• 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  
    452 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 452
  • 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  
    436 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 436
  • 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      
    452 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 452
  • 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  
    482 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 482
  • 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/
    535 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 535
  • 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  
    488 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 488
  • 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
    626 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 626
  • 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  
    521 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 521
  • 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
    499 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 499
  • 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
    400 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 400
  • 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
    429 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 429
  • 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.
    549 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 549
  • 22 Sep 2017
    The introduction of unisex toilets in UK primary and secondary schools remains a contentious issue, particularly for some parents, but there seems little doubt mixed-gender washrooms will soon be accepted as the norm. There is no official record of the number of mixed-used toilets installed throughout UK schools since the first facility was built at Bramhall High School, Stockport in 2000.  Deemed controversial at the time - government officials had tried to rule the scheme illegal - official research found the facility reduced bullying and made pupils feel safer. Such was its success, the Department for Education and Skills issued guidance encouraging all new schools to feature unisex toilets.  According to research, mixed-gender toilets dissuade students from loitering in the area, behaviour that encourages instances of bullying and antisocial acts. This is due to youngsters becoming more sensitive about their appearance as they approach their teens, making them less likely to present a less-than flattering image of themselves in public areas. Resistance to mixed facilities continues, however. Last year, a 700-signature petition was drawn-up by parents protesting at the planned installation of unisex toilets at Buxton School in east London. The scheme went ahead, but parents argued the shared toilets would ‘rapidly sexualise their children’, as well as disrupting their ‘hygiene, privacy, safety, security and wellbeing’. In backing the scheme, the school’s headteacher, Kath Wheeler, said the toilets provided a ‘safe space where pupils respect each other’ and were in keeping with Department for Education and local council regulations. Typically, unisex toilets comprise full-enclosed cubicles that open into a public washbasin area. In separate-gender areas, partially-enclosed cubicles in a closed-off space are the norm, creating an ‘intimidating space’ for some. In contrast, mixed-use areas are designed to encourage a more open and welcoming sanitary environment. As such, some schools have taken to installing windows in washrooms that overlook corridors to enable staff to quickly spot instances of bullying or antisocial behaviour. Staff intervention when such issues arise is made easier with access to a mixed-gender toilet, compared to the potential discomfort of entering a toilet of the opposite ***. Whilst the idea of our children sharing toilet facilities will never sit comfortably with some, there is enough evidence to suggest we should trust authorities which embark on such schemes, that the unisex option will serve the wellbeing of school and student alike. Vist: http://www.interfixgroup.com/   
    411 Posted by Talk. Build
  • The introduction of unisex toilets in UK primary and secondary schools remains a contentious issue, particularly for some parents, but there seems little doubt mixed-gender washrooms will soon be accepted as the norm. There is no official record of the number of mixed-used toilets installed throughout UK schools since the first facility was built at Bramhall High School, Stockport in 2000.  Deemed controversial at the time - government officials had tried to rule the scheme illegal - official research found the facility reduced bullying and made pupils feel safer. Such was its success, the Department for Education and Skills issued guidance encouraging all new schools to feature unisex toilets.  According to research, mixed-gender toilets dissuade students from loitering in the area, behaviour that encourages instances of bullying and antisocial acts. This is due to youngsters becoming more sensitive about their appearance as they approach their teens, making them less likely to present a less-than flattering image of themselves in public areas. Resistance to mixed facilities continues, however. Last year, a 700-signature petition was drawn-up by parents protesting at the planned installation of unisex toilets at Buxton School in east London. The scheme went ahead, but parents argued the shared toilets would ‘rapidly sexualise their children’, as well as disrupting their ‘hygiene, privacy, safety, security and wellbeing’. In backing the scheme, the school’s headteacher, Kath Wheeler, said the toilets provided a ‘safe space where pupils respect each other’ and were in keeping with Department for Education and local council regulations. Typically, unisex toilets comprise full-enclosed cubicles that open into a public washbasin area. In separate-gender areas, partially-enclosed cubicles in a closed-off space are the norm, creating an ‘intimidating space’ for some. In contrast, mixed-use areas are designed to encourage a more open and welcoming sanitary environment. As such, some schools have taken to installing windows in washrooms that overlook corridors to enable staff to quickly spot instances of bullying or antisocial behaviour. Staff intervention when such issues arise is made easier with access to a mixed-gender toilet, compared to the potential discomfort of entering a toilet of the opposite ***. Whilst the idea of our children sharing toilet facilities will never sit comfortably with some, there is enough evidence to suggest we should trust authorities which embark on such schemes, that the unisex option will serve the wellbeing of school and student alike. Vist: http://www.interfixgroup.com/   
    Sep 22, 2017 411
  • 21 Sep 2017
    The Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group is calling on the Government to solve the UK construction industry’s long-standing and crippling payments problem, labelling the current cashflow position as “critical”. In a recent article, the SEC Group – which represents SMEs in the construction engineering sector – warns that its members are increasingly being propped up by their directors’ wallets as an interim cashflow ‘solution’. They cite Funding Options figures that show directors lent their construction businesses £38 million in 2015/2016, up from £29.7 million in 2013/2014 – a jump of 28 per cent in just two years.  Unsurprisingly, the SEC Group labels this rise as “unsustainable” and has urged the Government to introduce legislation to solve the problem. We agree wholeheartedly with the SEC Group – the cashflow issue has affected growth of construction businesses of all shapes and sizes for too long and needs to be addressed urgently. However, we feel that while the Government has a role to play in improving B2B payments in the industry, businesses themselves can do much more to take greater control of their finances. We’ve partnered with Invapay, an Optal company, to make this easily achievable. Our unique proposition – a combined full-service payment solution – provides construction businesses with a quick and effortless way to manage their payment process and maximise working capital benefits. With Open ECX and Invapay, businesses are able to make their payment processes simple, streamlined and effortless from the moment a payment application is made right through to the point that it is paid. Our cloud-based paper-free WebContractor solution manages the first half of the process, giving subcontractors and suppliers the ability to submit invoices quickly and easily through an online portal. The automated service then processes the application, sending verification notices emails to the applicant and the QS, allowing invoicing authorisation to be granted hassle-free. At this stage Invapay’s payment solution comes into play. With no changes to processes and systems, Invapay’s business-tobusiness payment platform allows businesses to optimise their payments to suppliers and subcontractors. Through Invapay, businesses can take greater control of their cash flow – across working capital, credit lines and third party funds – ensuring long term cash flow benefits for buyers and subcontractors. By Matthew Jones, CEO of Open ECX For more information and to download a free payments guide visit: http://openecx.co.uk/maximising-payments-maximising-cash-flow/
    1167 Posted by Talk. Build
  • The Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group is calling on the Government to solve the UK construction industry’s long-standing and crippling payments problem, labelling the current cashflow position as “critical”. In a recent article, the SEC Group – which represents SMEs in the construction engineering sector – warns that its members are increasingly being propped up by their directors’ wallets as an interim cashflow ‘solution’. They cite Funding Options figures that show directors lent their construction businesses £38 million in 2015/2016, up from £29.7 million in 2013/2014 – a jump of 28 per cent in just two years.  Unsurprisingly, the SEC Group labels this rise as “unsustainable” and has urged the Government to introduce legislation to solve the problem. We agree wholeheartedly with the SEC Group – the cashflow issue has affected growth of construction businesses of all shapes and sizes for too long and needs to be addressed urgently. However, we feel that while the Government has a role to play in improving B2B payments in the industry, businesses themselves can do much more to take greater control of their finances. We’ve partnered with Invapay, an Optal company, to make this easily achievable. Our unique proposition – a combined full-service payment solution – provides construction businesses with a quick and effortless way to manage their payment process and maximise working capital benefits. With Open ECX and Invapay, businesses are able to make their payment processes simple, streamlined and effortless from the moment a payment application is made right through to the point that it is paid. Our cloud-based paper-free WebContractor solution manages the first half of the process, giving subcontractors and suppliers the ability to submit invoices quickly and easily through an online portal. The automated service then processes the application, sending verification notices emails to the applicant and the QS, allowing invoicing authorisation to be granted hassle-free. At this stage Invapay’s payment solution comes into play. With no changes to processes and systems, Invapay’s business-tobusiness payment platform allows businesses to optimise their payments to suppliers and subcontractors. Through Invapay, businesses can take greater control of their cash flow – across working capital, credit lines and third party funds – ensuring long term cash flow benefits for buyers and subcontractors. By Matthew Jones, CEO of Open ECX For more information and to download a free payments guide visit: http://openecx.co.uk/maximising-payments-maximising-cash-flow/
    Sep 21, 2017 1167
  • 20 Sep 2017
    What makes a great building great? Is it the design? Is it the purpose it serves? Is it innovative use of materials, technology and its environmental impact? It is all of these things, but the biggest factor is the client - behind every great building there is a great client - a client that has vision, aspiration and isn’t afraid to be brave and try something new every so often. But this is only part of the challenge. To truly deliver an exceptional building, clients need supply chains that share their aspirations and goals - but that is easier said than done. If there is going to be something that derails or detracts from a project - with the exception of cost - it is understanding. As construction projects become increasingly complex, supply chains and delivery teams get bigger-and-bigger. With this comes the challenge of ensuring buy-in from all parties and making sure they are fully on board with the client’s goals, aspirations and objectives. If a client can convey to all parts of their supply chain the passion that is driving them and the end result they are looking to achieve, then they are on course to achieve an outstanding building. If they can go one step further and get a supply chain that totally buys into what they want to achieve and is willing to go that step further and help to enhance the design or build, then the truly exceptional is possible. However, in reality this rarely happens. All too often there will be an opportunity for a contractor to deviate from the original plan. Sometimes this is down to value engineering, with the good of the client and their budget in mind; sometimes it is down to a lack of understanding of the reason why something has been specified; and sometimes it is as a way of doing it cheaper, quicker and easier. However, in many instances, alternative products and “cheaper and quicker” means compromising the project objectives, and it is done because outcomes and objectives are not understood or bought into. When delivering truly aspirational buildings, it is essential that all parties are on board with the client’s goals. These need to be shared goals, not just client goals. For it to really work, all members of the supply chain need to understand where the client is coming from; believe in the goals and want the project to succeed. As such, it is essential at tender stage that contractors are judged on their enthusiasm for the project; their willingness to get behind the client and deliver their vision, and for what added value they can contribute. This means clients have to be strong and make sure that cost isn’t the overriding factor. This is very much the case with BREEAM, the internationally-recognised measure of sustainability for buildings and communities. Clients choose BREEAM for many reasons - to provide recognition of a building that places people, the environment and economics at the forefront; to drive energy efficiency, innovation or best practice; to add value through creating properties that are more attractive to tenants; to create environments that are more conducive for working, living and learning. The problem comes when the supply chain doesn’t understand the reasons for choosing the accreditation. Simply disregarding it as a “box-ticking” exercise or believing it just adds a layer of complexity, is a sure-fire way of making the process unnecessarily difficult. It could even add time delays, costs and result in a building that doesn’t meet expectations. By finding a supply chain that fully understands BREEAM and knows how it can improve both the design and build processes, and why a client has chosen it, is key. The same principle goes for other components of a project - a team that understands your decisions and supports them will ensure that corners are not cut and decisions made that can compromise a project. Yes, at a time when everyone is under increasing pressure to deliver faster and cheaper, it can be difficult to find partners that truly understand your goals. However, never underestimate the value of an empowered, enthusiastic and supportive supply chain. By Darren Evans, Managing Director, Darren Evans Assessments  
    578 Posted by Talk. Build
  • What makes a great building great? Is it the design? Is it the purpose it serves? Is it innovative use of materials, technology and its environmental impact? It is all of these things, but the biggest factor is the client - behind every great building there is a great client - a client that has vision, aspiration and isn’t afraid to be brave and try something new every so often. But this is only part of the challenge. To truly deliver an exceptional building, clients need supply chains that share their aspirations and goals - but that is easier said than done. If there is going to be something that derails or detracts from a project - with the exception of cost - it is understanding. As construction projects become increasingly complex, supply chains and delivery teams get bigger-and-bigger. With this comes the challenge of ensuring buy-in from all parties and making sure they are fully on board with the client’s goals, aspirations and objectives. If a client can convey to all parts of their supply chain the passion that is driving them and the end result they are looking to achieve, then they are on course to achieve an outstanding building. If they can go one step further and get a supply chain that totally buys into what they want to achieve and is willing to go that step further and help to enhance the design or build, then the truly exceptional is possible. However, in reality this rarely happens. All too often there will be an opportunity for a contractor to deviate from the original plan. Sometimes this is down to value engineering, with the good of the client and their budget in mind; sometimes it is down to a lack of understanding of the reason why something has been specified; and sometimes it is as a way of doing it cheaper, quicker and easier. However, in many instances, alternative products and “cheaper and quicker” means compromising the project objectives, and it is done because outcomes and objectives are not understood or bought into. When delivering truly aspirational buildings, it is essential that all parties are on board with the client’s goals. These need to be shared goals, not just client goals. For it to really work, all members of the supply chain need to understand where the client is coming from; believe in the goals and want the project to succeed. As such, it is essential at tender stage that contractors are judged on their enthusiasm for the project; their willingness to get behind the client and deliver their vision, and for what added value they can contribute. This means clients have to be strong and make sure that cost isn’t the overriding factor. This is very much the case with BREEAM, the internationally-recognised measure of sustainability for buildings and communities. Clients choose BREEAM for many reasons - to provide recognition of a building that places people, the environment and economics at the forefront; to drive energy efficiency, innovation or best practice; to add value through creating properties that are more attractive to tenants; to create environments that are more conducive for working, living and learning. The problem comes when the supply chain doesn’t understand the reasons for choosing the accreditation. Simply disregarding it as a “box-ticking” exercise or believing it just adds a layer of complexity, is a sure-fire way of making the process unnecessarily difficult. It could even add time delays, costs and result in a building that doesn’t meet expectations. By finding a supply chain that fully understands BREEAM and knows how it can improve both the design and build processes, and why a client has chosen it, is key. The same principle goes for other components of a project - a team that understands your decisions and supports them will ensure that corners are not cut and decisions made that can compromise a project. Yes, at a time when everyone is under increasing pressure to deliver faster and cheaper, it can be difficult to find partners that truly understand your goals. However, never underestimate the value of an empowered, enthusiastic and supportive supply chain. By Darren Evans, Managing Director, Darren Evans Assessments  
    Sep 20, 2017 578
  • 19 Sep 2017
    And now for some good news…Construction Industry Forecasts for 2017 to 2019 estimate an overall rise of 7.4% for new-build infrastructure in the UK this year, with a continuation of 6.4% next year. It’s news that bodes equally well for leading suppliers of concrete repair and protection solutions such as Sika, as an increase in new buildings will inevitably lead to defects in newly-poured concrete requiring onsite attention. So, what is this positive outlook for the country’s new building output based upon? Well, a number of factors across a number of key infrastructural sectors appear to be driving the optimism. Forecasts for the harbours and waterways sector are particularly encouraging, with year-on-year growth predicted thanks to huge waterside projects planned across the country in the coming years. There’s the Aberdeen Harbour Expansion project for example. Commencing in September this year, the £350 million scheme – due to be completed in 2020 – will see the existing site expanded to include a facility for oil industry decommissioning work. Other upcoming UK harbour projects include a £135 million redevelopment of the port of Dover, and a £10 million project to build a new link-span bridge at the Port of Heysham in Lancashire. Water spend Upgrades in water treatment works are also continuing nationwide as part of Asset Management Period 6 which runs from 2015 to 2020. Water firms will have spent more than £44 billion in that time on improvement works agreed by water industry regulator, Ofwat, thatinclude the Severn Trent Water’s Birmingham Resilience project, Wessex Water’s integrated supply grid, and the modernisation of United Utilities’ Davyhulme wastewater treatment plant. Work on London’s £4.2 billion Thames Tideway Tunnel project, which is being financed and delivered by an independent provider, is also boosting construction in this sector. Spending on road maintenance is also expected to rise. Highways England has a maintenance budget of £1.3 billion over its first fixed five-year investment period, which began in 2015/16. In 2017/18, expenditure on maintenance is set to increase to £258 million, from the £254 million allocated for 2016/17. Thereafter, it is expected to increase in 2018/19, before slowing in 2019/20. However, 97% of the roads network is governed by local authorities, which are financially-constrained due to cuts in central government funding since 2010. Whatever monetary restrictions councils face there is little doubt the condition of the country’s roads require urgent address, as an Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Survey (ALARM) report revealed a 13-year backlog of local roads maintenance in England. Energy drive Infrastructure repair and maintenance is also expected to increase in order to maintain the country’s energy provision. With a delay in the building of nuclear power stations, National Grid announced it would be retaining the services of existing power plants initially earmarked for closure. Structural maintenance is likely to be required to extend the lifespan of the plants which will be held in reserve to boost electricity supplies if and when required. Construction Industry Forecasts – headline figures for 2017 to 2019 Construction output to grow by 1.6% in 2017 and 0.7% in 2018 Private housing starts to rise by 3.0% in 2017 and 2.0% in 2018 Infrastructure construction to grow by 7.4% in 2017 and 6.4% in 2018 Construction Industry Forecasts for public housing repair, maintenance and improvement is a little less encouraging, with output in this sector expected to remain flat in 2017 and 2018, whilst commercial offices output is expected to fall by 1% and 12% during the same period. However, prospects for the builders of the nation’s infrastructure, and the contractors and manufacturing firms required to maintain it remain distinctly good. It would seem the UK is building towards a brighter future. By Charles Pierce, National Sales Manager - TM Refurbishment    
    404 Posted by Talk. Build
  • And now for some good news…Construction Industry Forecasts for 2017 to 2019 estimate an overall rise of 7.4% for new-build infrastructure in the UK this year, with a continuation of 6.4% next year. It’s news that bodes equally well for leading suppliers of concrete repair and protection solutions such as Sika, as an increase in new buildings will inevitably lead to defects in newly-poured concrete requiring onsite attention. So, what is this positive outlook for the country’s new building output based upon? Well, a number of factors across a number of key infrastructural sectors appear to be driving the optimism. Forecasts for the harbours and waterways sector are particularly encouraging, with year-on-year growth predicted thanks to huge waterside projects planned across the country in the coming years. There’s the Aberdeen Harbour Expansion project for example. Commencing in September this year, the £350 million scheme – due to be completed in 2020 – will see the existing site expanded to include a facility for oil industry decommissioning work. Other upcoming UK harbour projects include a £135 million redevelopment of the port of Dover, and a £10 million project to build a new link-span bridge at the Port of Heysham in Lancashire. Water spend Upgrades in water treatment works are also continuing nationwide as part of Asset Management Period 6 which runs from 2015 to 2020. Water firms will have spent more than £44 billion in that time on improvement works agreed by water industry regulator, Ofwat, thatinclude the Severn Trent Water’s Birmingham Resilience project, Wessex Water’s integrated supply grid, and the modernisation of United Utilities’ Davyhulme wastewater treatment plant. Work on London’s £4.2 billion Thames Tideway Tunnel project, which is being financed and delivered by an independent provider, is also boosting construction in this sector. Spending on road maintenance is also expected to rise. Highways England has a maintenance budget of £1.3 billion over its first fixed five-year investment period, which began in 2015/16. In 2017/18, expenditure on maintenance is set to increase to £258 million, from the £254 million allocated for 2016/17. Thereafter, it is expected to increase in 2018/19, before slowing in 2019/20. However, 97% of the roads network is governed by local authorities, which are financially-constrained due to cuts in central government funding since 2010. Whatever monetary restrictions councils face there is little doubt the condition of the country’s roads require urgent address, as an Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Survey (ALARM) report revealed a 13-year backlog of local roads maintenance in England. Energy drive Infrastructure repair and maintenance is also expected to increase in order to maintain the country’s energy provision. With a delay in the building of nuclear power stations, National Grid announced it would be retaining the services of existing power plants initially earmarked for closure. Structural maintenance is likely to be required to extend the lifespan of the plants which will be held in reserve to boost electricity supplies if and when required. Construction Industry Forecasts – headline figures for 2017 to 2019 Construction output to grow by 1.6% in 2017 and 0.7% in 2018 Private housing starts to rise by 3.0% in 2017 and 2.0% in 2018 Infrastructure construction to grow by 7.4% in 2017 and 6.4% in 2018 Construction Industry Forecasts for public housing repair, maintenance and improvement is a little less encouraging, with output in this sector expected to remain flat in 2017 and 2018, whilst commercial offices output is expected to fall by 1% and 12% during the same period. However, prospects for the builders of the nation’s infrastructure, and the contractors and manufacturing firms required to maintain it remain distinctly good. It would seem the UK is building towards a brighter future. By Charles Pierce, National Sales Manager - TM Refurbishment    
    Sep 19, 2017 404
  • 18 Sep 2017
    It is now possible to go from green concrete to green roof in just three days. There will of course be many who say it cannot be done, but they are being proved wrong by a company that is leading the market with a new kind of waterproofing technology – and it’s confounding the traditionalists. With increasing pressure on building costs and owners strictly enforcing projects to be delivered on time and within budget, any roof waterproofing system that can save almost a calendar month in time and allow other trades to begin work within days of new concrete being laid, has to be welcome. At present it is generally considered that green concrete cannot be waterproofed until around 28 days after installation. The maximum amount of trapped water contained in the concrete has to be allowed to escape for the concrete to cure properly which effectively means that the project can be on hold during that time. So all credit to Proteus Waterproofing, one the fastest growing companies of its kind, for developing such a system - Cold-Melt® - which is making all other waterproof membranes look obsolete. It’s a seamless application consisting of two main waterproofing layers – the first of which can be laid over green concrete after just three days sealing the building while still allowing the concrete to cure and continue drying out in the usual way. The system is so advanced that the first layer is all that is needed to waterproof the building and if the project demands it, then the final layer does not have to be applied until all other trades have completed their work. This is another significant plus as other trades frequently damage membranes leading to costly repairs and delays. Cold-Melt® is not as prone to such damage, is easily repaired and will have an additional finishing waterproof layer as the project progresses. In fact the BBA have certified that the Cold-Melt® system is so tough that it will last for the life time of the building on which it is installed. No one is saying that Cold-Melt® will replace all other types of waterproof membrane – each has its own particular place in the market – but there is no doubt that this is a unique product that is ticking a lot of boxes for building owners and specifiers. As well as the fact that it can be rapidly installed, Cold-Melt® as the name suggests, does not use any naked flame or molten material and because it is virtually odour free, delivers maximum health and safety and minimum disruption. It is manufactured from recycled rubber crumb and other environment friendly materials such as castor oil and other organically grown products to create an elastomeric, cold applied membrane so sustainability also gets the thumbs up. But let’s get back to the beginning – green concrete to green roof in just three days is now a reality. This seems to be a system that is ready for anything and for the moment - there is nothing else like it in the roofing market. Visit: http://proteuswaterproofing.co.uk/
    758 Posted by Talk. Build
  • It is now possible to go from green concrete to green roof in just three days. There will of course be many who say it cannot be done, but they are being proved wrong by a company that is leading the market with a new kind of waterproofing technology – and it’s confounding the traditionalists. With increasing pressure on building costs and owners strictly enforcing projects to be delivered on time and within budget, any roof waterproofing system that can save almost a calendar month in time and allow other trades to begin work within days of new concrete being laid, has to be welcome. At present it is generally considered that green concrete cannot be waterproofed until around 28 days after installation. The maximum amount of trapped water contained in the concrete has to be allowed to escape for the concrete to cure properly which effectively means that the project can be on hold during that time. So all credit to Proteus Waterproofing, one the fastest growing companies of its kind, for developing such a system - Cold-Melt® - which is making all other waterproof membranes look obsolete. It’s a seamless application consisting of two main waterproofing layers – the first of which can be laid over green concrete after just three days sealing the building while still allowing the concrete to cure and continue drying out in the usual way. The system is so advanced that the first layer is all that is needed to waterproof the building and if the project demands it, then the final layer does not have to be applied until all other trades have completed their work. This is another significant plus as other trades frequently damage membranes leading to costly repairs and delays. Cold-Melt® is not as prone to such damage, is easily repaired and will have an additional finishing waterproof layer as the project progresses. In fact the BBA have certified that the Cold-Melt® system is so tough that it will last for the life time of the building on which it is installed. No one is saying that Cold-Melt® will replace all other types of waterproof membrane – each has its own particular place in the market – but there is no doubt that this is a unique product that is ticking a lot of boxes for building owners and specifiers. As well as the fact that it can be rapidly installed, Cold-Melt® as the name suggests, does not use any naked flame or molten material and because it is virtually odour free, delivers maximum health and safety and minimum disruption. It is manufactured from recycled rubber crumb and other environment friendly materials such as castor oil and other organically grown products to create an elastomeric, cold applied membrane so sustainability also gets the thumbs up. But let’s get back to the beginning – green concrete to green roof in just three days is now a reality. This seems to be a system that is ready for anything and for the moment - there is nothing else like it in the roofing market. Visit: http://proteuswaterproofing.co.uk/
    Sep 18, 2017 758
  • 17 Sep 2017
    In a world of global warming, environmental regulations and our quest for a more sustainable built environment, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is clearly here to stay. A method for evaluating and measuring a product’s environmental impact during their lifecycle from cradle to grave, the LCA of products used in construction enables specifiers to make informed decisions about the comparative environmental impacts as well as the cost and durability of rival products. This is as crucial in the choice of industrial flooring as in any other sector.    Faced with daunting 2050 greenhouse gas reduction targets, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is increasingly recognised by the construction industry as the most credible and comprehensive method for assessing and comparing the environmental impacts of products over their entire life cycle. For the specifier, an LCA is a useful tool, enabling them to compare quantitative data on products and systems’ sustainability against an accepted method of measurement. It may mean that two competing products which have similar performance may have very different LCA scores, which will mean a specifier is able to deliver the performance needed but also increase their sustainability credits. This can be particularly beneficial where projects require green certification such as those with BREEAM requirements within their planning permission. The European standard EN 15804, which governs Environmental Product Declarations, includes eight impact categories which must be covered by LCAs. Of these, three are deemed particularly relevant for flooring: Cumulative Energy Demand (CED) - the total amount of primary energy consumed by a product from renewable and non-renewable resources. Global Warming Potential (GWP) - The product’s potential contribution over its life cycle to climate change, focusing on emissions of greenhouse gases, such as CO2 (also known as ‘carbon footprint’) Photochemical Ozone Creation Potential (POCP), or “summer smog” - the formation of reactive chemical compounds, e.g., ozone, by the action of sunlight on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Sika evaluates products systematically on environmental performance via regular and comprehensive LCAs according to ISO 140040 which describes the principles and framework for LCA, as well as EN 15804. The company undertakes LCAs from both a Cradle to Gate and Cradle to Grave perspective, the former seeing most of the environmental impacts connected to the raw materials used and the latter seeing most impacts in the in-use and end-of-life phases. The impacts in these phases will be highly dependent on the different maintenance and refurbishment requirements over the life-cycle, which are in turn highly dependent on a floor’s intended use. To make life easier when specifying products, Sikafloor has developed an Eco Tool at its Swiss Research Institute which will quickly and easily provide customers with LCA information on a specific product as well as useful Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) information projected over the life of a product, from Cradle to Grave. In addition to the LCA of a product, the Eco Tool will provide details to specifiers, architects and building owners of a product’s whole service life, including transport impact, application cost, cleaning costs and other operational costs. The tool also enables comparison between products and against various sustainability and operational criteria, to enable an informed decision to be made. A new family of hybrid industrial flooring systems, called PurCem® Glossy, harnesses polyurethane cement hybrid technology to also provide strong eco credentials. As well as the essential moisture tolerance, toughness and chemical resistance characteristics needed for industrial sector projects, the flooring’s LCA, undertaken by Sikafloor, shows it has a lower CED over a 15-year lifetime compared with other flooring technologies.  In addition its very low VOC emissions have seen PurCem® Glossy gain AgBB approval in accordance with ISO standards. Ideal in industrial applications such as food and beverage dry and wet areas, chemical plants and warehouses, the durability of Purcem Glossy is a key part of its sustainability. No refurbishment is needed to prolong its durability over 15 years; plus it is a solvent-free solution that allows application close to on-going production process areas. This means that repair and renovation of existing floors can be undertaken without shutting down the plant or production lines. Sika Flooring has put a major focus on using less energy and resources when compared with other technologies and systems to help meet green goals as a society.  This means offering a lower Global Warming Potential (carbon footprint) and low or even zero VOC options to deliver health benefits for both public and private sector buildings.  visit www.sika.co.uk.
    507 Posted by Talk. Build
  • In a world of global warming, environmental regulations and our quest for a more sustainable built environment, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is clearly here to stay. A method for evaluating and measuring a product’s environmental impact during their lifecycle from cradle to grave, the LCA of products used in construction enables specifiers to make informed decisions about the comparative environmental impacts as well as the cost and durability of rival products. This is as crucial in the choice of industrial flooring as in any other sector.    Faced with daunting 2050 greenhouse gas reduction targets, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is increasingly recognised by the construction industry as the most credible and comprehensive method for assessing and comparing the environmental impacts of products over their entire life cycle. For the specifier, an LCA is a useful tool, enabling them to compare quantitative data on products and systems’ sustainability against an accepted method of measurement. It may mean that two competing products which have similar performance may have very different LCA scores, which will mean a specifier is able to deliver the performance needed but also increase their sustainability credits. This can be particularly beneficial where projects require green certification such as those with BREEAM requirements within their planning permission. The European standard EN 15804, which governs Environmental Product Declarations, includes eight impact categories which must be covered by LCAs. Of these, three are deemed particularly relevant for flooring: Cumulative Energy Demand (CED) - the total amount of primary energy consumed by a product from renewable and non-renewable resources. Global Warming Potential (GWP) - The product’s potential contribution over its life cycle to climate change, focusing on emissions of greenhouse gases, such as CO2 (also known as ‘carbon footprint’) Photochemical Ozone Creation Potential (POCP), or “summer smog” - the formation of reactive chemical compounds, e.g., ozone, by the action of sunlight on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Sika evaluates products systematically on environmental performance via regular and comprehensive LCAs according to ISO 140040 which describes the principles and framework for LCA, as well as EN 15804. The company undertakes LCAs from both a Cradle to Gate and Cradle to Grave perspective, the former seeing most of the environmental impacts connected to the raw materials used and the latter seeing most impacts in the in-use and end-of-life phases. The impacts in these phases will be highly dependent on the different maintenance and refurbishment requirements over the life-cycle, which are in turn highly dependent on a floor’s intended use. To make life easier when specifying products, Sikafloor has developed an Eco Tool at its Swiss Research Institute which will quickly and easily provide customers with LCA information on a specific product as well as useful Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) information projected over the life of a product, from Cradle to Grave. In addition to the LCA of a product, the Eco Tool will provide details to specifiers, architects and building owners of a product’s whole service life, including transport impact, application cost, cleaning costs and other operational costs. The tool also enables comparison between products and against various sustainability and operational criteria, to enable an informed decision to be made. A new family of hybrid industrial flooring systems, called PurCem® Glossy, harnesses polyurethane cement hybrid technology to also provide strong eco credentials. As well as the essential moisture tolerance, toughness and chemical resistance characteristics needed for industrial sector projects, the flooring’s LCA, undertaken by Sikafloor, shows it has a lower CED over a 15-year lifetime compared with other flooring technologies.  In addition its very low VOC emissions have seen PurCem® Glossy gain AgBB approval in accordance with ISO standards. Ideal in industrial applications such as food and beverage dry and wet areas, chemical plants and warehouses, the durability of Purcem Glossy is a key part of its sustainability. No refurbishment is needed to prolong its durability over 15 years; plus it is a solvent-free solution that allows application close to on-going production process areas. This means that repair and renovation of existing floors can be undertaken without shutting down the plant or production lines. Sika Flooring has put a major focus on using less energy and resources when compared with other technologies and systems to help meet green goals as a society.  This means offering a lower Global Warming Potential (carbon footprint) and low or even zero VOC options to deliver health benefits for both public and private sector buildings.  visit www.sika.co.uk.
    Sep 17, 2017 507