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Where We Work: MCS, Cheshire

MCS team photo

In 2022, MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme), the standards organisation for small-scale domestic renewable energy and heating across the UK, invested in larger, more sustainable offices at Sci-Tech Daresbury.

Established in 2007, MCS certifies low-carbon products and installations which are used to produce electricity and heat from renewable sources to support the UK’s drive towards a clean energy future. Over the past 15 years, demand for certified installers to install home-grown energy, such as solar PV, wind, heat pumps, biomass and battery storage, has rapidly increased and so has the focus for MCS.

MCS moved into its new offices space based in Violet 3, part of the new Violet complex at the entrance to Sci-Tech Daresbury, at the end of 2022. Sci-Tech Daresbury is a science and innovation campus located near Warrington.

Prior to 2018, the company was based in London before the decision was taken to invest its central operations firmly in the North West to accommodate future talent in a building and on a campus that matches its green energy principles.

We take a look behind the scenes to see what happens there…

Lisa Cooke

Lisa Cooke, Operations and Communications Director, introduces us to the office…

“We have been based at Sci-Tech Daresbury for several years now – having relocated our operations from London. In that time, we have grown our business significantly by nurturing a local workforce passionate about helping the change to a low-carbon future.

“Our investment in a purpose-built, high-specification workplace in V3, part of the new Violet development – in the heart of a buzzing innovation campus – continues to reflect our values of collaboration and helps to foster even more talent within MCS well into the future.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the overall look and feel of our contemporary yet functional working environment, which now provides us with breakout areas and state-of-the-art meeting spaces in a relaxed and well-designed workplace for all our employees.”

Where is it?

MCS, First Floor, Violet 3 Sci-Tech Daresbury, Keckwick Lane, Daresbury, Cheshire, WA4 4AB

How big is it/what facilities are there?

The office space, Violet 3, is part of the new Violet complex at the entrance to Sci-Tech Daresbury, built by contractors Willmott Dixon and designed by Seven Architecture. The £17.8m development comprises 43,000 sq. ft. of speculative Grade A office and innovation space, coupled with the highest energy efficiency standards, for dynamic, forward-thinking science and technology focused businesses.

MCS occupies 4,416 sq. ft. on the first floor of Violet 3. The fitout, design and refurbishment was undertaken to a high specification with sustainability in mind by Manchester-based Eatock Design and Build.

The office design was completed following intensive consultation with the MCS team to capture our brand, values, and create collaboration spaces that facilitate office and effective hybrid working – all within a BREEAM Excellent-rated building, which places a real focus on sustainability.

The office features open plan desk space on two sides, which has been further expanded since MCS moved into the space to accommodate for further growth. There is a spacious climate-controlled board room with high-end video-conferencing capabilities which is equipped for providing refreshments with fridge space and coffee machine in-room. There is also an adjoining, smaller meeting room with the same features to allow for multiple internal or hybrid meetings at once.

For smaller meetings, there are soundproof, air-conditioned acoustic booths as well as open sofa booths, but equipped with high-definition screens for presentations or video meetings. There is also a larger collaboration space with room for a large team to gather around a conference table with a portable LCD screen.

The kitchen is equipped with ample seating for lunch and breaks as well as a boiler tap, coffee machines, fridges, freezers and regular consumable deliveries including daily fresh milk, bread and fruit.

What happens there/what sort of work goes on?

MCS is a standards organisation. With energy costs constantly rising and climate change affecting us all – low-carbon technology has a bigger and bigger role to play in the future of UK energy. MCS is here to ensure it’s a positive one.

Working with industry we define, maintain, and improve quality – certifying contractors, installations and products used to generate electricity and heat from renewable sources so people can have confidence in the low-carbon technology they invest in.

MCS working groups, comprised of a diverse range of contractors, manufacturers, and academics from across the green energy and heating sector, create and maintain industry standards. Associated with these standards is the certification scheme, run on behalf of MCS by Certification Bodies who hold UKAS accreditation to ISO 17065.

MCS is a mark of quality. Membership of MCS demonstrates adherence to recognised standards developed by industry, for industry, highlighting quality, competency, and compliance.

From solar and wind, to heat pumps, biomass, and battery storage, we want to inspire a new generation of home-grown energy, fit for the needs of every UK home, business, and community.

Working with a broad range of industry, government, and academic stakeholders, the MCS office space allows us to have a home base to which we can invite partners and colleagues and host them for meetings. It also allows for hybrid collaboration as a number of MCS staff are remote-based but regularly join meetings in the office.

Why is the workplace appropriate?

The MCS office’s position on Sci-Tech Daresbury allows proximity to several related businesses also based on the campus, but the office is also close to many amenities in the heart of the North West and only a short drive from both Manchester and Liverpool.

Developing the office space in collaboration with the MCS team was important in ensuring that they felt at home in their workspace and had the facilities they were looking for at work. It was also vital to us that the workspace reflects the core MCS values, in particular a focus on sustainability.

The office was designed and built using sustainable, locally-sourced materials including carbon-neutral flooring throughout, The BREEAM Excellent rating is a particular point of pride as it was core to our business that all our spaces are sustainable.

Who works there?

The MCS team is made up of a team of 60 now, having grown from 36 when we first took on our current office space. We have a commitment to fostering local talent, and over half of our workforce live in Cheshire. We have taken new graduates from local universities in Liverpool, Salford and Manchester and provide training and development that has catapulted them into leadership roles in the business.

We are already seeing a young, high potential team take shape. We provide significant internal progression opportunities, demonstrated by several local, entry-level graduates progressing into management since joining the company.

Diversity is also important to MCS, particularly in an industry that is so male-dominated, which is why over 60% of the MCS team is female.

MCS became a privately-owned company in 2018, when it employed two people. Since then, we have grown significantly and established dedicated team functions with the communications, operations, secretariat, finance, people & culture, compliance, scheme management & analysis, and helpdesk teams all being created and growing in size in the last five years.

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