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Construction News Awards Judges Supreme Award

Winner: Shepherd Construction – National Renewable Energy Centre

Shepherd Construction is this year’s recipient of the Construction News Supreme Award for its work on the outstanding National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, Northumberland.

The York-based contractor has been involved with this project since January 2011 and successfully completed the last of the three structures that make up the centre in May this year.

All three buildings are ground-breaking in their own right, combining large-scale industrial construction with precision, laboratory-condition facilities for testing offshore renewable energy equipment.

“To achieve the incredible tolerances required within the budget and programme is a supreme effort that deserves this recognition. It was a privilege to judge such an amazing scheme; it made our day”

Judges’ comment

The commercial facilities will allow manufacturers to test offshore wind turbines, wind turbine blades and tidal turbines to develop cheaper and more reliable offshore wind, wave and tidal power.

The judges praised this project as a “tribute to UK construction and engineering expertise. To achieve the incredible tolerances required within the budget and programme is a supreme effort.”

The supreme award is chosen from this year’s CN Awards winners. The NAREC project triumphed in the category Project of the Year £10m - £50m.

Construction of NAREC required an unprecedented level of coordination and collaboration between designers, the construction team, suppliers and the client to work through solutions.

With no blueprint for the team to follow, the project stands out for its sheer complexity, demanding the highest level of technical know-how and collaboration to find innovative solutions to numerous challenges.

As a test bed for large, motorised plant, it was crucial the project team understood testing procedures and the physical magnitude of forces exerted on the structure.

An example of the scale and accuracy of construction can be demonstrated by the blade test building. This 32 m-tall building has been designed to support a 14 m-tall heavily reinforced concrete hub structure that will eventually support wind turbine blades up to 100 m long.

To support the blades, two steel rings weighing 31 tonnes and 91 tonnes had to be fixed onto the hub using 11.8 m-long post-tensioned Freyssinet bars measuring 43 mm and 79 mm in diameter. These bars had to be held in position to a tolerance of just +/-3 mm during concrete pours.

The complexity of the project could have easily derailed the programme, causing friction with the supply chain and the client, as well as compromising the budget. To avoid this, Shepherd Construction recognised from the outset that collaboration and full engagement with all designers, suppliers and contractors, was of paramount importance.

Placing collaboration at the heart of the project delivery process meant that everyone understood the main objectives, the next steps in the programme and were aware of challenges ahead. This ensured seamless coordination of all construction activity through to completion on time and budget.

Yet despite technical and programme pressures on the project, the team also found time to engage with Northumbria University, hosting visits for 130 construction students.

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