Case Study


Alexandra House

Hulme, Manchester

Manchester City Council
Hulme, Manchester
September 2019
December 2020
Form of Contract
NEC 3 Option A
Delivery Type
Design and Construct

ISG transformed an existing 1970’s office block into a modern working space for Manchester City Council staff and improved a well-used public car park.

We started with a complete strip out, after which new working areas were created and all windows replaced. The newly refurbished building now boasts open plan working spaces, breakout areas and two new lifts, plus a brand new
entrance on Moss Lane East.

The work improved the energy and reduced carbon emissions, cutting the buildings carbon emissions by 71%. This was achieved using high efficiency VRF Air conditioning units and high efficiency lighting, while use of natural ventilation enabled us to eliminate any further auxiliary power loads. Additionally, replacement of the lifts generated a 75.3% relative energy saving.

Alexandra House demonstrates the breadth of impact and positive outcomes achievable when a project team, supply chain and community partners collaborate. Going above and beyond during Covid-19 speaks volumes about the team’s passion for supporting the local community.

Providing skills and employability

Working in partnership with Jobcentre Plus and Minstrell Recruitment, ISGs employment agency partner, we delivered two virtual Sector Based Work Academies (SBWA). This programme supported 14 Manchester residents, providing a unique opportunity for local unemployed people who have an interest in working in the construction industry.

The two week course included Level 1 health & safety, CSCS test and card, a site visit, interview practice, references and a pathway into employment. 20% of beneficiaries were ex-offenders, and 20% went straight into work following the two-week programme. 28 weeks of training was completed, with 100% of candidates achieving the level 1 Health & Safety qualification and 95% passing their CSCS test.

“Without ISG, our learners would not receive the insight into the industry, or the practical interview experience.”Training Academy Manager, Minstrell Training Academy

We worked closely with Minstrell Recruitment to ensure that opportunities for employment were advertised in Manchester, resulting in the creation of three new jobs for local residents, in the roles of Assistant Project Management trainee, Hoist Operator and Skilled General Operator. Additionally we supported a further two unemployed local residents through unpaid work experience placements on site, in carpentry and general operator skills. The project team also supported a local resident with autism to sustain employment as a general operative and cleaner on site.

Recognising the importance of professional development we promoted a range of formal courses to ISG and supply chain partners, with 66.5 training weeks completed. Courses were across a broad spectrum of professional and personal development topics, including bid writing, asbestos awareness, negotiating skills, mentoring training, first aid, temporary works, PASMA, leading others, risk management, business administration, and scaffold inspection.

Strong relations with our supply chain partners ensured that five new apprentices were employed on the project, in the following trades: electrical installation, plumbing and painting and decorating. A further 20 existing apprentices were sustained in employment by ISG and supply chain partners, providing a total of 303 apprentice weeks on site.

Investing in the Manchester economy

Great efforts were made to invest in the local economy, and we are proud that 75% of supply chain spend was within Greater Manchester, with 13% within Manchester itself. ISG held a supply chain open day prior to commencement and engaged with local businesses. Examples of supply chain spend who were from within Greater Manchester include: Rhodar Demolition (soft strip), Jamie Whitfield Civils (concrete foundations), RJ Edwards (steelwork), Construction Techniques (concrete repairs), Parkwood (concrete/flooring elements), Archway Building Services (drylining), LK consult surveys (space planning), Scott Hughes Design (structural engineer) and Omega (fire consultant).
We know that by investing locally we are supporting local employment, and our systems recorded 50% of labour on site residing within Greater Manchester, and 73% within 30 miles of the project.

Enhancing learning

The ISG Social Value Team worked with 5 students from The Manchester College aged 15-20 giving them the opportunity to spend a week of work experience (WOWEX) in our office at Media City, all students were Manchester residents. This work experience initiative introduces the young people to a range of careers like Business Development, Planning Management, Surveying, Bid Writing, Estimating, Design Management and Project Management, that young people aren’t necessarily familiar with. Our aim was to increase the appeal of the construction industry and to influence individuals that wouldn’t normally consider construction as a career.

As part of the initiative, students experienced a site tour, a series of presentations, and an introduction to the real-world tools and techniques used in 21st century main contracting. Five young people from previous WOWEX groups have been successful in their application to our Early Years Apprenticeship Scheme and are now working across the ISG business and undertaking five-year level 5 apprenticeship training with UCEM.

Across a total of 14 educational activities we engaged with 642 students. We had two work experience students on site, with one student going on to apply for a role as a graduate trainee quantity surveyor. He was with us until the end of the project and was given the opportunity to work across all key roles to support his development. Liam started his apprenticeship with ISG in September 2019 in the role of trainee project quantity surveyor and completed 69 weeks of his training on the Alexandra House Project, working with a mentor to increase his skills and knowledge.

Supporting sustainable communities

The team went above and beyond to support the local community, and were involved in 23 community projects and groups, engaging with 150 individuals in total. The total value of pro bono and volunteering time, materials and charitable donations was £5,859.. We have selected a few choice examples of initiatives to demonstrate the support provided.
During the groundworks phase, we were required to dispose of some existing concrete planters. We cleaned and painted the planters and relocated them on Hulme High Street. We informed the client of our plans who were delighted by the idea and the fact we were reusing materials to benefit the local neighbourhood and community.

  • CCS score of 45 achieving a certificate of excellence
  • 14 educational activities, engaging 642 students
  • 23 community events, engaging with 150 individuals
  • 141 hours of pro-bono support, with a value of £4,187 (based on TOMs proxies)
  • £1,672 in materials donations

Using our Social Profit Calculator (SPC) we calculate that the project has created £11,966,164 of social return on investment. This includes fiscal savings, economic benefits, social and wellbeing value (SROI), local investment and increased labour productivity. For every £1 spent, there has been an additional £1.07 social and economic impact as a result of the project.

We also supported the client in developing landscaping proposals for the newly refurbished public spaces, free of charge. We did this as we understand the efforts made to improve the local area and want to support future improvement plans. We donated a range of external Christmas lights to Martenscroft Nursery School, and provided professional electrical support to provide external electrical connection for future use. Working with another local school, Crowcroft Park Primary, we provided volunteer hours and materials to repaint their bowling hut, ensuring that this facility can continue to be used for sports and extracurricular activities.

Social Value Outcomes

A major part of this project was delivered during Covid-19. A number of apprentices were sadly affected by furlough and redundancy with subcontractor partners, as well as impacted by travel restrictions. We therefore adapted our approach and delivery to accommodate restrictions.

– 2 pre-employment work experience
– 1 employment support activity, supporting 14 residents
– 3 new jobs created
– 66.5 training weeks
– 5 new apprentices
– 20 existing apprentices sustained in employment
– 303 apprentice weeks
– 50% local labour within Greater Manchester, 73% within 30 miles
– 75% supply chain spend within 30 miles, 13% in Manchester
– 7 work placements for students

“I was delighted to be invited by ISG to judge student presentations at a recent ‘WOWEX’ course. I was really impressed by the high standard of the presentations, the enthusiasm of the students and the amount of information they had taken on board about the construction industry in a short period of time. That is a credit to ISG and the quality of the teaching provided on ‘WOWEX’. It was also pleasing to hear that several of the students had applied to ISG for work placements and apprenticeships after the course. The construction sector needs to secure a sustainable pipeline of skills and talent and, with initiatives like ‘WOWEX’, ISG are making a very positive contribution to that cause.”  Ian Brown, Head of Corporate Procurement, Manchester City Council