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Q&A with George Craig, Director at AMD Environmental

As one of the UK’s most forward-thinking serviced office providers. Pure Offices own and manage office space in over 20 major locations across the UK, with hundreds of businesses, of all shapes, sizes and industries occupying the centres. We pride ourselves on the communities within the centres and love to learn more about our clients and their respective industries in our regular Pure Offices Occupier Spotlight Q&A’s.

This time we’re joined by George Craig at Pure Offices Edinburgh Park

Incorporated in 1971, AMD Environmental celebrated its expansion in 2022 and chose Pure Offices Edinburgh Park as its northern HQ. The new AMD North team is leading the growth of mechanical and electrical services, energy and carbon reduction services in the North of England and Scotland.

AMD North started with accommodation in a coworking area in Pure Office Edinburgh Park, before upgrading to a larger office. As the staff numbers increased, they moved to larger offices but still within the building – and they’re about to move again! We chatted with Director George Craig to learn more about the company and why it’s happy to call Edinburgh Park home. 

Hi George! Firstly, what does AMD Environmental do?

The company was originally known as Air Movement Design, a name that has since been abbreviated to AMD Environmental. We are a building services contractor but also design and install air conditioning, ventilation, plumbing, heating and electrical. 

The majority of our clients are in the finance sector, and we are more involved with refurbishment projects than new-build. 

For example, a client might take a floor in an existing building for X number of staff. It’s our job to make sure the building services (fresh air ventilation, cooling capacity, lighting levels, etc.) are suitable for their occupancy. We handle both the design and the installation, usually to a tight timescale. 

Where did you work before setting up AMD North? 

I was a director responsible for the mechanical services of a successful national business for 17 years. We were a large-scale Building Services and FM company employing more than 1,800 employees. After a tragic motor sport accident one of the majority shareholders was seriously injured and the other was retiring. The decision was made to sell the company to keep the company going on a business-as-usual basis.

Initially the new owners worked well with us, however after they were the subject of an acquisition themselves, the bigger parent company started changing the way we operated and lost the values that our success had been built on.

I resigned in 2020 and was subject to a two-year restrictive covenant.

When Jon and Marcus (who I had worked with in a collaborative partnership previously) heard I had resigned they contacted me and asked me if I’d like to join them. So AMD North was established and after my restrictions were over, I was pleased to join the new business. 

The plan was to replicate what we do in the south, with the Dartford office supporting us with their resources. It didn’t quite work out that way. After a successful leadership development programme and marketing campaign AMD started getting busier.

According to the business plan it was just going to be myself and our other director, Brian McFarlane, running things initially with the support of the Dartford office. But because they were so busy themselves, we ended up hiring our own staff quicker, and had to amend the business plan.

That’s why we rapidly went from the “coworking” to the eight-person office in less than one year. We have more staff joining us shortly too.

Did you look at any other workspaces before you chose Pure Offices?

We looked at quite a few, from city centre sites to a building just down the road from where we are now. 

We really liked the feel of this place: the setup and location is fantastic. There is plenty of parking and I can see the tramline from here; we can get into the centre of town within 15 minutes on the tram. I also like the flexibility: you can grow your business while keeping the same location / address. 

Melanie and Michaela our centre management team are great, they make everyone welcome and keep the place spick and span. They are always organising networking events in the business lounge and it creates a good atmosphere amongst the other tenants.

Can you help your clients become Net  Zero?

Yes, we’re a low carbon consultant and have our own in-house qualified designers who can help. When COP26 happened last year we were excited: there were a lot of people talking about decarbonisation and the need to replace gas boilers with heat pumps, etc.

The enquiries were starting to ramp up, with more people contacting us directly. COP26 raised people’s awareness; businesses were thinking ‘I’d better start looking at our own carbon footprint.’ 

How do you heat a building in a Net Zero way?

Several of our financial industry clients are in the process of decarbonising. We’re stripping out the gas boilers and radiator systems, and replacing them with reverse cycle heat pumps which are fed by electricity rather than gas. 

These heat pumps generate heat in a very efficient way, with a COP (Coefficient of Performance) of around 4:1 in some cases. In other words, every 4 kW of heat produced only takes 1 kW to generate through the refrigerant cycle.

An external unit with the compressor and refrigerant circuit enclosed is connected to the indoor units via refrigerant pipework which has a fan coil that blows hot air into the occupied space. The electricity that powers it is more sustainable than gas. Consideration has to be given to the incoming electrical supply though. Sometimes buildings require a bigger power supply to feed the heat pumps, instead of the gas.

How easy is it to transition from gas to electricity-powered heating?

It depends where you are. Some city centre networks are under strain, whereas others – such as those in the rural areas – usually have spare capacity in the electrical substation. It’s not always easy to get the additional electricity you need in big cities.

AMD Environmental is seen as a problem solver: that’s what we specialise in.

Pure Offices is a workplace for everyone. Whether you’re a startup business, global corporate, looking for a first home or a regional satellite office – our offices are flexible, affordable and designed with well-being in mind. For more information about any of our Pure Offices centres, get in touch with our friendly team, who will be happy to help.