You will learn in this article that the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has released “new insight” into how construction projects can benefit from adopting a circular mindset to reduce carbon emissions over the course of their whole lifespan. Here in Manchester, on the other hand, Dr. Aled Roberts is developing the substances that will be used in the future. In a laboratory in the heart of Manchester, researchers from the University of Manchester are experimenting with some peculiar substances in order to learn how to build things in both outer space and on earth. Meanwhile, housing developments in the public and private sectors in the United Kingdom are racing to meet the aim of achieving net zero energy use by the year 2030, set by the government. Furthermore, the choice to not construct reservoirs is coming under increased examination as severe conditions continue to plague the United Kingdom (UK), including droughts and restrictions on using hosepipes.
Circularity is “essential” in net-zero buildings, says research.
UKGBC’s recent study, ‘How Circular Economy Principles can affect carbon and value,’ aims to help the built environment industry understand how circularity can reduce whole-life carbon.
It aims to help project decision-makers and built environment stakeholders enhance the business case for circularity. UKGBC believes it shows circularity benefits more than carbon, including organisational, social, environmental, and financial goals.
The report presents a library of case studies demonstrating the positive impact circularity is having on new and current UK projects.
To help the industry’s shift to net zero, the organisation says greater consistency is needed in measuring and reporting whole-life carbon and circularity practices.
The UKGBC claims the global shortage and fluctuating costs of raw materials are prompting the construction sector to adopt circular thinking, including reusing materials and repurposing existing building structures.
Many new and existing building projects have already implemented circular economy ideas and can list the carbon reductions. Reusing assets and materials reduces carbon emissions. UKGBC says the case studies show how reusing existing structures, facades, and steel saves carbon.
The research found a knowledge gap in measuring and reporting circularity’s impact.
UKGBC’s analysis indicates that measuring whole life carbon and circularity is uncommon, inconsistent, and challenging due to a lack of common measurements and procedures. Many individuals and organisations are attempting to increase clarity and consistency, according to the findings.
Julie Hirigoyen, CEO of UKGBC, said the circular economy has huge potential for the built environment. Through clever circular practices, considerable carbon reductions can be generated across a building’s full lifecycle, offering cost benefits and enhancing social value.
“While UKGBC’s Roadmap indicated a net zero carbon built environment is attainable by 2050, it also emphasised that attaining this aim will require a revolutionary shift in how we design and deliver building projects, with circularity as a crucial component of the answer.”
Moondust, blood, and pee are used to make bricks
Original Source: ‘We’re making bricks from moondust, human blood and wee’
Moon dust and blood? It sounds like science fiction, yet it’s true.
Literally. In a lab in Manchester city centre, University of Manchester scientists are working with odd materials to find out how to construct things in space and on earth.
Dr. Aled Roberts is leading the research to figure out how astronauts can build without standard building materials. Taking inspiration from historical building techniques that employed animal blood as a binder, he built a brick from synthetic moondust using human blood as a binder.
The warning energy bill cap could be £5,300 next year.
He told the Manchester Evening News that we must be able to build on Mars or the moon to make genuine progress or discoveries. But astronauts can only transport so much into space, so alternate building materials built of components in space are needed.
“There’s no infrastructure on the moon or Mars, so we’ll have to make or carry everything,” he stated. So he thought of materials astronauts would have: blood, pee, and chickpea starch.
His research discovered that urea and human serum albumin can bind synthetic moon or Mars dust (granite composite) to create a concrete-like substance that is stronger than ordinary concrete.
During lockdown, Aled, 32, experimented with kitchen products to develop more sustainable building materials. He bought a 50-ton hydraulic press to experiment with starchy meals. It was a game-changer.
He thinks his bricks are cheaper to create because they don’t need to be burned. Transporting a single brick to Mars can cost over a million pounds, but Aled’s bricks are created using cheap, cyclical procedures and easy-to-obtain components.
He believed limits could be good. When translating research to the current world, it’s either expensive or not viable.
His art is useful at home because he employs affordable kitchen basics. Aled said the building and construction sector accounted for 40% of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions, with half coming from construction materials and their production.
“We’re making progress with heating and lighting,” he remarked. We’re moving slowly on building materials and techniques.
Aquafaba and spirulina are among the components Aled has used. His bricks will meet construction codes soon, he says. He was so confident, he launched a start-up to promote the bricks. He wants his discoveries to have practical applications and be used. His study is free access, so anyone can invest in generating it.
But don’t expect to see aquafaba bricks soon. Aled said the bricks are only suitable for customised applications; he hopes they can be used within six months.
Aled doesn’t want to ‘greenwash’ his discoveries, which he says may deter investors.
“Other corporations claim they’re carbon negative or neutral only because they’re biotechnology or not cement; it’s greenwashing.”
We’re not claiming we’re carbon negative yet, not without a lifetime analysis that includes transportation and material creation processes. “
As a heatwave strikes the UK this weekend, Aled wants people to realise climate change.
“I think we need to move,” he told the M.E.N. “We need more investment in sustainable construction materials.”
“What I’m doing may be an answer for some cases and applications, but we need to look at more prospects and refine this science and technology.”
UK eco-retrofit boom threatened by skills deficit
Original Source: Skills shortage threatens UK eco-retrofit boom
All UK social housing must have an EPC rating of C by 2030. 60% of dwellings in England and Wales, including many in social housing, have low ratings of D to G.
Southwest housing associations and local governments, notably Plymouth Community Homes, Teign Housing, Mid Devon District Council, and East Devon District Council, have called for £2 billion in energy-efficiency and decarbonization retrofit work.
It includes retrofit assessors, air-tightness tests, structural surveys, supplementary building and external work, and smart hub energy demand technology.
External and internal wall insulation, cavity-wall insulation, loft and floor insulation, solar panels, ground-source heat pumps, heat and ventilation recovery, waste-water recovery, electric-vehicle charging, and battery storage inverters are all included.
Although outstanding, these requirements are now the minimum for a green building.
Renfrewshire Council in Scotland has hired architects to renovate 3000 homes west of Glasgow to Enerphit, or the AECB Retrofit Standard with PAS 2035.
Enerphit is a passive house renovation standard that can save 75-90% on energy.
The AECB Retrofit Standard is a whole-house, fabric-first standard based on the Passive House Institute’s Enerphit specification but less onerous, with a space heating demand objective of 50 kilowatt hours per square metre per year, compared to 25 for Enerphit.
PAS 2035 is a new method for retrofitting UK homes. It was designed as part of the Each Home Counts approach to combat the high rate of failure in home retrofits under government-backed initiatives, though widespread adoption of PAS 2035 has been delayed to date.
PAS 2035 defines specific positions for retrofit projects, including project designer, project manager, retrofit coordinator, and retrofit assessor, with minimum credentials and/or professional accreditation.
Duncan Smith, AECB COO, said their standard ensures quality control and a high level of retrofit.
“These retrofits will help some of the most vulnerable, poorest people in our communities,” he stated.
“It’s about reducing energy demand, closing the performance gap, and constructing functional homes.”
The skills deficit in construction is significantly worse than projected, says Strabag UK’s Lisa Molloy.
“We’re short on quantity surveyors, engineers, estimators, skilled labour, and planners for a number of reasons.”
The ageing workforce, the desire to attract more people and young people, and Brexit all contribute to this.
Matthew Ahluwalia, programme officer at climate change organisation Ashden, says there are 3000 heat pump installers vs. 96,000 gas engineers, and just a small minority of UK builders are licensed to adapt homes.
36,000 retrofit coordinators will be needed to guarantee insulation work meets quality standards and avoid Grenfell-style tragedies. Currently, we have 2% of the requisite number.
Patrick Harvie said Scotland faces a “monumental but important effort” to remodel its outdated housing stock and find practical ways to reduce emissions and meet the climate emergency at the first-ever Green Home Festival at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
The Construction Industry Collective Voice organised the festival, which featured Scotland’s Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel, and Tenants’ Rights.
Further south, in Birmingham, a trial plan for the 3 Cities Retrofit Programme—one of the largest refit programmes in the UK that may span roughly 165,000 social housing units across Birmingham, Coventry, and Wolverhampton—will see 300 homes get an energy-saving retrofit.
Birmingham City Council aims to make the city carbon neutral by 2030, and this plan is a step toward that goal.
Equans has been hired. They’re tasked with generating creative solutions and funding methods to scale whole-house retrofits across the city.
26% of the city’s carbon emissions are from housing.
Council chairman Ian Ward said, “These 300 properties represent just the start of our ambitious objectives to make all our housing carbon neutral by 2030.”
“The council has a huge estate, and the 3 Cities Whole House Retrofit Pilot gives us a tremendous opportunity to reach our net zero carbon goals.”
“This innovative pilot will contribute to economic recovery and growth by offering employment and skills opportunities for local businesses and the local community.”
Equans is testing another school refit.
Their school retrofit strategy aims to achieve the government’s 2050 net zero carbon aspirations by decarbonizing buildings and engaging teachers and students in the net zero agenda.
The School Zero project aims to remodel some of the UK’s 32,000 schools that are not yet zero carbon, cutting energy expenditures and helping them attain net zero accreditation.
These inexpensive solutions include replacing gas boilers, installing thermally efficient windows and doors, giving EV charging points, installing smart building sensors, and planting trees on school grounds.
Mark Dolling, education director for Equans UK and Ireland, stated, “The UK has lofty objectives to cut greenhouse gas emissions and every industry, sector, and organisation must do its part.”
“Schools are at the heart of every community, and they have a big role to play in the transition to net zero carbon.
“We aim to put people at the centre of this activity, decarbonizing their own facilities and positively impacting family and community behaviour.
Young people can be overwhelmed by climate change, so we wanted to build a positive, proactive, engaging approach, producing ‘School Zero Heroes’ and confidence that they can make a concrete impact.
Developed with school leaders, teachers, and specialists, the instructional material helps instructors build and fire the imaginations of young people to become champions of sustainability and net zero carbon transition.
Of course, new homes must be net zero carbon. Equans is building a low-carbon home estate in northern England’s Wakefield.
Air source heat pumps and rooftop solar panels heat the new development’s 75 affordable rent, 45 shared ownership, and 20 rent-to-buy residences.
In the housing sector, there’s no scarcity of passion, simply a lack of trained personnel. If nothing else, the race to net zero is about training.
Before the drought, Oxfordshire lawmakers said a new reservoir wasn’t needed
Residents of Northend village in Oxfordshire had to use bottled water to flush toilets and brush teeth last week.
68 residents in the peaceful village had to ration water due to problems at the Stokenchurch reservoir.
Caroline Evans criticised the situation. She told The Independent, “It’s dire.” “These issues date to 2018.” 2018 was the longest we went without water.
As droughts and hosepipe bans are declared, experts fear the sights could be repeated across the UK.
Just months before the current drought, Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, who represents Oxford West and Abingdon, 30 miles from Northend, campaigned against a “monstrous” new reservoir near her area.
Ms. Moran opposed the planned Abingdon Reservoir, which may offer 100 million litres of water daily, stating in media interviews and during a discussion in Parliament that the reservoir’s needs hadn’t been established.
“The water providers haven’t fully convinced and proven that this is required,” she remarked. This reservoir has 25-metre-high concrete walls and three double-decker buses. It’s Abingdon’s huge footprint.
“They haven’t demonstrated that their population estimates are accurate.” There are enormous disparities between what ONS says and what [businesses] say, and that’s an issue.
The MP continued, “We know we must improve our water supply.” Is this horrifying design appropriate? I don’t buy it.
Ms. Moran and the Group Against Reservoir Development opposed the Abingdon Reservoir because it would be unneeded, environmentally detrimental, and increase flood danger.
This is despite Thames Water’s promise to incorporate compensation into the design, which will reduce flood risks.
The Angling Trust says the reservoir will reverse the decline of numerous freshwater species and other wildlife that rely on freshwater habitats like wetlands, improving the area’s biodiversity.
Conservative David Johnston, who represents Wantage, criticised the planned reservoir in June, saying: “Thames Water still can’t justify why it’s needed.”
The reservoir could meet a 1.1 billion-litre-a-day supply shortage in 2040.
No reservoirs have been built in the UK since 1991 due to local opposition.
Eco-campaigners near Portsmouth opposed the Havant Thicket Reservoir, which was approved last year.
One person said, “I walk my dog here every day, and I can’t imagine the impact on our local ecology when it’s covered in concrete and filled with very cold water.”
Experts think over 30 more reservoirs are needed to protect the water supply.
Environment Minister George Eustice said the government will speed planning permission for “nationally vital water infrastructure projects like new reservoirs.”
Sir John Armitt, former head of the National Infrastructure Commission, said planning disputes damage Britain’s water security.
The government wants to shorten the planning process for big water supply projects, he said. Accelerate this work.
If we want to avoid serious shortages in the future, we must enhance our supply pipelines after the rain arrives and this summer is over.
The ( i ) asked Ms. Moran and the advocacy group if Northend’s recent shortages had influenced their view of the local reservoir.
Ms. Moran said, “People in Oxfordshire need a fix fast.” Thames Water leaks a fifth of its water and pumps sewage into rivers. Their plan is like creating a bathtub without a plug.
I asked the environment minister, Thames Water, and Ofwat to be honest about this project and alternatives. Millions of taxpayer pounds are being given to a firm that caused drought in Northend and flooding in Islington this week. “
Derek Stork, honorary chair of the Group Against Reservoir Development in Abingdon, said, “The water troubles in Northend have been going on for a few years (since before 2018) and are symptomatic of Thames Water’s lack of investment in key water infrastructure.”
We oppose the Abingdon reservoir because it doesn’t supply new water to the Thames Valley to relieve water problems in London and the Chilterns. Instead, it stores what’s already in the Thames.
Severn-to-Thames water transfer would provide new water for the South East more cheaply, securely, and quickly.
Summary of today’s construction news
You have learned information from the latest article posted above, and as a recent article says, the built environment business is poised to capitalise on a massive opportunity presented by the circular economy. The UKGBC Roadmap verified that a built environment with net zero carbon emissions is feasible by the year 2050.
Meanwhile, Dr. Aled Roberts is in charge of heading the research to determine how astronauts can construct without the use of conventional building materials. He created a brick out of synthetic moondust and used human blood as a binder, drawing inspiration from ancient building practices that included the use of animal blood as an adhesive.
In addition to that, by the year 2030, all social housing in the UK will be required to have an EPC rating of at least C. Low grades of D to G are given to sixty percent of the dwellings in England and Wales, many of which are located in social housing.
Furthermore, last week, people living in the village of Northend in Oxfordshire were forced to use bottled water to clean their teeth and flush their toilets. Because of issues at the Stokenchurch reservoir, the tranquil village’s 68 people were required to practice water conservation.