a great solution” says Stephen summing up;

“Space is always an issue and underfloor can cause overheating, but to get the product into Northern Irelands 1st BREEAM ‘Excellent’ Certified Building is a real accolade and a great application of the product”


ThermaSkirt can be controlled via smart phone and a wi-fi enabled thermostat and is available in ‘wet’ and electric versions


DiscreteHeat Company Limited
1 Victoria Works Industrial Estate
Coal Pit Lane, Atherton
Manchester, M46 0FY

 01942 88 00 60

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