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Construction must say never again to another Grenfell

June 23rd, 2017 No comments

In the aftermath of the horrific fire that engulfed the Grenfell tower in London there is a feeling of frustration and anger emerging among those who work in construction.

Grenfell

The disaster has raised many questions.

How did the blaze defy accepted thinking, spreading so rapidly with such devastating effect and at such a terrible human cost?

Should building regulations be improved, were they ignored and was the management of the block also a key factor? There is also the question of who is to blame.

The concerns of hundreds of thousands of residents in tower blocks across the country need to be addressed with urgency.

Deeply concerned industry experts have responsibly driven a rapid first response from authorities, using media pictures and footage to speculate about what may have caused the disaster.

The police must now move this on releasing relevant findings as soon as they come to light in their investigation.

Government’s decision to call all tower cladding in for immediate testing is a proportionate response at a time when public confidence in the fabric of our tower blocks is rock bottom.

But our response must also focus on the root causes of what went wrong at Grenfell.

There will be few in the industry who won’t feel uncomfortable about the way the culture of construction has developed in recent decades.

They will know too often individuals and firms are put in compromised positions – obliged to conduct themselves in ways that are wrong and potentially dangerous.

Construction has made great strides forward in health and safety in recent years.

This shows that an inappropriate culture can be challenged when all parts of the industry unite with common cause.

It is now time to challenge lowest cost and the pernicious culture it fosters.

The fire was an inevitable consequence of what was dreaded by many who have seen the systematic degradation of the industry in the face of short-term commercial pressures.

These short-circuit long-term sustainability and the health and safety of the public.

Shocked and moved by the Grenfell disaster, many have stepped forward to offer their advice and expertise.

Now all clients, designers, contractors, inspectors and suppliers alike need to say it is time to change.

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Berkeley cleared to fast-track scheme for Grenfell survivors

June 21st, 2017 No comments

Berkeley Group has been given cash from the Government to speed up a housing scheme to house survivors of the Grenfell tower fire in West London.

Kensington Row, St Edwards, Berkeley, Grenfell

Extra construction staff have been committed by the group’s development arm St Edward and working hour restrictions will be relaxed so work can continue around the clock.

The government is putting up extra cash to fit-out the flats to ensure they are ready for people to move in to sooner.

The Housing and Communities Agency has struck a deal to purchase 68 flats in the Kensington Row scheme which forms part of the Warwick Road masterplan.

Homes will be a mix of 1,2 and 3 bedroom flats across 2 blocks.

The new permanent housing is expected to be completed by the end of July.

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BREEAM’S COLLABORATIVE, CROSS-CONTINENT APPROACH TO SUSTAINABILITY UNAFFECTED BY PRESIDENT TRUMP’S CLIMATE ACCORD DECISION

June 9th, 2017 No comments

US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord has many layers of complexity, and seeing the debate unravel, it is not easy to understand if it driven by US politics surrounding employment opportunities, world politics – about making a stance on the global stage – or simply disbelief in the argument about climate change. But one thing is becoming clear since the President’s announcement in the rose garden of the White House on Thursday, the international response; regarded by political leaders and climate experts world-wide as a major error of judgement.

Making the argument about current domestic job security is perhaps missing the opportunity of long-term creation of jobs in the fields of green energy will give greater potential than the job cuts in the current industry. An argument that is clearly understood by many, including China.

The President’s announcement leaves the United States as one of just three countries, along with Nicaragua and Syria, to oppose the Paris Agreement, which is the world’s first legally-binding climate deal.

The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan as well as the UN chief had hoped to pressure Trump into respecting the US pledge to curb its carbon emissions.

In a rare joint statement, continental Europe’s three biggest countries said they were “firmly convinced that the agreement cannot be renegotiated,” immediately cancelling any possibility of a new deal more favourable to the US being struck.

The advice went unheeded. The subsequent impacts on climate change are uncertain.

 

One thing is for sure, BREEAM will continue to research, and support the industry to be the best through its network of assessor, and the 70+ countries in which it operates to ensure we reduce the impacts of buildings to drive more sustainable solution. Allowing the industry to innovate, and improve.

Our work and passion in this space is not about a transfer of economic power from North to South, or West to East, It is very much about enabling free flow of knowledge between like mind institutes and corporates to support such growth and to release the potential of the market. Such an approach of collaboration will ensure that we also reduce our impact capacity by good design, and by sharing international best practise through BREEAM.

For more information on BREEAM visit: www.breeam.com

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Aarsleff encourage learning this summer with the launch of 4 new CPD’s

June 8th, 2017 No comments

Aarsleff Ground Engineering, one of the UK’s leading driven piling and geotechnical contractors, has launched 4 new CPD seminars enabling engineers, designers and graduates across the UK the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills on a variety of ground engineering based topics this summer.

The new seminars, respectively titled An Introduction to Geotechnical Solutions, An Introduction to Pile Design, An Introduction to the Precast Ground Beam System and An Introduction to Sheet Piling, form an addition to the well-regarded Leading the Way in Driven Piling seminar that was launched in January of last year.

The new seminars aim to develop understanding on a variety of topics including Geotechnical Techniques; such as Ground Anchors and Soil Nails and how these can be used in a variety of different scenarios, Pile design; with a focus on design considerations for pile types, Precast Ground Beam System; specifically, how the system can be installed and the benefits of offsite construction, and finally Sheet Piling; covering a variety of techniques to be used in the infrastructure, residential, commercial, rail and marine/port markets.

Kevin Doyle, Head of Pre-Construction at Aarsleff said: “These tailored CPD’s give our clients a real chance to understand how we as a specialist contractor approach each project, and the level of expertise we can bring to a project design team”.

All seminars discuss their topics both on a theoretical and practical level, employing case study based insights delivered by presenters with years of design and engineering experience. The 45-minute seminars are free of charge and can either be held in person, at your offices, or remotely as a virtual CPD. All materials, handouts and literature are provided with a 15-minute question and answer session held to encourage interactive learning.

Would you like to join the list of companies who have received the latest CPD’s from Aarsleff Ground Engineering and expand your learning?

For a detailed overview of the CPD’s please contact Aarsleff on 01636 611140 or email jessicabanham@aarsleff.co.uk
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SUSTAINABILITY – PRACTICING WHAT WE PREACH

June 6th, 2017 No comments

The importance of sustainability is recognised the world over but it means different things to different people. For many it is about low environmental impact, whether that is in terms of performance or delivery. However it is so much more than that and for a global business such as Sika, it is imperative that we fully embrace sustainability and practice what we preach.

As a business, sustainability is embedded into everything we do – it affects us economically, environmentally and socially. It is a fundamental part of our everyday business. As a leading manufacturer of products working across multiple industry sectors (see http://bit.ly/2o8Ca6Z) and as a responsible employer, sustainability affects our thoughts, behaviors and actions – everyday. For us, sustainability is a shared goal but one whose successes directly benefit all.

At Sika we strongly believe in the holistic approach to sustainability and as such have six sustainability target indicators which encompass the three traditional pillars of sustainability. These targets – economic performance; sustainable solutions; local communities/society; energy; water/waste; and occupational safety – define what we do on a day to day basis from a business strategy and culture perspective.

Transparency is the hallmark of an ethical company, therefore Sika has committed to using the GRIs (Global Reporting Initiative) sustainability reporting standards for our Annual Report, which details initiatives implemented and progress towards our six sustainability targets. GRI provides the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting standards – 92% of the world’s largest 250 corporations report on their sustainability performance and 74% of these companies use GRI’s standards.

Embracing GRI not only illustrates to Sika’s stakeholders the importance that we place on sustainability, but also demonstrates that we are not afraid of being open and honest – Building Trust with customers and local communities alike.

GRI compares Sika’s performance, year on year. This approach allows us to base our sustainability credentials on fact and not on green wash. This is exceptionally important for a company like Sika that produces hundreds of different products, in dozens of different countries, as customers need to have the confidence that what they are specifying or installing is not only fit-for-purpose but also meets their sustainability needs.

As a global company, a global approach to sustainability is required, as demonstrated by our membership of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and our commitment to the UN Global Compact.

Further illustration of our commitment includes 150 tonnes of waste saved and reused at a plant in Germany; a 60% saving of lighting energy at a number of our European factories and warehouses and 6% saving in electricity using outside cooling for processing at a plant in the US.

Sika also work with the Global Nature Fund who have developed partnerships with over 100 organisations to address drinking water conservation globally. Additionally, in Thailand and Vietnam, Sika staff have volunteered over 3,600 hours to support Operation Smile International which is dedicated to providing free treatment to children and adults suffering from cleft lips and palates.

Sustainability is in everything we do, every day. It affects all of us and as a business we are proud to practice what we preach and play our part in delivering a more sustainable future.

To find out more about the impact Sika are making every day, visit http://gbr.sika.com/en/group/about-us/sika-everyday.html

 

By Dr Sarah Peake, Sustainability Manager at Sika UK
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Graham bags £50m Kew Gardens revamp

June 5th, 2017 No comments

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has appointed Graham Construction as sole contractor to deliver a £50m programme of works.

Kew

The project is another major coup for the contractor in the south east as it seeks to expand its presence across the region.

Over a five-year programme valued at £5m to £10m per year, Graham will deliver projects including new builds, refurbishment of historic Grade I and Grade II listed buildings,  as well as the repair and replacement of M&E systems.

Key areas where the works will be delivered include The Herbarium, Palm and Water Lily Houses, Pavilion, Arboretum Nursey, and the Family Landscape Area.

Rob Joyce, Graham Construction’s London office director, said the firm would also deliver roof repairs at the Grade I listed Mansion at Kew’s sister estate, Wakehurst, in Sussex.

In addition to RBG Kew’s own staff and consultants, the team delivering the project also includes Donal Insall Architects (masterplanning), Ryder Architects (lead architect), and Mott MacDonald (M&E).

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CONCRETE CONDITION CHECK KEY TO STRUCTURAL WELLBEING

May 30th, 2017 No comments

In older reinforced concrete structures, particularly those in coastal locations with a prevalence of salty air, or ones exposed long-term to pollutants in towns and cities, some form of corrosion is inevitable. However, the visual signs of carbonisation and chlorides, such as cracks or spalling, can take months, possibly even years before appearing. By then, of course, serious damage could be done and repairs could prove costly.

To protect and prolong the life of a structure, early corrosion diagnosis is vital. But how is this achieved when the surface gives no indication of a problem? A concrete condition survey offers a reliable test as to how a building is reacting to its surrounding environment. BS EN 1504 Standards stipulate a survey and interpretation of results is a prerequisite prior to work starting on concrete repair projects. This will reveal the overall state of the concrete and determine the type of remedial action required.

Sika is in the process of launching an investigation service. In conjunction with our partner, Vector, the survey will identify the most appropriate corrosion management system to employ. This offering further demonstrates our all-round commitment to quality concrete refurbishment.

A survey could include the following depending on the structure and condition of the concrete:

Visual inspection: This offers a flexible and powerful form of testing. It can provide an immediate assessment of a concrete structure’s condition and identify causes of stress or other debilitating conditions. A visual inspection, however, is dependent on the competence and experience of the survey team carrying it out, therefore surveys of this kind should only be made by those qualified and experienced to do so.

Hammer testing: A hammer test identifies hollow or spalled areas of concrete by assessing the sound difference using either a hammer or chain.

Carbonation: A solution called Phenolphthalein is used to indicate levels of alkalinity which triggers the corrosion process. The substance, which is spray-applied, turns pink when it contacts alkaline in concrete.

Break out: Break out testing sees areas of concrete broken away to assess the condition of the steel. This test acts as a validation measure against the other tests such as carbonation, chloride and half-cell measurements.

Concrete cover: A cover meter survey identifies and records the minimum and average depths of concrete cover to the embedded steel to help determine the risk of corrosion. It is also used to identify where the steel is.

Chloride analysis: This involves collecting concrete dust samples to test for the presence of chlorides.

Half-cell potential mapping: Corrosion of reinforcing steel is an electro-chemical process and the deterioration of the steel can be assessed by measuring its half-cell potential. The greater the potential, the higher the risk that corrosion is taking place.

Corrosion rate measurement: An electrochemical test carried out on the surface of the corroding metal to assess the causes of corrosion and predict the rate it will occur.

Once a survey has taken place, results will determine the most suitable corrosion management system to employ. For example, where high levels of chlorides are detected within the concrete, the Sika® Galvashield® system, comprising embedded galvanic anodes, is recommended. The sacrificial anodes prevent the formation of new corrosion sites either adjacent to the refurbished concrete or to concrete which is visually sound but from the survey information identified as high risk.

This simple, innovative anode system involves a small, circular-shaped cementitious shell encasing a zinc core which is quickly and easily fastened to exposed steel reinforcement. Once installed, the anode’s zinc core corrodes sacrificially to the surrounding rebar to therefore protect it.

A concrete conditioning survey can help identify a potential problem before it takes hold, tying-in with the well-known saying, ‘prevention is better than cure’. The good news is, with the launch of our investigation service, alongside our existing Total Corrosion Management System, Sika has the means to provide both the prevention and a long-term cure.

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BREEAM’S SUCCESS FOUNDED ON COMMITMENT TO RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

May 25th, 2017 Comments off

The importance and usefulness of evidence cannot be underestimated. Without it, we can have no confidence in the effectiveness of our past activities or future strategies. Used correctly, however, evidence can be used as a solid bedrock on which to build all our plans upon.

As a product of the BRE, it comes as no surprise that independent research and sound scientific evidence are fundamental ingredients of the BREEAM Standard. What’s possibly less commonly recognised is the ongoing role cutting-edge research plays in the continual development of BREEAM, keeping the Standard at the very forefront of the latest green building thinking and helping to drive excellence in sustainability across the globe.

Since its launch in 1990, BREEAM has expanded its reach to 78 countries with 2,626,873 registered buildings and 561,191 certificates issued worldwide to date. With an 80% market share, BREEAM dominates the European green building market. And with the recent launch of BREEAM USA, we’re hoping to replicate this success in North America.

We believe one of the main keys to the growth of BREEAM is in its flexibility and ongoing development. BREEAM has been adapted for individual markets across the globe to enable the assessment and certification of various built environment projects, including new builds, refurbishments, wider masterplanning projects, infrastructure and even the current operational sustainability of a functional building.

The methodology is constantly adapted to stay ahead of best practice within the industry, meaning those undertaking the Standard can always be sure their asset is certified against the most rigorous sustainability criteria. In-depth research – freely available through our website – is central to this endeavour.

The second factor driving BREEAM’s uptake both in the UK and overseas is the ever-deeper understanding of the business case for green buildings.

Earlier this month, in a report by edie.net, the Chief Executive of the US Green Building Council Mahesh Ramanujam urged European businesses to invest in certifications such as BREEAM stating “there is value in certification and it is important to pursue to generate validation from the external markets”.

A recent study found the global market will respond accordingly. The World Green Building Trends predicts a near 100% rise in the number of green buildings by 2018 – at which time it estimates that 37% of companies will have the majority of their estate certified sustainable, up from 18% when the report was published last year.

By generating the latest, leading thinking on all aspects of sustainable development and incorporating it into the Standard, BRE is focused on ensuring BREEAM is able to meet this demand. Using the latest research to continuously amend and adapt the BREEAM criteria, companies and communities utilising the Standard worldwide will be able achieve the very best green results possible.

We understand the importance of evidence and the effect it can have on a person or organisation’s thinking and the strategies they put in place. This is why we take such care with the evidence we publish in our research, such as included in our recent Value of BREEAM to Retail in the UK report.

Through the publication of such research, we hope to give companies across the globe the confidence to invest further in sustainable development and assurance that BREEAM can help them on their journey to a greener way of working.

For more information on BREEAM visit: www.breeam.com

 

By Kerri-Emma Dobson, BREEAM Technical Consultant at BRE
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The Future Of London’s Skyline

May 23rd, 2017 Comments off

Over the next few years, London’s skyline will change dramatically, so we thought we’d take a look at some of the new buildings that are about to pop up in the nation’s capital as well as showing you where exactly they’ll be developed and outline some of the concerns made by locals who are keen to keep the skyline as it is.

”The

The Future Of London’s Skyline by Rubber Bond.
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The Survey Association Bursary builds bright future for Geomatics students

May 22nd, 2017 Comments off

The Survey Association’s £2000 bursary award is set to boost the career prospects of two exceptional Geomatics students at Newcastle University.

The winners, Connor Foxall and Oliver Smith, received their cash prize at a TSA conference where they also had the opportunity to network with industry professionals and guest speakers.

These included Matt Shaw of ScanLAB Projects Ltd., whose laser scanning expertise was recently featured in the BBC series, Italy’s Invisible Cities.

Following the conference, Connor was offered a week-long work placement at ScanLAB’s London office and used some of the bursary money to fund his travel and accommodation costs.

Connor commented on his time at ScanLAB. ‘’Talking to the different members of the team, exploring new software and equipment and practising the industrial processes needed to produce a deliverable was invaluable experience.’’

‘’I intend to use most of the remaining money to fund a second work placement during the summer,’’ he added.

TSA has awarded a bursary to second year students at Newcastle since 2011. This year, applicants were invited to submit a paper on ‘Building for the Future,’ focussing on ideas of their choice, such as BIM, Smart Cities, and advances in mapping and measurement technology.

TSA President, Adam Bradley, said, ‘’The judging panel comprises three TSA Council members, the Secretary General and myself and we were all impressed by the quality of this year’s winning entries, the interpretation of the Building for the Future brief, and the relevance of the submissions to the geospatial context.’’

‘It is very encouraging to hear how the TSA Bursary helps graduate entrants to the profession access the right contacts and opportunities to help them develop and progress their careers.’’

A proportion of Oliver Smith’s award will be used to fund research tools needed to create new analytical techniques for his dissertation project.

Oliver Smith explains, ‘’My project uses telecom network data to map and analyse the influences on pedestrian movements in city centres. The TSA Bursary will be used to purchase data and subscribe to online software used to visualise the flows over time.’’

‘’I’m aiming to produce innovative research that will interest telecom providers, showing them how the analysis of big data can lead to profitable opportunities,’’ he added.

The TSA Bursary will also support Oliver’s attendance at the International Geodetic Student Meeting (IGSM), a major event offering networking and learning opportunities in geodesy, cartography, photogrammetry and GIS to students from 34 different countries.

For further information on The Survey Association visit

http://www.tsa-uk.org.uk/    Tel: 01636 642840 Email: office@tsa-uk.org.uk  

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