Work starts on £54m Glass Futures

Bower & Kirkland has begun constructing the 165,000 q ft glass research and innovation facility in St Helens, with a projected completion date of January 2023.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on the Glass Futures Centre of Excellence site on 4 February. The innovation centre is the result of a partnership between non-profit research organisation Glass Futures, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, UK Research & Innovation, and St Helens Council. Network Space Developments is both the landowner and developer of the project. It was designed by Aew Architects.

Already, Glass Futures has been presold by Network Space to investor Standard Life Investments Property Income Trust, which is part of Abrdn. As part of the deal, the trust paid £15m to forward fund the construction. B8 acted for Network Space on the transaction, while CBRE represented Abrdn.

The facility has been pre-let to St Helens Council on a 15-year lease. Glass Futures will sub-let the building to do its work on discovering a way to decarbonise glass production.

Regarding the Glass Futures building, St Helens Council leader David Baines said: “It will once again put St Helens at the forefront of glass innovation and help us play a significant role in the Green Industrial Revolution, leading the way for other industries to cut their carbon emissions.”

Glass Futures chief executive Richard Katz explained the importance of the work that will be done at the new facility when it opens.

“For the future of mankind, it’s essential the world wakes up to the damage it’s doing to itself and collectively acts now to dramatically reduce fossil fuel emissions whether from industry, transport, agriculture or domestic heating,” Katz said.

“The Glass Futures’ hot glass experimental facility is a substantial stepping stone to cutting emissions, designed to work both collaboratively or privately with industry to identify and deliver sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. We welcome any approaches from potential industrial partners who want to join us on this journey.”

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