• 21 May 2019
    Digital construction is at the forefront of the UK’s overarching Industrial Strategy. With an abundance of digital solutions available to streamline project management and workflow, which measures can be taken to assure there are sufficient skilled employees to use them and secure the construction industry’s future, writes Erica Coulehan, Content Marketing Manager at GroupBC ? Attracting younger generations At present, it is estimated that 22% of the construction industry’s current workforce is over 50 and 15% is over 60; startling figures which are indicative of the industry’s ageing workforce. Therefore, as time progresses it is becoming more crucial to identify potential avenues which will attract pools of young people to fill the emerging skills gap. According to a Redrow report, 52% of young people disregard a career in construction, either because they are simply disinterested or completely unaware of what a career in construction entails. This statistic needs explicating, as it could infer that the current construction industry skills shortage is perpetuated by the multiple misconceptions and misperceptions which have been rife in the industry for a long period of time. The industry has made significant progression over the past decade, yet the majority of young people unfortunately associate construction with muddy hi-vis vests, dust and little opportunity for development. A misrepresentation that is almost as shocking as the statistic mentioned above: what is it going to take to let young people see how enterprising, innovative and ‘digital’ the construction industry is? Technology is used throughout our everyday lives, transcending age groups. Even though the construction industry is no exception, it is still perceived as relatively low-tech. Start with secondary schools Whilst architecture university degrees are prolific in the education of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and other digital construction solutions, this trend is by no means concurrent with secondary schools. The reasons for this are not necessarily to do with a matter of choice or preference; UK schools are under pressure to offer students – at GCSE particularly – the sought-after STEM subjects which are at the foundation of an industrial, corporate world.   Even though STEM subjects open-up multiple opportunities for young people, the same sentiment applies to the construction industry. For example, digital construction is part of the UK’s wider Industrial Strategy, where the creation of software such as BIM has generated jobs requiring a high level of technical education and skills which form the base of ‘STEM careers’. An example would be the use of augmented reality across construction projects. Although the technology is in its early stages, augmented reality (AR) is radically changing the building process, described as a way to visualise, manage and coordinate data throughout a building’s lifecycle. AR creates a virtual 3D structure of a building, providing important data about each component that can be accessed pre, during and post construction. Therefore, as this working method continues to develop, complementary skillsets will have to be nurtured within client organisations to ensure the software can be operated and utilised efficiently by Operations and FM teams. Digital construction in action A few years ago the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) developed ‘Craft Your Future’, a programme for 12-14 year olds which is integrated into the computer game Minecraft. Designed to encourage young people to consider careers in city planning, construction management and more, ‘Craft Your Future’ is a virtual solution which gives young people crucial insight into the real-time operation of a construction project. Whilst ‘Craft Your Future’ may be playing a vital role in addressing the future skills gap and labour shortages, the industry in its present state has more pressing concerns. It is widely known that throughout the industry there is a reluctance to adopt digital solutions. Bodies such as the UK BIM Alliance – which GroupBC is a patron of – educate companies on the benefits of digital construction and aim to ensure a common approach amongst vendors. However, much needs to be achieved to counteract this unproductive cultural stalemate if the industry is to embrace modern methods of working, such as off-site manufacturing. Recent initiatives such as reverse mentoring programmes, offered by the likes of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering – in which the more ‘digitally-experienced’ workers are helping senior colleagues transition to digital processes – are softening the alien transition from one way of working to another. As such, these will hopefully provide them with a better understanding of the business benefits of digital technologies. The initiatives outlined above are just a small portion of the many programmes that are being developed to realise the industry’s digital future. For this reason, the industry would do well to continually develop programmes such as these, headed by inspirational industry specialists who can showcase the excellence, worth and opportunities in digital construction to people of all ages and abilities. Not only will this help close the skills gap, it will ensure construction businesses have enough highly-skilled workers to steer the construction industry into its digital chapter.
    59 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Digital construction is at the forefront of the UK’s overarching Industrial Strategy. With an abundance of digital solutions available to streamline project management and workflow, which measures can be taken to assure there are sufficient skilled employees to use them and secure the construction industry’s future, writes Erica Coulehan, Content Marketing Manager at GroupBC ? Attracting younger generations At present, it is estimated that 22% of the construction industry’s current workforce is over 50 and 15% is over 60; startling figures which are indicative of the industry’s ageing workforce. Therefore, as time progresses it is becoming more crucial to identify potential avenues which will attract pools of young people to fill the emerging skills gap. According to a Redrow report, 52% of young people disregard a career in construction, either because they are simply disinterested or completely unaware of what a career in construction entails. This statistic needs explicating, as it could infer that the current construction industry skills shortage is perpetuated by the multiple misconceptions and misperceptions which have been rife in the industry for a long period of time. The industry has made significant progression over the past decade, yet the majority of young people unfortunately associate construction with muddy hi-vis vests, dust and little opportunity for development. A misrepresentation that is almost as shocking as the statistic mentioned above: what is it going to take to let young people see how enterprising, innovative and ‘digital’ the construction industry is? Technology is used throughout our everyday lives, transcending age groups. Even though the construction industry is no exception, it is still perceived as relatively low-tech. Start with secondary schools Whilst architecture university degrees are prolific in the education of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and other digital construction solutions, this trend is by no means concurrent with secondary schools. The reasons for this are not necessarily to do with a matter of choice or preference; UK schools are under pressure to offer students – at GCSE particularly – the sought-after STEM subjects which are at the foundation of an industrial, corporate world.   Even though STEM subjects open-up multiple opportunities for young people, the same sentiment applies to the construction industry. For example, digital construction is part of the UK’s wider Industrial Strategy, where the creation of software such as BIM has generated jobs requiring a high level of technical education and skills which form the base of ‘STEM careers’. An example would be the use of augmented reality across construction projects. Although the technology is in its early stages, augmented reality (AR) is radically changing the building process, described as a way to visualise, manage and coordinate data throughout a building’s lifecycle. AR creates a virtual 3D structure of a building, providing important data about each component that can be accessed pre, during and post construction. Therefore, as this working method continues to develop, complementary skillsets will have to be nurtured within client organisations to ensure the software can be operated and utilised efficiently by Operations and FM teams. Digital construction in action A few years ago the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) developed ‘Craft Your Future’, a programme for 12-14 year olds which is integrated into the computer game Minecraft. Designed to encourage young people to consider careers in city planning, construction management and more, ‘Craft Your Future’ is a virtual solution which gives young people crucial insight into the real-time operation of a construction project. Whilst ‘Craft Your Future’ may be playing a vital role in addressing the future skills gap and labour shortages, the industry in its present state has more pressing concerns. It is widely known that throughout the industry there is a reluctance to adopt digital solutions. Bodies such as the UK BIM Alliance – which GroupBC is a patron of – educate companies on the benefits of digital construction and aim to ensure a common approach amongst vendors. However, much needs to be achieved to counteract this unproductive cultural stalemate if the industry is to embrace modern methods of working, such as off-site manufacturing. Recent initiatives such as reverse mentoring programmes, offered by the likes of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering – in which the more ‘digitally-experienced’ workers are helping senior colleagues transition to digital processes – are softening the alien transition from one way of working to another. As such, these will hopefully provide them with a better understanding of the business benefits of digital technologies. The initiatives outlined above are just a small portion of the many programmes that are being developed to realise the industry’s digital future. For this reason, the industry would do well to continually develop programmes such as these, headed by inspirational industry specialists who can showcase the excellence, worth and opportunities in digital construction to people of all ages and abilities. Not only will this help close the skills gap, it will ensure construction businesses have enough highly-skilled workers to steer the construction industry into its digital chapter.
    May 21, 2019 59
  • 20 May 2019
    With the construction industry in need of a widespread culture change and a chain of responsibility, who will have responsibility for delivering standards of performance throughout the lifecycle of a building writes Dr Gavin Dunn, Chief Executive Officer of the Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE)? By looking at both the existing regulatory framework and performance beyond regulations we can gain a clear picture of how we design and construct buildings and how quality can better be managed. There is a radical and changing set of expectations of what people, business, government and society are looking for out of the built environment. Fundamentally, the industry hasn’t changed much in fifty years. Government has massive expectations in terms of what construction should deliver around climate change, social value and cultural integration within cities; coupled with the treasury’s need for productivity and economic growth. Homeowners have their own set of expectations and want to be comfortable in their own homes while there are also health drivers to consider. Technology and the range of materials related to the improvement of building performance have also improved considerably in the last 25 years, but sadly the industry has yet to embrace what digital transformation can offer.  All these things are being layered to create massive opportunity as well as considerable missed expectations for our sector.  As an industry we are still all too often focused on delivering building regulations as a performance standard, but expectations are way beyond that. The sector is geared up to deliver the lowest capital cost at a single point in time, but this value conversation rarely goes beyond the completion of the initial build. There are clear financial benefits to end-users, owners, occupiers and investors by not looking at lowest capital costs upfront, but the best lifecycle value. In commercial real estate, high-end markets, including central London, most buildings are built to much higher performance standards and as a result have a better fundamental economic return and the ROI (return on investment) can be tremendous through higher rents, lower running costs and higher residual values.  Asset value There needs to be a cultural shift away from lowest capital cost, but unless a client’s behaviour changes, professionals will always cow-tow to getting the work. The clients don’t spend the money because the market won’t put a value on it. The flipside is the market will not put a value on it because it does not trust they will get the outcome. One of the reasons they don’t trust the outcome is that it is not the norm and no one is doing it. Therefore, there is no danger to prove the benefit, this creates a vicious circle. Standards compliance, by definition, engenders and builds trust in outcomes and the confidence a certain level of performance will be achieved. Consider compliance as more than building regulations; it is compliance against a range of standards that meets the end-user’s needs. It is designing to a high performance and structured around building what we design. We need to be designing with the end-user in mind and having the discipline to check the variations and documentation before handing it over so that the future value isn’t lost. Enabling quality is, therefore about, the critical flow of information between the different parties over the lifecycle of the project and the building. It’s also where the digitalisation of that process becomes an enabler to drive quality. Information must be independently validated and needs to belong to the asset, not the individual or organisations. Competency of professionals In a fragmented and siloed construction world, there needs to be an awareness which is much broader than the technical aspects. Sadly, people either don’t have a viewpoint on the wider impacts such as climate change, future values and health implications, or if they do, they don’t feel empowered to use it in a constructive way. Similarly with the concerns raised by the Hackitt review; many professionals completely agree with the sentiment, indeed many claim to have shared such concerns for years, but have not been able to act on them.  In terms of the future, the continued professionalisation of construction management, and site supervision, as well as, some of critical trades will be essential, but so will technology with information becoming more of a driver on site. The way buildings are managed and operated, both legally and technically, will change. The greater professionalisation and automation of construction will go hand-in-hand.  Professionals are going to have to demonstrate their skillsets more overtly and more regularly, particularly if they are working on high-risk projects. We, therefore, need to adopt a better process that allows us to identify those individuals who have providence and precision, and the necessary skills to do the job.    If we can move beyond the single-minded chasing of lowest capital cost to one of best value, then we can begin to see a world where everything else will start to change.  This will create a wide range of opportunities and economic benefits, and professionals will need to respond.  The idea of competence will then have changed. Visit www.cbuilde.com.
    58 Posted by Talk. Build
  • With the construction industry in need of a widespread culture change and a chain of responsibility, who will have responsibility for delivering standards of performance throughout the lifecycle of a building writes Dr Gavin Dunn, Chief Executive Officer of the Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE)? By looking at both the existing regulatory framework and performance beyond regulations we can gain a clear picture of how we design and construct buildings and how quality can better be managed. There is a radical and changing set of expectations of what people, business, government and society are looking for out of the built environment. Fundamentally, the industry hasn’t changed much in fifty years. Government has massive expectations in terms of what construction should deliver around climate change, social value and cultural integration within cities; coupled with the treasury’s need for productivity and economic growth. Homeowners have their own set of expectations and want to be comfortable in their own homes while there are also health drivers to consider. Technology and the range of materials related to the improvement of building performance have also improved considerably in the last 25 years, but sadly the industry has yet to embrace what digital transformation can offer.  All these things are being layered to create massive opportunity as well as considerable missed expectations for our sector.  As an industry we are still all too often focused on delivering building regulations as a performance standard, but expectations are way beyond that. The sector is geared up to deliver the lowest capital cost at a single point in time, but this value conversation rarely goes beyond the completion of the initial build. There are clear financial benefits to end-users, owners, occupiers and investors by not looking at lowest capital costs upfront, but the best lifecycle value. In commercial real estate, high-end markets, including central London, most buildings are built to much higher performance standards and as a result have a better fundamental economic return and the ROI (return on investment) can be tremendous through higher rents, lower running costs and higher residual values.  Asset value There needs to be a cultural shift away from lowest capital cost, but unless a client’s behaviour changes, professionals will always cow-tow to getting the work. The clients don’t spend the money because the market won’t put a value on it. The flipside is the market will not put a value on it because it does not trust they will get the outcome. One of the reasons they don’t trust the outcome is that it is not the norm and no one is doing it. Therefore, there is no danger to prove the benefit, this creates a vicious circle. Standards compliance, by definition, engenders and builds trust in outcomes and the confidence a certain level of performance will be achieved. Consider compliance as more than building regulations; it is compliance against a range of standards that meets the end-user’s needs. It is designing to a high performance and structured around building what we design. We need to be designing with the end-user in mind and having the discipline to check the variations and documentation before handing it over so that the future value isn’t lost. Enabling quality is, therefore about, the critical flow of information between the different parties over the lifecycle of the project and the building. It’s also where the digitalisation of that process becomes an enabler to drive quality. Information must be independently validated and needs to belong to the asset, not the individual or organisations. Competency of professionals In a fragmented and siloed construction world, there needs to be an awareness which is much broader than the technical aspects. Sadly, people either don’t have a viewpoint on the wider impacts such as climate change, future values and health implications, or if they do, they don’t feel empowered to use it in a constructive way. Similarly with the concerns raised by the Hackitt review; many professionals completely agree with the sentiment, indeed many claim to have shared such concerns for years, but have not been able to act on them.  In terms of the future, the continued professionalisation of construction management, and site supervision, as well as, some of critical trades will be essential, but so will technology with information becoming more of a driver on site. The way buildings are managed and operated, both legally and technically, will change. The greater professionalisation and automation of construction will go hand-in-hand.  Professionals are going to have to demonstrate their skillsets more overtly and more regularly, particularly if they are working on high-risk projects. We, therefore, need to adopt a better process that allows us to identify those individuals who have providence and precision, and the necessary skills to do the job.    If we can move beyond the single-minded chasing of lowest capital cost to one of best value, then we can begin to see a world where everything else will start to change.  This will create a wide range of opportunities and economic benefits, and professionals will need to respond.  The idea of competence will then have changed. Visit www.cbuilde.com.
    May 20, 2019 58
  • 13 May 2019
    In the closing weeks of January 2019, the first two parts of a new international Building Information Modelling (BIM) standard were published. Providing the framework for managing information on collaborative projects, and forming part of ISO 19650, the frameworks cover areas including concepts, principles and asset delivery writes Stuart Bell, Sales and Marketing Director at Group BC. But although these newly international standards are set to refine the construction industry’s approach to work, what kind of obstacles are in the way of their adoption? What traction will the standards have in an industry which is already falling behind in terms of the education and adoption of supporting processes and technology? Undoubtedly, the UK’s current PAS 1192 suite has provided a solid framework for BIM Level 2 adoption in the UK. The UK is a trusted authority with over three years’ experience working to the PAS 1192 and is recognised globally as being at the forefront of Building Information Modelling. The recently released standard, BS EN ISO 19650, is an evolution of the PAS 1192 suite, except the new standard can now be adopted internationally, providing a common term of reference for approaches to design, construction and building operations. During a period of Brexit uncertainty, does this new International standard provide further opportunity for UK Construction Plc to export our skills and knowledge overseas? The international opportunity UK construction businesses that are working with or targeting overseas clients and project work should embrace the move towards the ISO. Given the maturity of UK BIM adoption to date, you could argue British companies are best placed to advise overseas clients and be the information management lead on projects. A universally accepted industry ‘language’ and ‘process approach’ (that has evolved from the level 2 standards) means less will be lost in translation and the time to value for clients on the benefits of BIM delivery approaches will be greatly increased. What are the implications? However, whilst the new ISO is set to refine building standards, some are concerned the changes will only cause further polarisation between the early adopters who fully embrace BIM and those that are still catching up, uncertain of the application and benefits of BIM to their businesses. It could be argued that large tier one consultants and contractors have stolen a march over SME’s in terms of BIM Level 2 adoption, being better placed to secure positions on public sector frameworks and having the available finances to invest in training and technology. Inevitably, as the pace of technology innovation and standard’s evolution accelerates and outstrips the pace of industry’s digital transformation, some businesses are at risk of being left behind. Evidence suggests that the worst adopted are businesses in the construction supply chain that are responsible for a significant proportion of the physical construction work. For this reason, if we want to deliver real transformational change, we must ensure all BIM (systems and technology) is accessible to all. Education is the key Understanding the business case for change, and educating companies on the benefits of process driven technology is now fundamental. To increase adoption, continual education is the key to recognising the benefits of BIM and the wider change it will deliver to clients and the supply chain alike. BIM is not a technology or a solution - it is a holistic approach to collaborative working that drives benefits to all project participants. It provides a standardised framework to monitor performance across a built asset’s entire lifecycle, from initial design, through construction to real-time operation. It ensures data is consistently captured, approved and retained to support better decision making at every stage of the capital phase as well as operational occupancy/asset use. Thus, the benefits of this approach must be articulated with this in mind. BIM shouldn’t be viewed as another tax on the industry borne out of the maintenance of standards and regulatory controls; it is a real enabler for change for a marginal industry that has historically been slow to adapt and evolve. Educating companies on the standards are equally as important as BIM itself. As a matter of course, clients want to access trusted, reliable and secure digital information regarding their physical assets. Adopting standards ensures that contractors, consultants and lead designers can offer their clients consistency in delivery approach and, with that consistency, a better designed and delivered product. At the same time, those companies embracing the standards have an opportunity to develop competitive differentiation and better position themselves to win more work. At a time where the industry is under enormous pressure to deliver projects to stringent affordability criteria, attain carbon targets and meet tight construction deadlines, solutions which drive increased efficiency and quality are a must. ISO 19650 is a more unified, transferable standard which will help companies adopt a straightforward approach to managing information on digital platforms and across international boundaries. However, whilst the new standard provides a solid framework for improved project and asset information management, there needs to be continual education to encourage industry-wide BIM adoption from large tier one contractors and consultants down to regional trade contractors. In doing so, we will see a more significant step change in approach and delivered value. Only then might the construction industry be viewed as progressive rather than polarised and primitive in terms of its technology adoption. Visit: https://www.groupbc.com/
    77 Posted by Talk. Build
  • In the closing weeks of January 2019, the first two parts of a new international Building Information Modelling (BIM) standard were published. Providing the framework for managing information on collaborative projects, and forming part of ISO 19650, the frameworks cover areas including concepts, principles and asset delivery writes Stuart Bell, Sales and Marketing Director at Group BC. But although these newly international standards are set to refine the construction industry’s approach to work, what kind of obstacles are in the way of their adoption? What traction will the standards have in an industry which is already falling behind in terms of the education and adoption of supporting processes and technology? Undoubtedly, the UK’s current PAS 1192 suite has provided a solid framework for BIM Level 2 adoption in the UK. The UK is a trusted authority with over three years’ experience working to the PAS 1192 and is recognised globally as being at the forefront of Building Information Modelling. The recently released standard, BS EN ISO 19650, is an evolution of the PAS 1192 suite, except the new standard can now be adopted internationally, providing a common term of reference for approaches to design, construction and building operations. During a period of Brexit uncertainty, does this new International standard provide further opportunity for UK Construction Plc to export our skills and knowledge overseas? The international opportunity UK construction businesses that are working with or targeting overseas clients and project work should embrace the move towards the ISO. Given the maturity of UK BIM adoption to date, you could argue British companies are best placed to advise overseas clients and be the information management lead on projects. A universally accepted industry ‘language’ and ‘process approach’ (that has evolved from the level 2 standards) means less will be lost in translation and the time to value for clients on the benefits of BIM delivery approaches will be greatly increased. What are the implications? However, whilst the new ISO is set to refine building standards, some are concerned the changes will only cause further polarisation between the early adopters who fully embrace BIM and those that are still catching up, uncertain of the application and benefits of BIM to their businesses. It could be argued that large tier one consultants and contractors have stolen a march over SME’s in terms of BIM Level 2 adoption, being better placed to secure positions on public sector frameworks and having the available finances to invest in training and technology. Inevitably, as the pace of technology innovation and standard’s evolution accelerates and outstrips the pace of industry’s digital transformation, some businesses are at risk of being left behind. Evidence suggests that the worst adopted are businesses in the construction supply chain that are responsible for a significant proportion of the physical construction work. For this reason, if we want to deliver real transformational change, we must ensure all BIM (systems and technology) is accessible to all. Education is the key Understanding the business case for change, and educating companies on the benefits of process driven technology is now fundamental. To increase adoption, continual education is the key to recognising the benefits of BIM and the wider change it will deliver to clients and the supply chain alike. BIM is not a technology or a solution - it is a holistic approach to collaborative working that drives benefits to all project participants. It provides a standardised framework to monitor performance across a built asset’s entire lifecycle, from initial design, through construction to real-time operation. It ensures data is consistently captured, approved and retained to support better decision making at every stage of the capital phase as well as operational occupancy/asset use. Thus, the benefits of this approach must be articulated with this in mind. BIM shouldn’t be viewed as another tax on the industry borne out of the maintenance of standards and regulatory controls; it is a real enabler for change for a marginal industry that has historically been slow to adapt and evolve. Educating companies on the standards are equally as important as BIM itself. As a matter of course, clients want to access trusted, reliable and secure digital information regarding their physical assets. Adopting standards ensures that contractors, consultants and lead designers can offer their clients consistency in delivery approach and, with that consistency, a better designed and delivered product. At the same time, those companies embracing the standards have an opportunity to develop competitive differentiation and better position themselves to win more work. At a time where the industry is under enormous pressure to deliver projects to stringent affordability criteria, attain carbon targets and meet tight construction deadlines, solutions which drive increased efficiency and quality are a must. ISO 19650 is a more unified, transferable standard which will help companies adopt a straightforward approach to managing information on digital platforms and across international boundaries. However, whilst the new standard provides a solid framework for improved project and asset information management, there needs to be continual education to encourage industry-wide BIM adoption from large tier one contractors and consultants down to regional trade contractors. In doing so, we will see a more significant step change in approach and delivered value. Only then might the construction industry be viewed as progressive rather than polarised and primitive in terms of its technology adoption. Visit: https://www.groupbc.com/
    May 13, 2019 77
  • 02 Sep 2016
    In the absence of a crystal ball it is almost impossible to predict how construction companies will fare following the vote to leave the EU… Within days of the vote being announced it was clear that there would be winners and losers and it will probably be a least another six months or so before certainty returns to the market. But it would seem that, for companies willing to grasp the opportunities in Europe’s second largest construction market, the future could look very good indeed and some organisations are predicting that UK manufacturers could do extremely well if they are willing to be bold. The BBA is one such organisation that has identified an unexpected trend in the market and a mood of optimism from companies that believe they can succeed – by simply being better than their competitors – particularly in the areas of quality and excellence. It has long been accepted that a BBA accreditation is a standard of excellence that manufacturers of construction products should aspire to, but there are some who clearly want to go to the next step by driving quality forward still further to leave the competition behind. In short there seems to be a growing number of companies out there prepared to go that extra mile to get the best possible accreditations for their products to ensure that they have a greater advantage in a highly competitive market. There is no doubt that such companies will succeed against a background where building owners and specifiers are not prepared to risk anything but the best and it could be that the BBA has identified a positive move to even greater quality in the marketplace – although it must be emphasised they do not claim to have any definitive answers regarding the future. So it seems, then, that Britain could once again be a byword for quality, and if the BBA is right – then the entire UK construction market stands to benefit – and what’s wrong with that? http://www.bbacerts.co.uk/
    1 Posted by BBA
  • By BBA
    In the absence of a crystal ball it is almost impossible to predict how construction companies will fare following the vote to leave the EU… Within days of the vote being announced it was clear that there would be winners and losers and it will probably be a least another six months or so before certainty returns to the market. But it would seem that, for companies willing to grasp the opportunities in Europe’s second largest construction market, the future could look very good indeed and some organisations are predicting that UK manufacturers could do extremely well if they are willing to be bold. The BBA is one such organisation that has identified an unexpected trend in the market and a mood of optimism from companies that believe they can succeed – by simply being better than their competitors – particularly in the areas of quality and excellence. It has long been accepted that a BBA accreditation is a standard of excellence that manufacturers of construction products should aspire to, but there are some who clearly want to go to the next step by driving quality forward still further to leave the competition behind. In short there seems to be a growing number of companies out there prepared to go that extra mile to get the best possible accreditations for their products to ensure that they have a greater advantage in a highly competitive market. There is no doubt that such companies will succeed against a background where building owners and specifiers are not prepared to risk anything but the best and it could be that the BBA has identified a positive move to even greater quality in the marketplace – although it must be emphasised they do not claim to have any definitive answers regarding the future. So it seems, then, that Britain could once again be a byword for quality, and if the BBA is right – then the entire UK construction market stands to benefit – and what’s wrong with that? http://www.bbacerts.co.uk/
    Sep 02, 2016 1
  • 02 Sep 2016
    Finding themselves priced out of rural areas where they grew up, younger residents are leaving to find housing they can afford. Thanks to new Permitted Development planning laws however disused farm buildings can be transformed into good quality homes for rent or sale, meaning families can stay in the area and an asset is brought back into use for farmers. A mismatch between housing supply and demand in rural areas is forcing many residents to move to cities to find good affordable housing for themselves and their families. A solution which could defuse this demographic time bomb, while also giving disused farm buildings a new lease of life, is being trialled by one company across several farms in Cambridgeshire. In April 2014 the Government confirmed that permitted development rights within the 2012 National Policy Framework would enable change of use of agricultural buildings to residential, flexible (i.e. commercial) or educational use. With many farmers having disused and dilapidated barns or other buildings on their land which are no longer fit for purpose and present a maintenance headache, the potential to turn them into desirable and practical rural family homes and generate income in the process is tempting. In reusing existing building assets the idea is environmentally sustainable as well as being economically sustainable as a new long-term revenue stream for farmers. As one example in Cambridgeshire, contractor Richardson & Peat has been commissioned by AgReserves Ltd which owns farmland across the county to put together a design team to convert under permitted development their semi-derelict barns into high quality homes for rent to local people. Permitted development rules The following rules form a basic guide to developing an agricultural building under permitted development rights:• Developments cannot be larger than 450m² and must fall within existing footprint.• The previous use must be solely agricultural. • The maximum number of separate dwellings on one site is three.• The building cannot be Listed. • No previous permitted developments can have been accepted or built on the same farm.• The site is not in a safety hazard area or site of scientific interest or of military use.• The site complies with any requirements if it falls within a flood zone. • The building will comply with current Building Regulations when constructed. To proceed with taking on this challenge a good architect is essential in understanding not only rural design and planning but also the needs of future occupants. It’s unlikely that an existing barn will be in a condition in order to meet new housing standards in Building Regulations so the adaption of the existing barn must provide a new thermal envelope as a key component to the construction alongside good natural light levels from windows and doors. Structural engineers can also be critical particularly if you are looking at older barns where substantial work is going to be needed to strengthen existing foundations and new and existing floors and walls. Above all the final design should provide a good practical living environment for a family. With this planning option available farm living gives local people wishing to stay in the area an opportunity that would otherwise not be available and it also opens up the possibility for people looking to move back to a rural surrounding from an urban environment. From a farmers prospective it’s crucial that the building is laid out thoughtfully to maximise its asset value as this is a once only application under permitted development rules. The Cambridgeshire project will widen the housing choices for local residents, but could provide a template for other farmers looking to take up the idea which would create a major impact across the UK. From a financial position farmers looking to develop are likely to be given a fair hearing from lenders given that the land is already a free asset and would bring an impressive return on any borrowing, meaning there is a realistic opportunity to turn thousands of obsolete rural buildings into badly-needed homes for future generations.
    1 Posted by Natasha Wills
  • Finding themselves priced out of rural areas where they grew up, younger residents are leaving to find housing they can afford. Thanks to new Permitted Development planning laws however disused farm buildings can be transformed into good quality homes for rent or sale, meaning families can stay in the area and an asset is brought back into use for farmers. A mismatch between housing supply and demand in rural areas is forcing many residents to move to cities to find good affordable housing for themselves and their families. A solution which could defuse this demographic time bomb, while also giving disused farm buildings a new lease of life, is being trialled by one company across several farms in Cambridgeshire. In April 2014 the Government confirmed that permitted development rights within the 2012 National Policy Framework would enable change of use of agricultural buildings to residential, flexible (i.e. commercial) or educational use. With many farmers having disused and dilapidated barns or other buildings on their land which are no longer fit for purpose and present a maintenance headache, the potential to turn them into desirable and practical rural family homes and generate income in the process is tempting. In reusing existing building assets the idea is environmentally sustainable as well as being economically sustainable as a new long-term revenue stream for farmers. As one example in Cambridgeshire, contractor Richardson & Peat has been commissioned by AgReserves Ltd which owns farmland across the county to put together a design team to convert under permitted development their semi-derelict barns into high quality homes for rent to local people. Permitted development rules The following rules form a basic guide to developing an agricultural building under permitted development rights:• Developments cannot be larger than 450m² and must fall within existing footprint.• The previous use must be solely agricultural. • The maximum number of separate dwellings on one site is three.• The building cannot be Listed. • No previous permitted developments can have been accepted or built on the same farm.• The site is not in a safety hazard area or site of scientific interest or of military use.• The site complies with any requirements if it falls within a flood zone. • The building will comply with current Building Regulations when constructed. To proceed with taking on this challenge a good architect is essential in understanding not only rural design and planning but also the needs of future occupants. It’s unlikely that an existing barn will be in a condition in order to meet new housing standards in Building Regulations so the adaption of the existing barn must provide a new thermal envelope as a key component to the construction alongside good natural light levels from windows and doors. Structural engineers can also be critical particularly if you are looking at older barns where substantial work is going to be needed to strengthen existing foundations and new and existing floors and walls. Above all the final design should provide a good practical living environment for a family. With this planning option available farm living gives local people wishing to stay in the area an opportunity that would otherwise not be available and it also opens up the possibility for people looking to move back to a rural surrounding from an urban environment. From a farmers prospective it’s crucial that the building is laid out thoughtfully to maximise its asset value as this is a once only application under permitted development rules. The Cambridgeshire project will widen the housing choices for local residents, but could provide a template for other farmers looking to take up the idea which would create a major impact across the UK. From a financial position farmers looking to develop are likely to be given a fair hearing from lenders given that the land is already a free asset and would bring an impressive return on any borrowing, meaning there is a realistic opportunity to turn thousands of obsolete rural buildings into badly-needed homes for future generations.
    Sep 02, 2016 1
  • 22 Aug 2017
    Horrible looking drains, manhole covers and inspection chambers appear in driveways and footpaths everywhere. You can even find them in the middle of your lawn or garden! How do you hide ugly manhole covers and drains?                     There are several ways to pretty up these ugly necessities but, however you choose to do it, remember that water utility companies require access at all times. If they cannot be accessed when required they will be dug up and not only will you receive a bill for doing so, you will also be left with the expense of repairing any damage. A much better idea is to (where possible) replace the existing industrial looking cover with a removable recessed (or inset) tray. Then you have the option to either blend them in with the surface or make a feature out of them. Recessed tray options A quick internet search will show you just how many different types of recessed trays are available – too many to mention here! You choose depending on where they are and what material you are going to fill them with. Basically they fall into two categories: Standard recessed tray Currently the most popular choice, made from polypropylene, aluminium or stainless steel and can be suitable for use by both pedestrians and vehicles. Permeable recessed tray This more recent option from EcoGrid provides a load bearing surface that features membranes and a perforated base which allows water to slowly filter through to the drain underneath. Infill options Another internet search will result in a lot of options for infilling a recessed tray. Your final choice will depend on where the drain, manhole cover or inspection chamber is and what the surface will be used for. Here are a few of the most popular infill options: Block paving or bricks These are common choices and can be cut to either blend in or contrast with the surrounding surface. Resin bound paving This is the most popular choice for the seamless finish - created by infilling the recessed tray with the same colour aggregate. You can also create contrast by using a different colour or produce a logo or design in the recessed tray. Using a permeable recessed tray with resin bound paving creates a fully permeable surface. Loose gravel Probably the quickest and easiest way to infill a recessed tray is with loose gravel, but it will inevitably scatter. The fleeing gravel will need regular sweeping and replacing and your lawn mower won’t like it much either... Grass Whilst sowing grass seeds into a recessed tray blends in with a lawn it can be awkward to mow and unless it’s sown in a permeable recessed tray, it will dry out very quickly. Of course you could opt for artificial grass… Plants and flowers Infilling with flowers and/or plants can help disguise unsightly drains, manhole covers or inspection chambers. You can also create a spectacular feature, but as with grass they will dry out very quickly unless a permeable recessed tray is used. Useful links: How to build a recessed manhole cover : http://www.diy.com/help-ideas/how-to-build-a-manhole-cover/CC_npcart_400198.art An overview http://www.pavingexpert.com/recess01.htm  from the Paving Expert. We strongly recommend clarifying ownership and responsibility before modifying or carrying out maintenance to drains, sewers and manholes. Author: Gail Gilkes, Head of Marketing, SureSet UK Ltd. Visit: www.sureset.co.uk Follow us: https://twitter.com/SureSetUK https://www.youtube.com/user/SureSetUK15 https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/1220581/  
    2302 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Horrible looking drains, manhole covers and inspection chambers appear in driveways and footpaths everywhere. You can even find them in the middle of your lawn or garden! How do you hide ugly manhole covers and drains?                     There are several ways to pretty up these ugly necessities but, however you choose to do it, remember that water utility companies require access at all times. If they cannot be accessed when required they will be dug up and not only will you receive a bill for doing so, you will also be left with the expense of repairing any damage. A much better idea is to (where possible) replace the existing industrial looking cover with a removable recessed (or inset) tray. Then you have the option to either blend them in with the surface or make a feature out of them. Recessed tray options A quick internet search will show you just how many different types of recessed trays are available – too many to mention here! You choose depending on where they are and what material you are going to fill them with. Basically they fall into two categories: Standard recessed tray Currently the most popular choice, made from polypropylene, aluminium or stainless steel and can be suitable for use by both pedestrians and vehicles. Permeable recessed tray This more recent option from EcoGrid provides a load bearing surface that features membranes and a perforated base which allows water to slowly filter through to the drain underneath. Infill options Another internet search will result in a lot of options for infilling a recessed tray. Your final choice will depend on where the drain, manhole cover or inspection chamber is and what the surface will be used for. Here are a few of the most popular infill options: Block paving or bricks These are common choices and can be cut to either blend in or contrast with the surrounding surface. Resin bound paving This is the most popular choice for the seamless finish - created by infilling the recessed tray with the same colour aggregate. You can also create contrast by using a different colour or produce a logo or design in the recessed tray. Using a permeable recessed tray with resin bound paving creates a fully permeable surface. Loose gravel Probably the quickest and easiest way to infill a recessed tray is with loose gravel, but it will inevitably scatter. The fleeing gravel will need regular sweeping and replacing and your lawn mower won’t like it much either... Grass Whilst sowing grass seeds into a recessed tray blends in with a lawn it can be awkward to mow and unless it’s sown in a permeable recessed tray, it will dry out very quickly. Of course you could opt for artificial grass… Plants and flowers Infilling with flowers and/or plants can help disguise unsightly drains, manhole covers or inspection chambers. You can also create a spectacular feature, but as with grass they will dry out very quickly unless a permeable recessed tray is used. Useful links: How to build a recessed manhole cover : http://www.diy.com/help-ideas/how-to-build-a-manhole-cover/CC_npcart_400198.art An overview http://www.pavingexpert.com/recess01.htm  from the Paving Expert. We strongly recommend clarifying ownership and responsibility before modifying or carrying out maintenance to drains, sewers and manholes. Author: Gail Gilkes, Head of Marketing, SureSet UK Ltd. Visit: www.sureset.co.uk Follow us: https://twitter.com/SureSetUK https://www.youtube.com/user/SureSetUK15 https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/1220581/  
    Aug 22, 2017 2302
  • 31 Aug 2017
    The headline says it all - and it particularly applies to the construction industry; especially when it comes to our small corner of it, the resin bound permeable paving market. We are not afraid to tell you that we sometimes lose out to competitors quoting up to 20% cheaper than us. “What?” I hear you say “Some of your competitors are 20% cheaper than you and you are admitting it?”  Yes we are and for a very, very good reason… All too often we hear from customers who, having previously bought a cheaper product, ask us to rectify problems associated with inferior resin bound paving. Knowing that the basic requirement of every company is to make a profit, we can rule out companies doing too many jobs ‘out of the kindness of their heart’ or free of charge.  So, with only a limited number of ways to make one resin bound product cheaper than another, and ruling out profit as the major difference, the only other ways are: Cheaper resins Everyone in the industry knows that the resin used (very unsurprisingly) within resin bound paving is the single most crucial factor in determining whether your product is average or great.  Although the quality, cleanliness and consistency of the stone is vitally important, what really differentiates material suppliers is the quality of the resin binder used. There are many ‘tunes’ which can be played with the resin including using different types of vastly differing qualities and altering the formulation percentages to make products stronger or weaker.   Obviously less resin equals cheaper, and I seriously doubt anyone would be surprised that cheaper equals weaker. At SureSet we only use high quality resins, in the correct formulas, ensuring that the durability of our product is top of the agenda. Poor mix design Not investing in technical expertise is another way of reducing cost. Every blend we create at SureSet is tested using a process we have developed over 18 years.  We know that each type and size of individual aggregate has different characteristics, which means that some types of aggregate require different amounts of resin than others. I have heard many companies say “just dump this 7kg resin on top of any 100kg of dry stone and away you go”, but the reality is producing high quality, long lasting products is a far more technical process than that. This completely rules out the ‘one size fits all’ theory, yet there are many well established companies who are still doing just that. Hand in hand with good design is the need to manage quality so that the product produced is consistent and meets required standards.  Customers should look for suppliers who demonstrate this by achieving and maintaining national standards, such as ISO 9001 and Investors in People. Total quantity of material used There are some companies who, to keep the cost of a job low, will install the material at less than optimal depths, regardless of its end use.  When buying resin bound paving you should make sure that each quote has the same specification; if one company is stating a 20mm depth, and the other a 16mm depth, ask both companies why.  The likelihood is that the company stating 20mm will have done so due to turning vehicles, large vehicles or heavier usage etc.  The 20mm material will last longer, and withstand its intended use.  Let’s not forget the company stating 20mm also wants to be as competitive as possible, so it does not make commercial sense to state a greater depth, and therefore increased cost, than is necessary.  If 16mm will do the job, then 16mm would have been quoted for. Poor workmanship Labour costs are also a significant factor when determining the selling point of resin bound paving, both in having the necessary skills, and having enough labour on site. Our experience allows us to precisely assess how many installers are needed to install a particular job and enables us to price accurately.  A mistake commonly made is in thinking that three installers can do the job of five… In theory they probably could, but will the quality and attention to detail be the same if your surface were laid by five skilled installers? The simple answer is no.  If we at SureSet took that approach, whilst our quote would be more competitive and our profit margin increase, the reality is that the installation would be rushed and shortcuts taken. We do everything in our power to avoid under-estimating the time needed for each installation - at the end of the day you are ‘only as good as your last job’. In short there would be no time to walk that ‘extra mile’ and deliver the high quality associated with SureSet.  To summarise Throughout the 18 years SureSet has been manufacturing, supplying and installing permeable resin bound paving, we have been called upon to rectify poor installations. Some can be repaired, while others require complete replacement. Unfortunately for the customer, the original cheap price is no longer the bargain they originally thought it was. When buying resin bound paving I urge you not to buy on price, but consider these points when making your decision: Value – don’t just consider the upfront cost, but the whole life investment into the quality of the product. Remember you can only make cheap resin bound paving by compromising the quality of the end product. Quality– a product that has been well designed, researched and invested in will look better and last longer. Reputation – read testimonials, ask to see installations near you or speak to customers before purchasing.  ‘Word of mouth’ still goes a long way. Guarantee – established companies offering long guarantees offer them for a reason. Likewise companies offering a short guarantee also do so for a reason. Although we would love to, we don’t expect to win every tender we submit - it is not feasible or conducive to a healthy market. However when we lose out to an inferior, cheaper product is frustrating because we know that at some point in the future the customer, who thought they were choosing between ‘like for like’ products will be disappointed with their decision.  Not only was this a loss to SureSet, but more worryingly it could be a loss to the resin bound paving market.  So as the title of my blog suggests: Please, please don’t purchase purely on price, purchase on value. Author: Ben Shave, Sales Director, SureSet UK Ltd. Visit: https://www.sureset.co.uk/ Follow Us: https://www.facebook.com/suresetuk/ https://twitter.com/SureSetUK https://www.youtube.com/user/SureSetUK15 https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/1220581/  
    1509 Posted by Talk. Build
  • The headline says it all - and it particularly applies to the construction industry; especially when it comes to our small corner of it, the resin bound permeable paving market. We are not afraid to tell you that we sometimes lose out to competitors quoting up to 20% cheaper than us. “What?” I hear you say “Some of your competitors are 20% cheaper than you and you are admitting it?”  Yes we are and for a very, very good reason… All too often we hear from customers who, having previously bought a cheaper product, ask us to rectify problems associated with inferior resin bound paving. Knowing that the basic requirement of every company is to make a profit, we can rule out companies doing too many jobs ‘out of the kindness of their heart’ or free of charge.  So, with only a limited number of ways to make one resin bound product cheaper than another, and ruling out profit as the major difference, the only other ways are: Cheaper resins Everyone in the industry knows that the resin used (very unsurprisingly) within resin bound paving is the single most crucial factor in determining whether your product is average or great.  Although the quality, cleanliness and consistency of the stone is vitally important, what really differentiates material suppliers is the quality of the resin binder used. There are many ‘tunes’ which can be played with the resin including using different types of vastly differing qualities and altering the formulation percentages to make products stronger or weaker.   Obviously less resin equals cheaper, and I seriously doubt anyone would be surprised that cheaper equals weaker. At SureSet we only use high quality resins, in the correct formulas, ensuring that the durability of our product is top of the agenda. Poor mix design Not investing in technical expertise is another way of reducing cost. Every blend we create at SureSet is tested using a process we have developed over 18 years.  We know that each type and size of individual aggregate has different characteristics, which means that some types of aggregate require different amounts of resin than others. I have heard many companies say “just dump this 7kg resin on top of any 100kg of dry stone and away you go”, but the reality is producing high quality, long lasting products is a far more technical process than that. This completely rules out the ‘one size fits all’ theory, yet there are many well established companies who are still doing just that. Hand in hand with good design is the need to manage quality so that the product produced is consistent and meets required standards.  Customers should look for suppliers who demonstrate this by achieving and maintaining national standards, such as ISO 9001 and Investors in People. Total quantity of material used There are some companies who, to keep the cost of a job low, will install the material at less than optimal depths, regardless of its end use.  When buying resin bound paving you should make sure that each quote has the same specification; if one company is stating a 20mm depth, and the other a 16mm depth, ask both companies why.  The likelihood is that the company stating 20mm will have done so due to turning vehicles, large vehicles or heavier usage etc.  The 20mm material will last longer, and withstand its intended use.  Let’s not forget the company stating 20mm also wants to be as competitive as possible, so it does not make commercial sense to state a greater depth, and therefore increased cost, than is necessary.  If 16mm will do the job, then 16mm would have been quoted for. Poor workmanship Labour costs are also a significant factor when determining the selling point of resin bound paving, both in having the necessary skills, and having enough labour on site. Our experience allows us to precisely assess how many installers are needed to install a particular job and enables us to price accurately.  A mistake commonly made is in thinking that three installers can do the job of five… In theory they probably could, but will the quality and attention to detail be the same if your surface were laid by five skilled installers? The simple answer is no.  If we at SureSet took that approach, whilst our quote would be more competitive and our profit margin increase, the reality is that the installation would be rushed and shortcuts taken. We do everything in our power to avoid under-estimating the time needed for each installation - at the end of the day you are ‘only as good as your last job’. In short there would be no time to walk that ‘extra mile’ and deliver the high quality associated with SureSet.  To summarise Throughout the 18 years SureSet has been manufacturing, supplying and installing permeable resin bound paving, we have been called upon to rectify poor installations. Some can be repaired, while others require complete replacement. Unfortunately for the customer, the original cheap price is no longer the bargain they originally thought it was. When buying resin bound paving I urge you not to buy on price, but consider these points when making your decision: Value – don’t just consider the upfront cost, but the whole life investment into the quality of the product. Remember you can only make cheap resin bound paving by compromising the quality of the end product. Quality– a product that has been well designed, researched and invested in will look better and last longer. Reputation – read testimonials, ask to see installations near you or speak to customers before purchasing.  ‘Word of mouth’ still goes a long way. Guarantee – established companies offering long guarantees offer them for a reason. Likewise companies offering a short guarantee also do so for a reason. Although we would love to, we don’t expect to win every tender we submit - it is not feasible or conducive to a healthy market. However when we lose out to an inferior, cheaper product is frustrating because we know that at some point in the future the customer, who thought they were choosing between ‘like for like’ products will be disappointed with their decision.  Not only was this a loss to SureSet, but more worryingly it could be a loss to the resin bound paving market.  So as the title of my blog suggests: Please, please don’t purchase purely on price, purchase on value. Author: Ben Shave, Sales Director, SureSet UK Ltd. Visit: https://www.sureset.co.uk/ Follow Us: https://www.facebook.com/suresetuk/ https://twitter.com/SureSetUK https://www.youtube.com/user/SureSetUK15 https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/1220581/  
    Aug 31, 2017 1509
  • 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.
    1447 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 1447
  • 21 Sep 2017
    The Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group is calling on the Government to solve the UK construction industry’s long-standing and crippling payments problem, labelling the current cashflow position as “critical”. In a recent article, the SEC Group – which represents SMEs in the construction engineering sector – warns that its members are increasingly being propped up by their directors’ wallets as an interim cashflow ‘solution’. They cite Funding Options figures that show directors lent their construction businesses £38 million in 2015/2016, up from £29.7 million in 2013/2014 – a jump of 28 per cent in just two years.  Unsurprisingly, the SEC Group labels this rise as “unsustainable” and has urged the Government to introduce legislation to solve the problem. We agree wholeheartedly with the SEC Group – the cashflow issue has affected growth of construction businesses of all shapes and sizes for too long and needs to be addressed urgently. However, we feel that while the Government has a role to play in improving B2B payments in the industry, businesses themselves can do much more to take greater control of their finances. We’ve partnered with Invapay, an Optal company, to make this easily achievable. Our unique proposition – a combined full-service payment solution – provides construction businesses with a quick and effortless way to manage their payment process and maximise working capital benefits. With Open ECX and Invapay, businesses are able to make their payment processes simple, streamlined and effortless from the moment a payment application is made right through to the point that it is paid. Our cloud-based paper-free WebContractor solution manages the first half of the process, giving subcontractors and suppliers the ability to submit invoices quickly and easily through an online portal. The automated service then processes the application, sending verification notices emails to the applicant and the QS, allowing invoicing authorisation to be granted hassle-free. At this stage Invapay’s payment solution comes into play. With no changes to processes and systems, Invapay’s business-tobusiness payment platform allows businesses to optimise their payments to suppliers and subcontractors. Through Invapay, businesses can take greater control of their cash flow – across working capital, credit lines and third party funds – ensuring long term cash flow benefits for buyers and subcontractors. By Matthew Jones, CEO of Open ECX For more information and to download a free payments guide visit: http://openecx.co.uk/maximising-payments-maximising-cash-flow/
    1281 Posted by Talk. Build
  • The Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group is calling on the Government to solve the UK construction industry’s long-standing and crippling payments problem, labelling the current cashflow position as “critical”. In a recent article, the SEC Group – which represents SMEs in the construction engineering sector – warns that its members are increasingly being propped up by their directors’ wallets as an interim cashflow ‘solution’. They cite Funding Options figures that show directors lent their construction businesses £38 million in 2015/2016, up from £29.7 million in 2013/2014 – a jump of 28 per cent in just two years.  Unsurprisingly, the SEC Group labels this rise as “unsustainable” and has urged the Government to introduce legislation to solve the problem. We agree wholeheartedly with the SEC Group – the cashflow issue has affected growth of construction businesses of all shapes and sizes for too long and needs to be addressed urgently. However, we feel that while the Government has a role to play in improving B2B payments in the industry, businesses themselves can do much more to take greater control of their finances. We’ve partnered with Invapay, an Optal company, to make this easily achievable. Our unique proposition – a combined full-service payment solution – provides construction businesses with a quick and effortless way to manage their payment process and maximise working capital benefits. With Open ECX and Invapay, businesses are able to make their payment processes simple, streamlined and effortless from the moment a payment application is made right through to the point that it is paid. Our cloud-based paper-free WebContractor solution manages the first half of the process, giving subcontractors and suppliers the ability to submit invoices quickly and easily through an online portal. The automated service then processes the application, sending verification notices emails to the applicant and the QS, allowing invoicing authorisation to be granted hassle-free. At this stage Invapay’s payment solution comes into play. With no changes to processes and systems, Invapay’s business-tobusiness payment platform allows businesses to optimise their payments to suppliers and subcontractors. Through Invapay, businesses can take greater control of their cash flow – across working capital, credit lines and third party funds – ensuring long term cash flow benefits for buyers and subcontractors. By Matthew Jones, CEO of Open ECX For more information and to download a free payments guide visit: http://openecx.co.uk/maximising-payments-maximising-cash-flow/
    Sep 21, 2017 1281
  • 04 Jul 2017
    One of the world’s oldest and most traditional waterproofing materials, mastic asphalt is a truly versatile performer, outlasting other materials and proven time and time again on everything from sealing dams to flooring, flat roofs to sports facilities, walkways to balconies and car parks to bridges. Successfully used to provide unbeatable protection from water penetration for centuries, in recent years mastic asphalt has been reformulated to include advanced polymers for increased durability, combining its traditional strengths with modern technology.   Mastic asphalt is highly resistant and robust enough to withstand all types of weather situations and attacks from thermal shock (rapid temperature changes), which are a frequent source of break down in many other types of membrane.It’s also non-toxic and non-flammable. Its durability and seamless application means that it is one of the few membranes able to handle consistent heavy foot and vehicular traffic, including from Heavy Goods Vehicles, and still maintain its waterproof integrity. With no application too tricky, it is also easy to repair should alterations or damage occur. Another major advantage with mastic asphalt is that it can be laid at speed, reducing the project costs significantly. It also cools very rapidly, allowing foot traffic within two to three hours, dependent upon ambient temperature. Providing such excellent wear against the extremes of weather – and with a life expectancy of 50 years and more - the waterproof membrane is fast becoming the material of choice for a manner of different buildings including, schools, offices, shopping centres, hotels and even churches. Mastic asphalt has one further advantage over other types of waterproof membrane – it is carbon neutral – a massive bonus for any building owner anxious to show their green credentials and, when it has reached the end of its useful life, it can be recycled or used as roof screed, minimising the impact on the environment. Highly cost-effective, mastic asphalt offers lower installation costs than many other types of membrane. Its versatility makes it the ideal choice, so whether it’s a 31 mile bridge in Hong Kong or St Paul’s Cathedral, this market- leading product is revered across the world. By Mastic Asphalt Council. Visit MAC: http://www.masticasphaltcouncil.co.uk/      
    1104 Posted by Talk. Build
  • One of the world’s oldest and most traditional waterproofing materials, mastic asphalt is a truly versatile performer, outlasting other materials and proven time and time again on everything from sealing dams to flooring, flat roofs to sports facilities, walkways to balconies and car parks to bridges. Successfully used to provide unbeatable protection from water penetration for centuries, in recent years mastic asphalt has been reformulated to include advanced polymers for increased durability, combining its traditional strengths with modern technology.   Mastic asphalt is highly resistant and robust enough to withstand all types of weather situations and attacks from thermal shock (rapid temperature changes), which are a frequent source of break down in many other types of membrane.It’s also non-toxic and non-flammable. Its durability and seamless application means that it is one of the few membranes able to handle consistent heavy foot and vehicular traffic, including from Heavy Goods Vehicles, and still maintain its waterproof integrity. With no application too tricky, it is also easy to repair should alterations or damage occur. Another major advantage with mastic asphalt is that it can be laid at speed, reducing the project costs significantly. It also cools very rapidly, allowing foot traffic within two to three hours, dependent upon ambient temperature. Providing such excellent wear against the extremes of weather – and with a life expectancy of 50 years and more - the waterproof membrane is fast becoming the material of choice for a manner of different buildings including, schools, offices, shopping centres, hotels and even churches. Mastic asphalt has one further advantage over other types of waterproof membrane – it is carbon neutral – a massive bonus for any building owner anxious to show their green credentials and, when it has reached the end of its useful life, it can be recycled or used as roof screed, minimising the impact on the environment. Highly cost-effective, mastic asphalt offers lower installation costs than many other types of membrane. Its versatility makes it the ideal choice, so whether it’s a 31 mile bridge in Hong Kong or St Paul’s Cathedral, this market- leading product is revered across the world. By Mastic Asphalt Council. Visit MAC: http://www.masticasphaltcouncil.co.uk/      
    Jul 04, 2017 1104
  • 03 Aug 2017
    With growing pressure on schools to provide even more classroom places it seems that playing fields and playgrounds are disappearing at a very fast rate particularly in our inner cities. Recent research published in the national media suggests that some 35% of schools are building classrooms on areas once exclusively designated for play and 90% of expanding schools are losing play space because they are admitting more pupils to cope with local demand. Up to half a million primary school children are being deprived of play space because councils are building classrooms on playgrounds. Experts suggest that this is the result ofa baby boom coupled with rising immigration, which means that England’s pupil population will exceed eight million for the first time in almost half a century. Companies such as Play Cubed, which specialise in designing and installing playgrounds in schools, fears that pupils who cannot have proper play times will be less able academically. Most experts agree that play and the benefits it provides helps children learn in the classroom – and if there are no such facilities then that learning benefit will disappear. Forecasters say that pupil numbers will soar by almost a million over the next decade to reach their highest level since the mid-70s, meaning children will have even less room to play - estimates suggest that some 478,800 pupils could be affected. Experts such as Play Cubed agree that access to outside space is vital and schools need to preserve it with playtime experiences helping boost children’s development and well-being. Until recently schools had to provide between 2,500 and 75,000 square metres of space for team games depending on the number of pupils they educated but that rule has now changed to providing ‘suitable outdoor space’ for physical education and play. It’s a trend that we ignore at our peril if we are to develop well balanced children who will enjoy the education experience – the power of play is not to be underestimated at the expense of cramming even more youngsters into classrooms. Visit: https://www.playcubed.co.uk/
    840 Posted by Talk. Build
  • With growing pressure on schools to provide even more classroom places it seems that playing fields and playgrounds are disappearing at a very fast rate particularly in our inner cities. Recent research published in the national media suggests that some 35% of schools are building classrooms on areas once exclusively designated for play and 90% of expanding schools are losing play space because they are admitting more pupils to cope with local demand. Up to half a million primary school children are being deprived of play space because councils are building classrooms on playgrounds. Experts suggest that this is the result ofa baby boom coupled with rising immigration, which means that England’s pupil population will exceed eight million for the first time in almost half a century. Companies such as Play Cubed, which specialise in designing and installing playgrounds in schools, fears that pupils who cannot have proper play times will be less able academically. Most experts agree that play and the benefits it provides helps children learn in the classroom – and if there are no such facilities then that learning benefit will disappear. Forecasters say that pupil numbers will soar by almost a million over the next decade to reach their highest level since the mid-70s, meaning children will have even less room to play - estimates suggest that some 478,800 pupils could be affected. Experts such as Play Cubed agree that access to outside space is vital and schools need to preserve it with playtime experiences helping boost children’s development and well-being. Until recently schools had to provide between 2,500 and 75,000 square metres of space for team games depending on the number of pupils they educated but that rule has now changed to providing ‘suitable outdoor space’ for physical education and play. It’s a trend that we ignore at our peril if we are to develop well balanced children who will enjoy the education experience – the power of play is not to be underestimated at the expense of cramming even more youngsters into classrooms. Visit: https://www.playcubed.co.uk/
    Aug 03, 2017 840