Co-op Live, Manchester

Co-op Live, Manchester

Approximately 23,000m2 of Knauf Insulation’s new FactoryClad Roll 35 is being used to insulate the roof of the new Co-op Live – helping to create one of the world’s most energy-efficient indoor arenas.

Manchester is known for its rich cultural heritage, but now Co-op Live, the UK’s largest indoor arena, aims to put the city on the world stage for sustainability too. It is designed to be a 100% electrically powered venue and features 6,400m² solar panels as well as air source heat pumps – so a highly efficient building fabric was essential to ensure they operate effectively.  

With Knauf Insulation’s St Helens manufacturing plant based just 30 miles down the road, the company was a perfect partner for sub-contractor Lindner Prater, which was responsible for constructing the arena’s 12,000m2 twin roof. Lindner Prater contacted Knauf Insulation’s Specification Team to discuss the project’s insulation requirements. 

Finding a partner

The Co-op Live roof comprises two independent roof systems, the lower cassette and the upper standing seam roof, working in conjunction with one another to meet the high-performance requirements of the arena. Each element of the build was meticulously examined to ensure the products installed achieved on all fronts. 

Karl Moxon, Associate Director at Lindner Prater, described the process of selecting an insulation partner: 

“For the upper standing seam roof, there were a number of key factors required for the insulation. Firstly, thermal performance. The standing seam roof is a tapering built-up system onto a flat concrete slab, and we needed to meet the overall performance requirements taking into consideration the unique twin roof design.  

“Secondly, for a venue of this size and with our own policies ensuring that the highest standards of fire safety are achieved, it was imperative that we sourced an insulation material that was non-combustible. In addition, the products used had to be sustainable and our key project partners had to align to the sustainable goals of the project. 

“We needed a partner ready to exceed in technical excellence and prepared to innovate when required. Knauf Insulation exemplified this in its approach to Co-op Live.” 

Creating a new product 

The design intent was to use a 0.035W/mK lambda mineral wool insulation installed in two layers at a range of depths between 220mm and 440mm within the built-up metal roof. With the tapered void between the deflecting flat slab and the standing seam finish, the product also needed to be manufactured in five thicknesses ranging between 60mm and 220mm.  

After reviewing several options with the Lindner Prater team, Knauf Insulation agreed to develop a new glass mineral wool product, FactoryClad Roll 35, specifically for the Co-op Live project.  

FactoryClad Roll 35 is a glass mineral wool insulation that is naturally non-combustible with the best possible Euroclass A1 reaction to fire classification. Because it is made of mineral wool, it also acts as a sound absorbent lining, so can help control the reverberation of internal sound. It comes in five thicknesses between 60 and 220mm and is manufactured at a width of 1,200mm for speed of fitting. It also has a high tear strength which ensures its durability and ease of handling during installation.   

Reducing environmental impact 

“Of course, the product’s thermal and fire safety performance were only part of the equation,” said Karl. “Sustainability sits at the heart of the Co-op Live project, so any construction products we proposed also had to meet the most rigorous sustainability standards – and here Knauf Insulation ticked all the boxes.” 

Reducing the embodied carbon of its products has long been a priority for Knauf Insulation. Fifteen years ago, it developed ECOSE® Technology, its unique bio-based binder that is used in the manufacture of most of its insulation, including FactoryClad Roll 35. It contains no added phenol or formaldehyde and is less energy-intensive to manufacture than traditional binders. 

Products manufactured with ECOSE® Technology have been awarded Eurofins ‘Indoor Air Comfort’ Gold. This is a European-wide accreditation for low-VOC products that go beyond the legislated minimum standards and contain no added formaldehyde or phenol. Knauf Insulation’s entire glass mineral wool range is also accredited as Declare 'Red List Free’, which means it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals on the ‘Red List’. 

Its glass mineral wool insulation is made from up to 80% recycled content, mainly glass bottles and jars collected from the local area. In other words, the equivalent of approximately 123,000 empty glass wine bottles is being used to insulate the new Co-op Live arena roof. 

The flexible structure of mineral wool insulation allows it to be compressed during the packaging process. To maximise this potential, Knauf Insulation has invested in advanced compression packaging so there’s more product per pack and per pallet. This reduces the number of trucks on the roads and associated transport-related carbon emissions. It also reduces the amount of plastic packaging required per m2 of insulation.  

As well as prioritising the use of sustainable products, Co-op Live has a zero-waste direct to landfill policy. Here Knauf Insulation scores highly too. Its product packaging film is made from up to 50% Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) plastic, mainly plastic milk bottles, that would otherwise have gone to landfill. It can also be recycled through the development’s own recycling schemes once the products have been unwrapped. 

Thanks to its commitment to sustainability and the development of FactoryClad Roll 35, Knauf Insulation proved to be the perfect insulation partner for Lindner Prater. And it will play a key role in helping Co-op Live achieve its ambition of becoming one of the most sustainable and energy-efficient indoor arenas in the world.

Client Lindner Prater