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Talk. Build 's Entries

  • 24 Nov 2017
    Biodiversity is something that is all too often overlooked in building design and built environment projects, especially on inner city, industrial and commercial projects. Often seen as exclusive for urban development, biodiversity has taken on a new importance and is something that should be considered on every project. Drawing from a pioneering and collaborative strategic ecological framework, BREEAM helps design teams consider how to incorporate biodiversity on every project by looking at the science behind biodiversity, encouraging alignment of relevant processes and promoting consideration of the environmental, social and economic benefits that ecological protection and enhancements can bring. There have been significant developments over the past decade in best practice for evaluating, protecting and enhancing ecological features. In response to industry feedback BRE Global’s BREEAM team has worked with a wide range of stakeholders to understand how to progress development of its ecology assessment content which covers master planning, infrastructure and buildings. Strategic Ecology Framework for BREEAM Scheme Development Following extensive feedback from ecology and landscape professionals and others commonly engaged with BREEAM assessments, the BREEAM team concluded that the ratings scheme should take a more strategic approach to encouraging high ecological standards. As a result, the treatment of ecology in UK BREEAM schemes has therefore been extensively reviewed in order to develop a Strategic Ecology Framework (SEF) for improving and evaluating the ecological performance of buildings, assets and developments. The SEF has been developed to reflect the advances in the field of ecology and landscape management. It forms the basis for future development of relevant ecology-related assessment criteria according to the respective life cycle stages covered by UK BREEAM schemes Measuring and Specifying for Ecological Performance BREEAM UK’s Ecology related content encourages project teams and facilities managers to reduce and manage impacts on the natural environment and local biodiversity/habitats and identify opportunities for enhancement. It does this by identifying ecological value on and around a site and the risks and opportunities that arise as a result of the design, construction and operation of an asset. It focuses on processes and actions that protect features of value, mitigate unavoidable impacts, and enhance habitats. Importantly, it also seeks to promote best practice regarding long term biodiversity management practices and strategies for assessed sites and ecologically associated surrounding areas to maximise the outcomes. Assessment content relate to the use of land of low ecological value, mitigation and enhancement of ecological value, long term ecological and biodiversity management and seek to maximise the wider benefits to occupants and the broader society through provision of additional amenity and economic value in a manner which is context specific. There are four key issues which make up the Ecology content: Identifying and understanding the risks and opportunities for project Managing negative impacts on habitats and biodiversity Enhancement of ecological value Long term biodiversity management and maintenance Part of each issue focuses on looking at how ecology, biodiversity and soft landscaping can support and link other core specification areas such as landscape and habitat management, surface water run-off management, flood risk management, light and noise pollution, health and wellbeing, and recreational space. Promoting consideration and where appropriate specification of elements which support sustainability and resilience on the site. Process of implementation With the SEF published in the spring of 2016, the process of implementation is underway through the BREEAM scheme development update process. BRE has brought together a group of ecologists, landscape architects and many others involved in the design, construction, handover and operational aspects of the built environment to advise on the development of a methodology for implementing the SEF which could be used across all BREEAM schemes. These individuals span all of the BREEAM schemes. This includes the following BREEAM new build suite of schemes currently being updated: BREEAM UK Non Domestic New Construction Home Quality Mark Next version of CEEQUAL (incorporating BREEAM Infrastructure pilot scheme) These schemes will be the first to take account of the updated ecology content informed by the Strategic Ecology Framework. Specifying and Creating a Sustainable Built Environment It is vital that we aspire to a built environment that is optimal in terms of ecology, and not only in terms of technology and costs. Of course not all projects can be ecologically ambitious, but they can take steps to protect and enhance the ecological value of buildings and sites, such as preserving natural areas, maintaining ponds, promoting bee-friendly planting and very many others. Protecting and improving ecology and how it relates to the built environment can contribute greatly to the environmental quality of our increasingly urbanised world and – as a growing body of evidence shows – improve the health, wellbeing and even productivity of building users. The new and comprehensive ecological framework developed by BREEAM will be key to both promoting and rewarding. By Yetunde Abdul, BREEAM Scheme Development Manager, BRE Global Visit: www.breeam.com/sef.
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Biodiversity is something that is all too often overlooked in building design and built environment projects, especially on inner city, industrial and commercial projects. Often seen as exclusive for urban development, biodiversity has taken on a new importance and is something that should be considered on every project. Drawing from a pioneering and collaborative strategic ecological framework, BREEAM helps design teams consider how to incorporate biodiversity on every project by looking at the science behind biodiversity, encouraging alignment of relevant processes and promoting consideration of the environmental, social and economic benefits that ecological protection and enhancements can bring. There have been significant developments over the past decade in best practice for evaluating, protecting and enhancing ecological features. In response to industry feedback BRE Global’s BREEAM team has worked with a wide range of stakeholders to understand how to progress development of its ecology assessment content which covers master planning, infrastructure and buildings. Strategic Ecology Framework for BREEAM Scheme Development Following extensive feedback from ecology and landscape professionals and others commonly engaged with BREEAM assessments, the BREEAM team concluded that the ratings scheme should take a more strategic approach to encouraging high ecological standards. As a result, the treatment of ecology in UK BREEAM schemes has therefore been extensively reviewed in order to develop a Strategic Ecology Framework (SEF) for improving and evaluating the ecological performance of buildings, assets and developments. The SEF has been developed to reflect the advances in the field of ecology and landscape management. It forms the basis for future development of relevant ecology-related assessment criteria according to the respective life cycle stages covered by UK BREEAM schemes Measuring and Specifying for Ecological Performance BREEAM UK’s Ecology related content encourages project teams and facilities managers to reduce and manage impacts on the natural environment and local biodiversity/habitats and identify opportunities for enhancement. It does this by identifying ecological value on and around a site and the risks and opportunities that arise as a result of the design, construction and operation of an asset. It focuses on processes and actions that protect features of value, mitigate unavoidable impacts, and enhance habitats. Importantly, it also seeks to promote best practice regarding long term biodiversity management practices and strategies for assessed sites and ecologically associated surrounding areas to maximise the outcomes. Assessment content relate to the use of land of low ecological value, mitigation and enhancement of ecological value, long term ecological and biodiversity management and seek to maximise the wider benefits to occupants and the broader society through provision of additional amenity and economic value in a manner which is context specific. There are four key issues which make up the Ecology content: Identifying and understanding the risks and opportunities for project Managing negative impacts on habitats and biodiversity Enhancement of ecological value Long term biodiversity management and maintenance Part of each issue focuses on looking at how ecology, biodiversity and soft landscaping can support and link other core specification areas such as landscape and habitat management, surface water run-off management, flood risk management, light and noise pollution, health and wellbeing, and recreational space. Promoting consideration and where appropriate specification of elements which support sustainability and resilience on the site. Process of implementation With the SEF published in the spring of 2016, the process of implementation is underway through the BREEAM scheme development update process. BRE has brought together a group of ecologists, landscape architects and many others involved in the design, construction, handover and operational aspects of the built environment to advise on the development of a methodology for implementing the SEF which could be used across all BREEAM schemes. These individuals span all of the BREEAM schemes. This includes the following BREEAM new build suite of schemes currently being updated: BREEAM UK Non Domestic New Construction Home Quality Mark Next version of CEEQUAL (incorporating BREEAM Infrastructure pilot scheme) These schemes will be the first to take account of the updated ecology content informed by the Strategic Ecology Framework. Specifying and Creating a Sustainable Built Environment It is vital that we aspire to a built environment that is optimal in terms of ecology, and not only in terms of technology and costs. Of course not all projects can be ecologically ambitious, but they can take steps to protect and enhance the ecological value of buildings and sites, such as preserving natural areas, maintaining ponds, promoting bee-friendly planting and very many others. Protecting and improving ecology and how it relates to the built environment can contribute greatly to the environmental quality of our increasingly urbanised world and – as a growing body of evidence shows – improve the health, wellbeing and even productivity of building users. The new and comprehensive ecological framework developed by BREEAM will be key to both promoting and rewarding. By Yetunde Abdul, BREEAM Scheme Development Manager, BRE Global Visit: www.breeam.com/sef.
    Nov 24, 2017 0
  • 13 Oct 2017
    Buildings are responsible for nearly 50% of the UK’s energy consumption and carbon emissions. Well-insulated existing and new-build properties will help improve that figure, but only if the insulation is correctly fitted in the first place. Global leaders in PIR manufacture, Recticel Insulation, provides a guideline to installation practices and techniques in respect of one of the more innovative insulation products on the market. A Green Building Council report released earlier this year revealed 25 million homes need to be refurbished by 2050 in order to meet insulation standards, and achieve the UK’s pledge to cut carbon emissions by 80%, by then in line with the 2008 Climate Change Act. Excess energy used to heat draughty buildings is a major contributor to the country’s carbon footprint, hence the need for quality insulation that is fitted to a high standard. The onus on providing buildings which deliver in terms of thermal performance will largely fall on architects, developers and the building industry as a whole. However, manufacturers can also play their part by continuing to refine the properties and performance of ‘fabric first’ materials which are so vital in putting a thermal seal on the building envelope. Innovative solution Dedicated to raising the standards of insulation products in the UK, Eurowall + represents Recticel Insulation’s commitment to PIR innovation to improve a building’s thermal performance and enhance the comfort and wellbeing of its occupants. Eurowall + was the first rigid insulation board to feature a tongue and groove joint on all four sides. This interlocking feature ensures boards slot together easily to provide insulation that is solid and airtight and minimises heat loss caused by thermal bridging, as well as offering effective protection against elements such as wind-driven rain. In the quest for improved energy efficiency, designers can be left with little option but to increase the thickness of insulation in a dwelling’s external walls. This additional insulation can be added internally, externally or within the cavity, all of which mean that floorplans need to be enlarged, which for housebuilders can mean smaller rooms or fewer houses per plot. Eurowall +, a premium, full-fill cavity insulation board manufactured from high performance closed cell polyisocyanurate (PIR) foam, has been developed to allow designers and housebuilders to maintain traditional build techniques, without compromise to thermal performance. It’s resulted in a board that achieves a U-value of 0.18W/m2K to enable compliance with Part L1A of the Building Regulations 2013 in England and Part L1A of the Building Regulations 2014 in Wales. Installation made easy Installing Eurowall + couldn’t be easier. To help the installer fit the boards the right way, there is a different gas-tight foil-faced finish on each side: one is distinctive grey alkali-resistant facing for placing against the inner leaf; where wet cement can affect the foil facing. The other is a low emissivity multi-layer aluminum facing which enhances the thermal resistance of the cavity. Eurowall + eliminates the need to tape board joints, whilst the boards themselves should be installed in a brick bond pattern with staggered vertical joints.  Wall ties should be applied in the same way as if a partial-fill board were being installed. This involves cutting a slot in the tongue joint with a trowel then pushing the wall tie into it. Retaining discs fit onto the wall ties, acting as a spacer to help maintain the 10mm cavity.  In terms of reveals, wall ties continue to be installed at every second course of blockwork, rather than every course, as is common practice. Two ties are positioned within 225mm of the reveal. Corner details are formed by cutting the boards squarely and closely ****-jointing. A vertical 300mm wide DPC covers the corner and runs the full length of the junction. Cavity trays are fitted by either cutting the insulation at an angle and running a DPC over the top of it,  or using a partial-fill board behind the section where the DPC is due to be fitted. Case study: Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire Eurowall + was used by Mentmore Homes in the construction of two energy-efficient, detached five-bedroom homes in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, valued at £2.5 million each. The high-quality, traditionally-constructed homes feature external walls built using brick/block cavity construction. Cavity wall is the UK’s most common method of wall construction for residential dwellings. For Mentmore Homes, a significant challenge was to retain a standard-sized cavity while complying with the latest Building Regulations. To maximise the thermal performance of the external walls without increasing the width of the 100mm wide cavity, Mentmore Homes specified Eurowall + full-fill insulation. Using this high-performance PIR insulation board enabled the developer to meet the thermal performance required to achieve Building Regulation compliance. A total 500m2 of Eurowall + boards were used in the wall construction of the two houses. Nicholas Peck, contracts manager at Mentmore Homes was impressed with the performance of Eurowall +: “We wanted to make the properties as energy efficient as possible; to make this happen the best place to start is the insulation,” he said. “Specifying Eurowall + meant we didn’t have to increase the size of the wall cavity and lose space inside the properties”. The panel’s interlocking feature was another element of the product that Peck says was beneficial: “Eurowall +, because it slots together so easily will remain solid and airtight,” he said. “We required a high-performance product for this extremely high-profile project and Eurowall + didn’t disappoint”. Case study: Hedge End, Southampton; Ludgershall, Andover Ease of handling and simplicity of installation were just two of the reasons Foreman Homes selected Eurowall + to insulate the walls of the homes on two large housing developments in the south of England. The schemes at Hedge End, Southampton, and Ludgershall, Andover, together contain a mix of over 300 plots of social and private housing; homes vary in size from two- to five-bedrooms. Mark Kew, a bricklayer with Foreman Homes, applauded the benefits of using Eurowall +: “In 35 years’ experience in construction, the insulation developed by Recticel is easy to cut accurately due to the grid printed on the foil-facing side which makes it easy to install with minimal waste. I can honestly say our quality and speed have excelled as a result of its use.” In total over 15,000m2 of Eurowall + insulation was installed. For Foreman Homes, using Eurowall + meant the homes’ external walls could be built quicker and easier resulting in a corresponding saving in construction costs.  And, the full-fill insulation’s excellent thermal performance will mean that residents on both developments will be able to enjoy their comfortable, energy-efficient dwellings. As these case studies demonstrate, innovative PIR products such as Eurowall + contain a host of benefits to fit the 21st century need for insulation which improves a property’s thermal performance and speeds-up the overall construction process. However, for the performance to match the quality of the product, its installation has to be correct – hopefully first time.  Visit: http://www.recticelinsulation.co.uk/
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Buildings are responsible for nearly 50% of the UK’s energy consumption and carbon emissions. Well-insulated existing and new-build properties will help improve that figure, but only if the insulation is correctly fitted in the first place. Global leaders in PIR manufacture, Recticel Insulation, provides a guideline to installation practices and techniques in respect of one of the more innovative insulation products on the market. A Green Building Council report released earlier this year revealed 25 million homes need to be refurbished by 2050 in order to meet insulation standards, and achieve the UK’s pledge to cut carbon emissions by 80%, by then in line with the 2008 Climate Change Act. Excess energy used to heat draughty buildings is a major contributor to the country’s carbon footprint, hence the need for quality insulation that is fitted to a high standard. The onus on providing buildings which deliver in terms of thermal performance will largely fall on architects, developers and the building industry as a whole. However, manufacturers can also play their part by continuing to refine the properties and performance of ‘fabric first’ materials which are so vital in putting a thermal seal on the building envelope. Innovative solution Dedicated to raising the standards of insulation products in the UK, Eurowall + represents Recticel Insulation’s commitment to PIR innovation to improve a building’s thermal performance and enhance the comfort and wellbeing of its occupants. Eurowall + was the first rigid insulation board to feature a tongue and groove joint on all four sides. This interlocking feature ensures boards slot together easily to provide insulation that is solid and airtight and minimises heat loss caused by thermal bridging, as well as offering effective protection against elements such as wind-driven rain. In the quest for improved energy efficiency, designers can be left with little option but to increase the thickness of insulation in a dwelling’s external walls. This additional insulation can be added internally, externally or within the cavity, all of which mean that floorplans need to be enlarged, which for housebuilders can mean smaller rooms or fewer houses per plot. Eurowall +, a premium, full-fill cavity insulation board manufactured from high performance closed cell polyisocyanurate (PIR) foam, has been developed to allow designers and housebuilders to maintain traditional build techniques, without compromise to thermal performance. It’s resulted in a board that achieves a U-value of 0.18W/m2K to enable compliance with Part L1A of the Building Regulations 2013 in England and Part L1A of the Building Regulations 2014 in Wales. Installation made easy Installing Eurowall + couldn’t be easier. To help the installer fit the boards the right way, there is a different gas-tight foil-faced finish on each side: one is distinctive grey alkali-resistant facing for placing against the inner leaf; where wet cement can affect the foil facing. The other is a low emissivity multi-layer aluminum facing which enhances the thermal resistance of the cavity. Eurowall + eliminates the need to tape board joints, whilst the boards themselves should be installed in a brick bond pattern with staggered vertical joints.  Wall ties should be applied in the same way as if a partial-fill board were being installed. This involves cutting a slot in the tongue joint with a trowel then pushing the wall tie into it. Retaining discs fit onto the wall ties, acting as a spacer to help maintain the 10mm cavity.  In terms of reveals, wall ties continue to be installed at every second course of blockwork, rather than every course, as is common practice. Two ties are positioned within 225mm of the reveal. Corner details are formed by cutting the boards squarely and closely ****-jointing. A vertical 300mm wide DPC covers the corner and runs the full length of the junction. Cavity trays are fitted by either cutting the insulation at an angle and running a DPC over the top of it,  or using a partial-fill board behind the section where the DPC is due to be fitted. Case study: Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire Eurowall + was used by Mentmore Homes in the construction of two energy-efficient, detached five-bedroom homes in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, valued at £2.5 million each. The high-quality, traditionally-constructed homes feature external walls built using brick/block cavity construction. Cavity wall is the UK’s most common method of wall construction for residential dwellings. For Mentmore Homes, a significant challenge was to retain a standard-sized cavity while complying with the latest Building Regulations. To maximise the thermal performance of the external walls without increasing the width of the 100mm wide cavity, Mentmore Homes specified Eurowall + full-fill insulation. Using this high-performance PIR insulation board enabled the developer to meet the thermal performance required to achieve Building Regulation compliance. A total 500m2 of Eurowall + boards were used in the wall construction of the two houses. Nicholas Peck, contracts manager at Mentmore Homes was impressed with the performance of Eurowall +: “We wanted to make the properties as energy efficient as possible; to make this happen the best place to start is the insulation,” he said. “Specifying Eurowall + meant we didn’t have to increase the size of the wall cavity and lose space inside the properties”. The panel’s interlocking feature was another element of the product that Peck says was beneficial: “Eurowall +, because it slots together so easily will remain solid and airtight,” he said. “We required a high-performance product for this extremely high-profile project and Eurowall + didn’t disappoint”. Case study: Hedge End, Southampton; Ludgershall, Andover Ease of handling and simplicity of installation were just two of the reasons Foreman Homes selected Eurowall + to insulate the walls of the homes on two large housing developments in the south of England. The schemes at Hedge End, Southampton, and Ludgershall, Andover, together contain a mix of over 300 plots of social and private housing; homes vary in size from two- to five-bedrooms. Mark Kew, a bricklayer with Foreman Homes, applauded the benefits of using Eurowall +: “In 35 years’ experience in construction, the insulation developed by Recticel is easy to cut accurately due to the grid printed on the foil-facing side which makes it easy to install with minimal waste. I can honestly say our quality and speed have excelled as a result of its use.” In total over 15,000m2 of Eurowall + insulation was installed. For Foreman Homes, using Eurowall + meant the homes’ external walls could be built quicker and easier resulting in a corresponding saving in construction costs.  And, the full-fill insulation’s excellent thermal performance will mean that residents on both developments will be able to enjoy their comfortable, energy-efficient dwellings. As these case studies demonstrate, innovative PIR products such as Eurowall + contain a host of benefits to fit the 21st century need for insulation which improves a property’s thermal performance and speeds-up the overall construction process. However, for the performance to match the quality of the product, its installation has to be correct – hopefully first time.  Visit: http://www.recticelinsulation.co.uk/
    Oct 13, 2017 0
  • 06 Oct 2017
    The health and wellbeing of building occupants is a hot topic. It has been acknowledged that buildings have a direct impact on human wellbeing and happiness, something that is compounded by the large amount of time we spend indoors. With this growing interest has come a move to understand Biophilia and its potential to improve indoor environments. However, with this also comes the challenge of how we measure its impact. This raises the question, if we are to truly understand its impact on building occupants, how closely should we link Biophilic design with post-occupancy evaluation? The term Biophilia was first used by psychologist Erich Fromm to explain our “love of life and all that is alive”. In 1984, Edward O Wilson released his book ‘Biophilia’ and defined the term as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”. The concept suggests that humans have an innate attraction to natural processes, and hold a biological need for physical, mental and social connections with nature. Research has shown that being in natural environments, or even viewing scenes of nature, can have a general positive impact on our wellbeing. Presence in natural environments has been known to alleviate negative emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, depression and stress. Whilst also helping us to feel calm, balanced and inspired. Through the industrial revolution and technological advances, our lifestyles have shifted in terms of how and where we both work and spend our leisure time. As a result, in the developed world, we spend on average 90% of our lives in buildings. This statistic is one we’ve heard many times before, maybe so many times that we’re now becoming desensitised to it. As a result it’s especially important to remember exactly what this statistic is telling us; that we spend the majority of our time indoors, separated from nature and the wealth of benefits it brings to us. A way to address this is to bring the outdoors indoors, design our built environment to work with nature, and create internal surroundings that incorporate the natural world and its multiple facets (colour, light, air, plants, sound, texture, diversity) into our lives. Biophilic design does just this, and provides the built environment with a method of satisfying our need to connect with nature, even when spending time indoors. The evidence base for Biophilic design is widespread across various building types. In office workplaces, over the long term, Biophilic design can reduce absenteeism, reduce comfort complaints and help to retain employees. In addition to this, the workplace can become more efficient as a result of Biophilic design through employees feeling more inspired, creative and productive. Likewise in school buildings, strategic Biophilic design has been linked to improved learning, improved health of staff and pupils and a more enjoyable learning experience. In healthcare buildings, Biophilic design has been said to support quicker recovery rates amongst patients, decreased medication dependency, reduced stress amongst staff and patients and improved mental wellbeing. In the retail sector, buildings that incorporate Biophilic design can find their store provides a more enjoyable consumer experience which can draw in customers and boost sales.  But, how do we go about measuring these reported impacts? If the health and wellbeing benefits of Biophilic design are understood to be present in various building types, can we measure the extent of their success? How do we determine which Biophilic design elements are most successful in different building types? These questions lead me to believe there needs to be symbiotic relationship between Biophilic design and post-occupancy evaluation (POE) methods, right from the get-go. This might seem like an unusual pairing. Their names alone would suggest these two processes would occur at opposite ends of the scope of works; the design obviously coming first, and the post-occupancy evaluation doing exactly what it says on the tin by taking place long after building handover and occupation. However, to better understand the wealth of benefits known to Biophilic design, it could be argued that the design should influence the methods of POE, and likewise the POE should impact upon the design. During the design process, questions and research methods for the POE could be formulated based around the design intent as it develops, right from the beginning of the project through to the start of the construction phase when final design details are ironed out. Similarly once completed, the outcomes of POE could then influence changes to the Biophilic design. Alterations and tweaks could be made to the design based on which Biophilic design elements have met their design intent, those that haven’t, and those that might have produced unexpected outcomes. Further to this, restrictions to the POE methods could be taken into account whilst making decisions around the Biophilic design. For example, if during the design the end tenant’s intended office floor plan is unknown, locating a living wall at one end of the floor space might mean that half of the office occupants rarely experience or interact with the feature. This will in turn impact on the POE, meaning that half the occupants will not be able to answer questions investigating the impact of that feature. As such, to support the POEs ability to thoroughly investigate each Biophilic feature, the design decision could ensure the living wall is located in a communal break-out space, or incorporate two living walls in each end of the office space. The BRE and Oliver Heath Design, supported by a wide range of partners, are embarking on a new research project around Biophilic design. A live office refurbishment will provide robust building environment and occupant data as evidence for positive health and wellbeing impacts of Biophilic design. Occupant surveys and POE quite clearly will have a very important role to play in understanding the outcomes of the project. The project is creating a baseline of data by monitoring the existing building for one year before intervening with Biophilic refurbishment, and monitoring the office again. The long-term findings from which are intended to be linked to the Biophilic elements thus giving a better understanding of the extent of product and design on occupants. This will support the case for Biophilic design in numerous areas of the built environment industry, including BREEAM. With Strategic Director Alan Yates on the Project Board, BREEAM intends to utilise the findings to better inform the Health and Wellbeing category and work around POE methodologies.  In its widest context, Biophilic design has a lot to offer the refurbishment and fit out sectors that will benefit clients, building owners and occupants. It doesn’t have to be deep refurbishment, complex or expensive – the simple choices of floor covering, paint on the walls and lighting have significant Biophilic qualities. The use of POE is key to understanding the evidence base of this, and educating the industry so that informed well researched choices can help create workplaces of the future, that are healthier and more energising, from the offices of the past. For more information on BREEAM visit: www.breeam.com By Kerri-Emma Dobson, BREEAM Technical Consultant   Blog first published on building.co.uk.  
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • The health and wellbeing of building occupants is a hot topic. It has been acknowledged that buildings have a direct impact on human wellbeing and happiness, something that is compounded by the large amount of time we spend indoors. With this growing interest has come a move to understand Biophilia and its potential to improve indoor environments. However, with this also comes the challenge of how we measure its impact. This raises the question, if we are to truly understand its impact on building occupants, how closely should we link Biophilic design with post-occupancy evaluation? The term Biophilia was first used by psychologist Erich Fromm to explain our “love of life and all that is alive”. In 1984, Edward O Wilson released his book ‘Biophilia’ and defined the term as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”. The concept suggests that humans have an innate attraction to natural processes, and hold a biological need for physical, mental and social connections with nature. Research has shown that being in natural environments, or even viewing scenes of nature, can have a general positive impact on our wellbeing. Presence in natural environments has been known to alleviate negative emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, depression and stress. Whilst also helping us to feel calm, balanced and inspired. Through the industrial revolution and technological advances, our lifestyles have shifted in terms of how and where we both work and spend our leisure time. As a result, in the developed world, we spend on average 90% of our lives in buildings. This statistic is one we’ve heard many times before, maybe so many times that we’re now becoming desensitised to it. As a result it’s especially important to remember exactly what this statistic is telling us; that we spend the majority of our time indoors, separated from nature and the wealth of benefits it brings to us. A way to address this is to bring the outdoors indoors, design our built environment to work with nature, and create internal surroundings that incorporate the natural world and its multiple facets (colour, light, air, plants, sound, texture, diversity) into our lives. Biophilic design does just this, and provides the built environment with a method of satisfying our need to connect with nature, even when spending time indoors. The evidence base for Biophilic design is widespread across various building types. In office workplaces, over the long term, Biophilic design can reduce absenteeism, reduce comfort complaints and help to retain employees. In addition to this, the workplace can become more efficient as a result of Biophilic design through employees feeling more inspired, creative and productive. Likewise in school buildings, strategic Biophilic design has been linked to improved learning, improved health of staff and pupils and a more enjoyable learning experience. In healthcare buildings, Biophilic design has been said to support quicker recovery rates amongst patients, decreased medication dependency, reduced stress amongst staff and patients and improved mental wellbeing. In the retail sector, buildings that incorporate Biophilic design can find their store provides a more enjoyable consumer experience which can draw in customers and boost sales.  But, how do we go about measuring these reported impacts? If the health and wellbeing benefits of Biophilic design are understood to be present in various building types, can we measure the extent of their success? How do we determine which Biophilic design elements are most successful in different building types? These questions lead me to believe there needs to be symbiotic relationship between Biophilic design and post-occupancy evaluation (POE) methods, right from the get-go. This might seem like an unusual pairing. Their names alone would suggest these two processes would occur at opposite ends of the scope of works; the design obviously coming first, and the post-occupancy evaluation doing exactly what it says on the tin by taking place long after building handover and occupation. However, to better understand the wealth of benefits known to Biophilic design, it could be argued that the design should influence the methods of POE, and likewise the POE should impact upon the design. During the design process, questions and research methods for the POE could be formulated based around the design intent as it develops, right from the beginning of the project through to the start of the construction phase when final design details are ironed out. Similarly once completed, the outcomes of POE could then influence changes to the Biophilic design. Alterations and tweaks could be made to the design based on which Biophilic design elements have met their design intent, those that haven’t, and those that might have produced unexpected outcomes. Further to this, restrictions to the POE methods could be taken into account whilst making decisions around the Biophilic design. For example, if during the design the end tenant’s intended office floor plan is unknown, locating a living wall at one end of the floor space might mean that half of the office occupants rarely experience or interact with the feature. This will in turn impact on the POE, meaning that half the occupants will not be able to answer questions investigating the impact of that feature. As such, to support the POEs ability to thoroughly investigate each Biophilic feature, the design decision could ensure the living wall is located in a communal break-out space, or incorporate two living walls in each end of the office space. The BRE and Oliver Heath Design, supported by a wide range of partners, are embarking on a new research project around Biophilic design. A live office refurbishment will provide robust building environment and occupant data as evidence for positive health and wellbeing impacts of Biophilic design. Occupant surveys and POE quite clearly will have a very important role to play in understanding the outcomes of the project. The project is creating a baseline of data by monitoring the existing building for one year before intervening with Biophilic refurbishment, and monitoring the office again. The long-term findings from which are intended to be linked to the Biophilic elements thus giving a better understanding of the extent of product and design on occupants. This will support the case for Biophilic design in numerous areas of the built environment industry, including BREEAM. With Strategic Director Alan Yates on the Project Board, BREEAM intends to utilise the findings to better inform the Health and Wellbeing category and work around POE methodologies.  In its widest context, Biophilic design has a lot to offer the refurbishment and fit out sectors that will benefit clients, building owners and occupants. It doesn’t have to be deep refurbishment, complex or expensive – the simple choices of floor covering, paint on the walls and lighting have significant Biophilic qualities. The use of POE is key to understanding the evidence base of this, and educating the industry so that informed well researched choices can help create workplaces of the future, that are healthier and more energising, from the offices of the past. For more information on BREEAM visit: www.breeam.com By Kerri-Emma Dobson, BREEAM Technical Consultant   Blog first published on building.co.uk.  
    Oct 06, 2017 0
  • 03 Oct 2017
    Balancing environmentally sound proposals with commercial viability can present a number of challenges and is further complicated by planning requirements.  With many local planning authorities now requiring an energy and / or sustainability statement to be submitted as part of a planning application, Darren Evans of Darren Evans Assessments explains why a well prepared, professional statement will play a critical role in ensuring planning consent for a site. The purpose of the planning system is to contribute to sustainable development, which has economic, social and environmental dimensions.  The main aim of an energy and or sustainability statement is to promote high standards of design and to reduce the environmental impacts of new developments. The requirements of these statements are set regionally and will differ from council to council across the UK. An energy statement will involve demonstrating a specified reduction in energy demand or CO2 emissions beyond building regulations. This is usually through the use of onsite renewable or low/zero carbon technologies with examples including solar PV, solar thermal, air / ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers. A sustainability statement will incorporate these reductions but include additional requirements such as flood risk assessments, water consumption targets, transport and cycle storage, on site recycling, district heating connections and in depth feasibility studies for additional renewable and low/zero carbon technologies. A local plan With regional differences in requirements for energy statements the point could be argued that these planning policies do not go far enough in terms of sustainability. For example, Bristol City Council require a 20% reduction in CO2 through on site renewable technologies whist the bordering council South Gloucestershire has no requirements for an energy or sustainability statement.  A good example of where planning policies are going further in terms of sustainability is London where all new housing must follow the guidelines of the London plan, regardless of which borough the development lies. The London plan requires that a sustainability statement must be undertaken which amongst other requirements demands a 35% reduction in emissions over building regulations. Interestingly, this does not have to be through renewables or low/zero carbon technologies, although it is very difficult to achieve solely through a fabric first approach. The planning departments which fall under the London plan can then dictate if they choose to, reductions through the use of renewable technologies or other polices such as communal heating systems or the ability to connect to future district heating schemes. “Most projects that come to us for sustainability or energy statements will not initially meet the requirements outlined in the local planning policies and we will propose different options on how to comply that work with the development both practically and financially,” commented Darren Evans. Some contractors will want to avoid these policies for varying reasons, some genuine and some not. In this case, the approach taken is to try and demonstrate the reduction through a fabric first approach which is achievable in some areas but as previously mentioned in London can be very difficult. It also varies from region to region as to whether a development meeting the targets through the building fabric and no renewables will be approved through planning. However, more often than not the requirements will be strictly enforced. Meeting energy targets With many councils requiring schemes to provide minimum performance against BREEAM, contractors are not always up-to-speed on what is required for this standard and at what stages things need to be completed. This applies to non-domestic buildings over 1,000 m2 and the condition is either Very Good or Excellent and that is what needs to be met. The project teams are not always forthcoming with BREEAM evidence, and often when they do send evidence in it is incorrect or incomplete.  With the other pressures of the build, the BREEAM requirements seem to be a low priority and it is left until the ‘last minute’ to get information back to the assessor therefore making it harder to gather the evidence and incurring a higher risk of losing credits, which results in not meeting the necessary BREEAM rating.  This causes great stress to the design team and even the end client. To tackle this, the client could appoint a BREEAM Accredited Professional /Sustainability Champion at the early design stages and throughout the project to ensure the whole project team are aware of what is needed and guarantee the design team incorporate the necessary details into the design drawings and specifications.  This person should also proactively gather the required information from the various design team members. This will make it easier for the Design Stage assessments to be completed and allow contractors to focus on the Post Construction Assessment. They can highlight particular credits where evidence needs to be collated throughout the project. Contractors could appoint a project team member who is dedicated to BREEAM evidence collation to ensure BREEAM credits are not lost, so any day-to-day issues or changes can be assessed.  Having regular BREEAM team meetings, either by phone or in person, to check the process is moving forward will ensure it remains a high priority throughout the project. A future policy To improve the planning situation in relation to energy and sustainability in the built environment, it would be beneficial to see a nationwide policy rolled out which set out the requirements for these planning conditions. This way it would not come as a surprise to developers that they need to include renewable and low/zero carbon technologies with every development.  In an ideal situation from a sustainability point of view there should be a requirement that a given percentage of a dwellings total energy demand needs to be provided through on site renewables. Visit: www.darren-evans.co.uk  
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Balancing environmentally sound proposals with commercial viability can present a number of challenges and is further complicated by planning requirements.  With many local planning authorities now requiring an energy and / or sustainability statement to be submitted as part of a planning application, Darren Evans of Darren Evans Assessments explains why a well prepared, professional statement will play a critical role in ensuring planning consent for a site. The purpose of the planning system is to contribute to sustainable development, which has economic, social and environmental dimensions.  The main aim of an energy and or sustainability statement is to promote high standards of design and to reduce the environmental impacts of new developments. The requirements of these statements are set regionally and will differ from council to council across the UK. An energy statement will involve demonstrating a specified reduction in energy demand or CO2 emissions beyond building regulations. This is usually through the use of onsite renewable or low/zero carbon technologies with examples including solar PV, solar thermal, air / ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers. A sustainability statement will incorporate these reductions but include additional requirements such as flood risk assessments, water consumption targets, transport and cycle storage, on site recycling, district heating connections and in depth feasibility studies for additional renewable and low/zero carbon technologies. A local plan With regional differences in requirements for energy statements the point could be argued that these planning policies do not go far enough in terms of sustainability. For example, Bristol City Council require a 20% reduction in CO2 through on site renewable technologies whist the bordering council South Gloucestershire has no requirements for an energy or sustainability statement.  A good example of where planning policies are going further in terms of sustainability is London where all new housing must follow the guidelines of the London plan, regardless of which borough the development lies. The London plan requires that a sustainability statement must be undertaken which amongst other requirements demands a 35% reduction in emissions over building regulations. Interestingly, this does not have to be through renewables or low/zero carbon technologies, although it is very difficult to achieve solely through a fabric first approach. The planning departments which fall under the London plan can then dictate if they choose to, reductions through the use of renewable technologies or other polices such as communal heating systems or the ability to connect to future district heating schemes. “Most projects that come to us for sustainability or energy statements will not initially meet the requirements outlined in the local planning policies and we will propose different options on how to comply that work with the development both practically and financially,” commented Darren Evans. Some contractors will want to avoid these policies for varying reasons, some genuine and some not. In this case, the approach taken is to try and demonstrate the reduction through a fabric first approach which is achievable in some areas but as previously mentioned in London can be very difficult. It also varies from region to region as to whether a development meeting the targets through the building fabric and no renewables will be approved through planning. However, more often than not the requirements will be strictly enforced. Meeting energy targets With many councils requiring schemes to provide minimum performance against BREEAM, contractors are not always up-to-speed on what is required for this standard and at what stages things need to be completed. This applies to non-domestic buildings over 1,000 m2 and the condition is either Very Good or Excellent and that is what needs to be met. The project teams are not always forthcoming with BREEAM evidence, and often when they do send evidence in it is incorrect or incomplete.  With the other pressures of the build, the BREEAM requirements seem to be a low priority and it is left until the ‘last minute’ to get information back to the assessor therefore making it harder to gather the evidence and incurring a higher risk of losing credits, which results in not meeting the necessary BREEAM rating.  This causes great stress to the design team and even the end client. To tackle this, the client could appoint a BREEAM Accredited Professional /Sustainability Champion at the early design stages and throughout the project to ensure the whole project team are aware of what is needed and guarantee the design team incorporate the necessary details into the design drawings and specifications.  This person should also proactively gather the required information from the various design team members. This will make it easier for the Design Stage assessments to be completed and allow contractors to focus on the Post Construction Assessment. They can highlight particular credits where evidence needs to be collated throughout the project. Contractors could appoint a project team member who is dedicated to BREEAM evidence collation to ensure BREEAM credits are not lost, so any day-to-day issues or changes can be assessed.  Having regular BREEAM team meetings, either by phone or in person, to check the process is moving forward will ensure it remains a high priority throughout the project. A future policy To improve the planning situation in relation to energy and sustainability in the built environment, it would be beneficial to see a nationwide policy rolled out which set out the requirements for these planning conditions. This way it would not come as a surprise to developers that they need to include renewable and low/zero carbon technologies with every development.  In an ideal situation from a sustainability point of view there should be a requirement that a given percentage of a dwellings total energy demand needs to be provided through on site renewables. Visit: www.darren-evans.co.uk  
    Oct 03, 2017 0
  • 02 Oct 2017
    Passive House is regarded as one of the best standards to reflect ultra-efficient building performance. Whilst many people talk about the desire to build to Passive House standard the number of projects that are actually delivered tells a different story. So are we setting the bar so high that it is unrealistic to achieve, particularly on a large volume scale? Or is there another reason? An estimated 30,000 buildings worldwide currently meet Passive House levels for airtightness, the majority having achieved the standard since the turn of the century. It’s a figure, which in worldwide terms at least, barely represents a drop in the ocean. As specialists in the building of low-energy properties, Richardson & Peat has experienced first-hand the results of this sustainable form of construction which profits the planet and a building’s occupants. But what is our experience of delivering to this standard? The Passive House experience For those unfamiliar with Passive House performance, the introduction to an interior where there is no variance in the air’s purity or temperature can prove quite a strange sensation. A sanitised environment, initially it doesn’t feel quite real - we are so used to homes that are filled with microscopic air pollutants such as dust particles. There should be no underestimating the part air quality plays in creating interiors which excel in terms of health, wellbeing and comfort, particularly when you consider a US Environmental Protection Agency report identified indoor air quality as one of the top-five urgent environmental risks to public health. Passive House construction can also improve occupants’ financial wellbeing. It’s estimated a household living in a 70m2 Passive House with gas heating could spend as little as £25 on space-heating each year. In Reality In 2016, we built a three-storey, six-bedroom private property in Mayfield, Sussex which became the first home in the east of the county to gain full Passive House certification. Upon completion, the first thing you notice when you enter a Passive House property is the clean, fresh air which pervades the whole house. There’s not a single hot or cold area to be found in the entire building, thanks to the constant air temperature, which in the Mayfield property’s case was set at a very comfortable 21°C. In short it is an extremely comfortable house to live in. It has virtually zero energy bills and the interior temperature and air quality make it a very pleasant place to be. Given the opportunity I would love to live in a house built to Passive House standards. Meeting the standard So what of the delivery of the project? Building to Passive House standards involves a higher levels of design and construction precision to attain the required airtightness. And this is not without its potential challenges. A successful Passive House build requires a concentrated team effort. The most successful projects are achieved when everyone from architect and structural engineer, to the main contractor and each and every sub-contractor and client, are involved in the project from the outset. Entering the project on the understanding that every detail, however minor, shall be implemented with the highest accuracy offers the best chance of success. Architects and on-site trades can consult on the designs to ensure every aspect is workable, which could iron out future problems at the start of the project, as opposed to midway through which can lead to redesigns further down the line, adding time and expense to an already relatively costly project. From experience it is the smallest if things that can derail a project. As the fundamental point of a Passive House is that the building is airtight, this is something that can have zero tolerance. Designing an airtight building is one thing, but delivering it is another. All too often different trades will come in and in an effort to deliver their part of the project, they will, in advertanly, compromise the efforts of others. This is where communication is paramount,. If everyone understands what you are trying to achieve and that the project has to be approached in a slightly different manner, then you are on the right road to success. Achieving Air Tightness However experienced the contractor, building Passive House to a price requires a flawless performance from all those involved. But again, it comes down to all trades adhering to the ‘no detail shall fail’ mantra. Actions, from any trade, could compromise the entire integrity of the building envelope. Throughout the project, the main contractor needs to carry-out at least three or four air tests to ensure u-values are being achieved. Tracking down such errant details, which can ultimately result in the performance not being met, creates a huge problem – it’s akin to finding a needle in a haystack.   With a house completed to what is presumed satisfactory levels of airtightness, the smallest hole can lead to air leakage that can lead to Passive House standards being compromised. In this instance, a smoke canister test might have to be taken to detect the barest movement of air. A far better solution would be for the trades people involved to own-up to the mistake, thus saving the valuable time and costs. As someone whose company is skilled in the building of Passive homes and has experienced the ‘cleaner ‘environment within, the question over whether we should be looking into building more properties to the same high level of airtightness is no longer valid because it’s an absolute no-brainer. The Cost On average, a Passive House build is 15% more expensive than properties constructed to a less-low energy standard. I agree with those who may feel this cost is too high. However, I believe the 15% figure will improve with communication and understanding through the supply chain, helping make Passive House construction more generally appealing. Is Passive House too complicated and difficult to achieve? Personally I don’t think so. It can be difficult, but for those willing to persevere, the results can be incredible. The secret to delivering to Passive House standard successfully and making it more commercially viable is about improving understanding across the supply chain. If everyone from client and architect, to every last sub-contractor understands why the project is being delivered to Passive House standards, it stands the best chance of success. This, however, is easier said than done, therefore education is needed in order to create Passive House buildings, which in my view are amongst the best properties there are in terms of energy and cost efficiency, and occupier comfort. By Martin Peat, Director, Richardson & Peat      
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Passive House is regarded as one of the best standards to reflect ultra-efficient building performance. Whilst many people talk about the desire to build to Passive House standard the number of projects that are actually delivered tells a different story. So are we setting the bar so high that it is unrealistic to achieve, particularly on a large volume scale? Or is there another reason? An estimated 30,000 buildings worldwide currently meet Passive House levels for airtightness, the majority having achieved the standard since the turn of the century. It’s a figure, which in worldwide terms at least, barely represents a drop in the ocean. As specialists in the building of low-energy properties, Richardson & Peat has experienced first-hand the results of this sustainable form of construction which profits the planet and a building’s occupants. But what is our experience of delivering to this standard? The Passive House experience For those unfamiliar with Passive House performance, the introduction to an interior where there is no variance in the air’s purity or temperature can prove quite a strange sensation. A sanitised environment, initially it doesn’t feel quite real - we are so used to homes that are filled with microscopic air pollutants such as dust particles. There should be no underestimating the part air quality plays in creating interiors which excel in terms of health, wellbeing and comfort, particularly when you consider a US Environmental Protection Agency report identified indoor air quality as one of the top-five urgent environmental risks to public health. Passive House construction can also improve occupants’ financial wellbeing. It’s estimated a household living in a 70m2 Passive House with gas heating could spend as little as £25 on space-heating each year. In Reality In 2016, we built a three-storey, six-bedroom private property in Mayfield, Sussex which became the first home in the east of the county to gain full Passive House certification. Upon completion, the first thing you notice when you enter a Passive House property is the clean, fresh air which pervades the whole house. There’s not a single hot or cold area to be found in the entire building, thanks to the constant air temperature, which in the Mayfield property’s case was set at a very comfortable 21°C. In short it is an extremely comfortable house to live in. It has virtually zero energy bills and the interior temperature and air quality make it a very pleasant place to be. Given the opportunity I would love to live in a house built to Passive House standards. Meeting the standard So what of the delivery of the project? Building to Passive House standards involves a higher levels of design and construction precision to attain the required airtightness. And this is not without its potential challenges. A successful Passive House build requires a concentrated team effort. The most successful projects are achieved when everyone from architect and structural engineer, to the main contractor and each and every sub-contractor and client, are involved in the project from the outset. Entering the project on the understanding that every detail, however minor, shall be implemented with the highest accuracy offers the best chance of success. Architects and on-site trades can consult on the designs to ensure every aspect is workable, which could iron out future problems at the start of the project, as opposed to midway through which can lead to redesigns further down the line, adding time and expense to an already relatively costly project. From experience it is the smallest if things that can derail a project. As the fundamental point of a Passive House is that the building is airtight, this is something that can have zero tolerance. Designing an airtight building is one thing, but delivering it is another. All too often different trades will come in and in an effort to deliver their part of the project, they will, in advertanly, compromise the efforts of others. This is where communication is paramount,. If everyone understands what you are trying to achieve and that the project has to be approached in a slightly different manner, then you are on the right road to success. Achieving Air Tightness However experienced the contractor, building Passive House to a price requires a flawless performance from all those involved. But again, it comes down to all trades adhering to the ‘no detail shall fail’ mantra. Actions, from any trade, could compromise the entire integrity of the building envelope. Throughout the project, the main contractor needs to carry-out at least three or four air tests to ensure u-values are being achieved. Tracking down such errant details, which can ultimately result in the performance not being met, creates a huge problem – it’s akin to finding a needle in a haystack.   With a house completed to what is presumed satisfactory levels of airtightness, the smallest hole can lead to air leakage that can lead to Passive House standards being compromised. In this instance, a smoke canister test might have to be taken to detect the barest movement of air. A far better solution would be for the trades people involved to own-up to the mistake, thus saving the valuable time and costs. As someone whose company is skilled in the building of Passive homes and has experienced the ‘cleaner ‘environment within, the question over whether we should be looking into building more properties to the same high level of airtightness is no longer valid because it’s an absolute no-brainer. The Cost On average, a Passive House build is 15% more expensive than properties constructed to a less-low energy standard. I agree with those who may feel this cost is too high. However, I believe the 15% figure will improve with communication and understanding through the supply chain, helping make Passive House construction more generally appealing. Is Passive House too complicated and difficult to achieve? Personally I don’t think so. It can be difficult, but for those willing to persevere, the results can be incredible. The secret to delivering to Passive House standard successfully and making it more commercially viable is about improving understanding across the supply chain. If everyone from client and architect, to every last sub-contractor understands why the project is being delivered to Passive House standards, it stands the best chance of success. This, however, is easier said than done, therefore education is needed in order to create Passive House buildings, which in my view are amongst the best properties there are in terms of energy and cost efficiency, and occupier comfort. By Martin Peat, Director, Richardson & Peat      
    Oct 02, 2017 0
  • 23 Sep 2017
    Flooding continues to be a major problem worldwide as our population continues to grow. In the UK, Government advisors are still suggesting that homes and offices be built on flood plains in spite of the risks – so it would seem that the problem can only get worse.. The Chinese have particular difficulties with huge numbers of people leaving the land to work in cities which are expanding at an ever increasing rate. With it comes the problem of channelling rainwater to minimise flood risks. Their answer - to create “Sponge Cities” and they reckon that by 2020, 80% of urban areas should absorb and re-use at least 70% of rainwater. The objective is to reduce the intensity of rainwater runoff by enhancing and distributing absorption capacities more evenly across targeted areas. Measures include rooftops covered by plants or green roofs which are becoming increasingly common across Europe, scenic wetlands for rainwater storage, and permeable pavements that store excess runoff water and allow evaporation. While all these ideas sound good in principle there is already mounting evidence that no one really wants to spend the money needed to create “Sponge Cities” and any such initiatives also have to go hand in hand with reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment. You cannot for example chop down natural sponges such as woodland to make way for new homes and offices and there is a limit to what even a sponge can soak up. In other parts of the world innovative water initiatives have been adopted  such as wetland restoration in the American Midwest, flushing systems using collectede rooftop water water have been introduced in Oregon USA, bioswales in Singapore, and public spaces as flexible water retention facilities in the Netherlands. In the UK there seems to be little joined up thinking with “Sponge Cities” way off the radar. We are seeing a steady increase in green roofs and seemingly token work on sea defences – but that seems to be it Perhaps we are being a little unfair on our Government – but how long before the next big flood and when the debate starts all over again? By John Ridgeway Follow me on Twitter @JohnRidgeway99.
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Flooding continues to be a major problem worldwide as our population continues to grow. In the UK, Government advisors are still suggesting that homes and offices be built on flood plains in spite of the risks – so it would seem that the problem can only get worse.. The Chinese have particular difficulties with huge numbers of people leaving the land to work in cities which are expanding at an ever increasing rate. With it comes the problem of channelling rainwater to minimise flood risks. Their answer - to create “Sponge Cities” and they reckon that by 2020, 80% of urban areas should absorb and re-use at least 70% of rainwater. The objective is to reduce the intensity of rainwater runoff by enhancing and distributing absorption capacities more evenly across targeted areas. Measures include rooftops covered by plants or green roofs which are becoming increasingly common across Europe, scenic wetlands for rainwater storage, and permeable pavements that store excess runoff water and allow evaporation. While all these ideas sound good in principle there is already mounting evidence that no one really wants to spend the money needed to create “Sponge Cities” and any such initiatives also have to go hand in hand with reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment. You cannot for example chop down natural sponges such as woodland to make way for new homes and offices and there is a limit to what even a sponge can soak up. In other parts of the world innovative water initiatives have been adopted  such as wetland restoration in the American Midwest, flushing systems using collectede rooftop water water have been introduced in Oregon USA, bioswales in Singapore, and public spaces as flexible water retention facilities in the Netherlands. In the UK there seems to be little joined up thinking with “Sponge Cities” way off the radar. We are seeing a steady increase in green roofs and seemingly token work on sea defences – but that seems to be it Perhaps we are being a little unfair on our Government – but how long before the next big flood and when the debate starts all over again? By John Ridgeway Follow me on Twitter @JohnRidgeway99.
    Sep 23, 2017 0
  • 13 Sep 2017
    The energy-deficiency of the UK’s ageing housing stock was once again thrown into sharp focus with the publication of a recent report by the UK Green Building Council. The ‘Building Places That Work for Everyone’ policy paper stated 25 million homes across the country will not meet required insulation standards by 2050 – a significant year for the government, as by then it has to have met its legally-binding pledge to cut UK greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% from the 1990 baseline. An enormous task, particularly as poorly-insulated homes account for 25% of emissions released in the UK. The UK Green Building Council, which produced the report in conjunction with the construction industry, has urged the government to impose a countrywide programme of home renovation to increase energy-efficiency and improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of occupants. However, sceptics have already raised doubts over the potential success of such a scheme, citing the failure of the government’s ‘Green Deal’.  Launched in 2013, the scheme offered loans to homeowners embarking on domestic energy-saving measures. It was scrapped two years later after figures revealed only 14,000 householders took-up the option. The £50 million government loan outlay fell a long way short of its £1.1 billion forecast, with high interest rates for insulation given as a reason for ‘the Deal’s’ ultimate collapse. There can be no doubt the thermal performance of UK buildings needs urgent address. Even though the 2050 ‘emissions deadline’ might be viewed by some as ‘an issue for tomorrow’, the spiritual and fiscal comfort of today’s home owner/occupiers can be vastly improved with a building that excels in terms of thermal performance and energy-efficiency. Go public  Understandably, perhaps, much attention is paid to the insulation of a building’s roof, windows and doors, as these are its biggest source of energy loss. However, if the government makes good its promise to act ‘as soon as possible’ and devise appropriate policies in response to the building council’s report, let’s hope measures include a concerted education programme that informs housebuilders and homeowners of the many simple and cost-effective ways a property’s thermal performance can be maintained. The message the government needs to get across is ‘every little helps’ when it comes to ensuring new and existing UK properties leave less of a carbon footprint. Baumit is among the world’s leading innovators in the production external wall insulation. The ground-breaking technology in its vapour-permeable renders and paints which enables buildings to breathe but remain airtight, is simply astonishing. On a similar note, Baumit’s Nanopor self-cleaning range of paints and renders uses natural elements - sunlight, humidity and wind - to leave a façade looking pristine, thus eliminating the need for constant renovation and aggressive cleansing techniques using environmentally-unsound chemicals or detergents. From the day the company was founded in 1988, Baumit’s ethos has been to help create beautiful, energy-efficient and healthy homes. It might be that the latest Green Council report has finally instilled a sense of urgency within the UK government to follow the same dream. ‘Better late than never’ might be the attitude of some towards Westminster’s current call to action. It’s never too late, however, if the policies being discussed today, lead to better-insulated homes of the future and a healthier environment for our children. Visit: http://other.baumit.com/
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • The energy-deficiency of the UK’s ageing housing stock was once again thrown into sharp focus with the publication of a recent report by the UK Green Building Council. The ‘Building Places That Work for Everyone’ policy paper stated 25 million homes across the country will not meet required insulation standards by 2050 – a significant year for the government, as by then it has to have met its legally-binding pledge to cut UK greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% from the 1990 baseline. An enormous task, particularly as poorly-insulated homes account for 25% of emissions released in the UK. The UK Green Building Council, which produced the report in conjunction with the construction industry, has urged the government to impose a countrywide programme of home renovation to increase energy-efficiency and improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of occupants. However, sceptics have already raised doubts over the potential success of such a scheme, citing the failure of the government’s ‘Green Deal’.  Launched in 2013, the scheme offered loans to homeowners embarking on domestic energy-saving measures. It was scrapped two years later after figures revealed only 14,000 householders took-up the option. The £50 million government loan outlay fell a long way short of its £1.1 billion forecast, with high interest rates for insulation given as a reason for ‘the Deal’s’ ultimate collapse. There can be no doubt the thermal performance of UK buildings needs urgent address. Even though the 2050 ‘emissions deadline’ might be viewed by some as ‘an issue for tomorrow’, the spiritual and fiscal comfort of today’s home owner/occupiers can be vastly improved with a building that excels in terms of thermal performance and energy-efficiency. Go public  Understandably, perhaps, much attention is paid to the insulation of a building’s roof, windows and doors, as these are its biggest source of energy loss. However, if the government makes good its promise to act ‘as soon as possible’ and devise appropriate policies in response to the building council’s report, let’s hope measures include a concerted education programme that informs housebuilders and homeowners of the many simple and cost-effective ways a property’s thermal performance can be maintained. The message the government needs to get across is ‘every little helps’ when it comes to ensuring new and existing UK properties leave less of a carbon footprint. Baumit is among the world’s leading innovators in the production external wall insulation. The ground-breaking technology in its vapour-permeable renders and paints which enables buildings to breathe but remain airtight, is simply astonishing. On a similar note, Baumit’s Nanopor self-cleaning range of paints and renders uses natural elements - sunlight, humidity and wind - to leave a façade looking pristine, thus eliminating the need for constant renovation and aggressive cleansing techniques using environmentally-unsound chemicals or detergents. From the day the company was founded in 1988, Baumit’s ethos has been to help create beautiful, energy-efficient and healthy homes. It might be that the latest Green Council report has finally instilled a sense of urgency within the UK government to follow the same dream. ‘Better late than never’ might be the attitude of some towards Westminster’s current call to action. It’s never too late, however, if the policies being discussed today, lead to better-insulated homes of the future and a healthier environment for our children. Visit: http://other.baumit.com/
    Sep 13, 2017 0
  • 29 Aug 2017
    In 2013 the Government set out its strategy for the construction industry. Over 70 pages long it looked at all aspects of building and outlined a number of key aspirations. In broad terms the strategy set out to lower costs by 33%; reduce construction time by 50%; lower carbon emissions by 50% and increase exports by the same amount. This was of course all pre Brexit and while some may argue that all bets are now off, there are still certain factors within that strategy which will never change – most notably Climate Change – and how we in the construction industry will respond. One thing is for sure – we are still a long way off in terms of reducing carbon emissions, but, if you can for the moment put aside any pre-conceived ideas you might have about climate change – it does tend to provoke strong views on both sides – we do have to consider the long lifespan of our buildings. Some 87% of existing buildings will still be standing in 2050 so if there are going to be major changes in the weather as predicted by some experts then we need to be planning now. These experts claim that we are likely to experience hotter drier summers, warmer wetter winters, a rise in sea levels and an increase in extreme weather events which means our buildings need to adapt.  OK, so far nothing new and if you are a regular reader of the trade press there are numerous examples of manufacturers, architects and other construction professionals striving to produce greener buildings and a better environment. Trouble is it can be expensive to go green and for an industry that is cost averse there are just as many other examples where green products have been rejected in favour of something less environment friendly – even on Government and local authority owned buildings. We have seen tariffs on solar panels significantly reduced decimating this once thriving market; households are paying up to £200 a year more on their energy bills. In America they estimate that the price of going green will cost US tax payers some $1 trillion dollars every year for the next 45 years, which probably explains why Donald Trump is complaining.. Dealing with climate change is a challenge to the construction industry and one that must not be shirked but while cost remains a major factor then progress will continue to be slow. So while the construction industry should be proud of what it has achieved so far then it is probably down to Government to set the agenda as it once did with solar panels. Money is the best motivator to going green with possible subsidies on more environment friendly building materials and lower costs for those that really are trying to offset climate change. However – for the moment – this is a debate that will run and run. By Talk Builder. Follow me on Twitter @TalkBuilder    
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • In 2013 the Government set out its strategy for the construction industry. Over 70 pages long it looked at all aspects of building and outlined a number of key aspirations. In broad terms the strategy set out to lower costs by 33%; reduce construction time by 50%; lower carbon emissions by 50% and increase exports by the same amount. This was of course all pre Brexit and while some may argue that all bets are now off, there are still certain factors within that strategy which will never change – most notably Climate Change – and how we in the construction industry will respond. One thing is for sure – we are still a long way off in terms of reducing carbon emissions, but, if you can for the moment put aside any pre-conceived ideas you might have about climate change – it does tend to provoke strong views on both sides – we do have to consider the long lifespan of our buildings. Some 87% of existing buildings will still be standing in 2050 so if there are going to be major changes in the weather as predicted by some experts then we need to be planning now. These experts claim that we are likely to experience hotter drier summers, warmer wetter winters, a rise in sea levels and an increase in extreme weather events which means our buildings need to adapt.  OK, so far nothing new and if you are a regular reader of the trade press there are numerous examples of manufacturers, architects and other construction professionals striving to produce greener buildings and a better environment. Trouble is it can be expensive to go green and for an industry that is cost averse there are just as many other examples where green products have been rejected in favour of something less environment friendly – even on Government and local authority owned buildings. We have seen tariffs on solar panels significantly reduced decimating this once thriving market; households are paying up to £200 a year more on their energy bills. In America they estimate that the price of going green will cost US tax payers some $1 trillion dollars every year for the next 45 years, which probably explains why Donald Trump is complaining.. Dealing with climate change is a challenge to the construction industry and one that must not be shirked but while cost remains a major factor then progress will continue to be slow. So while the construction industry should be proud of what it has achieved so far then it is probably down to Government to set the agenda as it once did with solar panels. Money is the best motivator to going green with possible subsidies on more environment friendly building materials and lower costs for those that really are trying to offset climate change. However – for the moment – this is a debate that will run and run. By Talk Builder. Follow me on Twitter @TalkBuilder    
    Aug 29, 2017 0
  • 24 Aug 2017
    With people having far less control over indoor air quality in their offices, schools and hospitals, for example, than in their homes, the onus on creating a healthy indoor environment is down to the property owner or facility manager.  Too often, routine design and construction decisions can end up with indoor air quality (IAQ) issues. But it doesn’t have to be that way as it’s possible to achieve good IAQ without incurring undue expense or using practices that are beyond the capabilities of the building trade.  Often the challenge comes down to the monitoring aspect, which poses the question, what should we be monitoring against? Pollutants in buildings range from volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and emissions from products and cleaning products - gases such as nitrogen dioxide; ozone and carbon monoxide; particulate matter and fibres, and biological particles such as bacteria, fungi and pollen. Common building standards such as BREEAM and WELL help building owners and occupants operate healthy buildings, but along with RESET and the Green Building Council of Australia, these organisations have recently joined forces to establish a coordinated set of standards and guidelines for indoor and outdoor environmental monitoring systems and sensors. Better air quality inside office buildings will make employees happier and more productive and it can impact performance in schools and health outcomes for patients in hospitals. It’s why the interest in indoor environmental performance of buildings is growing rapidly across the industry. Under the WELL standard, building owners can install sensors that are monitoring pollutants in the air which will then inform the building management system.  If someone paints a wall with an oil-based paint for example, the chances are it will show up on the management system of the building because the detector in the extract air system will realise there is something that has contaminants in it. Environmental standards are also making sure that during construction and refits, contractors haven’t put something in the environment that, from a ventilation point-of-view, will impact the air quality to the detriment of occupants both now and in the longer term. All of our installations must conform to VOC guidelines, which in turn will ensure the environmental quality of the building. If we are working on one floor of a multi-story building, it’s imperative that we put suitable filters on the extract system, particularly if we can’t turn the system off because it’s providing air conditioning to other floors. There is a responsibility for the contractor to ensure the correct temporary filtration is used on the air systems to make sure dust and pollutants don’t get into the system.  The last thing a building owner wants is a lot of hazardous dust and contaminants being blown around a building to the detriment of the occupants. In any building, you are trying to control the temperature, the fresh air, the humidity, and reduce the complex mixture of pollutants. As the industry moves toward high performance green buildings, building professionals must become more knowledgeable about indoor environmental air quality and ensure IAQ strategies are incorporated throughout the build process. By Steven Argent, Construction Director at QOB Group Visit: http://www.qobgroup.com/  
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • With people having far less control over indoor air quality in their offices, schools and hospitals, for example, than in their homes, the onus on creating a healthy indoor environment is down to the property owner or facility manager.  Too often, routine design and construction decisions can end up with indoor air quality (IAQ) issues. But it doesn’t have to be that way as it’s possible to achieve good IAQ without incurring undue expense or using practices that are beyond the capabilities of the building trade.  Often the challenge comes down to the monitoring aspect, which poses the question, what should we be monitoring against? Pollutants in buildings range from volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and emissions from products and cleaning products - gases such as nitrogen dioxide; ozone and carbon monoxide; particulate matter and fibres, and biological particles such as bacteria, fungi and pollen. Common building standards such as BREEAM and WELL help building owners and occupants operate healthy buildings, but along with RESET and the Green Building Council of Australia, these organisations have recently joined forces to establish a coordinated set of standards and guidelines for indoor and outdoor environmental monitoring systems and sensors. Better air quality inside office buildings will make employees happier and more productive and it can impact performance in schools and health outcomes for patients in hospitals. It’s why the interest in indoor environmental performance of buildings is growing rapidly across the industry. Under the WELL standard, building owners can install sensors that are monitoring pollutants in the air which will then inform the building management system.  If someone paints a wall with an oil-based paint for example, the chances are it will show up on the management system of the building because the detector in the extract air system will realise there is something that has contaminants in it. Environmental standards are also making sure that during construction and refits, contractors haven’t put something in the environment that, from a ventilation point-of-view, will impact the air quality to the detriment of occupants both now and in the longer term. All of our installations must conform to VOC guidelines, which in turn will ensure the environmental quality of the building. If we are working on one floor of a multi-story building, it’s imperative that we put suitable filters on the extract system, particularly if we can’t turn the system off because it’s providing air conditioning to other floors. There is a responsibility for the contractor to ensure the correct temporary filtration is used on the air systems to make sure dust and pollutants don’t get into the system.  The last thing a building owner wants is a lot of hazardous dust and contaminants being blown around a building to the detriment of the occupants. In any building, you are trying to control the temperature, the fresh air, the humidity, and reduce the complex mixture of pollutants. As the industry moves toward high performance green buildings, building professionals must become more knowledgeable about indoor environmental air quality and ensure IAQ strategies are incorporated throughout the build process. By Steven Argent, Construction Director at QOB Group Visit: http://www.qobgroup.com/  
    Aug 24, 2017 0
  • 21 Aug 2017
    Plastics is rapidly becoming a dirty word for environmentalists across the globe who are now laying the blame squarely on the shoulders of this ubiquitous material for polluting the world’s oceans. In reality, only around 4% of the planet’s oil production is converted into plastics but because it’s a product that tends to stick around for a long time, it is seen to be anything but green. The construction industry would certainly be the poorer without the massive range of largely maintenance free plastic based materials, used across a huge range of products such as rainwater goods, doors, windows, cladding – the list is almost endless. But at some time those building materials will need to be replaced and we must also take into account the huge amount of plastic based packaging such products arrive in – so what happens next? Well some will go into landfill and it will take up to 1,000 years to rot, much to the annoyance of the ultra-green, but the construction industry is doing its bit in a remarkable number of innovative and ground breaking ways. In India they are now actively looking at recycling plastic waste into new roads. They have found that they can use 1.5 tonnes of waste plastic mixed with bitumen for every new kilometre of road laid and the bonus is – that such roads – last twice as long as conventional asphalt. India’s Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) claim that bitumen mixed with plastic or rubber improves the quality and life of roads although construction costs using this method were around 6% higher. However, such a surface also delivered more than satisfactory performance, good skid resistance, and good texture value, was stronger and provided a lesser amount of progressive unevenness. More generally, plastics have a very good environmental profile which is why we should give the industry much more credit for being kinder to the environment.  In construction, in particular, plastics have a huge role to play. If all buildings were upgraded to optimal standards across Europe using plastic based insulation, according to industry sources, then it is estimated that 460 million fewer tonne’s of CO2 would be generated each year. Plastic pipes use less energy in manufacture compared to concrete or iron, are lighter and more reliable on a whole range of construction situations It must also be emphasised that plastics recycling takes place on a significant scale in the UK and the rest of the worldt to ensure that it can used again and again. So maybe we should be looking more kindly at the plastics industry which is really doing its bit to protect the environment as much as it can - and perhaps be placing the blame more firmly on the millions of anti-social people who carelessly discard their plastic waste each year expecting mother nature and the rest of us to clear up their mess. By Talk Builder Follow me on Twitter @TalkBuilder  
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Plastics is rapidly becoming a dirty word for environmentalists across the globe who are now laying the blame squarely on the shoulders of this ubiquitous material for polluting the world’s oceans. In reality, only around 4% of the planet’s oil production is converted into plastics but because it’s a product that tends to stick around for a long time, it is seen to be anything but green. The construction industry would certainly be the poorer without the massive range of largely maintenance free plastic based materials, used across a huge range of products such as rainwater goods, doors, windows, cladding – the list is almost endless. But at some time those building materials will need to be replaced and we must also take into account the huge amount of plastic based packaging such products arrive in – so what happens next? Well some will go into landfill and it will take up to 1,000 years to rot, much to the annoyance of the ultra-green, but the construction industry is doing its bit in a remarkable number of innovative and ground breaking ways. In India they are now actively looking at recycling plastic waste into new roads. They have found that they can use 1.5 tonnes of waste plastic mixed with bitumen for every new kilometre of road laid and the bonus is – that such roads – last twice as long as conventional asphalt. India’s Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) claim that bitumen mixed with plastic or rubber improves the quality and life of roads although construction costs using this method were around 6% higher. However, such a surface also delivered more than satisfactory performance, good skid resistance, and good texture value, was stronger and provided a lesser amount of progressive unevenness. More generally, plastics have a very good environmental profile which is why we should give the industry much more credit for being kinder to the environment.  In construction, in particular, plastics have a huge role to play. If all buildings were upgraded to optimal standards across Europe using plastic based insulation, according to industry sources, then it is estimated that 460 million fewer tonne’s of CO2 would be generated each year. Plastic pipes use less energy in manufacture compared to concrete or iron, are lighter and more reliable on a whole range of construction situations It must also be emphasised that plastics recycling takes place on a significant scale in the UK and the rest of the worldt to ensure that it can used again and again. So maybe we should be looking more kindly at the plastics industry which is really doing its bit to protect the environment as much as it can - and perhaps be placing the blame more firmly on the millions of anti-social people who carelessly discard their plastic waste each year expecting mother nature and the rest of us to clear up their mess. By Talk Builder Follow me on Twitter @TalkBuilder  
    Aug 21, 2017 0
  • 17 Aug 2017
    With information so readily available, we can be blinded by science. There is information overload and there seems to be a growing trend to overcomplicate matters. Whilst design, procurement and construction hasn’t always been easy, it seems that layer-upon-layer is being added to projects that in many instances - or in many opinions - is just designed to complicate matters. This shouldn’t be the case. Processes that simplify procurement, streamline delivery and enhance designs should be the norm. So why isn’t this the case? As humans we are naturally inquisitive and as a nation we are constantly looking to be at the forefront of everything we do. We are amongst the first to adopt new practices and have a thirst for driving innovation. We are becoming more aware of the importance of sustainability from a people, environment and economics perspective and more recently, that of well-being, with the wellness economy now one of the world's fastest-growing industries. As such, it is no surprise that sustainability and well-being are currently fuelling a plethora of adventurous new architectural projects that embrace scientific research and data. But with these ever-more challenging projects comes larger and more complex supply chains, and what seems an ever-increasing number of standards to contend with. To make matters more complex, many standards overlap and duplicate elements with each other and we are being bombarded with information, research and data from every angle - and much of this information and many of the processes seem to be overly-complicated. So the question is: how do we deliver projects efficiently and on budget when we are facing information overload? The answer is to keep it simple. Take BREEAM, the internationally-recognised measure of sustainability for buildings and communities, as an example. Many people are unable to fully-understand BREEEM and all too often other people seem to make a great job of confusing them further and over-complicating it. Understanding BREEAM shouldn’t be complicated but it seems we need a way to translate what can be a complicated process into a simple, easy-to-understand one. At its core, BREEAM is simple - a process that allows you to make informed decisions to create better buildings – better in design, better in construction and better in operation. However, it is all too easy for the process to be over-complicated. The trick is finding a BREEAM assessor that fully-understands a client’s goals and objectives and can collaborate on a project from an early stage. With early involvement, a BREEAM assessor can help to guide a client and their supply chain through the process in the most efficient manner. Being involved at RIBA stage 1- preparation and brief - pays dividends when compared to getting involved at Stage 2 or 3 - concept design and design development - as by the time you get to these stages, important decisions have already been made. This applies to communication, and not just communication between client and assessor - the whole supply chain needs to be in the loop. By understanding the decision-making process; by creating simple processes and being at the start of the discussion, we can influence and make sure the right route is chosen. To put this into perspective (and at the expense of my brother-in-law): - I live in Bristol and my brother-in-law lives in Leeds. Having been to visit for the weekend he jumped in the car and heading-off, he hadn’t made a decision about which route to take. However, knowing that the M1 goes to Leeds, he headed along the M4 to London, went around the M25 and up the M1.The journey took him eight hours. If he had planned the route in advance he would have taken the M5, a journey that would have taken three-and-a-half hours. The point of the story - apart from the fact that my brother-in-law’s sense of direction is awful - is that if he had planned in advance, he would have saved himself so much time. The same goes for BREEAM and other construction processes - spend time planning and it will be time well spent, as you will save time and effort further down the line. For my brother-in-law, sat-nav beckons; for construction professionals, find partners you can engage with early and who will work with you on shared goals. Otherwise, you could find yourself going the long way round. By Darren Evans, Managing Director,Darren Evans Assessments Visit: https://www.darren-evans.co.uk/
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • With information so readily available, we can be blinded by science. There is information overload and there seems to be a growing trend to overcomplicate matters. Whilst design, procurement and construction hasn’t always been easy, it seems that layer-upon-layer is being added to projects that in many instances - or in many opinions - is just designed to complicate matters. This shouldn’t be the case. Processes that simplify procurement, streamline delivery and enhance designs should be the norm. So why isn’t this the case? As humans we are naturally inquisitive and as a nation we are constantly looking to be at the forefront of everything we do. We are amongst the first to adopt new practices and have a thirst for driving innovation. We are becoming more aware of the importance of sustainability from a people, environment and economics perspective and more recently, that of well-being, with the wellness economy now one of the world's fastest-growing industries. As such, it is no surprise that sustainability and well-being are currently fuelling a plethora of adventurous new architectural projects that embrace scientific research and data. But with these ever-more challenging projects comes larger and more complex supply chains, and what seems an ever-increasing number of standards to contend with. To make matters more complex, many standards overlap and duplicate elements with each other and we are being bombarded with information, research and data from every angle - and much of this information and many of the processes seem to be overly-complicated. So the question is: how do we deliver projects efficiently and on budget when we are facing information overload? The answer is to keep it simple. Take BREEAM, the internationally-recognised measure of sustainability for buildings and communities, as an example. Many people are unable to fully-understand BREEEM and all too often other people seem to make a great job of confusing them further and over-complicating it. Understanding BREEAM shouldn’t be complicated but it seems we need a way to translate what can be a complicated process into a simple, easy-to-understand one. At its core, BREEAM is simple - a process that allows you to make informed decisions to create better buildings – better in design, better in construction and better in operation. However, it is all too easy for the process to be over-complicated. The trick is finding a BREEAM assessor that fully-understands a client’s goals and objectives and can collaborate on a project from an early stage. With early involvement, a BREEAM assessor can help to guide a client and their supply chain through the process in the most efficient manner. Being involved at RIBA stage 1- preparation and brief - pays dividends when compared to getting involved at Stage 2 or 3 - concept design and design development - as by the time you get to these stages, important decisions have already been made. This applies to communication, and not just communication between client and assessor - the whole supply chain needs to be in the loop. By understanding the decision-making process; by creating simple processes and being at the start of the discussion, we can influence and make sure the right route is chosen. To put this into perspective (and at the expense of my brother-in-law): - I live in Bristol and my brother-in-law lives in Leeds. Having been to visit for the weekend he jumped in the car and heading-off, he hadn’t made a decision about which route to take. However, knowing that the M1 goes to Leeds, he headed along the M4 to London, went around the M25 and up the M1.The journey took him eight hours. If he had planned the route in advance he would have taken the M5, a journey that would have taken three-and-a-half hours. The point of the story - apart from the fact that my brother-in-law’s sense of direction is awful - is that if he had planned in advance, he would have saved himself so much time. The same goes for BREEAM and other construction processes - spend time planning and it will be time well spent, as you will save time and effort further down the line. For my brother-in-law, sat-nav beckons; for construction professionals, find partners you can engage with early and who will work with you on shared goals. Otherwise, you could find yourself going the long way round. By Darren Evans, Managing Director,Darren Evans Assessments Visit: https://www.darren-evans.co.uk/
    Aug 17, 2017 0
  • 25 Jul 2017
    It’s an inalienable fact that just as the world keeps on turning so does our desire to continuously innovate. Staying ahead of the game is crucial if we are to succeed in helping our clients now and in the future, writes Darren Evans. Disney Chairman Bob Iger once said: “The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo.” I was reminded of this when members of our team here at Darren Evans visited the National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon.  It’s a good day out as the centre contains a huge amount of information with more than 250 manufacturers and suppliers exhibiting and explaining the different project stages of a development. It’s also something that we encourage at the company, keeping our people abreast of new and emerging technologies. This is important for us, as it is for our customers, so that we ensure they are fully supported with effective solutions and a robust service. It’s centres and exhibitions like this which are a bellwether for change in the construction industry, showcasing areas of change. It’s incredible to think that devices such as photovoltaic panels or wind turbines were once derided as the preserve of the hippy counterculture, yet today are ubiquitous in their application in residential and commercial developments. For our assessor Anthony Dale, it was the ability to see the various building materials and techniques in the different stages of construction; really useful in helping to picture the specification on jobs that come in to us. “The show home was a great example of what can be used on the inside of a house which is a part of the build we don’t normally get to see. Plus I was excited at seeing the new solar roof tiles on show.” This comes as Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s new solar roof tiles that the company hopes will revolutionise the way we use green power in the home, predicted by some to be more efficient, durable and cost-effective than existing solar panels. For our assessor Simon Evans, it was the new application of Smart technologies via the Internet of Things (IOT) that caught his interest as companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon are all heavily invested in the segment which covers everything from household appliances to cars and infrastructure. “In 2017, both home and business owners will rely more heavily on internet-connected products,” he said. One example of this would be smart home thermostats that "remember" the temperatures you prefer, can sense when you're not around and will automatically adjust the climate in your home to save energy. Or the LIFX smart light bulbs which not only use less energy but can be managed remotely from a phone via the cloud and built-in WIFI to control lights at home or set on/off times. Less dependence upon wiring via WIFI will radically alter a building’s performance as will prefabrication and off-site construction techniques. There is also massive research in technologies such as localised carbon capture and artificial photosynthesis, which could one day curb society's need for fossil fuels and demonstrate the potential future uses of solar energy. It’s an exciting time. Visit: http://www.darren-evans.co.uk/
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • It’s an inalienable fact that just as the world keeps on turning so does our desire to continuously innovate. Staying ahead of the game is crucial if we are to succeed in helping our clients now and in the future, writes Darren Evans. Disney Chairman Bob Iger once said: “The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo.” I was reminded of this when members of our team here at Darren Evans visited the National Self Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon.  It’s a good day out as the centre contains a huge amount of information with more than 250 manufacturers and suppliers exhibiting and explaining the different project stages of a development. It’s also something that we encourage at the company, keeping our people abreast of new and emerging technologies. This is important for us, as it is for our customers, so that we ensure they are fully supported with effective solutions and a robust service. It’s centres and exhibitions like this which are a bellwether for change in the construction industry, showcasing areas of change. It’s incredible to think that devices such as photovoltaic panels or wind turbines were once derided as the preserve of the hippy counterculture, yet today are ubiquitous in their application in residential and commercial developments. For our assessor Anthony Dale, it was the ability to see the various building materials and techniques in the different stages of construction; really useful in helping to picture the specification on jobs that come in to us. “The show home was a great example of what can be used on the inside of a house which is a part of the build we don’t normally get to see. Plus I was excited at seeing the new solar roof tiles on show.” This comes as Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s new solar roof tiles that the company hopes will revolutionise the way we use green power in the home, predicted by some to be more efficient, durable and cost-effective than existing solar panels. For our assessor Simon Evans, it was the new application of Smart technologies via the Internet of Things (IOT) that caught his interest as companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon are all heavily invested in the segment which covers everything from household appliances to cars and infrastructure. “In 2017, both home and business owners will rely more heavily on internet-connected products,” he said. One example of this would be smart home thermostats that "remember" the temperatures you prefer, can sense when you're not around and will automatically adjust the climate in your home to save energy. Or the LIFX smart light bulbs which not only use less energy but can be managed remotely from a phone via the cloud and built-in WIFI to control lights at home or set on/off times. Less dependence upon wiring via WIFI will radically alter a building’s performance as will prefabrication and off-site construction techniques. There is also massive research in technologies such as localised carbon capture and artificial photosynthesis, which could one day curb society's need for fossil fuels and demonstrate the potential future uses of solar energy. It’s an exciting time. Visit: http://www.darren-evans.co.uk/
    Jul 25, 2017 0
  • 19 Jul 2017
    There’s no denying the British love of wildlife but when it comes to planning applications, most of us have no idea what species are protected and what an ecology report entails. With planning consents being issued with ecological conditions added by the local authority, many developers, architects and building owners will overlook this aspect until it is too late. To prevent a development being held up, or at worst, a breach of planning consent, it’s vital that you include ecological assessments carried out by a qualified Ecologist at the earliest stage in a project’s development. Ecology is an important and integral part of planning, particularly as the UK has a large number of protected and notable species – from bats to badgers, reptiles to great crested newts – all of which carry their own complications when it comes to a planning application. Will my development harm any wildlife or their habitats?  How can any impacts be reduced? Whether large or small, most projects will not progress unless all ecological issues on a site have been identified and addressed. Furthermore, an Ecologist can also help a client throughout a BREEAM assessment to ensure that all land-use and ecology credits are maintained as well as offering helpful and constructive advice on how to get them. Potential developments should employ the services of a suitably qualified and licensed Ecologist who can provide an array of Ecological Assessments and surveys to help with planning needs and prevent any hold-ups when it comes to actually starting the work. An Ecologist should have an understanding of nature conservation legislation and planning, and be recognised by a relevant professional body such as CIEEM. It’s important to start the ecology process early because if a developer needs further surveys to make sure all ecological issues are addressed, they will have wiggle-room before a planning application is due, in order to make sure they satisfy all issues. For example, if you carried out a Bat Building Assessment to check for bats roosting in a building, you might then have to do a dusk/dawn survey in order to make sure the bats were not coming in-and-out of the building in the evening and morning.  You might have to go through the licensing process with Natural England which is a hefty, lengthy process if things are not done correctly, or to the standard of the bat guidelines by the Bat Conservation Trust.  More questions may come back and more surveys may be required. Getting things done sooner, rather than later, by employing a Licensed Bat Ecologist will save time and money, as well as achieving planning requirements.  The Local Planning Authority will dictate whether or not it requires an ecological assessment of a project as part of a planning application. This would be based on how the land in its district/county is valued by means of protected species it possesses. Normally when planning permission is approved, the LPA will have its own Ecologist, who would impartially assess the assessments/surveys of the Consultant Ecologist on the project in question and advise their LPA on whether the assessments/surveys have met the ecological criteria and considered all issues and options before planning is approved. Ecology can be daunting for the uninitiated, our Ecologist helps our clients through the planning process by providing the preliminary assessments to understand what issues are on a site and ensure any issues are tackled in a cost-effective and safe way. Visit: http://www.darren-evans.co.uk/ 
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • There’s no denying the British love of wildlife but when it comes to planning applications, most of us have no idea what species are protected and what an ecology report entails. With planning consents being issued with ecological conditions added by the local authority, many developers, architects and building owners will overlook this aspect until it is too late. To prevent a development being held up, or at worst, a breach of planning consent, it’s vital that you include ecological assessments carried out by a qualified Ecologist at the earliest stage in a project’s development. Ecology is an important and integral part of planning, particularly as the UK has a large number of protected and notable species – from bats to badgers, reptiles to great crested newts – all of which carry their own complications when it comes to a planning application. Will my development harm any wildlife or their habitats?  How can any impacts be reduced? Whether large or small, most projects will not progress unless all ecological issues on a site have been identified and addressed. Furthermore, an Ecologist can also help a client throughout a BREEAM assessment to ensure that all land-use and ecology credits are maintained as well as offering helpful and constructive advice on how to get them. Potential developments should employ the services of a suitably qualified and licensed Ecologist who can provide an array of Ecological Assessments and surveys to help with planning needs and prevent any hold-ups when it comes to actually starting the work. An Ecologist should have an understanding of nature conservation legislation and planning, and be recognised by a relevant professional body such as CIEEM. It’s important to start the ecology process early because if a developer needs further surveys to make sure all ecological issues are addressed, they will have wiggle-room before a planning application is due, in order to make sure they satisfy all issues. For example, if you carried out a Bat Building Assessment to check for bats roosting in a building, you might then have to do a dusk/dawn survey in order to make sure the bats were not coming in-and-out of the building in the evening and morning.  You might have to go through the licensing process with Natural England which is a hefty, lengthy process if things are not done correctly, or to the standard of the bat guidelines by the Bat Conservation Trust.  More questions may come back and more surveys may be required. Getting things done sooner, rather than later, by employing a Licensed Bat Ecologist will save time and money, as well as achieving planning requirements.  The Local Planning Authority will dictate whether or not it requires an ecological assessment of a project as part of a planning application. This would be based on how the land in its district/county is valued by means of protected species it possesses. Normally when planning permission is approved, the LPA will have its own Ecologist, who would impartially assess the assessments/surveys of the Consultant Ecologist on the project in question and advise their LPA on whether the assessments/surveys have met the ecological criteria and considered all issues and options before planning is approved. Ecology can be daunting for the uninitiated, our Ecologist helps our clients through the planning process by providing the preliminary assessments to understand what issues are on a site and ensure any issues are tackled in a cost-effective and safe way. Visit: http://www.darren-evans.co.uk/ 
    Jul 19, 2017 0
  • 17 Jul 2017
    Building homes to a decent standard should be a given, but in the present climate, new-build homes are underperforming and quality is becoming more and more of an issue.  Clearly, solutions are needed which is why the March release of The Good Homes Alliance (GHA) manifesto, A Charter for Responsible Housebuilding, is so timely and cries out for a shake-up when it comes to quality in volume housebuilding GHA members – a group of housing developers and building professionals committed to building and monitoring sustainable homes – believe that improving the sustainability credentials of our housing stock is certainly no less important in the current climate.  Their manifesto focuses on the government’s decision to scrap Zero Carbon Homes, with no clear replacement plan. This decision seemed to make no sense when considering the UK government commitments to COP21 and emissions reductions targets for 2050. The manifesto states: ‘The problem is, that without changes to regulation and compliance the wider industry does not feel compelled to act. Only the few take this issue to heart and are rightly seen as in the vanguard of a responsible housing movement.’ It highlights a need to re-implement a new trajectory and timetable for near-zero carbon targets for new homes. In order for these ambitious zero carbon targets to be met it urges housebuilders and Renewable Energy developers to start working together and develop cost-effective strategies. The report goes on to suggest the compliance system of SAPs and EPCs is not fit for purpose. Building Regulations Part L and F should be reviewed and to help bring a quality focus back and a new system should be implemented which includes more rigorous quality control processes from concept to post-construction testing. Alongside this, hand-in-hand with Brexit concerns, the manifesto touches on the need for skilled workers at every stage of the build project for all disciplines, trades and professions. A policy needs to be put in place to ensure home nations workers meet the required level of skill and foreign workers are protected following the Brexit negotiations. Finally, the report concludes ‘Inhabitants’ health and wellbeing must be embedded in all aspects of the design and construction processes. Clearly, all parties need to make a concerted effort to shift the market towards a focus on the mental health and wellbeing of people who occupy the homes we build and retrofit. The GHA hits the nail on the head with an open and honest declaration of how the industry is performing. With the demand for housing being at its highest since the crisis endured in the 1960’s, the government needs to sit-up, take note and implement a combination of building regulations changes, energy policy, industry skills and compliance checks to ensure in the next 10 years we don’t have another crisis of underperforming homes. The innovation in the housing industry has stalled in the last few years following the lost vision by the government – its time the UK become a leader again. Marcus Eves, Sustainability Consultant at Darren Evans Assessments Visit: http://www.darren-evans.co.uk/  
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Building homes to a decent standard should be a given, but in the present climate, new-build homes are underperforming and quality is becoming more and more of an issue.  Clearly, solutions are needed which is why the March release of The Good Homes Alliance (GHA) manifesto, A Charter for Responsible Housebuilding, is so timely and cries out for a shake-up when it comes to quality in volume housebuilding GHA members – a group of housing developers and building professionals committed to building and monitoring sustainable homes – believe that improving the sustainability credentials of our housing stock is certainly no less important in the current climate.  Their manifesto focuses on the government’s decision to scrap Zero Carbon Homes, with no clear replacement plan. This decision seemed to make no sense when considering the UK government commitments to COP21 and emissions reductions targets for 2050. The manifesto states: ‘The problem is, that without changes to regulation and compliance the wider industry does not feel compelled to act. Only the few take this issue to heart and are rightly seen as in the vanguard of a responsible housing movement.’ It highlights a need to re-implement a new trajectory and timetable for near-zero carbon targets for new homes. In order for these ambitious zero carbon targets to be met it urges housebuilders and Renewable Energy developers to start working together and develop cost-effective strategies. The report goes on to suggest the compliance system of SAPs and EPCs is not fit for purpose. Building Regulations Part L and F should be reviewed and to help bring a quality focus back and a new system should be implemented which includes more rigorous quality control processes from concept to post-construction testing. Alongside this, hand-in-hand with Brexit concerns, the manifesto touches on the need for skilled workers at every stage of the build project for all disciplines, trades and professions. A policy needs to be put in place to ensure home nations workers meet the required level of skill and foreign workers are protected following the Brexit negotiations. Finally, the report concludes ‘Inhabitants’ health and wellbeing must be embedded in all aspects of the design and construction processes. Clearly, all parties need to make a concerted effort to shift the market towards a focus on the mental health and wellbeing of people who occupy the homes we build and retrofit. The GHA hits the nail on the head with an open and honest declaration of how the industry is performing. With the demand for housing being at its highest since the crisis endured in the 1960’s, the government needs to sit-up, take note and implement a combination of building regulations changes, energy policy, industry skills and compliance checks to ensure in the next 10 years we don’t have another crisis of underperforming homes. The innovation in the housing industry has stalled in the last few years following the lost vision by the government – its time the UK become a leader again. Marcus Eves, Sustainability Consultant at Darren Evans Assessments Visit: http://www.darren-evans.co.uk/  
    Jul 17, 2017 0
  • 14 Jul 2017
    The sun may be shining but it’s a fair assumption that there is a flood coming. Over the past few years flooding has become one of the UK’s hottest environmental topics. For many years, winter brings the misery of damage to homes and businesses, lengthy clean ups and the uncertainty of when, or if, it will all happen again. The question is: why does this keep happening and what can be done?   Only recently, whilst much of the UK was basking in sunshine, many city centres were hit with flash floods. During November last year, high rainfalls associated with the passage of storm Abigail and the remains of hurricane Kate, brought increasingly high river flows. Many parts of north-west Britain saw almost double the average monthly rainfall for November, with the month becoming the second wettest to affect north-west England and north Wales since records began in 1910. Storm Desmond then broke the UK's 24-hour rainfall record, with 341mm of rain falling in Cumbria, on December 5th. Furthermore, the previous year, 2013/2014, saw the wettest winter on record; and the major floods of 2007 caused misery for homeowners with clean-up costs totalling £1bn. With an estimated one in six UK properties at risk of flooding, this is an issue that affects millions and is thought to cost the nation a daunting £2bn per year, including £1.2bn in damage to property. Harder to measure is the cost of lost revenue from flooded businesses and the time required to bring homes back to a liveable state –  not to mention the emotional trauma which flooding can cause. The construction and water industries have been collaborating closely with the Government and the Environment Agency over the past few years to provide a clear strategy for understanding flood risk and formulating prevention strategies. However, the issue is the fact that there is no single body responsible for managing flood risk in the UK because of the role of devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the lead for flood and coastal erosion risk management in England and Wales. They create the policies that then form the basis of the Environment Agency's (EA) and lead local flood authorities' work. With its national role, the Environment Agency has a strategic overview of all sources of flooding and coastal erosion. The Environment Agency’s role is to understand the risk and to do something about it. But what exactly does the EA do? Well, this is where is gets complicated. The EA claims to set strategy by allocating funding for flood defence, warn people and inform. So where does the issue lie? Delivering flood defence schemes and informing communities of impending risk is all well and good. However, all too often flood defence schemes are city centre projects that simply have the effect of pushing water further down the river to where there are poor defences, therefore resulting in the flooding of out of town or rural areas. It really is a case of the small Dutch boy putting his finger in the **** – solve one problem area and another will spring up. The EA has its work cut out. In addition, housebuilders, due to land costs, scarcity and the drive for more homes, are now building on brown belt sites; sites that 10 years ago we wouldn’t even have considered developing due to the risk of flood. Whilst the EA can provide advice and guidance, it is down to the house builder to make decisions to safeguard these new homes from flood risk. Floods will continue to happen and with climate change we are seeing that more extreme events will occur more frequently. Because we all like to live and work near rivers and near to the sea, that puts pressure on us. However, as the city centre floods of yesterday showed, it’s not just the properties near water courses that need to be wary. The misery that flooding causes should not be under-estimated.  It is not only the physical damage to properties and possessions, it is loss of earnings for businesses and the distress to owners. Efficient clean-up is essential to get people back in their homes and businesses up and running. This is where the quick thinking of tankering and waste water management companies, such as ATAC Solutions, comes in to their own, offering fast mobilisation and the ability to quickly remove water from properties.   There is no quick fix for flood prevention. Long term strategies to improve our rivers and coastlines will take time. The development of flood-resistant properties will also take time and will need to be driven by housebuilders. So the reliance on tankering businesses is now more important than ever. When the flood comes – and it will – it might be wise to have the number of a waste water management business that can help you get back on your feet. Another emergency service that many of us will come to rely upon over the coming years. Visit: https://www.atacsolutions.com/
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • The sun may be shining but it’s a fair assumption that there is a flood coming. Over the past few years flooding has become one of the UK’s hottest environmental topics. For many years, winter brings the misery of damage to homes and businesses, lengthy clean ups and the uncertainty of when, or if, it will all happen again. The question is: why does this keep happening and what can be done?   Only recently, whilst much of the UK was basking in sunshine, many city centres were hit with flash floods. During November last year, high rainfalls associated with the passage of storm Abigail and the remains of hurricane Kate, brought increasingly high river flows. Many parts of north-west Britain saw almost double the average monthly rainfall for November, with the month becoming the second wettest to affect north-west England and north Wales since records began in 1910. Storm Desmond then broke the UK's 24-hour rainfall record, with 341mm of rain falling in Cumbria, on December 5th. Furthermore, the previous year, 2013/2014, saw the wettest winter on record; and the major floods of 2007 caused misery for homeowners with clean-up costs totalling £1bn. With an estimated one in six UK properties at risk of flooding, this is an issue that affects millions and is thought to cost the nation a daunting £2bn per year, including £1.2bn in damage to property. Harder to measure is the cost of lost revenue from flooded businesses and the time required to bring homes back to a liveable state –  not to mention the emotional trauma which flooding can cause. The construction and water industries have been collaborating closely with the Government and the Environment Agency over the past few years to provide a clear strategy for understanding flood risk and formulating prevention strategies. However, the issue is the fact that there is no single body responsible for managing flood risk in the UK because of the role of devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the lead for flood and coastal erosion risk management in England and Wales. They create the policies that then form the basis of the Environment Agency's (EA) and lead local flood authorities' work. With its national role, the Environment Agency has a strategic overview of all sources of flooding and coastal erosion. The Environment Agency’s role is to understand the risk and to do something about it. But what exactly does the EA do? Well, this is where is gets complicated. The EA claims to set strategy by allocating funding for flood defence, warn people and inform. So where does the issue lie? Delivering flood defence schemes and informing communities of impending risk is all well and good. However, all too often flood defence schemes are city centre projects that simply have the effect of pushing water further down the river to where there are poor defences, therefore resulting in the flooding of out of town or rural areas. It really is a case of the small Dutch boy putting his finger in the **** – solve one problem area and another will spring up. The EA has its work cut out. In addition, housebuilders, due to land costs, scarcity and the drive for more homes, are now building on brown belt sites; sites that 10 years ago we wouldn’t even have considered developing due to the risk of flood. Whilst the EA can provide advice and guidance, it is down to the house builder to make decisions to safeguard these new homes from flood risk. Floods will continue to happen and with climate change we are seeing that more extreme events will occur more frequently. Because we all like to live and work near rivers and near to the sea, that puts pressure on us. However, as the city centre floods of yesterday showed, it’s not just the properties near water courses that need to be wary. The misery that flooding causes should not be under-estimated.  It is not only the physical damage to properties and possessions, it is loss of earnings for businesses and the distress to owners. Efficient clean-up is essential to get people back in their homes and businesses up and running. This is where the quick thinking of tankering and waste water management companies, such as ATAC Solutions, comes in to their own, offering fast mobilisation and the ability to quickly remove water from properties.   There is no quick fix for flood prevention. Long term strategies to improve our rivers and coastlines will take time. The development of flood-resistant properties will also take time and will need to be driven by housebuilders. So the reliance on tankering businesses is now more important than ever. When the flood comes – and it will – it might be wise to have the number of a waste water management business that can help you get back on your feet. Another emergency service that many of us will come to rely upon over the coming years. Visit: https://www.atacsolutions.com/
    Jul 14, 2017 0