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Efficient accommodation

The Caledonian Group has been selected for contracts worth £15 million to build accommodation facilities at Sullom Voe on the Shetland Islands.

Caledonian’s off-site construction approach was chosen to enable the efficient construction of high quality, energy efficient and functional buildings in this remote and windy location.

The new buildings include 424 bedrooms and will provide accommodation, which is currently in short supply in this area, for construction workers building a new processing plant to service the Laggan and Tormore gas fields to the north of the Shetland Islands. The gas fields are to be developed by Total E&P UK and DONG E&P (UK) and the processing plant’s construction is expected to require 850 construction workers at its peak.

Ian Kemp, business development director at Caledonian Building Systems, said: “We are thrilled to be working on this unique project, which represents the continuing development of our business and complements our existing areas of specialism. Modular construction is an increasingly popular approach both in urban and more remote environments. This project showcases the benefits it can offer in delivering high quality buildings in challenging locations.”

The facility is designed in the style of a two storey hotel, and the accommodation blocks consist of five adjoining buildings. They will be connected to an amenity building providing a comprehensive range of services for the construction workers including a restaurant, laundry facilities, common lounge areas, a gym, reading rooms, health facilities and a prayer room. Over 200 solar panels will provide renewable energy to heat the domestic hot water used by the building’s residents.

For maximum efficiency and to ensure the highest quality, fit outs will largely be completed off-site and prior to installation by The Caledonian Group. Bedrooms will be installed already completed with decoration, en-suite bathrooms, fitted furniture and beds. Completing external cladding panels and the permanent roof off-site will also reduce the need for work on site. In addition, vertical timber boarding and large glazed panels will be applied prior to installation.


Floored by insulation

The extension to ZSL’s London Zoo’s main gift shop, next to its new exhibit ‘Penguin Beach’, will benefit from the energy-saving properties of Dow Floormateä insulation supplied by Panel Systems.

It was important on this project that the floor insulation met all thermal performance requirements and that it could be supplied and fitted quickly to meet the tight build schedule, so the gift shop could open in time for the summer season.

Architects Wharmby Kozdon specified Styrofoam Floormate 300-A grade floor insulation for the new shop that has a floor area of 500m2, which is suitable for medium to heavy foot traffic, as the shop attracts over 1m visitors per year. Floormate, which is manufactured from Styrofoam extruded polystyrene, was selected for its high compressive strength, durability and its excellent thermal performance.

Danny Phelan, sales manager of Panel Systems, said: “Floormate was the perfect choice for use on this project, as it is available in a grade to suit light commercial areas and it met all the performance requirements. It is also popular with contractors as it is safe and easy to handle and install on site. We were able to deliver within a quick turnaround to ensure the contractor could complete this section of the shop to meet the client’s deadline.”

Floormate is available in a range of grades, which gives it the flexibility to be used as floor insulation for both new build, extensions or DIY home improvement projects.

The client was confident about the performance of the product as Floormate has previously been specified for another of London Zoo’s buildings.

Installable above or below ground bearing concrete slabs, Floormate can also be suspended in beam and block or timber floors. The position of the insulation depends upon when the building will be heated. When heating is intermittent, for example in homes, Floormate should be placed above concrete slabs, so that the building can heat up quickly. In hospitals, schools and factories, Floormate should be placed below the slab so as to retain heat for long periods.

A spokesperson for ZSL London Zoo said: “It was essential that high quality insulation materials such as floormate were used in the gift shop extension to ensure our future energy costs and carbon emissions are kept to a minimum.”


Green rural project

Norfolk-based Parsons & Whittley architects employed Passivhaus principles in the design of what is set to be the UK’s first rural affordable housing scheme to gain Passivhaus certification in Wimbish, Essex.

A 14 dwelling Hastoe Housing Association development in the village of Wimbish, Essex, is a green-field scheme being built under the exception site policy to address local housing needs with funding from the Homes and Communities Agency and investment from Hastoe.

Besides providing much needed affordable homes for a rural community the scheme is aiming for high levels of sustainability in order to address fuel poverty and climate change concerns.

The houses, a mixture of homes for rent and shared ownership, are designed to be super energy efficient, complying with Passivhaus principles and Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Passivhaus standard buildings retain heat created within the dwelling as well as from passive solar gain, eliminating the need for central heating and reducing fuel costs. The standard requires very high levels of insulation (in order to meet U-values of below 0.15 W/m2K for walls, roof and floor), a design that makes the most of solar energy, and superb sealing throughout.

Promoted by the Passivhaus Institute in Darmstadt, Germany, there are around 25,000 Passivhaus buildings worldwide, the majority of them in Germany and Austria. The approach is growing in popularity in the UK as developers strive to meet zero carbon targets.

A number of construction options were evaluated before adopting 190mm solid aircrete external walls wrapped externally in 285mm of rendered insulation. With extruded polystyrene insulation running under the reinforced concrete ground floor slab, and conventional standard trussed rafter roofs supporting 500mm Crown Loft Roll, the construction details have been kept simple and effective meaning they can easily be replicated.

Key to effective insulation was the use of a new blue extruded polystyrene foam insulation, which runs below the concrete floor slabs creating an envelope of continuous insulation which minimises heat loss. Having a design load of 130 kN/m2 and is highly durable with excellent moisture-resistance and compressive strength, enabling the insulation to perform outside the waterproofing envelope.

Installing insulation below the slab helps to avoid thermal bridges at floor and wall junctions and makes the most of precious internal space, meaning it is fast becoming recognised as an effective way of insulating new buildings.

Dwelling forms have been kept deliberately simple at the Hastoe development to avoid thermal bridging risks and porches, meter boxes and Brise Soleil are all independently supported to avoid penetrating the insulation overcoat. East-West orientation of the blocks facilitates passive solar gains with careful attention to shading to avoid summer overheating.

The design and construction methods also assisted the incredibly low air tightness requirement of 0.6 air changes per hour, with internal wet plaster providing the majority of the barrier and all joins covered in specialist membranes or tapes.


Sustainability by the sea

Colin Peacock, an Essex-based controls and electrical engineering company, has specified BMS technology from Priva Building Intelligence on a prestigious new school building located in Southend-on-Sea.

Due for completion around Easter 2011, the £6 million facility will both encapsulate the best that building control technology and environmental sustainability initiatives can offer.

When Chase High School in the Westcliff area of Southend launched its sixth form in 2008, the vision for its evolution was a new stand-alone ‘Post 16’ vocational building with a vibrant atmosphere in line with modern working environments. It was to be tastefully furnished, of modern design, adopting materials that create a light, clean impression and embrace sustainability.

Helping bring this vision to life, Colin Peacock, a Wickford-based company was nominated by the building designers NPS South East which was also overseeing the project, having first provided a detailed quotation and schematic design proposal.

“We have worked with NPS South East previously and they approached us to help on the control side,” said Nigel Thompson, managing director of Colin Peacock. “However, due to the complex nature of the project I pushed for the adoption of Priva BMS technology. The existing school building uses a system supplied by a Priva competitor but it has not been updated for over 10 years. We’ve completed a number of projects with Priva in the past three years and I had no doubt it was the best solution for the services being incorporated into the Post 16 vocational building at Chase High.”

The stand-out feature of the facility’s specification was the use of several sustainable technologies such as Rainwater Harvesting, Solar Panels for Hot Water and TermoDeck, a system that uses cooler night air to cool the building.

The basic operating principle of TermoDeck uses the storage capacity/thermal mass of the hollow core slabs. Surplus heat, generated from body heat, lighting, computers and sun radiation is absorbed in the concrete slabs, increasing their temperature by 2-3°C during the day without affecting the comfort of occupants.

In the summer this excess heat is dissipated from the slabs by cooling them with night air in temperate climates, or using conventional chillers in hot climates, but with up to a 50% reduction in capacity when compared to conventional technologies. During winter, heat is stored in the slabs overnight to maintain comfortable internal conditions for the occupants the next day.

The use of the TermoDeck system in the UK has been steadily growing in recent years and Mr Thompson was confident that Priva was the BMS for the job.

“Using strategically placed sensors the BMS ensures the entire building is monitored and controlled,” he says. “While there are only a few radiators within stair wells and no conventional heaters, the control of the project is complicated slightly by the specification of trench heaters [natural convection] and duct heaters in certain areas/rooms. The Priva BMS helps ensure optimum temperatures are maintained in the most efficient manner.”

The BMS at Chase High’s new Post 16 vocational building is based on Priva’s Compri HX WebEngine, a solution for building management using the internet or local network that doesn’t require the use of a high capacity server.

The Priva Comprix HX WebEngine is complemented by two Compri HX 6E controllers (one in the boiler house and the other in the roof plant room). HX 6E is a customised building control system with a modern, completely programmable controller designed especially for small to medium-sized projects such as schools. Additionally there are 10 Priva HX4 outstation controllers strategically positioned around the building and approximately 250 Priva I/O points.

When fully installed and commissioned, the BMS will control all hot water, heating and ventilation/extraction requirements, as well as provide energy monitoring for electricity, gas and water. Additional considerations include the monitoring of harvested rainwater usage (used for lavatory flush), and the control of feature lighting both inside and outside (perimeter dusk to dawn) the building. It is also key (due to BREEAM requirements) that this information can be used for educational purposes and as such a good graphic interface is essential.

In terms of communications protocols, both Modbus (electricity meters, AHUs, heatpump, Duomo combined temperature and air quality sensors)and M-Bus (gas and water) are deployed. The Modbus electricity meters are connected through the Netbiter interface, and the AHU’s, heatpump and Duomo Sensors are directly controlled and monitored by the Priva HX Controllers.


Recycled ‘View Tube’

It’s lime green and made entirely from recycled shipping containers. It’s also the funkiest location yet for a Stannah Midilift SL vertical platform lift.

It’s the View Tube – a social enterprise and community centre located on The Greenway in Stratford, East London – home to the best views of the Olympic Park as it gears up for the planet’s biggest sporting event: the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In use since the View Tube opened in November 2009, the Midilift SL operates over a distance of 2900mm between the entrance foyer and the first floor. It brings easy access for all visitors and staff, whatever their level of mobility, to the venue’s facilities. These include the award-winning Container Café on the ground floor, the first-floor education area, and the all-important viewing balcony of the Olympic Park, the Velodrome, Aquatics Centre and Stratford City.

View Tube architects, Urban Space Management, has used Stannah on the majority of its creative and economic regeneration solutions. USM project manager, Ebru Buyuksural, said: “The View Tube is a fine example of our Container City system of innovative, modular solutions for low cost housing, retail, workshop and community uses. In common with the majority of our projects, we specified Stannah Lifts because they always have the best lift to fit our purpose – well designed and engineered, delivered and installed on time and in budget, performing to the required standard, and with a Lift Services capability to maximise the lift’s lifetime.

“The Midilift SL in the View Tube is no exception – a cost-effective, hydraulic platform lift that is bringing easy access to the many facilities on offer in this distinctive community centre with outstanding views of the Olympic Park and surrounding area.”


UK’s first all-recycled window borough

Veka fabricator Glazerite Windows has achieved a ground-breaking agreement with Luton Borough Council for the authority to switch entirely to recycled PVC-U for all future window replacements.

Luton is thought to be the first UK borough to commit fully to recycled windows in this way and will begin ordering frames made of the innovative Veka Infinity system immediately.

The Infinity profile is based on a unique co-extrusion process with a core of high-purity recycled PVC-U locked inside a thin coat of virgin polymer for colour-stability. With up to 80% recycled material, it uses less than a quarter of the natural resources, such as oil and salt, and has only a third the carbon footprint of its conventional equivalents. All the recycled material comes from Veka’s own purpose-built plant.

Veka sales and marketing Director Colin Torley said: “Luton has shown great foresight in committing to this choice but I am sure many more will follow its example.”

Luton’s decision follows a series of workshops by Veka’s commercial team, introducing local authorities and other housing bodies to the environmental benefits of choosing the Infinity system.

The Borough is currently in the second year of a five-year programme to replace the original single glazed windows remaining in 1,350 of its total 8,200 properties.

Glazerite Director Jason Thompson said: “As a long-standing user of Veka’s existing window systems, Luton has forged a strong relationship with Glazerite. This new commitment to the Infinity range will help to ensure this continues to go from strength to strength.”


Abbey and warm

The owner of an extensive new-build farmhouse at Long Marston near York is enjoying the benefits of reduced heating bills and a warm, comfortable home, after choosing to install a ground source heat pump supplied by Danfoss Heat Pumps UK.

Tim Abbey of Hall Farm has monitored the energy costs of his house since its completion in 2009 and says space and hot water heating for the six-bedroom property has averaged at just £750 per year. He estimates that a similar level of heating from an oil-fired system would have cost at least £3,000 per year.

The Abbey family decided to sell their 17th Century farmhouse for development and build a modern energy efficient home nearby. Tim chose a Danfoss ground source heat pump for the three-storey home, which has a floorspace of 350m2 and he has seen his energy bill drop dramatically in comparison to the cost for heating his previous property.

The heating system was installed by Pure Renewables of Cottingham near Hull as managing director Chris Whitelock explained: “Self-builders are recognising the benefits of renewable energy systems in terms of sustainability and providing long term energy efficiency. A heat pump was an excellent choice for this substantial new home and we set the ground loops in trenches in a nearby field. It will provide very efficient and affordable heating and provide all the property’s heating and hot water needs.”

Tim Abbey added: “When we were planning the new home, we thought it was a great opportunity to install a renewable heating source, especially as the house is out in the countryside and not on mains gas. We had an oil-fired boiler in the old house, which was expensive to run, so we were keen to find a more affordable, sustainable energy source. I was amazed at how much money I have saved as a result of the ground source heat pump.”

Horizontal ground loops were set in trenches in a field close to the property. The DHP-H 12, 12kw pump is situated in an enclosed cupboard in the garage. It supplies underfloor heating pipes, which were installed throughout the ground floor and radiators on the first and second storeys.

Chris Dale, Director of Danfoss Heat Pumps, says: “We have a dedicated technical team who are always on hand to support our approved installers. This in turn helps them to provide excellent service to their customers, such as Mr Abbey and it is always rewarding to hear how householders are making significant savings by use of this greener, cleaner source of energy.”


Anglian has installed Wetherby’s NanoPore & Phenolic external wall insulation as part of an extreme eco-makeover for Crawley Borough Council’s retrofit project.

Wates appointed Anglian Building Products to undertake the insulation works to 33 Warnham Road; one of four properties in Crawley which were awarded funding by the Technology Strategy Board as part of a national competition ‘Retrofit for the Future’.

Retrofit for the Future was created to monitor how a range of low carbon refits undertaken on existing social housing properties can help to meet the UK’s target for reducing greenhouse emissions of 80% by 2050.

33 Warnham Road in Furnace Green, Crawley was a non-traditional property built in the 1960s which incorporated a timber frame.

Anglian installed the NanoPore VIPS (vacuum insulated panels) to the external walls by sandwiching them between 25mm thick phenolic battens.

The setting out, calculating the varying width of the battens, and their fixing, was carefully managed to avoid puncturing the VIPS panels and to maximise their efficiency. A cover layer of 25mm phenolic boards was then installed over the entire assembly, fixed through the battens and completed with the application of a thin coat render system with silicone finish.

This insulation material addresses heat loss through its pore structure of silica, titania and carbon which provides an excellent thermal performance of 7-8 times greater thermal resistance value than conventional foam insulation materials.

“Being involved with such a ground-breaking project was very exciting for Anglian Building Products,” said Stephen Preece, Insulation and Renewable Technologies Director. “The Wetherby NanoPore VIPS system was selected for its energy-saving features which fitted the client’s requirements perfectly. As one of the first EWI companies to install the NanoPore system in the UK, we look forward to reviewing how the system performs at Warnham Road.”

The insulation of the NanoPore VIPS system has since delivered a U-value of 0.13 W/M2/K to the home.

A range of building materials which include MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation and Heat recovery), combined heat and power, photovoltaics and high performance windows were also installed in conjunction with the NanoPore VIPS insulation.


Best residential

1 Zero 4 by LaRock has won the Pro Yorkshire RICS 2011 Award for 'Best Residential' Designed and built by LaRock Construction, Harrogate.

1 Zero 4 is a £multi-million 'beyond' green five-bedroomed home in North Yorkshire (Harrogate).

“LaRock designed and built on the ethos that homes should be more than 'eco', more than 'designer luxury', more than 'sustainable' – an actual 'life assistant' that morphs to needs, wishes and requirements of residents – cocooning them in a warm blanket of lifestyle driven technology,” the company said in a release.

It has been designed to have highly unusual levels of intelligence for a residential scheme more akin to high end commercial schemes which makes it a whole new proposition for a technology driven lifestyle. Each component of the property is able to communicate with others making it a highly efficient and accountable scheme. The building infrastructure pushes beyond sustainable, combining high performance and renewable methods including double air source heat pump technology, solar and rainwater harvesting.

Designed to be sensitive to the needs of the modern family 1 Zero 4 is a living, breathing form, responsible in essence for water, power, energy. Technology allows for minimising resources in some areas but having the capability to maximise in others. A home that creates and allocates accordingly with no waste.

Completely measurable at the touch of a button the house answers questions right down to how much rainwater has been harvested to how much solar energy has been generated. Complete home automation, AV and eco technology systems have been amalgamated into a single coherent system, all managed via a centralised AMX control system and iPad technology.

Townhouse hotel project

The Lion and Pheasant hotel in Shrewsbury called in Ventrolla Staffs and Shropshire to renovate the sash windows on the well known stylish townhouse hotel, bar and restaurant in the heart of the town.

Over 30 sash windows were given a complete overhaul to ensure they were in perfect working order, energy efficient and in keeping with the 17th and 18th century structures and sophisticated interior design.

Rachael Chidlow, a partner at architects Paul Keogh Architects, is delighted with the renovated windows. The renovation process involved installing Ventrolla’s Perimeter Sealing System (VPSS) around the outer edges of the sashes, which improves energy performance by eliminating draughts.

Rachael said: “We recognised we needed to transform the property as its condition had deteriorated. We didn’t want to sell the property as it is a large part of our family history and so we decided to restore and revitalise it into the unique boutique town house hotel it is today.

“We removed all the secondary glazing and restored the sash windows to match the quality of the architecture and renovated interiors. Our priority was the aesthetics of the building but we are delighted with the improved heat retention we are now benefiting from too.”

Following the renovations, The Lion and Pheasant now has 22 bedrooms, two bars, restaurant, reception and banqueting facilities, bringing a new dimension in hospitality to Shrewbury’s historic town centre. It also features the spectacular Georgian 'Crystal Room', a split level restaurant and an impressive oak-trussed 'loft' bedroom.

Innovation awarded

VE Parrott (Oakley) received a special commendation at the London Evening Standard’s New Homes Awards for an innovative social housing development in Luton.

Working with Aldwyck Housing Group, Marsh Farm Development Trust, PRP Architects, Calfordseadon and Luton Borough Council, VE Parrott constructed the contemporary Jeremiah Smith House in the Marsh Farm area of Luton.

The project received funding from the Homes and Communities Agency to aid the regeneration of the local area. The structure was designed to be a focal point and the local community was involved from the start.

Six half-day taster sessions took place enabling 60 local residents and school students to look around the site. Twenty-one trainees from the area had work experience on site for two days a week for the duration of the project, resulting in 420 training days and several trainees achieving NVQ Level 2.

Employing local labour was important during the course of the build, with 27% of all operatives living locally. Full time security was also provided by a fledgling local company, Warriors Security.

The building is on the site of a former children’s home and contains 24 flats. The three-storey development has two blocks connected by a glazed roof, creating a light and airy central atrium area. Residents gain access to their properties from this communal area, which has been designed with community spirit in mind. It has been fitted out with modern glass and aluminium fixtures, and has plenty of seating, a lift, video door entry, and flower beds.

Energy efficiency was also taken into consideration during the build. Lighting in the communal areas is powered by photovoltaic cells on the roof of one block. Energy efficient timber frames with thick, high quality insulation have been used, along with sustainable materials where possible. Residents can also benefit from high efficiency boilers.

Station upgrade

The £550m redevelopment of London Blackfriars Station has given significant consideration to the long term implications of climate change.

The new station will be fitted with sustainability technology such as sun pipes, rain harvesting systems, thermal insulation, and photovoltaic (PV) cell solar panels to decrease its reliance on other infrastructure such as water and electricity networks.

Network Rail director of investment projects, Simon Kirby, said: “As a business we recognise the challenges of climate change and have a responsibility to consider this in the planning, construction and delivery of significant rail projects.

“The use of PV cells on the landmark London Blackfriars redevelopment is a major step that underlines our commitment to meeting this challenge. Not only will it help reduce our overall carbon footprint, but it is also an important benchmarking exercise which will allow us to better understand and measure over time the benefits of this technology and its future application.”

Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said: “Despite the need to cut the deficit, the Government is committed to investing in our transport infrastructure through vital projects such as the Thameslink upgrade, Crossrail, the proposed High Speed Rail Network and more electrification of the rail network.

“Once completed, these projects will serve the country for many years, increasing connectivity and helping boost economic growth, so making them fit for the climate of future has been a vital part of their planning.”

“Climate Resilient Infrastructure: Preparing for a Changing Climate” can be seen at:http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climate/sectors/infrastructure-companies/

CAT award

The Centre for Alternative Technology has been awarded a prestigious architecture award for the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education.

The judges said: "The word 'sustainability' is frequently used; this project not only lives up to the Centre's mission but does so with a quiet confidence. Many such buildings flaunt their green credentials; this building doesn't and is a delight as a result."

CAT's external relations director Paul Allen said: "Winning such a prestigious award shows that sustainable building methods are breaking into the mainstream. The WISE building demonstrates many cutting edge low energy building techniques and we are delighted that the RIBA have recognised CAT's pioneering approach to architecture by giving us this award."

The purpose of CAT's WISE building is to provide thousands of people the opportunity to learn about environmental topics, from organic gardening to renewable energy and green architecture, in an inspiring environment.

The WISE building features many innovative sustainability features. Throughout the construction, low embodied building materials such as earth and hemp were used. Building materials have been sourced locally; the rammed earth lecture theatre is made using soil from a nearby disused quarry. The building has energy-efficient glazing to enhance natural day lighting and passive heat gain, making energy requirements minimal. Every stage of construction was monitored to calculate the environmental footprint – from the materials used to the daily journey to work made by those working on WISE. Environmental monitoring will continue throughout the building’s life.

The building itself consists of:
• A circular 200 seat rammed earth lecture theatre.
• 24 en suite study bedrooms fitted with energy monitoring equipment.
• New toilet facilities with natural zero energy treatment of grey water and sewage.
• Plant and server rooms for the monitoring of energy and water usage in the building.
• Seminar rooms and workshops.
• Offices, common rooms and reception areas.
• Research laboratory.
• Restaurant and bar – promoting the importance of sustainable land use, food miles and a healthy diet.
• Uniquely designed organic gardens.

Picture credit: Timothy Soar

Exhibiting the dwelle.ing

Home dwelle.ing has won five architectural awards for design, sustainability and innovation, and it forms an integral role in the new Eastlands Homes project.

Eastlands Homes is developing a programme to assist residents and the local community to understand how to reduce their carbon footprint.

With the modernisation of six of its towers, which will make them far more energy efficient, Eastlands Homes wants to maximise the impact that this investment has on the their carbon footprint through a programme to empower their tenants to reduce their footprint too. This will also help Eastlands Homes meet its obligations under the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC).

Cooler Projects CIC will deliver a Carbon Literacy programme to tenants of the modernised blocks that will be led by tenants’ needs and experience. It will use motivational science to ensure that the new behaviour is derived from tenants’ ideas, supports them in building their expertise and allows them to visualise the impact that their new behaviour is having. In other words the programme will focus on creating a sense of ‘autonomy, mastery and purpose’ in the participants and so make its impact all the greater. Undertaking this programme will also give the tenants a greater understanding of the potential disruption that the work will cause.

Home dwelle.ing will be the hub for this new programme, located adjacent to Platt and Worsley Courts in Rusholme, two of the blocks to be modernised.

Capital solution

A mixed tenure housing project close to London’s Canary Wharf has been given an award-winning visual identity thanks in part to Natura from Marley Eternit.

Natura fibre cement rainscreen cladding offers a sustainable and low maintenance facade that combines good looks with durability and impact resistance.

Topaz, Coral and Ivory coloured Natura was specified by the architects for Phoenix Heights at Mastmaker Road in East London as part of an ‘appealing, human scaled aesthetic’.

The challenge this posed for the architects was how to bridge the shift in scale between the low rise buildings in the west and the high rise glass fronted Millennium Quarter to the east.

The issue was addressed both by graduating the height of the 199 homes over three to seven storeys, and by the use of the Natura in three colours to visually reduce the scale of the building and make it appear less imposing.

Topaz coloured Natura was used for the high level sunshade canopies, whilst Coral was specified as infill panels and privacy screens on the roof terraces. Insulated render to the main body of the building was then matched with Ivory coloured Natura on the large high level balconies, which proved to be much lighter and easier to apply than render.

Project Architect for the development Andrew Carr said: “We specified Natura in collaboration with Ballymore, the developer, from a range of alternatives which fitted within their budget. While meeting the necessary technical requirements Natura was primarily chosen on appearance and colour. We did consider some alternative cladding materials which did not have the appearance we were looking for or could not provide certification to satisfy UK building control.”

Natura was installed by MPG Facades as part of a rainscreen cladding insulation solution, with the walls achieving a U-value of 0.25 W/m2K. The development achieves an Eco Homes Very Good rating and secured The London Evening Standard’s award for The Best New Affordable Housing Development.

Marley Eternit fibre cement cladding panels can achieve an A+ rating as defined in the BRE Green Guide to Specification based on generic rating for autoclaved fibre cement single sheet.

Zero carbon homes brochure

UK building systems company The Litchfield Group has launched an updated version of its brochure detailing how six star ratings under the code for sustainable homes can be achieved using Sheerframe windows and doors.

The eight-page guide provides advice to housebuilders, social housing providers and private homeowners. It outlines the government’s policy on reducing carbon emissions and explains how buildings can gather points towards star ratings under the nine identified design categories.

Sheerframe windows and doors deliver exceptional weather tightness and energy performance and can be central towards the achievement of a zero carbon ratings, which requires a category six under the energy element in the code for sustainable homes. In the 4th edition of the Green Guide to Specification published by the BRE Sheerframe PVC frames perform to A and A+ levels, the highest attainable.

Sheerframe windows have featured alongside other Litchfield Group components – ICF Tech walls and Masterdor doors – in a range of landmark developments including the Code Level 5 social and private housing development at Brookwood Farm in Woking.

Copies of the “Towards zero carbon homes – how to reach six star ratings” are downloadable from the group website www.litchfield-group.co.uk

Cracking Code 6

BLP is in the process of insuring a number of new schemes where, when the homes are built, they will be among the first in the country to achieve a zero carbon rating.

Jeff Maxted, technical director of BLP, said: "Our flexible approach to innovation and traditional construction combined with an extensive knowledge of modern methods of construction has allowed us to insure a number of new schemes that traditional warranty providers might be reluctant to insure."

For example, BLP recently agreed new homes insurance on a Code 6 development by Catalyst Housing. Working with Willmott Dixon, Catalyst Housing is about to start building on a new development at Staines Road, Hounslow.

Tim Nathan, project manager at Catalyst Homes said: "From the outset we have been committed to building Code 6 properties that will be homes for life – not an experimental scheme where people are housed short term while the properties are assessed for efficiency.

"We have worked with BLP before and their approach to this project has, as ever, been refreshingly straightforward because, although they wanted different information in order to process the application for our new homes insurance, the process was exactly the same and the premiums are no different.

"I am really pleased that people from the housing list will live here and they will reap the benefit of living in such top quality housing with the best levels of energy efficiency.”

Jeff Maxted agreed: "The transfer of knowledge between professionals is absolutely essential to the zero carbon agenda. Collaboration and partnering will be essential to achieving the demanding carbon reduction targets that have been set and BLP will play our part is supporting our clients to achieve this."


(Policy is underwritten by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, UK Branch.)

New-build in grey

Trade and commercial fabricator Emplas has completed a major installation of almost 1,500 new build energy efficient windows and doors in a smooth grey foil.

Designed to replicate the external appearance of aluminium, windows were manufactured by the Wellingborough-based manufacturer in the FS70 system from Profile 22 and feature an exterior slate-grey foil and white interior finish.

Appointed as a preferred supplier by lead contractor Wates, Emplas completed the delivery programme to more than 200 new build properties in the Piper’s Way, Swindon, development in spring this year.

Kevin Johnson, managing director, Emplas, said: “Piper’s Way is a very significant project. At almost 1,500 products it is large scale but more importantly we have been able to demonstrate just how flexible PVC-U can be, particularly aesthetically.

“This is a design-driven development. The developers have used a wide variety of different building materials, timber, steel, stone and render and alongside them dual-colour PVC-U. It demonstrates how foils mean that PVC-U can achieve a strong architectural aesthetic.”

Alongside appearance, energy efficiency was also important on the Code 4 level project, the windows achieving a 1.4/m2k WER ‘A’ rated advanced thermal performance.

Johnson continued: “Developers are increasingly aware of how windows can be instrumental in defining the character of a development but equally how window material selection can have a positive impact on delivery cost without compromising on thermal performance or aesthetics.”

Profile 22 also offers a triple-glazed option, available in its standard ranges and new fully recycled RECO22 system. Capable of achieving U-values as low as 0.8 W/m2K, the bead has been designed to give fabricators new ‘reach’ in the commercial sector.

Andrew Reid, sales development director, Profile 22 said: “Two things are driving sales in the commercial sector, thermal performance – we’re already at Code 4 and rapidly moving towards level 5 – and enhanced aesthetics. The triple glazed bead and foil offers from Profile 22 go a long way to ticking those boxes.

“It’s manufacture from 100% recycled material means that RECO22 reaches further still, cutting the carbon footprint of extruded profile to just six per cent of that manufactured using virgin material, securing a dedicated A+ rating across all domestic applications from the Building Research Establishment.

“Developers are looking to suppliers for product innovation that increase thermal efficiency, that are sustainable, which deliver strong aesthetics and which help to drive down costs. In this context foiled PVC-U is represents an exceptionally strong alternative to aluminium in new build.”


Customer support

EOS Energy’s customers have been enthusiast in showing their support for the company, many being especially impressed with the quality of the installation team.

Chris Begg is a manager at Hill Close Garden Centre in Warwick. The centre recently had a 17-panel photovoltaic array installed by EOS Energy at a cost of £12,968. Chris provided the company with the following statement: “I would just like to thank yourself and your team for a very impressive and professional installation of our PV. You started when you said you would and finished early, which is excellent. You took note of my concerns about roof loading, and the final layout is simple and effective. Everything was left clean and tidy, there was minimum effect on our operations and now everything seems to be working. Well done!”

Begg was so impressed that he is planning on installing safety equipment to allow visitors to view the roof and experience renewable energy first hand.

Similarly, Councillor Dave Wise in Southam was so pleased with his recent domestic installation by EOS Energy that he is also offering to showcase it to visitors. Dave said: “I work with members of the public and the interest from people has been phenomenal. People are always asking to come and see the new system on my roof, which I'm more than happy to do!"


Picture: Hill Close Garden's installation

Oiling low carbon power

Bedfordshire East Schools Trust (BEST) has completed its new £2.2m low-carbon, rapeseed oil-powered, co-location building, at its site in Shefford, Bedfordshire.

The project – which was designed and constructed by the Stamford-based, low-carbon building specialist, LowC Communities – achieved an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of ‘A’ and ‘Outstanding’ level under BREEAM’s energy guidelines.

Using an architectural design by Hanson Leddington Architects, the 805m2 building, named ‘BEST House’, is now home to a purpose-built nursery and a suite of offices for the delivery of children and family services via a number of public-sector partners.

Richard Griffin, LowC’s managing director, said: “From the outset, we aimed for outstanding energy performance from this building, and delivered it, with annual carbon emissions of less than 27kg/m2. Although it was below the statutory threshold for compulsory BREEAM certification, we have worked to BREEAM’s ‘Outstanding’ level for energy and carbon credits – resulting in our client getting a high-efficiency building for a budget more suited to a traditional, less-efficient, new-build project.”

“This data enabled us to correctly size the generation technology to efficiently meet the needs of the building.” Griffin continued. “This level of accuracy is crucial to establishing operational performance. A building’s energy consumption can vary by as much as a factor of 200% depending on its occupants’ usage; and the associated electrical and thermal loads can also vary by up to 400% from the standard design tool modelling adopted through the traditional part L design approach.

“Even with energy-efficient technologies and insulation levels far in excess of the 2010 Building Regulations, it was clear that we needed to adopt a renewable energy technology to meet our own stringent performance targets in operation.”

The design team looked at all of the available options and, after careful evaluation, opted for an 8kWe, Pure Plant Oil combined heat and power (CHP) system, that would produce all of the renewable heat and power required – coupled to a thermal store to ensure renewable electricity could be generated when required without dumping heat.

Using locally grown Rapeseed oil – an Ofgem-accredited renewable fuel with a carbon content of 0.009kg/kWh (2010 building regulations) – importantly, qualified the LowC Energy centre for double ROCS (Renewable obligation certificates) providing a revenue stream for the building’s owner, BEST.

Water use has also been minimised, by the building’s rain-harvesting roof collecting water and storing it in a tank to be used for toilet flushing.

Ian Kite, chief executive of BEST, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the new building and it will help us deliver our Trust’s aims of promoting the advancement of education and community cohesion.”


Singapore green

Platon DE25 drainage and storage membrane has been specified as part of the green roof construction at the new Universal Studios theme park in Singapore.

Occupying about 35,000m2, the green roof is one of Asia’s largest. Platon DE 25 was chosen as the drainage/water retention layer because the wide structural spans of the immense roof and the fast track construction of the park demanded that the chosen system was light and easy to install.

The other components of the green roof build up included a fully adhered layer of Evalon PVC-EVA terpolymer waterproofing membrane, and a non-woven filter fabric which was laid over the DE 25, followed by a primarily inorganic substrate and selected drought tolerant plant species which require little or no maintenance.

The excellent insulation properties of green roofs mean they act as heat and sound shields, protecting building interiors from the tropical heat and reducing sound transmission. This not only reduces energy consumption, but also extends the lifespan of the waterproofing on the roofs.

Platon DE 25 is available in the UK and Ireland from Triton. Depending upon general climatic conditions and the plants used, Triton can now also offer Platon DE 40/500 for projects where a higher water storage capacity is required.


Helping to reduce emissions

Alpha Heating Innovation has supplied a series of its boilers for installation on a residential project in Inverurie, near Aberdeen.

The combination of units is helping to achieve the additional 30% reduction in carbon emissions required to keep in line with recently updated Scottish government building regulations.

To achieve the reduction in carbon emission levels, Alpha supplied 50 of its CD50 storage combi boilers in addition to SolarSmart units, GasSaver top boxes and FlowSmart 50 units for installation across the first phase of the residential site, with more to follow on upcoming project stages.

The CD50 storage combi boiler was selected due to its ability to meet above average demands for hot water – a point of particular notice in properties with multiple bathrooms or tenants, as built during the Inverurie project. Due to its 52 litre built-in storage cylinder, the CD50 unit is able to deliver hot water at a flow rate of 18 litres per minute – enough to fill a bath in just 3-5 minutes.

To complement the CD50 boilers, Alpha’s award-winning SolarSmart package was also fitted allowing households to generate a back up heat supply should it be required.

Designed to work with a combination boiler, unlike traditional solar thermal systems which work only with a standard boiler, SolarSmart is ideal for use in this situation and helps deliver significant energy and financial savings as a result. SolarSmart works by heating the stored volume of water using only energy generated through the SolarSmart solar system meaning no gas is used in maintaining the cylinder temperature.

Installed to work with the new units, Alpha’s GasSaver and FlowSmart technologies were also employed to help meet even greater levels of emission reduction. GasSaver sits above the boiler and works by recycling waste heat from boiler flue gases. This warmth can then be used to pre-heat cold mains water before it enters the boiler.

As a result, the boiler works to heat warm rather than cold water resulting in around 35% less gas being used, helping to reduce energy costs while saving up to half a ton of carbon per year. As such, the product itself is recommended by the Energy Saving Trust and is SAP Appendix Q recognised.

For larger households within the project, FlowSmart was also installed to help meet the higher than average hot water demand. While a combination boiler alone is able to supply large volumes of water in average use situations, it is unable to deliver very large volumes of hot water to multiple outlets at the same time. FlowSmart is able to meet such needs and is also approved by the NHBC in accordance with Chapter 8.1 for simultaneous draw-offs up to 18 L/min.

Eco-friendly ‘village’ decked

Students at Oxford Brookes University are enjoying the use of a postgraduate lounge built at the centre of an eco-friendly £16m ‘village’ development, and surrounded by JBCitideck, a smooth anti-slip timber decking from John Brash.

The main contractor on the project is the Leadbitter Group, who specified John Brash’s JBCitideck for the roof terrace, ground level terraced areas of the postgraduate lounge and balconies from the student flats.

JB Citideck combines all the safety benefits of JB Antislip Plus inserts with the user-friendly nature of smooth deck boards, which are much easier to walk on in heeled shoes in urban environments compared to castellated decking. It is also provides a smoother surface for wheelchair users

JBCitideck is frequently specified for outdoor areas where food is served. Its smooth surface prevents food, dirt or litter becoming trapped, making it much easier to clean for maintenance teams.

Architect on the project Michael Magri, of GSS Architecture’s Bristol office explained: “We specified our general requirement which was for timber decking to fit with the natural aspect of the design – the ground floor terrace surrounds and cantilevers over the central water feature. The anti-slip requirement was a major priority in this area, which will have heavy pedestrian traffic throughout the year.”

John Brash timber products are all manufactured within a quality system accredited to BS EN ISO 9001:2008 and only sourced from sustainable and well managed forests that have either FSC (Forestry Stewardship Certification) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) schemes.


Number One in sustainability

High performance building materials from Natural Building Technologies (NBT) have been specified for one of the UK’s most sustainable developments, One Brighton. NBT’s building systems provided exceptional thermal performance levels and helped the development achieve a zero carbon status and an EcoHomes ‘Excellent’ rating.

The flagship project of developer, BioRegional Quintain and housebuilder, Crest Nicholson, One Brighton is part of the regeneration of the New England Quarter of Brighton.

The development was the first One Planet Living community to be designed, constructed and managed using the One Planet Living Principles, a global initiative by BioRegional and WWF International which provides a set of guiding principles to promote highly sustainable lifestyles.

A mixed-use development, One Brighton comprises 172 apartments and Eco-studios, as well as offices, retail space and approximately 1000m2 of community space. The two contemporary blocks of up to 11 storeys, were constructed using NBT’s ThermoPlan fired clay blocks, Diffutherm woodfibre insulation and mineral-based render systems. Quick and easy to install, NBT’s building materials offer high levels of thermal efficiency and are fully breathable, creating a healthy internal living environment.

Pete Halsall, managing director at BioRegional Quintain said: “We are delighted to have installed a number of materials which have been supplied by NBT at One Brighton. We believe that the residents will benefit years into the future from the health and well-being generated through the specification of natural building materials that NBT have supplied. We have been delighted by their excellent technical support in using these high performance, sustainable products.”

NBT’s consultancy service, nbt consult, managed the on-site workmanship, ensuring a high quality finish and guaranteeing that the predicted efficiency values were achieved. Additionally, nbt consult conducted air-tightness testing and provided technical design advice on ventilation systems.

Sustainability flagship project

The Mayor of London and Siemens are to create a unique centre in Newham, East London, where city experts and high-tech engineers will work side by side. Siemens AG intends to bring its global Centre of Competence for cities to London and create a joint 'think tank' with the city of London where international, high-tech engineers and London's city experts will work together side by side.

"Our London-based centre for urban sustainability will be the flagship of our new Sector Infrastructure & Cities,” Siemens’ president and CEO Peter Löscher said. “We will bring Siemens engineers and a wealth of global city expertise to our landmark building, creating a win-win situation for London.”

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "Siemens' commitment to London is a thumbs up for the skills our city has in green and other sustainable technologies. With this global electronics and engineering giant's plans for their new centre far advanced we will do all we can to bring together the capital's invaluable expertise with Siemens' amazing pool of international technology pioneers."

Siemens AG intends to be a leading participant in the dynamic growth of cities and infrastructure investments. Therefore the company has formed a new sector spearheaded by a global Centre of Competence located in London.

In addition to offices for city planners and engineers, Siemens plans to host a major, state-of-the-art, exhibition on sustainable urban development at the centre, which will be open to the public, as well as hosting conferences in its 300-seat auditorium and providing facilities for visitors including a shop, restaurant and café.

Groundwork has already started at the site with plans to construct an All Electric Building, which will cover an area of 3,687m2 in two crystal-shaped sections. Siemens has invested more than £30 million into the centre to make sure it will meet the highest building standards - such as the LEED "Platinum" and the BREEAM "Outstanding" for sustainable design and construction.

The building will be embedded in a smart grid and will include charging stations for e-vehicles. It will make use of solar power, ground source heat pumps, energy-efficient lighting and a closed water cycle. It is due to become operational and open to the public by mid-2012.


Stylish installation

Applelec’s LED Light Sheet has been used to display Mulberry’s famous luxury leather goods at the newly relocated flagship boutique on London’s New Bond Street.

The store design was conceived by Universal Design Studio, while DPA Lighting provided a lighting design solution which was mindful of energy saving criteria. Conceptually the space suggests a modern art gallery, creating a unique experience for those browsing within the boutique and highlighting the connection between fashion and art.

All elements of the store’s design and functionality have been calculated to minimise environmental impact and have longevity; thus the dry stone wall retains heat in winter and aids the store’s cooling throughout warmer months. With such systems in place, the store is expected to receive a BREEAM rating of ‘excellent’, a rare achievement for a retail space. LED Light Sheet’s selection for this environmentally conscious boutique is a pertinent accolade for a product which has been developed with energy efficiency as a core characteristic.

Along with low energy consumption, LED Light Sheet delivers an LED lifespan of over 50,000 hours, achieved in part by the thermal management of the LEDs embedded within the sheet. This LED management enables the luminaire to run cool to the touch, ensuring it does not interfere with the temperature systems of the Mulberry boutique, and in particular does not contribute to the overheating of the store in summer months.

Furthermore, the cool running of LED Light Sheet ensures it is suitable for a variety of retail applications as products may be displayed on or near the unit without harm or depreciation. Light brightness meanwhile is not compromised, and in the Mulberry project the unit was fitted to the underside of shelves within two of the oak follies allowing light to be cast downwards onto the displayed products. In the construction of the follies, LED Light Sheet’s slim profile ensures it is discreetly integrated into the exposed oak shelves.