UK construction blog


Archive for April, 2013

Fluor blimey! Plant brings 20 new jobs

April 30th, 2013 Comments off

fluorBusiness and energy minister Michael Fallon has opened a new chemicals plant which has created 20 jobs.

More than 70 construction workers were involved in the building of AGC Chemicals’ new Fenix Fluor Ltd plant at Thornton.

The facility will produce raw materials for AGC’s Fluon branded fluoropolymer products, which employs 190 at the site and is a joint venture with international chemicals group Mexichem Fluor.

The Fluoropolymer chemicals are used in wire coating in cars, aeroplanes and space vehicles as well as in buildings such as the O2 Arena and the Allianz Arena in Munich.

Hiroyuki Okuno, President of AGC Chemicals Europe, said: “We are pleased to have secured local production and supply of the key raw material for the production of Fluon PTFE and ETFE.

“This is a strategic move to strengthen the supply chain that delivers top quality fluoropolymers to our European customer base from the plant in Thornton.”

Mr Fallon said: “The UK’s globally competitive chemicals sector is worth over £40bn a year and remains a key driver for growth.

“New projects such as Fenix Fluor demonstrate the confidence that global companies like Mexichem Fluor have in the UK as a place to do business and expand their operations, while creating valuable jobs.”


Conference addresses government energy targets

April 29th, 2013 Comments off

The All-Energy 2013 conference will take place at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on 22-23 May.

All-Energy exhibition director Jonathan Heastie commented: “We are well aware that the Scottish Government has set an ambitious target to reduce total final energy consumption in Scotland over the period to 2020 by 12 per cent, and set out a wide-ranging programme of activity on behaviour change.

“All-Energy will highlight some of the products and services that will help organisations of all sizes change their behaviour; and in seminar and conference sessions we will be helping those responsible in organisations by sessions on policy, on products and services there to help, and with case histories too.”

All-Energy 2012 attracted 8,322 people from 49 countries of which 24 per cent expressed an interest in energy efficiency and 20 per cent opted for energy management.


Construction workers on decibels alert

April 26th, 2013 Comments off

Construction is the second noisiest occupation in the UK, just behind airport ground work, new research has revealed.

The use of hammer drills can expose construction workers to noise levels up to 120 decibels (dB), only slightly less than airport ground staff directing jets in landing and take-off, who are subjected to noise levels up to 140 dB – more than 1000 times the sound energy at the noisiest of music events.

Construction workers fare only just better than farm hands who feed pigs; the noise from the animals squealing can reach 105 dB, while there is a significant risk to health at noise exposure levels above 85 dB.

The research, carried out in advance of International Noise Awareness Day (24 April) by noise-management solutions company Echo Barrier, shows that construction workers face potential serious health problems if they are not protected from the noise that they are exposed to on a daily basis on building sites.

Peter Wilson, technical director at Echo Barrier, said he hoped the research would help raise awareness among the general public of the issue of noise and the risks it poses.

He said: “Working for years in a noisy job significantly increases the risk of serious hearing difficulties. Workers can lessen the risk by protecting ears with earplugs or other hearing-protection devices at all times, but employers need to be aware of how damaging noise pollution can be – and not just for their employees.”

He added that people who come into contact with a noisy place of work, such as a building site, can also suffer negative health effects. “Noise can cause headaches, high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, depression and insomnia,” he explained.

According to the HSE, noise-induced hearing loss is one of the biggest occupational health problems facing the UK, with 19,000 cases caused, or made worse by work between 2009/10 and 2011/12.

Safety product supplier Arco has developed an Expert Guide to provide guidance on managing and preventing hearing loss in the workplace. Sally Clayton, hearing product manager at Arco said: “While noise-induced hearing loss is permanent and irreversible, it is also preventable. It is a gradual process that can take between 10 and 20 years to surface and, sadly, by that time, it is often too late to reverse.

“While ensuring employees are adequately protected, there are also several things businesses can do to limit the number of people exposed to high levels of noise, including adopting working hours to restrict noisy activities to certain periods of the day and reducing the need for noisy assembly practices by fabricating off-site where possible. After these preventative measures have been taken, protective equipment will help to protect from the residual risks.”


BREEAM Excellent benchmark for Swedish office

April 25th, 2013 Comments off

The NCC Koggen 2 project in Sweden has been achieved BREEAM Excellent – reportedly the highest level received by an office building in the Nordic region.

Koggen 2 in Malmö features a carefully selected structural system and climate shell. Using geothermal heating, it has an energy consumption of 34 kWh per sq m, nearly half of the requirements in Boverket´s Building Regulations.

The building also has a green roof, with a special selection of plants to increase biological diversity.

The Koggen 2 property, comprising 8,100 sq m of space distributed on six storeys, was sold to Vasakronan in 2012. The premises are included in the Future Office by NCC offering, a Nordic concept aimed at creating attractive and sustainable workplaces for customers.

NCC senior vice-president corporate sustainability Christina Lindbäck said: “The certification is the result of NCC’s proactive ambition to become the leading company in the environmental area.

“All our commercial buildings have to achieve at least the BREEAM Very Good level. Earlier this year, NCC achieved the highest BREEAM certification for an industrial building in Sweden and the Nordic region.

“Being first to achieve Excellent for an office property is without doubt an “excellent” continuation of our environmental journey.”


DAGI Capacitive Screen Stylus now available in the UK

April 23rd, 2013 Comments off

For those wanting the accuracy of a resistive screen stylus when working on small areas of the tablet/touch screen device or for when drawing, surveying and many other tasks, the standard capacitive screen stylii have not been the ideal tool. However, now Mobile CAD Surveying Ltd have sourced a brand new DAGI Stylus that works on most capacitive screen/touch screen devices, but gives the accuracy of a resistive screen stylus. So the best of both worlds.

Three models are now available in the UK

DAGI P504 (Apple Asus HTC …plus many others compatible stylus)

DAGI P602 (Apple Asus HTC …plus many others compatible stylus)

DAGI P603 (Universal stylus with ball pen)

DAGI Transparent Tip

All DAGI products 

P504 P602 P603 tips

Zero Carbon Target for New Builds 2016

April 22nd, 2013 Comments off

Seven years ago, in December 2006, the Government made a commitment to ensure all new build homes would reach a ‘zero carbon’ target by 2016. They introduced the Code for Sustainable Homes, which is a national standard for sustainable design that aims to reduce carbon emissions and promote energy saving solutions. The code defines nine measures of sustainable design, including energy/CO2, water, materials, waste and pollution, against which all new homes would be rated.

Since this announcement there have been huge steps taken towards achieving the target in both the design and construction industries.

In 2011, the coalition government redefined the term zero carbon to exclude non-regulated energy use, such as energy used in cooking, and last year, the government consulted on changes to Part L of the Building Regulations for 2013, which included proposals to reduce carbon emissions in new domestic builds.

After the 2016 deadline, the next big aim for the low carbon strategy is to reduce UK housing emissions by as much as 80% by the year 2050. So what steps can home builders take to reduce the emissions from their new build properties to achieve the 2016 target and stay on track with the continuing low carbon strategy?

The Chartered Institute of Building believes that taking advantage of renewable energy, such as natural lighting and ventilation, as well as passive cooling, can help to deliver on the Government’s promise, whilst others believe more innovative and extensive steps must be taken.

There are 3 different types of approach to reducing carbon emissions in new build properties, Extreme (Low Carbon) Technologies, Extreme Fabric and Balanced. The Balanced approach is widely applicable and fully conforms to the 2016 objectives. It includes low to zero carbon energy technologies, such as:

  • High-efficiency condensing gas boilers
  • Solar hot water with thermal stores
  • Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR)
  • 100% low energy lighting
  • Thermal insulation, such as polyurethane spray foam

In this year’s budget the government again reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that all new builds reach an acceptable zero carbon standard by 2016. That’s why it is essential that the way developers construct new builds is carefully considered, ensuring that they comply not only with the goal for 2016, but also with the design plans to help them reduce energy expenditure.

One of the biggest concerns at the minute is that there seems to be a gap between the emissions targets much newer sustainable housing is designed to meet, and the way they are actually built.

That’s why Communities Minister, Don Foster, recently pledged to improve energy efficiency levels in new homes by closing this gap, resulting in up to a £100 per year reduction in energy bills for homeowners. Speaking at the ‘Eco-build’ Green Building Conference on the 6th March 2013, he introduced a plan for the government to work with the manufacturing and construction industries to find out where and why some new build properties are failing to reach the energy targets, whether it be the materials used or the actual construction methods.

New build homes in the UK are amongst the best in Europe, and already conform to extremely high energy and quality standards – but as we edge closer toward the 2016 deadline and with Foster’s plan to ensure materials, products and building performance meet the design standards, we can expect a huge step up in relation to energy savings and efficiency.



April 19th, 2013 Comments off

IanClarkeTata Steel has released a new CPD module for construction professionals, available from the Colorcoat® technical support team and created to help design teams understand and apply the most suitable renewable energy technologies for integration with the Building Envelope.  The module, accredited by the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA), explains how project teams can integrate renewable energy technology into the envelope of their buildings. Ian Clarke, part of the Colorcoat® technical support team commented: “Renewable energy generation is now a vital part of the UK’s push to construct zero carbon buildings. Government targets, as well as client demand, driven by rising energy prices and concern over the energy gap, mean that project teams must now have the knowledge and capabilities to incorporate this technology from the earliest stage of design.” Changes to the Government’s Building Regulations Part L are also expected to make building-integrated renewable energy generation technologies an increasingly important tool in meeting the requirements. Ian Clarke continues: “The scope to further improve energy savings through air tightness and insulation from the envelope is diminishing. In the most part, any efficiencies possible through these methods have already been found and utilised. It’s important that design teams can now look to renewable energy generation solutions such as active solar air heating systems and photovoltaics to bring further energy savings.” The new CPD module developed by Tata Steel is aimed at architects and design teams and looks at the importance of incorporating renewable energy generating technology into the building envelope.  It provides an overview of Transpired Solar Collector and Photovoltaic technologies, which are the two most appropriate renewable energy systems for integration with pre-finished steel cladding, as well as giving typical payback in terms of expenditure and CO2 emissions. To register for a CPD seminar visit


Knightstone Developments Nominated For Awards

April 18th, 2013 Comments off


Two of Knightstone’s developments in Bristol have been nominated for Considerate Constructors Awards. The developments are West Street, the first train and build scheme for ex-service personnel, and J3, our iconic development in Easton. Knightstone worked with contractors Leadbitter, part of the Bouygues Construction Group, on both sites.

The Considerate Constructors Scheme is the national initiative set up by the construction industry to improve its image. The Scheme’s annual National Site Awards recognise sites’ exceptional standards of consideration towards local neighbourhoods and the general public, the workforce and the environment.

Mike Day, Director of Development and Homeownership, said: “We’re really pleased that these schemes have been put forward for the National Site Awards. We’re exceptionally proud of both schemes and the contributions that they make to the local area.

“West Street is the first train and build scheme of its kind, to accommodate homeless ex-servicemen. We’re delighted to have helped 10 individuals build their own homes, learn new skills and gain qualifications to help them back into the community and into work.

“J3 is a major development of 59 new affordable homes, a library and learning resource centre and seven commercial units. It brings something new and exciting to a previously deprived area and Bristol. We’ve worked hard with Leadbitter, Bristol City Council and the local communities to ensure that the development becomes a real asset in the area.”

The award ceremony will take place in London on 24 April 2013.


Output slumps for UK construction industry

April 16th, 2013 Comments off

THE weather-hit construction industry’s grim start to the year was highlighted in figures for February showing a 7% slide in output on a year ago.

While the sector grew by 5.5% when compared with the result in snow-bound January, the performance of firms is still down 16% on a quarter-on-quarter basis, the Office for National Statistics said.

Construction accounts for just under 7% of GDP and has contracted by 16.5% when comparing the last quarter of 2012 with the first quarter of 2008.

The February result has renewed fears that construction will be a serious drag on hopes of avoiding a return to recession.

Figures due on April 25 are expected to show growth of just 0.1% after the decline of 0.3% in the final quarter of 2012.



Falling beam strikes platform

April 15th, 2013 Comments off

A man fell to his death on Friday after a beam falling from a bridge struck the boom lift that he was working from on an Interstate overpass, near Hebron, Ohio.

The man, Micah Montgomery, 34, was apparently not hit by the beam, but died from blunt force injuries arising from his fall.

The man was employed by Columbus based Double Z Construction on the replacement of a bridge over I-70 for the Ohio Department of Transport. No other details have been released.O_87fd3b5793