• 17 Oct 2017
    While the life-saving benefits of sprinklers are undisputed and well-known, the inclusion of automated sprinkler systems within offices can add value to a scheme by increasing design options, saving on capital costs and reducing the construction programme. An adequate level of fire safety is a statutory requirement but the decision as to how the fire safety measures are achieved is down to the designer. A recent BSA report, produced by leading engineering consultancy WSP: The Impact of Automatic Sprinklers on Building Design – Commercial Sector, Offices, outlines the beneficial impact that incorporating sprinklers can have and how they can add value to building design. Sprinklers are a key component in the long-term strategy of any building and if considered early in the design process, they can be included at little, and sometimes at no cost. One of the key advantages of an automatic sprinkler system is it enables the balancing of fire protection measures which in turn opens up a number of significant design opportunities. An office which has automatic sprinklers allows occupants more time to escape when a fire occurs, which for the designer means they can incorporate longer travel distances and narrower door and stair widths, freeing up their design. In addition, the maximum travel distances in an office building can be increased by around 15% when an automatic sprinkler system is incorporated. This provides flexibility in the location of staircases and reduces the necessity of introducing escape corridors. Another design benefit with sprinklers is in the number of firefighting shafts and fire mains can be adjusted.  In a building without sprinklers, a firefighting shaft should be provided such that no part of a floor is more than 45 metres from a fire main outlet in a protected stairway. If a building is fitted with sprinklers, the distance can be increased to 60 metres. Sprinklers act to limit fire growth so that compartment sizes can be increased, which in turn offers additional design options.  In addition to greater freedom in the building layout, sprinklers can work to contain a fire and limit fire to the compartment of origin. Building Regulations Approved Document B recommends that buildings are separated sufficiently, or that a portion of the building’s facade should be fire-resistant to prevent fire spreading between buildings. The area of facade required to be fire-rated is proportional to the distance between the facade and the site boundary. However, because automatic sprinklers inhibit fire size and therefore spread of fire, the non-fire-resistant area of facade can be doubled, giving designers greater flexibility in facade design and layout. In addition to the flexibility introduced in terms of the façade material and internal layouts, there is a misconception that sprinkler heads cannot be concealed and are visually unappealing. The use of concealed heads, however, ensures that they can be discreet when desired. Ultimately, the consideration of automatic sprinklers at the earliest stages of the design will enable stakeholders to realise and benefit from a wealth of design freedoms. Through robust research and by looking at different building types and design options, the consideration of automatic sprinklers should be part of any robust design development for a new office project. For more detailed information about the benefits relating to different building types and design options, download The Impact of Automatic Sprinklers on Building Design, Commercial Sector Applications – Offices which is available by clicking http://www.business-sprinkler-alliance.org/publications/impact-automatic-sprinklers-building-design-wsp/
    351 Posted by Talk. Build
  • While the life-saving benefits of sprinklers are undisputed and well-known, the inclusion of automated sprinkler systems within offices can add value to a scheme by increasing design options, saving on capital costs and reducing the construction programme. An adequate level of fire safety is a statutory requirement but the decision as to how the fire safety measures are achieved is down to the designer. A recent BSA report, produced by leading engineering consultancy WSP: The Impact of Automatic Sprinklers on Building Design – Commercial Sector, Offices, outlines the beneficial impact that incorporating sprinklers can have and how they can add value to building design. Sprinklers are a key component in the long-term strategy of any building and if considered early in the design process, they can be included at little, and sometimes at no cost. One of the key advantages of an automatic sprinkler system is it enables the balancing of fire protection measures which in turn opens up a number of significant design opportunities. An office which has automatic sprinklers allows occupants more time to escape when a fire occurs, which for the designer means they can incorporate longer travel distances and narrower door and stair widths, freeing up their design. In addition, the maximum travel distances in an office building can be increased by around 15% when an automatic sprinkler system is incorporated. This provides flexibility in the location of staircases and reduces the necessity of introducing escape corridors. Another design benefit with sprinklers is in the number of firefighting shafts and fire mains can be adjusted.  In a building without sprinklers, a firefighting shaft should be provided such that no part of a floor is more than 45 metres from a fire main outlet in a protected stairway. If a building is fitted with sprinklers, the distance can be increased to 60 metres. Sprinklers act to limit fire growth so that compartment sizes can be increased, which in turn offers additional design options.  In addition to greater freedom in the building layout, sprinklers can work to contain a fire and limit fire to the compartment of origin. Building Regulations Approved Document B recommends that buildings are separated sufficiently, or that a portion of the building’s facade should be fire-resistant to prevent fire spreading between buildings. The area of facade required to be fire-rated is proportional to the distance between the facade and the site boundary. However, because automatic sprinklers inhibit fire size and therefore spread of fire, the non-fire-resistant area of facade can be doubled, giving designers greater flexibility in facade design and layout. In addition to the flexibility introduced in terms of the façade material and internal layouts, there is a misconception that sprinkler heads cannot be concealed and are visually unappealing. The use of concealed heads, however, ensures that they can be discreet when desired. Ultimately, the consideration of automatic sprinklers at the earliest stages of the design will enable stakeholders to realise and benefit from a wealth of design freedoms. Through robust research and by looking at different building types and design options, the consideration of automatic sprinklers should be part of any robust design development for a new office project. For more detailed information about the benefits relating to different building types and design options, download The Impact of Automatic Sprinklers on Building Design, Commercial Sector Applications – Offices which is available by clicking http://www.business-sprinkler-alliance.org/publications/impact-automatic-sprinklers-building-design-wsp/
    Oct 17, 2017 351
  • 16 Oct 2017
    Human health and wellness is at the forefront of building design with the emergence of the WELL Building Standard® (WELL), the first standard of its kind which rates a building’s impact on occupants and gives a single ‘wellness’ rating for buildings.  But what are the challenges for the specifier and contractor to meet this standard and how difficult is it to find the right flooring system? Steven Argent, Construction Director at fit-out specialists QOB Interiors, looks at the WELL Standard and taking a healthy view in the specification of a flooring system. When you consider the average person spends well over 90% of their life in and around buildings, the creation of a healthy environment will have a direct impact on their wellbeing.  Illness costs UK businesses on average £550 per employee per year, amounting to a staggering £30 billion annually, according to the Chartered Institute of Professional Development, so incorporating wellbeing into our buildings has never been more important. Putting the emphasis on the human element, WELL is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. While the building industry is used to dealing with and incorporating well factors such as light and air quality, other features that impact mobility, access, nutrition, access to water, to name but a few - are new territory for many designers and fit-out specialists. This innovative approach to building design and operation is set to change the way we create building interiors. A well-made floor Whether it’s contributing to air quality and sound reduction, adding to atmosphere or helping to create a hygienic environment, floors play a significant and increasingly important role in a healthy and productive environment.  A well-chosen floor can add texture and comfort, whilst having the capability to reflect light and delineate spaces as well. To meet the WELL standard, it’s important to choose flooring manufacturers offering products that contribute to the health and wellbeing of building occupants. A flooring manufacturer which offers low VOC, phthalate-free products and solutions which are sound-reducing and allergy approved will make a significant contribution towards creating a healthier workplace and meeting WELL certification. One Carter Lane The first project in Europe to achieve the standard is One Carter Lane, the London office of multi-disciplinary engineer Cundall. As the first building in Europe to be delivered under WELL, there was careful attention to the specification of every single material and product used to ensure it met the criteria of WELL. This included research, testing materials as well as checking credentials and conformity. It is surprising when you start to scrutinise products how difficult it can be to find materials that are natural and don’t contain any toxins. It’s vital specifiers think carefully about what is used and the long term effects this has on building occupiers. From a design by architects Studio Ben Allen, the challenging 15,400 sq ft Cat B commercial office fit-out was carried out to stringent tolerances with a focus on the most sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials. Every aspect of the ground floor fit-out by QOB – from materials used, to lighting, heating and open space – had to be thoroughly considered as to the impact on post-occupancy use before the design was finalised. The specification of materials under WELL meant only those that had a very low concentration of formaldehydes and volatile organic compounds (VOC) could be used. The VOC rating of all materials had to be between negligible and zero, ensuring that office fixtures, fittings and fabric did not expel harmful chemical or organic emissions. Medical research has shown that indoor air quality has a major influence on the health, wellbeing and productivity of building occupants.  A floor like no other At the Cundall offices, all furnishings, insulation, interior paint, adhesives, oils, waxes, varnishes and finishes were specified for low or zero VOC, formaldehyde and toxic content.  A recycled, woven nylon floor tile from a Swedish manufacturer was specified for the flooring in main office area and fitted to the raised access floor system with an ultra-low VOC adhesive. The flooring material used in the main office area is from Bolon’s Botanic selection and is a natural Bolon tile. This particular product aids the reduction of VOC absorption which makes it the perfect fit for this environmentally aware fit out. The solvent-free adhesive used for bonding the floor tiles has an extremely low emission level of VOCs which makes it harmless for those who apply the product and for the people work in the environment in which it is applied. In addition, a WELL approved anti-slip, noise-absorbent and easy to maintain satin rubber floor was used for the tea point area. This was also applied used the ultra-low VOC adhesive. As a preventative measure, during construction, the specialist contractor ensured that all the carpet tiles were kept protected in the secure site office, to further reduce the chance of VOC’s absorption.  Managing the fit-out meant ensuring there was an understanding of product selection on the site so that operatives couldn’t defer away from using the approved materials. This was achieved through specific site inductions, informing the installation teams of the environmental standards to be achieved and their contribution to achieving them. Furthermore it was vital that the selected environmentally accredited materials performed to ‘industry standards’ so as to dispel the common myth that there would be a noticeable loss of performance. This was achieved through the ridged review of manufacturer’s material data sheets and ‘benchmarking’ the install to observe quality of workmanship and the acceptable performance of the installation prior to continuing with the whole install. With the constant monitoring and testing of indoor air quality under WELL so critical throughout the fit-out, it was vital there were precautions in place to isolate work areas to ensure any dust was contained, preventing contamination entering into other areas of the site. In addition, dust covers were used on light fittings and airtight plastic covers on all grills, filters, ducts and fan coil units. The WELL Building Standard is uncharted territory for many across the industry, but at One Carter Lane, Cundall has an office environment that sets a high benchmark for the workplace, putting people’s health and wellbeing at the very heart of the building. Visit: http://qobinteriors.com/  
    363 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Human health and wellness is at the forefront of building design with the emergence of the WELL Building Standard® (WELL), the first standard of its kind which rates a building’s impact on occupants and gives a single ‘wellness’ rating for buildings.  But what are the challenges for the specifier and contractor to meet this standard and how difficult is it to find the right flooring system? Steven Argent, Construction Director at fit-out specialists QOB Interiors, looks at the WELL Standard and taking a healthy view in the specification of a flooring system. When you consider the average person spends well over 90% of their life in and around buildings, the creation of a healthy environment will have a direct impact on their wellbeing.  Illness costs UK businesses on average £550 per employee per year, amounting to a staggering £30 billion annually, according to the Chartered Institute of Professional Development, so incorporating wellbeing into our buildings has never been more important. Putting the emphasis on the human element, WELL is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. While the building industry is used to dealing with and incorporating well factors such as light and air quality, other features that impact mobility, access, nutrition, access to water, to name but a few - are new territory for many designers and fit-out specialists. This innovative approach to building design and operation is set to change the way we create building interiors. A well-made floor Whether it’s contributing to air quality and sound reduction, adding to atmosphere or helping to create a hygienic environment, floors play a significant and increasingly important role in a healthy and productive environment.  A well-chosen floor can add texture and comfort, whilst having the capability to reflect light and delineate spaces as well. To meet the WELL standard, it’s important to choose flooring manufacturers offering products that contribute to the health and wellbeing of building occupants. A flooring manufacturer which offers low VOC, phthalate-free products and solutions which are sound-reducing and allergy approved will make a significant contribution towards creating a healthier workplace and meeting WELL certification. One Carter Lane The first project in Europe to achieve the standard is One Carter Lane, the London office of multi-disciplinary engineer Cundall. As the first building in Europe to be delivered under WELL, there was careful attention to the specification of every single material and product used to ensure it met the criteria of WELL. This included research, testing materials as well as checking credentials and conformity. It is surprising when you start to scrutinise products how difficult it can be to find materials that are natural and don’t contain any toxins. It’s vital specifiers think carefully about what is used and the long term effects this has on building occupiers. From a design by architects Studio Ben Allen, the challenging 15,400 sq ft Cat B commercial office fit-out was carried out to stringent tolerances with a focus on the most sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials. Every aspect of the ground floor fit-out by QOB – from materials used, to lighting, heating and open space – had to be thoroughly considered as to the impact on post-occupancy use before the design was finalised. The specification of materials under WELL meant only those that had a very low concentration of formaldehydes and volatile organic compounds (VOC) could be used. The VOC rating of all materials had to be between negligible and zero, ensuring that office fixtures, fittings and fabric did not expel harmful chemical or organic emissions. Medical research has shown that indoor air quality has a major influence on the health, wellbeing and productivity of building occupants.  A floor like no other At the Cundall offices, all furnishings, insulation, interior paint, adhesives, oils, waxes, varnishes and finishes were specified for low or zero VOC, formaldehyde and toxic content.  A recycled, woven nylon floor tile from a Swedish manufacturer was specified for the flooring in main office area and fitted to the raised access floor system with an ultra-low VOC adhesive. The flooring material used in the main office area is from Bolon’s Botanic selection and is a natural Bolon tile. This particular product aids the reduction of VOC absorption which makes it the perfect fit for this environmentally aware fit out. The solvent-free adhesive used for bonding the floor tiles has an extremely low emission level of VOCs which makes it harmless for those who apply the product and for the people work in the environment in which it is applied. In addition, a WELL approved anti-slip, noise-absorbent and easy to maintain satin rubber floor was used for the tea point area. This was also applied used the ultra-low VOC adhesive. As a preventative measure, during construction, the specialist contractor ensured that all the carpet tiles were kept protected in the secure site office, to further reduce the chance of VOC’s absorption.  Managing the fit-out meant ensuring there was an understanding of product selection on the site so that operatives couldn’t defer away from using the approved materials. This was achieved through specific site inductions, informing the installation teams of the environmental standards to be achieved and their contribution to achieving them. Furthermore it was vital that the selected environmentally accredited materials performed to ‘industry standards’ so as to dispel the common myth that there would be a noticeable loss of performance. This was achieved through the ridged review of manufacturer’s material data sheets and ‘benchmarking’ the install to observe quality of workmanship and the acceptable performance of the installation prior to continuing with the whole install. With the constant monitoring and testing of indoor air quality under WELL so critical throughout the fit-out, it was vital there were precautions in place to isolate work areas to ensure any dust was contained, preventing contamination entering into other areas of the site. In addition, dust covers were used on light fittings and airtight plastic covers on all grills, filters, ducts and fan coil units. The WELL Building Standard is uncharted territory for many across the industry, but at One Carter Lane, Cundall has an office environment that sets a high benchmark for the workplace, putting people’s health and wellbeing at the very heart of the building. Visit: http://qobinteriors.com/  
    Oct 16, 2017 363
  • 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/
    395 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 395
  • 10 Oct 2017
    The move towards mortar-free, dry fix roof and drainage solutions has made it quicker, easier and safer to install throughout the build process. Offering a wealth of benefits to the installer and homeowner, Hayley Lowry, Marketing Manager of Ariel Plastics outlines the dry-fix options for new-build projects and how these systems are the simple, cost-effective, low maintenance route to a weathertight roof, whatever the elements have in store. Dry fix roofing is the term used to describe the mechanical fixing of roofing materials. Traditional mortar bedding is still the most widely-used fixing method in England and Wales, in contrast to Scotland, where 80% of roofing is already mechanically-fixed. However, the increased incidence of storms during recent years has clearly highlighted the unreliability of mortar. The switch to dry fix roofing in Britain and Ireland is well established but looks set to gather even greater momentum. Considering all the advantages, it is not difficult to see why. The roof is the most exposed part of any building. Using mortar to secure vulnerable areas of the roof, such as the verge, will inevitably lead to future maintenance. Differential movement causes mortar to crack and no reliance should be placed on its tensile or shear strength. The action of frost and rain will exploit the development of hairline cracks. In contrast, because dry fix roofing is mechanically-fixed it offers improved safety, security and increased resistance to wind uplift and water penetration. Dry fixing is a year-round solution; it can be carried out in damp and freezing conditions. A fast and simple process, it’s a method that eliminates the need for mix-and-apply mortar and its incurring mess. Special skills and tools are not required to dry fix, making it highly cost-effective. It also complies with BS 5534, a new code of practice that details design standards, performance and installation of pitched roofs and vertical cladding using slates, tiles and wooden shingles. Regulation change BS 5534 came into force in February 2015 and outlined a number of changes including the use of mortar, which can no longer be used in isolation to fix ridges and hips. These should now also be mechanically-fixed. Fixing requirements for roof tiles have been increased in the latest code of practice which also requires all single-lapped tiles on a roof to be mechanically-fixed. It also states perimeter tiles should now have a minimum of two fixings. In addition, testing bodies now have to assess the measurement of the wind uplift resistance of underlays. The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations place a duty of care on designers to select building components that minimise health and safety risks, not only during construction, but during future maintenance. The use of dry fix roofing eliminates the need to repair failed mortar bedding, therefore avoiding future maintenance work and improving safety on site. In terms of dry fix options, mortar-freeproducts which provide a unique jointing system and can be used with half-round and angled ridges are ideal for this practice. This is not only the quickest method of installing ridge tiles to a roof; it produces a neat ridge line of traditional appearance whilst also providing high-level ventilation. Product options For dry verge, the ideal products are ones which enable verge tile fixing without the need for mortar whilst protecting verge tiles from wind uplift, pest infestation and weather degradation. Most systems are universal and come in a range of colours to blend with most tiles, slates and bargeboards. With the UK experiencing more frequent extreme weather conditions, greater responsibility has been placed on the roofing underlay to cope with increasing wind forces. The potential effect of an underlay subjected to excessive wind loading is for it to balloon upwards potentially causing the tiles or slates to dislodge. This issue has been addressed in the latest revision to BS5534: 2014 Code of Practice for Slating and Tiling. Effective from March 2015, the guidance outlines the minimum requirements for taping the side laps of roofing underlays dependent on the exposure of the roof to wind uplift, batten gauge and the underlay selected. In addition to the prevention of wind uplift, the taping of side laps of roofing underlays helps improve the thermal performance of a building by reducing air filtration and convective heat loss. Dry fix valleys are another product option. Fully-weatherproof options manufactured from GRP are now available offering a cost-effective alternative to lead.  Dry fixing of valley troughs is quicker, less dependent on site skills and guarantees a neater finish than mortar bedding. Slate, tile and ridge vents are available to install mechanically on the roof without the need for mortar. Similarly, a wide range of eaves ventilation products are available to mechanically fix: eaves vent kits, rafter and fascia trays, over fascia vents and soffit vents. With availability of so many proven products, it’s no wonder the construction industry is rapidly turning to dry fix products as the quick, easy-to-apply, cost-effective solution for weathertight roofing. Visit: http://www.arielplastics.com/
    419 Posted by Talk. Build
  • The move towards mortar-free, dry fix roof and drainage solutions has made it quicker, easier and safer to install throughout the build process. Offering a wealth of benefits to the installer and homeowner, Hayley Lowry, Marketing Manager of Ariel Plastics outlines the dry-fix options for new-build projects and how these systems are the simple, cost-effective, low maintenance route to a weathertight roof, whatever the elements have in store. Dry fix roofing is the term used to describe the mechanical fixing of roofing materials. Traditional mortar bedding is still the most widely-used fixing method in England and Wales, in contrast to Scotland, where 80% of roofing is already mechanically-fixed. However, the increased incidence of storms during recent years has clearly highlighted the unreliability of mortar. The switch to dry fix roofing in Britain and Ireland is well established but looks set to gather even greater momentum. Considering all the advantages, it is not difficult to see why. The roof is the most exposed part of any building. Using mortar to secure vulnerable areas of the roof, such as the verge, will inevitably lead to future maintenance. Differential movement causes mortar to crack and no reliance should be placed on its tensile or shear strength. The action of frost and rain will exploit the development of hairline cracks. In contrast, because dry fix roofing is mechanically-fixed it offers improved safety, security and increased resistance to wind uplift and water penetration. Dry fixing is a year-round solution; it can be carried out in damp and freezing conditions. A fast and simple process, it’s a method that eliminates the need for mix-and-apply mortar and its incurring mess. Special skills and tools are not required to dry fix, making it highly cost-effective. It also complies with BS 5534, a new code of practice that details design standards, performance and installation of pitched roofs and vertical cladding using slates, tiles and wooden shingles. Regulation change BS 5534 came into force in February 2015 and outlined a number of changes including the use of mortar, which can no longer be used in isolation to fix ridges and hips. These should now also be mechanically-fixed. Fixing requirements for roof tiles have been increased in the latest code of practice which also requires all single-lapped tiles on a roof to be mechanically-fixed. It also states perimeter tiles should now have a minimum of two fixings. In addition, testing bodies now have to assess the measurement of the wind uplift resistance of underlays. The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations place a duty of care on designers to select building components that minimise health and safety risks, not only during construction, but during future maintenance. The use of dry fix roofing eliminates the need to repair failed mortar bedding, therefore avoiding future maintenance work and improving safety on site. In terms of dry fix options, mortar-freeproducts which provide a unique jointing system and can be used with half-round and angled ridges are ideal for this practice. This is not only the quickest method of installing ridge tiles to a roof; it produces a neat ridge line of traditional appearance whilst also providing high-level ventilation. Product options For dry verge, the ideal products are ones which enable verge tile fixing without the need for mortar whilst protecting verge tiles from wind uplift, pest infestation and weather degradation. Most systems are universal and come in a range of colours to blend with most tiles, slates and bargeboards. With the UK experiencing more frequent extreme weather conditions, greater responsibility has been placed on the roofing underlay to cope with increasing wind forces. The potential effect of an underlay subjected to excessive wind loading is for it to balloon upwards potentially causing the tiles or slates to dislodge. This issue has been addressed in the latest revision to BS5534: 2014 Code of Practice for Slating and Tiling. Effective from March 2015, the guidance outlines the minimum requirements for taping the side laps of roofing underlays dependent on the exposure of the roof to wind uplift, batten gauge and the underlay selected. In addition to the prevention of wind uplift, the taping of side laps of roofing underlays helps improve the thermal performance of a building by reducing air filtration and convective heat loss. Dry fix valleys are another product option. Fully-weatherproof options manufactured from GRP are now available offering a cost-effective alternative to lead.  Dry fixing of valley troughs is quicker, less dependent on site skills and guarantees a neater finish than mortar bedding. Slate, tile and ridge vents are available to install mechanically on the roof without the need for mortar. Similarly, a wide range of eaves ventilation products are available to mechanically fix: eaves vent kits, rafter and fascia trays, over fascia vents and soffit vents. With availability of so many proven products, it’s no wonder the construction industry is rapidly turning to dry fix products as the quick, easy-to-apply, cost-effective solution for weathertight roofing. Visit: http://www.arielplastics.com/
    Oct 10, 2017 419
  • 09 Oct 2017
    Poorly-insulated homes can have an adverse effect on the health of the occupants, particularly the very young or elderly during winter months. The issue becomes more acute in multi-occupancy buildings. With a fair chunk of the UK’s social housing stock having been built in the 1960s, much of it is showing signs of age and disrepair. Ben Warren, Managing Director at global building materials manufacturer, Baumit, considers how improved insulation and internal plaster can tackle issues with mould and damp for the long-term benefit and wellbeing of the building and occupier. Creating better-insulated homes is more than about keeping occupiers warm and dry. It’s equally about facilitating an indoors environment in which residents can live happily and healthily for as long as they remain. Ageing buildings and the UK’s wet, mild climate provide the perfect storm for damp to thrive. This is particularly concerning when multi-occupancy, social housing buildings are affected, as these provide affordable accommodation for many elderly people and young families. Long-term exposure to mould and damp can lead to chronic health issues for the more vulnerable members of society. Big decisions The importance of choosing the right insulation is therefore paramount to creating interiors in which occupants can thrive. When it comes to deciding between external or internal wall insulation, it’s very much a case of horses for courses, as any selection will be based upon what the building’s owner is hoping to achieve or the age and type of brick the property is constructed from. For landlords of privately-owned multi-occupancy buildings, financial considerations might conclude an EWI system is more appropriate, and here’s why: from a rental point of view, if you have a room that is 5m2,to provide a decent level of internal wall insulation would require a minimum build-up of 15cm. This would result in a 6% reduction in floor area, which might not sound like a huge amount, but could equate to a significant incremental loss in buildings containing several properties. Loss of floor space equals loss of income for the landlord, therefore in such instances there’s a commercial argument for choosing external wall insulation. In terms of external wall insulation systems applied to housing association properties, acrylic top coats are very much in vogue. It’s an option primarily based on cost. Local authority funding has been cut to the bone across the board - every pound is being accounted for. It means, although an insulation system specified for a council-owned building might fit the budget, it’s not necessarily best for the property or its occupants’ long-term well-being. Through everyday living, residents create water vapour. Baths, washing, cooking…it all creates steam - even breathing. Now, consider how much vapour is generated in a multi-occupancy building containing, say, 150 tenants. All that vapour will pass through the building’s elements, but in cases where the EWI contains a non-vapour permeable acrylic topcoat, the vapour will be trapped. This can lead to condensation and the dreaded “d” word – damp. Therefore, an external wall solution that might have appeared cost-effective in the immediate-to-short-term could potentially result in unnecessary and unforeseen expenditure. Let it breathe Applying non-breathable EWI to a building causes what might be referred to as the “plastic bag effect” - walls can become cloaked in condensation from non-escaping vapour. To create a breathable outer layer for buildings private or public, a silicon-based finish render, such as Baumit’s SilikonTop, is preferable. Water-repellent, stain and weather resistant, the system provides a robust white or coloured façade. It’s easily applied to mineral renders old and new, providing a decorative, vapour-permeable topcoat that makes for an attractive exterior, whilst optimising occupants’ living environment.  Another benefit of ‘going external’ when it comes to wall insulation? EWI removes the dew-point - the temperature below which water droplets condense – from the inside of a building to prevent condensation forming. Baumit openSystem provides a perfect example of an EWI system that let’s go of moisture and retains airtightness. Its unique perforated Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) façade insulation boards ensure high vapour permeability, resulting in the release, rather than the entrapment, of water vapour. It has the added benefit of having no effect on a building’s airtightness. OpenSystem comprises six, high-quality vapour permeable components. It includes Baumit NanoporTop, an innovative self-cleaning topcoat render which uses ‘photokat’ photocatalysis technology to create optimum protection against contamination using the power of light. The system is also made up of Baumit PremiumPrimer, a superior quality primer for pre-treatment of hard or non-absorbent mineral substrates; and the aforementioned EPS boards. When applied as part of a new-build or refurbishment project, each component helps increase a structure’s ‘breathability’ to collectively offer outstanding levels of insulation. In short: EWI improves the aesthetics on the outside and the building’s thermal performance without affecting the interior space. Successful wall insulation, whether exterior or interior, is largely dependent on the correct system being specified for the appropriate environment. The consequences of getting it wrong could prove disastrous for building owner and occupant. With interior walls, for instance, this could lead to condensation forming on the surface of the inner face, or even worse, interstitial condensation within the wall that may result in material failures. Vapour permeability is as important to internal wall systems as external ones. Baumit’s range of lime-based, thin-coat plasters offers an excellent option for interior walls. Baumit KlimaDekor, for example, is vapour permeable and low in emissions, making it a high-performance, environmentally-friendly, breathable plaster. Whilst internal wall insulation might be viewed as a less cost-effective option, particularly for owners of multi-tenanted buildings, for single projects it could provide the aesthetic as well as thermal solution. For example, when installing insulation to a semi-detached house, it might be that you want to retain a brick façade to ensure it mirrors the neighbouring property. An interior system is therefore a great solution. It’s worth being aware, however, that interior wall insulation will incur some disruption for residents, whereas external systems can be applied without installers requiring access to a property’s interior. External or internal wall insulation? Each has its benefits, but neither will be effective long-term without the vital human element, which means specifying the correct system for the appropriate purpose. Visit: http://www.baumit.co.uk
    511 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Poorly-insulated homes can have an adverse effect on the health of the occupants, particularly the very young or elderly during winter months. The issue becomes more acute in multi-occupancy buildings. With a fair chunk of the UK’s social housing stock having been built in the 1960s, much of it is showing signs of age and disrepair. Ben Warren, Managing Director at global building materials manufacturer, Baumit, considers how improved insulation and internal plaster can tackle issues with mould and damp for the long-term benefit and wellbeing of the building and occupier. Creating better-insulated homes is more than about keeping occupiers warm and dry. It’s equally about facilitating an indoors environment in which residents can live happily and healthily for as long as they remain. Ageing buildings and the UK’s wet, mild climate provide the perfect storm for damp to thrive. This is particularly concerning when multi-occupancy, social housing buildings are affected, as these provide affordable accommodation for many elderly people and young families. Long-term exposure to mould and damp can lead to chronic health issues for the more vulnerable members of society. Big decisions The importance of choosing the right insulation is therefore paramount to creating interiors in which occupants can thrive. When it comes to deciding between external or internal wall insulation, it’s very much a case of horses for courses, as any selection will be based upon what the building’s owner is hoping to achieve or the age and type of brick the property is constructed from. For landlords of privately-owned multi-occupancy buildings, financial considerations might conclude an EWI system is more appropriate, and here’s why: from a rental point of view, if you have a room that is 5m2,to provide a decent level of internal wall insulation would require a minimum build-up of 15cm. This would result in a 6% reduction in floor area, which might not sound like a huge amount, but could equate to a significant incremental loss in buildings containing several properties. Loss of floor space equals loss of income for the landlord, therefore in such instances there’s a commercial argument for choosing external wall insulation. In terms of external wall insulation systems applied to housing association properties, acrylic top coats are very much in vogue. It’s an option primarily based on cost. Local authority funding has been cut to the bone across the board - every pound is being accounted for. It means, although an insulation system specified for a council-owned building might fit the budget, it’s not necessarily best for the property or its occupants’ long-term well-being. Through everyday living, residents create water vapour. Baths, washing, cooking…it all creates steam - even breathing. Now, consider how much vapour is generated in a multi-occupancy building containing, say, 150 tenants. All that vapour will pass through the building’s elements, but in cases where the EWI contains a non-vapour permeable acrylic topcoat, the vapour will be trapped. This can lead to condensation and the dreaded “d” word – damp. Therefore, an external wall solution that might have appeared cost-effective in the immediate-to-short-term could potentially result in unnecessary and unforeseen expenditure. Let it breathe Applying non-breathable EWI to a building causes what might be referred to as the “plastic bag effect” - walls can become cloaked in condensation from non-escaping vapour. To create a breathable outer layer for buildings private or public, a silicon-based finish render, such as Baumit’s SilikonTop, is preferable. Water-repellent, stain and weather resistant, the system provides a robust white or coloured façade. It’s easily applied to mineral renders old and new, providing a decorative, vapour-permeable topcoat that makes for an attractive exterior, whilst optimising occupants’ living environment.  Another benefit of ‘going external’ when it comes to wall insulation? EWI removes the dew-point - the temperature below which water droplets condense – from the inside of a building to prevent condensation forming. Baumit openSystem provides a perfect example of an EWI system that let’s go of moisture and retains airtightness. Its unique perforated Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) façade insulation boards ensure high vapour permeability, resulting in the release, rather than the entrapment, of water vapour. It has the added benefit of having no effect on a building’s airtightness. OpenSystem comprises six, high-quality vapour permeable components. It includes Baumit NanoporTop, an innovative self-cleaning topcoat render which uses ‘photokat’ photocatalysis technology to create optimum protection against contamination using the power of light. The system is also made up of Baumit PremiumPrimer, a superior quality primer for pre-treatment of hard or non-absorbent mineral substrates; and the aforementioned EPS boards. When applied as part of a new-build or refurbishment project, each component helps increase a structure’s ‘breathability’ to collectively offer outstanding levels of insulation. In short: EWI improves the aesthetics on the outside and the building’s thermal performance without affecting the interior space. Successful wall insulation, whether exterior or interior, is largely dependent on the correct system being specified for the appropriate environment. The consequences of getting it wrong could prove disastrous for building owner and occupant. With interior walls, for instance, this could lead to condensation forming on the surface of the inner face, or even worse, interstitial condensation within the wall that may result in material failures. Vapour permeability is as important to internal wall systems as external ones. Baumit’s range of lime-based, thin-coat plasters offers an excellent option for interior walls. Baumit KlimaDekor, for example, is vapour permeable and low in emissions, making it a high-performance, environmentally-friendly, breathable plaster. Whilst internal wall insulation might be viewed as a less cost-effective option, particularly for owners of multi-tenanted buildings, for single projects it could provide the aesthetic as well as thermal solution. For example, when installing insulation to a semi-detached house, it might be that you want to retain a brick façade to ensure it mirrors the neighbouring property. An interior system is therefore a great solution. It’s worth being aware, however, that interior wall insulation will incur some disruption for residents, whereas external systems can be applied without installers requiring access to a property’s interior. External or internal wall insulation? Each has its benefits, but neither will be effective long-term without the vital human element, which means specifying the correct system for the appropriate purpose. Visit: http://www.baumit.co.uk
    Oct 09, 2017 511
  • 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.  
    372 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 372
  • 04 Oct 2017
    Bedfordshire based Risk Management Company THSP believe they have a winner with a Risk Assessment Builder that is making quite an impact. It is getting great reviews and has already been shortlisted for two awards – so probably worth a look. Risk Assessment will never go away, so those responsible for ensuring the safety of their colleagues will always be seeking ways to simplify their task. At the same time they will need peace of mind should an incident lead to a court case following an accident.  . The new guide offers an easy step by step process that takes the assessor through each stage of the assessment, and intuitive selection processes. The end result is a comprehensive, accurate assessment of the task at hand.  THSP’s Health and Safety Director, Chris Ivey says, “The guide helps to cut down the paperwork by carrying out a single assessment for a task, rather than having a compilation of documents for each activity.  Not only will this eliminate the repetition of control measures, our Risk Assessment Builder (RAB) will also challenge the assessor to think about the process prior to assessing the risk, and if any elements of the task can be eliminated at that point, people will be safer in their workplace. “The process is simple and the programme intuitive.  Then once the assessment is complete, action plans based on control measures and responsibilities, can be emailed directly to your staff or contractor.  The Assessments can be viewed on any device – phone, tablet or PC. “The assessment shows clearly how much the residual risk rating has been reduced by implementing the additional control measures, and if you consider this is not sufficient before you proceed with the work, you simply amend the assessment to ensure it is designed to make the risk acceptable.”  A risk assessment is a living document designed to make workplaces safer.  However, should anyone make amendments to an assessment using the THSP RAB, the name of the assessor becomes that of the new user, as does the responsibility for its accuracy.  An annual subscription allows for five users including one administrator, and additional users can be added when required allowing the creation of as many assessments as needed.  Company logos can be added to help staff take ownership of their assessment. A trial version is available at www.riskassessmentbuilder.com   Online guides will take you through the process – to help you decide for yourself By Adrienne Massey, Managing Director  
    387 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Bedfordshire based Risk Management Company THSP believe they have a winner with a Risk Assessment Builder that is making quite an impact. It is getting great reviews and has already been shortlisted for two awards – so probably worth a look. Risk Assessment will never go away, so those responsible for ensuring the safety of their colleagues will always be seeking ways to simplify their task. At the same time they will need peace of mind should an incident lead to a court case following an accident.  . The new guide offers an easy step by step process that takes the assessor through each stage of the assessment, and intuitive selection processes. The end result is a comprehensive, accurate assessment of the task at hand.  THSP’s Health and Safety Director, Chris Ivey says, “The guide helps to cut down the paperwork by carrying out a single assessment for a task, rather than having a compilation of documents for each activity.  Not only will this eliminate the repetition of control measures, our Risk Assessment Builder (RAB) will also challenge the assessor to think about the process prior to assessing the risk, and if any elements of the task can be eliminated at that point, people will be safer in their workplace. “The process is simple and the programme intuitive.  Then once the assessment is complete, action plans based on control measures and responsibilities, can be emailed directly to your staff or contractor.  The Assessments can be viewed on any device – phone, tablet or PC. “The assessment shows clearly how much the residual risk rating has been reduced by implementing the additional control measures, and if you consider this is not sufficient before you proceed with the work, you simply amend the assessment to ensure it is designed to make the risk acceptable.”  A risk assessment is a living document designed to make workplaces safer.  However, should anyone make amendments to an assessment using the THSP RAB, the name of the assessor becomes that of the new user, as does the responsibility for its accuracy.  An annual subscription allows for five users including one administrator, and additional users can be added when required allowing the creation of as many assessments as needed.  Company logos can be added to help staff take ownership of their assessment. A trial version is available at www.riskassessmentbuilder.com   Online guides will take you through the process – to help you decide for yourself By Adrienne Massey, Managing Director  
    Oct 04, 2017 387
  • 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  
    374 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 374
  • 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      
    388 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 388
  • 01 Oct 2017
    A new organisation, the National Construction Training Services (NCTS) has recently launched with the provision of a Centre of Excellence for roofing skills. This unique, nationwide programme will enable roofing contractors to access specialist roofing lead and hard metals training more locally to them. In time this will be extended to all of the construction trades. Working closely with roofing federations, local roof training groups and other key industry stakeholders the NCTS claims it will be able to deliver the highest levels of training to anyone looking to develop their skills or indeed start a career in the roofing industry. This is excellent news and comes at a time when training has a large question mark over it with changes in legislation. With growing emphasis to have professionally assessed NVQ qualified card carrying operatives only on site by 2020, action is needed now to address critical training issues and raise standards across the industry. The NCTS commitment is to ensure all students can develop the confidence and knowledge they need to solidify their future in the construction industry. Offering a hugely flexible curriculum the NCTS is able to tailor courses to individual roofing contractor’s requirements in a location which works for them. Courses are developed to help every level of skill, from beginner to skilled tradesmen and will seek to provide a positive impact on the growing skills shortage facing the UK’s construction sector. By focusing on vocational apprenticeships, upskilling and assessing workers in key areas such as lead, hard metals, copper, zinc, stainless steel and heritage leadwork skills the NCTS is able to ensure a future for the UK’s roofing sector. Applying training in innovative and modern techniques means there is an opportunity for workers to have pride and confidence in the jobs they do. This will help with retention and will attract a new generation of roofers. The NCTS says it is proud to be working towards the goal of ensuring that the sector-wide issue of skills and quality is being answered through their dedication. They recognise that a fully developed training path is essential to fulfilling this goal. With targets for the industry’s annual recruitment requirement of 46,000 operatives by 2018 the need for developing these key training programmes is needed more than ever. NCTS differs because of the importance it is placing not just on new workers but also upskilling to reduce the churn rates and keep workers in the sector. A spokesperson from the NCTS said “The NCTS provides much needed support to the industry and is working closely with federations and employers to support strategic training needs”. The industry is looking for support across a range of priorities that the NCTS is confident it can help to solve. By reducing the skills shortage, increasing access to training, providing nationwide assessment programs and increasing the number of trainers available across the UK the NCTS can ensure that a career in roofing, and the image of the industry, continues to improve. The NCTS believe that roofing is a desirable and highly-skilled job which can lead to a real passion for the work if taught and nurtured correctly. The trainers and support offered by the NCTS can help to nurture these passions and ensure the future of roofing is in safe hands. Sounds good and let’s hope that it works – the industry needs it. Visit: http://www.ncts.org.uk  
    412 Posted by Talk. Build
  • A new organisation, the National Construction Training Services (NCTS) has recently launched with the provision of a Centre of Excellence for roofing skills. This unique, nationwide programme will enable roofing contractors to access specialist roofing lead and hard metals training more locally to them. In time this will be extended to all of the construction trades. Working closely with roofing federations, local roof training groups and other key industry stakeholders the NCTS claims it will be able to deliver the highest levels of training to anyone looking to develop their skills or indeed start a career in the roofing industry. This is excellent news and comes at a time when training has a large question mark over it with changes in legislation. With growing emphasis to have professionally assessed NVQ qualified card carrying operatives only on site by 2020, action is needed now to address critical training issues and raise standards across the industry. The NCTS commitment is to ensure all students can develop the confidence and knowledge they need to solidify their future in the construction industry. Offering a hugely flexible curriculum the NCTS is able to tailor courses to individual roofing contractor’s requirements in a location which works for them. Courses are developed to help every level of skill, from beginner to skilled tradesmen and will seek to provide a positive impact on the growing skills shortage facing the UK’s construction sector. By focusing on vocational apprenticeships, upskilling and assessing workers in key areas such as lead, hard metals, copper, zinc, stainless steel and heritage leadwork skills the NCTS is able to ensure a future for the UK’s roofing sector. Applying training in innovative and modern techniques means there is an opportunity for workers to have pride and confidence in the jobs they do. This will help with retention and will attract a new generation of roofers. The NCTS says it is proud to be working towards the goal of ensuring that the sector-wide issue of skills and quality is being answered through their dedication. They recognise that a fully developed training path is essential to fulfilling this goal. With targets for the industry’s annual recruitment requirement of 46,000 operatives by 2018 the need for developing these key training programmes is needed more than ever. NCTS differs because of the importance it is placing not just on new workers but also upskilling to reduce the churn rates and keep workers in the sector. A spokesperson from the NCTS said “The NCTS provides much needed support to the industry and is working closely with federations and employers to support strategic training needs”. The industry is looking for support across a range of priorities that the NCTS is confident it can help to solve. By reducing the skills shortage, increasing access to training, providing nationwide assessment programs and increasing the number of trainers available across the UK the NCTS can ensure that a career in roofing, and the image of the industry, continues to improve. The NCTS believe that roofing is a desirable and highly-skilled job which can lead to a real passion for the work if taught and nurtured correctly. The trainers and support offered by the NCTS can help to nurture these passions and ensure the future of roofing is in safe hands. Sounds good and let’s hope that it works – the industry needs it. Visit: http://www.ncts.org.uk  
    Oct 01, 2017 412
  • 30 Sep 2017
    Recent reports confirm that bullying remains an issue in school washrooms and human nature being what it is; it is unlikely that such facilities will ever be completely safe, writes Sam Saunderson, Project Consultant at washroom design and refurbishment specialists, Interfix.  To counteract this growing menace, the introduction of unisex sanitary areas in schools has been found to be effective for a number of reasons. For instance, facilities used by both genders attract more people, making it more likely instances of bad behaviour will be witnessed and reported. There’s also the age factor to consider: youngsters become more self-conscious about their appearance and development in the early teenage years, meaning they are less likely to loiter in washrooms used by members of the opposite ***. Unisex toilets are a relatively recent addition to UK schools, with the first one being opened in 2000 at a secondary establishment near Manchester. Naturally, not every parent or pupil is open to the idea of genders sharing the same washroom space. In such cases, schools have compromised by labelling cubicles ‘male’ and ‘female’, but kept the washbasin area mixed. Space saver Aside from combating the very serious threat of bullying and antisocial behaviour, unisex toilets are also seen as a solution at schools where pupil intake has increased, but financial constraints mean extending buildings to accommodate the additional numbers is out of the question. Unisex toilets represent a more efficient use of space, with existing walls and partitions no longer required to separate facilities.  In our experience at Interfix, modern designs and greater openness in mixed and non-mixed washroom areas has also led to a significant reduction in incidences of vandalism, with the additional bonus being modern washrooms have become more hygienic as a result. This was another major concern in 2010 cited by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines, which claimed that our children were in real danger due to poor facilities and fears of lingering too long in washrooms. The government response at the time was typically understated, with the Department of Education saying: "We urge schools and academies to take a common sense approach to keeping safe". In spite of this, academies across the country have obviously got the message and washrooms are now much better places – and not before time. Summer refurbishment Cleeve Park School in Sidcup, Kent provides an example of how unisex washrooms can help create a more welcoming, less intimidating environment. Interfix designed and installed a single unisex facility as part of a major refurbishment of its students’ sanitary facilities.. Having demolished the existing male and female toilets, the remodelled area required new flooring and a boosted water system as well as modern, stylish fixtures and fittings. With years of experience in washroom design and refurbishment, Interfix was selected to carry-out the renovation during the school holidays. To encourage a sense of wellbeing and create a user-friendly environment within the new 150m2 washroom area, open access was provided via a school corridor. Increasing the sanitary area’s visibility allowed staff to spot instances of bullying or antisocial behaviour more easily. To deter vandalism, a laminate ceiling was installed in the toilets, with sensors fitted above cubicles to alert staff to smoking. The cubicles, made of durable, solid-grade laminate, included a 20mm gap at the base to help eliminate episodes of antisocial behaviour. With the long-term performance of the washroom very much at the forefront of its design, circular, stainless steel wash troughs – capable of withstanding wear-and-tear – were specified. These were augmented by sensor-controlled taps; an energy-saving measure which will not only help the school cut its energy costs, it will reduce its long-term carbon footprint. Having specified product-type and quantity, Interfix completed the washroom’s full refurbishment within the school’s strict six-week deadline to the client’s full satisfaction. Cleeve Park School was presented with a safe, stylish unisex washroom for the start of the new term. Its user-friendly layout and the durability of its high-quality features ensuring it retains a comfortable, non-threatening air for a long time to come.   As unisex washrooms become more prevalent in our everyday working and social lives, lingering opposition to their appearance in schools will begin to dissipate. There is no miracle antidote for bullying or antisocial behaviour in schools; it’s existed since time immemorial. However, it’s refreshing to see local authorities fighting back and employing new initiatives in an attempt to combat an age-old problem. Early indications show, although controversial, mixed sanitary areas are proving a positive step in the battle to beat the bullies. Visit: http://www.interfixgroup.com/
    465 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Recent reports confirm that bullying remains an issue in school washrooms and human nature being what it is; it is unlikely that such facilities will ever be completely safe, writes Sam Saunderson, Project Consultant at washroom design and refurbishment specialists, Interfix.  To counteract this growing menace, the introduction of unisex sanitary areas in schools has been found to be effective for a number of reasons. For instance, facilities used by both genders attract more people, making it more likely instances of bad behaviour will be witnessed and reported. There’s also the age factor to consider: youngsters become more self-conscious about their appearance and development in the early teenage years, meaning they are less likely to loiter in washrooms used by members of the opposite ***. Unisex toilets are a relatively recent addition to UK schools, with the first one being opened in 2000 at a secondary establishment near Manchester. Naturally, not every parent or pupil is open to the idea of genders sharing the same washroom space. In such cases, schools have compromised by labelling cubicles ‘male’ and ‘female’, but kept the washbasin area mixed. Space saver Aside from combating the very serious threat of bullying and antisocial behaviour, unisex toilets are also seen as a solution at schools where pupil intake has increased, but financial constraints mean extending buildings to accommodate the additional numbers is out of the question. Unisex toilets represent a more efficient use of space, with existing walls and partitions no longer required to separate facilities.  In our experience at Interfix, modern designs and greater openness in mixed and non-mixed washroom areas has also led to a significant reduction in incidences of vandalism, with the additional bonus being modern washrooms have become more hygienic as a result. This was another major concern in 2010 cited by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines, which claimed that our children were in real danger due to poor facilities and fears of lingering too long in washrooms. The government response at the time was typically understated, with the Department of Education saying: "We urge schools and academies to take a common sense approach to keeping safe". In spite of this, academies across the country have obviously got the message and washrooms are now much better places – and not before time. Summer refurbishment Cleeve Park School in Sidcup, Kent provides an example of how unisex washrooms can help create a more welcoming, less intimidating environment. Interfix designed and installed a single unisex facility as part of a major refurbishment of its students’ sanitary facilities.. Having demolished the existing male and female toilets, the remodelled area required new flooring and a boosted water system as well as modern, stylish fixtures and fittings. With years of experience in washroom design and refurbishment, Interfix was selected to carry-out the renovation during the school holidays. To encourage a sense of wellbeing and create a user-friendly environment within the new 150m2 washroom area, open access was provided via a school corridor. Increasing the sanitary area’s visibility allowed staff to spot instances of bullying or antisocial behaviour more easily. To deter vandalism, a laminate ceiling was installed in the toilets, with sensors fitted above cubicles to alert staff to smoking. The cubicles, made of durable, solid-grade laminate, included a 20mm gap at the base to help eliminate episodes of antisocial behaviour. With the long-term performance of the washroom very much at the forefront of its design, circular, stainless steel wash troughs – capable of withstanding wear-and-tear – were specified. These were augmented by sensor-controlled taps; an energy-saving measure which will not only help the school cut its energy costs, it will reduce its long-term carbon footprint. Having specified product-type and quantity, Interfix completed the washroom’s full refurbishment within the school’s strict six-week deadline to the client’s full satisfaction. Cleeve Park School was presented with a safe, stylish unisex washroom for the start of the new term. Its user-friendly layout and the durability of its high-quality features ensuring it retains a comfortable, non-threatening air for a long time to come.   As unisex washrooms become more prevalent in our everyday working and social lives, lingering opposition to their appearance in schools will begin to dissipate. There is no miracle antidote for bullying or antisocial behaviour in schools; it’s existed since time immemorial. However, it’s refreshing to see local authorities fighting back and employing new initiatives in an attempt to combat an age-old problem. Early indications show, although controversial, mixed sanitary areas are proving a positive step in the battle to beat the bullies. Visit: http://www.interfixgroup.com/
    Sep 30, 2017 465
  • 29 Sep 2017
    There is no doubting the fact that first impressions count. Our first impressions are generated by an experience and our surrounding environment. This can all happen in the blink of an eye. Office receptions are a prime example of where first impressions count. We walk into a building and get an impression of the organisation we are going to see. So, what makes a good reception and how are they changing the way in which we interact as buildings evolve? Last week the British Council for Offices (BCO) launched a new report entitled ‘first impressions – the evolution of office receptions and hospitality services and what it means for the office industry’. The report looks at how the office reception has evolved and is now an integral part of modern office design, and makes us consider exactly what the function of a good office reception is. In the past, the reception was largely regarded as the place where staff and visitors arrived. It was a functional space. Things have changed.  Arriving is now an experience and it’s not just offices - think of how checking-in at an airport, a restaurant or hotel has changed. It is no longer a functional space, but a space that influences how you are feeling and what you think of a particular company or brand. The BCO report identifies that modern office space is changing – fewer people sit at a desk and there is more emphasis on giving staff and visitors a choice of working and meeting environments. In the same way, the reception has evolved. Property developer Sir Stuart Lipton, founder of Stanhope plc, likens the reception to the town square with a sense of civic identity and communities surrounding it in ‘vertical villages’. The report looks into three different typologies: - office developments in single occupancy; office developments with multiple occupancy and serviced offices/co-working. Including case studies from across the three different types, the qualitative and quantitative approach has led to some interesting discoveries and conclusions. One shining example of how office receptions have evolved is the White Collar Factory. Located near Old Street, it is a brave and bold iteration of architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) five-year research project for developer Derwent London. In creating the 16-storey building, Derwent London launched a competition to design the ‘future reception’. The winning scheme by Studio Seilern dissolved the reception into a free accessible garden space where the access to the office turns into a butterfly enclosure and the garden is the receptionist.  In doing this, they have taken the office reception and turned it into a social space that is an extension of the public realm. Now, this is just a future vision, rather than a reality, but it shows where we are heading – gone are the days of polished marble and Le Corbusier armchairs, in are spaces that create surprise and intrigue whilst being accessible, flexible and multi-functional. Other areas that the report lookED at were issues around delivery and storage such as the inclusion of Amazon lockers, the inclusion of cafés and restaurants, shared meeting spaces, retail, pop-up shops, exhibition and event spaces, bike storage and libraries. The report observed three models of office reception – the inclusive model where the reception area is open to the public; the sheltered inclusive that controls external access and only allows employees and visitors in, and the exclusive model where the security line is outside of the building and where visitors and employees are spatially separated. It is also interesting to note that from the case studies, two design strategies were identified – linear and immersive. Linear is the more traditional approach where there is a reception and visitors enter off the street and check-in, wait in a seating area before proceeding to the main workspace for a meeting. However, many of the new office buildings are featuring immersive receptions where visitors can mingle with staff in an informal setting. This approach creates a buzz and a sense of activity which heightens the impact of the building and therefore influences our first impression. That’s not to say the traditional linear reception offers a bad first impression, but it is one we are more accustomed to and as such expecting. The immersive reception is one of experience and as such leaves a longer impression. In a fast-paced, ever-changing world, something that leaves a lasting impression on us can have a profound effect. So, next time you visit an office, take a look around and ask yourself, what does this reception say about this company and what’s my first impression? By Steven Argent, Construction Director at QOB Group  
    423 Posted by Talk. Build
  • There is no doubting the fact that first impressions count. Our first impressions are generated by an experience and our surrounding environment. This can all happen in the blink of an eye. Office receptions are a prime example of where first impressions count. We walk into a building and get an impression of the organisation we are going to see. So, what makes a good reception and how are they changing the way in which we interact as buildings evolve? Last week the British Council for Offices (BCO) launched a new report entitled ‘first impressions – the evolution of office receptions and hospitality services and what it means for the office industry’. The report looks at how the office reception has evolved and is now an integral part of modern office design, and makes us consider exactly what the function of a good office reception is. In the past, the reception was largely regarded as the place where staff and visitors arrived. It was a functional space. Things have changed.  Arriving is now an experience and it’s not just offices - think of how checking-in at an airport, a restaurant or hotel has changed. It is no longer a functional space, but a space that influences how you are feeling and what you think of a particular company or brand. The BCO report identifies that modern office space is changing – fewer people sit at a desk and there is more emphasis on giving staff and visitors a choice of working and meeting environments. In the same way, the reception has evolved. Property developer Sir Stuart Lipton, founder of Stanhope plc, likens the reception to the town square with a sense of civic identity and communities surrounding it in ‘vertical villages’. The report looks into three different typologies: - office developments in single occupancy; office developments with multiple occupancy and serviced offices/co-working. Including case studies from across the three different types, the qualitative and quantitative approach has led to some interesting discoveries and conclusions. One shining example of how office receptions have evolved is the White Collar Factory. Located near Old Street, it is a brave and bold iteration of architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) five-year research project for developer Derwent London. In creating the 16-storey building, Derwent London launched a competition to design the ‘future reception’. The winning scheme by Studio Seilern dissolved the reception into a free accessible garden space where the access to the office turns into a butterfly enclosure and the garden is the receptionist.  In doing this, they have taken the office reception and turned it into a social space that is an extension of the public realm. Now, this is just a future vision, rather than a reality, but it shows where we are heading – gone are the days of polished marble and Le Corbusier armchairs, in are spaces that create surprise and intrigue whilst being accessible, flexible and multi-functional. Other areas that the report lookED at were issues around delivery and storage such as the inclusion of Amazon lockers, the inclusion of cafés and restaurants, shared meeting spaces, retail, pop-up shops, exhibition and event spaces, bike storage and libraries. The report observed three models of office reception – the inclusive model where the reception area is open to the public; the sheltered inclusive that controls external access and only allows employees and visitors in, and the exclusive model where the security line is outside of the building and where visitors and employees are spatially separated. It is also interesting to note that from the case studies, two design strategies were identified – linear and immersive. Linear is the more traditional approach where there is a reception and visitors enter off the street and check-in, wait in a seating area before proceeding to the main workspace for a meeting. However, many of the new office buildings are featuring immersive receptions where visitors can mingle with staff in an informal setting. This approach creates a buzz and a sense of activity which heightens the impact of the building and therefore influences our first impression. That’s not to say the traditional linear reception offers a bad first impression, but it is one we are more accustomed to and as such expecting. The immersive reception is one of experience and as such leaves a longer impression. In a fast-paced, ever-changing world, something that leaves a lasting impression on us can have a profound effect. So, next time you visit an office, take a look around and ask yourself, what does this reception say about this company and what’s my first impression? By Steven Argent, Construction Director at QOB Group  
    Sep 29, 2017 423
  • 28 Sep 2017
    Noise accounts for most of the complaints that local councils and the Environment Agency receive about environmental pollution and is a major cause of stress. Given that construction sites generate significant levels of noise, which is always varied and changing, what noise control methods do contractors have at their disposal to minimise the impact of noise from such works on nearby residents and businesses? Noise during construction is balancing act between the needs of the developer and the rights of local residents.  It is one of the most difficult things to control, which is down in many ways to the size of the site, the changes in location of machinery and the transient nature of the construction. From drills to sledgehammers, electric saws to cement mixers, earth moving equipment to generators; the noise generated by these activities can be an unhealthy mix of high intensity and continuous.  It can lead to high blood pressure, extreme stress and in worst cases damage to hearing. While there are number of ways to control environmental noise on construction sites, through the use of quieter equipment, limiting construction hours, or creating noise perimeter zones, one of the most effective ways of reducing construction site noise is through the use of purpose-built perimeter noise control barriers. Noise control barriers are a fast and cost effective way of dealing with construction site noise, reducing complaints as well as promoting good relations between the construction industry and the local community. These noise control barriers are made from a composite of durable acoustic facing material, acoustically absorbent core and flexible mass membrane, delivering both optimum sound absorption and sound insulation. By designing the noise barriers to absorb noise on the side facing the noise source, unwanted sound reflections are reduced, and this in combination with the designed sound reduction through mass, lowers both the ambient and transmitted sound to the environment and nearby residences. Quickly fixed to site fencing and scaffolding, they can absorb both noise on site for operators and create a beneficial environmental noise reduction to the outside community. Due to their unique design they offer outstanding performance whilst still being easily rolled, handled and stored. Construction noise is part of any development.  Simple straightforward solutions such as noise control barriers can be the difference between a site being up and running and an unwelcome visit from the local environmental health officer.  And they do not require extensive acoustic experience on the part of the contractor. By Graham Laws – Business Development Officer, Siderise Visit: www.siderise.com
    550 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Noise accounts for most of the complaints that local councils and the Environment Agency receive about environmental pollution and is a major cause of stress. Given that construction sites generate significant levels of noise, which is always varied and changing, what noise control methods do contractors have at their disposal to minimise the impact of noise from such works on nearby residents and businesses? Noise during construction is balancing act between the needs of the developer and the rights of local residents.  It is one of the most difficult things to control, which is down in many ways to the size of the site, the changes in location of machinery and the transient nature of the construction. From drills to sledgehammers, electric saws to cement mixers, earth moving equipment to generators; the noise generated by these activities can be an unhealthy mix of high intensity and continuous.  It can lead to high blood pressure, extreme stress and in worst cases damage to hearing. While there are number of ways to control environmental noise on construction sites, through the use of quieter equipment, limiting construction hours, or creating noise perimeter zones, one of the most effective ways of reducing construction site noise is through the use of purpose-built perimeter noise control barriers. Noise control barriers are a fast and cost effective way of dealing with construction site noise, reducing complaints as well as promoting good relations between the construction industry and the local community. These noise control barriers are made from a composite of durable acoustic facing material, acoustically absorbent core and flexible mass membrane, delivering both optimum sound absorption and sound insulation. By designing the noise barriers to absorb noise on the side facing the noise source, unwanted sound reflections are reduced, and this in combination with the designed sound reduction through mass, lowers both the ambient and transmitted sound to the environment and nearby residences. Quickly fixed to site fencing and scaffolding, they can absorb both noise on site for operators and create a beneficial environmental noise reduction to the outside community. Due to their unique design they offer outstanding performance whilst still being easily rolled, handled and stored. Construction noise is part of any development.  Simple straightforward solutions such as noise control barriers can be the difference between a site being up and running and an unwelcome visit from the local environmental health officer.  And they do not require extensive acoustic experience on the part of the contractor. By Graham Laws – Business Development Officer, Siderise Visit: www.siderise.com
    Sep 28, 2017 550
  • 27 Sep 2017
    Recent reports claim that Britain needs to build another 2,000 schools to cope with the pressure on class sizes caused by the immigration crisis. These, it is said, will be needed to teach an additional 729,000 primary and secondary school pupils by 2020. Education has always been a battleground for politicians with Shadow Education secretary Angela Rayner saying this week that should we pledge another £500 million to Sure Start. The Conservatives are pledging millions to free schools although the detail and final amounts set aside for school building is still not totally clear. The whole picture is confusing to the point where even the RIBA entered the debate with their own claims in 2016 claiming that too many UK school buildings were dangerous and dilapidated, causing children to underperform and teachers to leave the profession. “The prevalence of damp, leaky classrooms and asbestos-ridden buildings in British schools means too many pupils and teachers are struggling to learn and teach in conditions damaging to their health and education,” it was quoted. In May this year the National Audit Office calculated that £6.7bn would be needed to bring existing school buildings in England and Wales to a satisfactory standard. Auditors have concluded that the Department for Education would need £2.5bn just to purchase the land.  To compound the situation it has been suggested that some free schools are opening in areas where there is already plenty of places for local pupils. This in turn could affect the future financial sustainability of other schools in the area. In short, it would seem that our schools building programme is nothing short of a disaster with muddled thinking and political expediency from all parties ruling the agenda. It has thus always been the case with education, but with such a dire need for more schools and facilities, it’s our future we are talking about – and the wellbeing of our young people. Britain’s construction industry will meet any challenge it is offered but in the field of education what is needed now is leadership- and our builders will do the rest – how long before we see some progress. Britain’s politicians – four out of 10 and must do better. By John Ridgeway Follow me on Twitter  @JohnRidgeway99  
    456 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Recent reports claim that Britain needs to build another 2,000 schools to cope with the pressure on class sizes caused by the immigration crisis. These, it is said, will be needed to teach an additional 729,000 primary and secondary school pupils by 2020. Education has always been a battleground for politicians with Shadow Education secretary Angela Rayner saying this week that should we pledge another £500 million to Sure Start. The Conservatives are pledging millions to free schools although the detail and final amounts set aside for school building is still not totally clear. The whole picture is confusing to the point where even the RIBA entered the debate with their own claims in 2016 claiming that too many UK school buildings were dangerous and dilapidated, causing children to underperform and teachers to leave the profession. “The prevalence of damp, leaky classrooms and asbestos-ridden buildings in British schools means too many pupils and teachers are struggling to learn and teach in conditions damaging to their health and education,” it was quoted. In May this year the National Audit Office calculated that £6.7bn would be needed to bring existing school buildings in England and Wales to a satisfactory standard. Auditors have concluded that the Department for Education would need £2.5bn just to purchase the land.  To compound the situation it has been suggested that some free schools are opening in areas where there is already plenty of places for local pupils. This in turn could affect the future financial sustainability of other schools in the area. In short, it would seem that our schools building programme is nothing short of a disaster with muddled thinking and political expediency from all parties ruling the agenda. It has thus always been the case with education, but with such a dire need for more schools and facilities, it’s our future we are talking about – and the wellbeing of our young people. Britain’s construction industry will meet any challenge it is offered but in the field of education what is needed now is leadership- and our builders will do the rest – how long before we see some progress. Britain’s politicians – four out of 10 and must do better. By John Ridgeway Follow me on Twitter  @JohnRidgeway99  
    Sep 27, 2017 456
  • 26 Sep 2017
    There are over 13,000 injuries a year from fall from heights accidents on construction sites, some 30 of these are fatal, according to the latest statistics available from the Government. It is the second largest killer after “struck by moving vehicle,” but the good news is that such accidents seem to be steadily declining. Credit for this must go to the increased use of fall arrest systems and a growing duty of care awareness on employers to ensure that the proper precautions are observed and the right safety equipment supplied to employees working at height. Working at height means work in any place where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. This could be while using ladders or in situations where there is a fragile deck, open spaces and other similar risks. Personal fall arrest systems are now common on construction sites for workers who are exposed to vertical drops of six feet or more. Variations of these include direct attachment to the building, usually a roof, body harnesses, vertical lifelines or netting around the building – or even a combination of these. The Health and Safety Executive has published a useful guide to help employers which can be downloaded by visiting http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg401.pdfThis brief guide describes what you, as an employer, need to do to protect your workers from falls from height. So far, so good, but there are still many anecdotal stories of workers ignoring safety harnesses and equally as bad is the state of some of the safety equipment which according to some experts is not maintained in the correct way. It is a legal requirement for all safety equipment, including fall protection systems, to be routinely tested by a suitably qualified person. In a report on their website http://www.bsgltd.co.uk/  the Building Safety Group say they made more than 20,000 site inspections during 2016 and height safety failure was by far the most commonly identified breach. A total of 24,634 non-compliances, say the BSG, were logged by safety advisors throughout 2016. Working at height accounted for 19% of all breaches recorded. The second highest significant non-compliance was dust/fumes, which accounted for 5%. As stated at the beginning of this blog such accidents still continue to decline slowly with some expert’s predicting that they will plateau soon. At the risk of stating the obvious – every accident is a tragedy, but falling from heights is so avoidable with the right precautions that it should be preventable. Let’s hope the decline rate continues. By John Ridgeway Follow me on Twitter  @JohnRidgeway99
    434 Posted by Talk. Build
  • There are over 13,000 injuries a year from fall from heights accidents on construction sites, some 30 of these are fatal, according to the latest statistics available from the Government. It is the second largest killer after “struck by moving vehicle,” but the good news is that such accidents seem to be steadily declining. Credit for this must go to the increased use of fall arrest systems and a growing duty of care awareness on employers to ensure that the proper precautions are observed and the right safety equipment supplied to employees working at height. Working at height means work in any place where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. This could be while using ladders or in situations where there is a fragile deck, open spaces and other similar risks. Personal fall arrest systems are now common on construction sites for workers who are exposed to vertical drops of six feet or more. Variations of these include direct attachment to the building, usually a roof, body harnesses, vertical lifelines or netting around the building – or even a combination of these. The Health and Safety Executive has published a useful guide to help employers which can be downloaded by visiting http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg401.pdfThis brief guide describes what you, as an employer, need to do to protect your workers from falls from height. So far, so good, but there are still many anecdotal stories of workers ignoring safety harnesses and equally as bad is the state of some of the safety equipment which according to some experts is not maintained in the correct way. It is a legal requirement for all safety equipment, including fall protection systems, to be routinely tested by a suitably qualified person. In a report on their website http://www.bsgltd.co.uk/  the Building Safety Group say they made more than 20,000 site inspections during 2016 and height safety failure was by far the most commonly identified breach. A total of 24,634 non-compliances, say the BSG, were logged by safety advisors throughout 2016. Working at height accounted for 19% of all breaches recorded. The second highest significant non-compliance was dust/fumes, which accounted for 5%. As stated at the beginning of this blog such accidents still continue to decline slowly with some expert’s predicting that they will plateau soon. At the risk of stating the obvious – every accident is a tragedy, but falling from heights is so avoidable with the right precautions that it should be preventable. Let’s hope the decline rate continues. By John Ridgeway Follow me on Twitter  @JohnRidgeway99
    Sep 26, 2017 434
  • 25 Sep 2017
    Self-healing concrete using bacteria to seal cracks has been talked about for more than six years. It’s a remarkable innovation which means that concrete could in theory last for ever. So why have we heard so little about it and why are we not using it on all of our buildings and infrastructure? It possibly has everything to do with price – it is estimated that production costs for conventional concrete amount to £80 per cubic metre, compared to a cubic metre of self-healing concrete which would cost between £85 and £100 with the bacteria added. However, with significantly lower repair and replacement costs over the lifetime of a building, this minimally higher investment would quickly pay for itself. It is estimated that around £40 billion a year is spent in the UK on the repair and maintenance of structures, the majority of which are made from concrete. So how does Self-healing concrete work? To quote its inventorDr Henk Jonkers, it is a product that will biologically produce limestone to heal cracks that appear on the surface of concrete structures. Specially selected types of the bacteria genus Bacillus, along with a calcium-based nutrient known as calcium lactate, and nitrogen and phosphorus, are added to the ingredients of the concrete when it is being mixed. These self-healing agents can lie dormant within the concrete for up to 200 years. However, when a concrete structure is damaged and water starts to seep through the cracks, the spores of the bacteria germinate on contact with the moisture and nutrients. Having been activated, the bacteria start to feed on the calcium lactate. As the bacteria feed, oxygen is consumed and the soluble calcium lactate is converted to insoluble limestone. The limestone solidifies on the cracked surface, thereby sealing it up. It mimics the process by which bone fractures in the human body are naturally healed. The consumption of oxygen during the bacterial conversion of calcium lactate to limestone has an additional advantage. Oxygen is an essential element in the process of corrosion of steel and when the bacterial activity has consumed it all, it increases the durability of steel reinforced concrete constructions. The key ingredients in the process are two self-healing agents, the bacterial spores and calcium lactate-based nutrients, which are introduced to the concrete within separate expanded clay pellets 2-4 mm wide. These ensure that the agents will not be activated during the cement-mixing process. Only when cracks open up the pellets and incoming water brings the calcium lactate into contact with the bacteria do these become activated. In 2015 academics in South Wales in partnership with Costain started testing the concept but little has been heard since. While these things take time to verify it does seem we are missing a major opportunity with the possibility of self-healing bridges, walls, roads and even pot holes in the future – significantly reducing costs. Can’t help thinking how exciting this is – so what’s the delay? By John Ridgeway Follow me on Twitter  @JohnRidgeway99
    337 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Self-healing concrete using bacteria to seal cracks has been talked about for more than six years. It’s a remarkable innovation which means that concrete could in theory last for ever. So why have we heard so little about it and why are we not using it on all of our buildings and infrastructure? It possibly has everything to do with price – it is estimated that production costs for conventional concrete amount to £80 per cubic metre, compared to a cubic metre of self-healing concrete which would cost between £85 and £100 with the bacteria added. However, with significantly lower repair and replacement costs over the lifetime of a building, this minimally higher investment would quickly pay for itself. It is estimated that around £40 billion a year is spent in the UK on the repair and maintenance of structures, the majority of which are made from concrete. So how does Self-healing concrete work? To quote its inventorDr Henk Jonkers, it is a product that will biologically produce limestone to heal cracks that appear on the surface of concrete structures. Specially selected types of the bacteria genus Bacillus, along with a calcium-based nutrient known as calcium lactate, and nitrogen and phosphorus, are added to the ingredients of the concrete when it is being mixed. These self-healing agents can lie dormant within the concrete for up to 200 years. However, when a concrete structure is damaged and water starts to seep through the cracks, the spores of the bacteria germinate on contact with the moisture and nutrients. Having been activated, the bacteria start to feed on the calcium lactate. As the bacteria feed, oxygen is consumed and the soluble calcium lactate is converted to insoluble limestone. The limestone solidifies on the cracked surface, thereby sealing it up. It mimics the process by which bone fractures in the human body are naturally healed. The consumption of oxygen during the bacterial conversion of calcium lactate to limestone has an additional advantage. Oxygen is an essential element in the process of corrosion of steel and when the bacterial activity has consumed it all, it increases the durability of steel reinforced concrete constructions. The key ingredients in the process are two self-healing agents, the bacterial spores and calcium lactate-based nutrients, which are introduced to the concrete within separate expanded clay pellets 2-4 mm wide. These ensure that the agents will not be activated during the cement-mixing process. Only when cracks open up the pellets and incoming water brings the calcium lactate into contact with the bacteria do these become activated. In 2015 academics in South Wales in partnership with Costain started testing the concept but little has been heard since. While these things take time to verify it does seem we are missing a major opportunity with the possibility of self-healing bridges, walls, roads and even pot holes in the future – significantly reducing costs. Can’t help thinking how exciting this is – so what’s the delay? By John Ridgeway Follow me on Twitter  @JohnRidgeway99
    Sep 25, 2017 337
  • 24 Sep 2017
    There have been consistent campaigns over many years to install smoke alarms in all buildings – and it is now standard practice on all new builds and major refurbishments - but sadly we do not appear to be taking the threat of Carbon monoxide poisoning in quite the same way. There are increasing calls for Government to introduce legislation particularly as current statistics suggest that while around 84% of properties have smoke alarms only 15% are equipped with Carbon Monoxide detection. It is possibly why we continue to see 200 people a year taken to hospital after breathing in this odourless gas resulting in up to 50 deaths. Small changes were made to building regulations in October 2010 requiring that a carbon monoxide detector be fitted in any rooms that have either a replacement or new fixed solid fuel-burning appliance installed, but most expert’s feel this does not go far enough and want detectors fitted wherever there is risk. One key area where regulations are enforced however is the lettings sector. Landlords are specifically required to carry out a check to ensure that smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms are installed to comply with the Regulations and are in proper working order on the day a tenancy begins, but this only deals with part of the problem. After carbon monoxide is breathed in, it enters your bloodstream and mixes with haemoglobin (the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body), to form carboxyhaemoglobin. When this happens, the blood is no longer able to carry oxygen, and this lack of oxygen causes the body’s cells and tissue to fail and die. With around 12 million homes in the UK not protected by a carbon monoxide alarm – we are likely to see a rise in deaths. Most at risk are children, the elderly and pregnant women. CO alarms can be bought online or in most supermarkets, but people are warned to be aware of cheap, sub-standard units available online from overseas suppliers. Only recently we have seen some 3.5 million units recalled in the US for potential failures. Carbon Monoxide poisoning occasionally hits the headlines and seems to act as a temporary wakeup call but until we introduce similar legislation and regulations to those of smoke alarms we are unlikely to see any reductions in fatalities. Just a reminder – that’s 50 deaths a year or one a week. How many more have to die before we make changes? By John Ridgeway Follow me on Twitter @JohnRidgeway99
    367 Posted by Talk. Build
  • There have been consistent campaigns over many years to install smoke alarms in all buildings – and it is now standard practice on all new builds and major refurbishments - but sadly we do not appear to be taking the threat of Carbon monoxide poisoning in quite the same way. There are increasing calls for Government to introduce legislation particularly as current statistics suggest that while around 84% of properties have smoke alarms only 15% are equipped with Carbon Monoxide detection. It is possibly why we continue to see 200 people a year taken to hospital after breathing in this odourless gas resulting in up to 50 deaths. Small changes were made to building regulations in October 2010 requiring that a carbon monoxide detector be fitted in any rooms that have either a replacement or new fixed solid fuel-burning appliance installed, but most expert’s feel this does not go far enough and want detectors fitted wherever there is risk. One key area where regulations are enforced however is the lettings sector. Landlords are specifically required to carry out a check to ensure that smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms are installed to comply with the Regulations and are in proper working order on the day a tenancy begins, but this only deals with part of the problem. After carbon monoxide is breathed in, it enters your bloodstream and mixes with haemoglobin (the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body), to form carboxyhaemoglobin. When this happens, the blood is no longer able to carry oxygen, and this lack of oxygen causes the body’s cells and tissue to fail and die. With around 12 million homes in the UK not protected by a carbon monoxide alarm – we are likely to see a rise in deaths. Most at risk are children, the elderly and pregnant women. CO alarms can be bought online or in most supermarkets, but people are warned to be aware of cheap, sub-standard units available online from overseas suppliers. Only recently we have seen some 3.5 million units recalled in the US for potential failures. Carbon Monoxide poisoning occasionally hits the headlines and seems to act as a temporary wakeup call but until we introduce similar legislation and regulations to those of smoke alarms we are unlikely to see any reductions in fatalities. Just a reminder – that’s 50 deaths a year or one a week. How many more have to die before we make changes? By John Ridgeway Follow me on Twitter @JohnRidgeway99
    Sep 24, 2017 367
  • 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.
    483 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 483