Weekly Email News – the future of the building industry


Solar micro inverter unveiled

Enecsys has unveiled the SMI-D480W-60, a 480 Watt micro inverter that mounts on the railing system and accepts DC input from two individual solar modules.

This Duo micro inverter enables maximum power point tracking for both modules and reduces inverter cost compared with using one micro inverter per module so that there is no cost premium over string inverters.

The DC power generated by the two solar modules is converted into a single, grid-compliant AC output in the 480W unit, which has a maximum input current of 24A. With a peak efficiency of 96% and Euro efficiency of 94%, the new micro inverter is housed in an IP66-rated enclosure. It weighs 2.1kg and the main body measures 245mm x 160mm x 40mm.

The SMI-D480W-60 micro inverter operates from -40ºC to +85ºC, has over 25 years' service life and is supplied with a 20-year limited warranty. Solar PV installations with Enecsys Duo micro inverters deliver 5% to 20% more energy over the life of the system, depending on the operating environment and installation configuration. Using Enecsys micro inverters eliminates the problem of dramatic reductions in energy harvest when solar modules are mismatched or when one module, or part of a module, has its output reduced through shading or accumulation of surface debris. This causes major energy harvest problems for string inverter systems.

Based on a patented inverter design that removes life-limiting components, including electrolytic capacitors and opto-couplers, the reliability of the Enecsys SMI-D480W-60 has been verified using industry-standard test methods including HALT and HTOL. The inverters have also undergone thermal cycling to IEC61215, the same tests applied to solar PV modules.

The Enecsys SMI-D480W-60 meets CE, EN 62109 and EN 6100-6 safety and EMC standards. Like other products within the Enecsys micro inverter family, it has UL1741 certification that is required for the US and Canadian markets. Country-specific requirements, including VDE V

A new iPhone application, compatible with iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS models, has also been announced. Installers can use the application to monitor multiple sites located anywhere in the world, from anywhere with a mobile data connection. For each site, information is provided about the installation date, location, current weather conditions and real-time as well as historical system performance information.



Newly rebranded Revitaglaze (formally IBL) is raising awareness about the benefits its service brings to the market.

Revitaglaze offers glass polishing, window filming, vinyl branding and window manifestations to a wide range of industries – offering practical solutions for cost cutting, sustainability, upgrading and restoring of commercial property and company re-branding.

With the sustainability agenda gaining importance, a healthy environmental rating becomes ever more a necessity, boosting business credibility and satisfying stakeholders and enabling commercial properties with leases due for renewal to be more attractive for tenants or buyers.

Over 90% of facility managers, according to a 2008 survey, are working to make their facilities more sustainable. This is a direct result of customer as well as government demand but primarily because it makes financial sense to do so. “Clearly, sustainable credentials give stakeholders more confidence and pride in a business brand,” he company said.

Ian Bower, director of Revitaglaze said: “The Revitaglaze products and services address key environmental concerns within a number of industries. As market leaders, we think it is important to expand our business globally in line with a respect for sustainable development. An important part of this strategy is to raise awareness about how Revitaglaze can support the market in their efforts to do the same.”

Window films can influence the reduction of carbon emissions. Furthermore, counter to recent claims that commercial building improvements cost more to the environment than they save, when it comes to window filming the benefits are proven.

Global supplier of window filming, Solar Gard spent £1m in research and development, and has recently launched an Environmental Product Declaration which analyses the full life cycle effect of raw materials, manufacture, delivery installation and disposal. It assesses the true environmental effect and not just the Carbon/CO2 aspects, and clearly proves the benefit to the environment.

Glass filming filters out 99% of UV rays, which are damaging to interiors, causing fabric and wood to fade. It also addresses the threat of skin cancer. By reducing glare, filming also creates a healthier working, traveling and living environment, boosting a sense of well being and reducing the need for air conditioning. In terms of insulation, again glass filming scores highly. Clearly financial as well as environmental cost cutting and efficiency are key factors in how this product supports sustainable development.

Window films not only strengthen glass, to the extent that it withstand an accidental impact of someone falling into a pane, it can also protect individuals from shattered glass following a bomb blast.


Energy self sufficiency

At Intersolar Europe 2011, Schüco demonstrated that decentralised energy management, as well as self-sufficient homes and offices are no longer a vision of the future; they are already a reality.

In line with the company model of ‘Energy3 – saving energy, generating energy and networking energy’, Schüco shows the way towards decentralisation and independent power generation. With Energy³ Buildings that save energy with coordinated windows, doors and façades, and generate energy with a wide range of solutions for solar power and solar heating. This energy can be used by means of intelligent networking. The task is performed by a new ‘energy manager’ unveiled at the exhibition: the Schüco E3 Tower. It networks all of the generators of solar electricity and heat. The aim is to use and store the generated solar energy where it is consumed – in the building.

The Schüco E3 Tower connects together all the components of the Energy3 Building and controls personal power consumption, storage, and the purchase and sale of energy. This technology is therefore just as worthwhile for family homes and apartment blocks as it is for small and medium-sized companies.

Another key focus of the Schüco display is pioneering new photovoltaic system solutions for private homes, industrial and commercial roofs, open spaces, and for integration in windows and façades. In addition to poly- and monocrystalline photovoltaic modules, the photovoltaic portfolio also includes micromorphous and amorphous, silicon-based thin-film modules, which are produced at Schüco production facilities near Magdeburg and Dresden.

New to the product range are the Schüco Blackline thin-film modules, which achieve a higher level of efficiency thanks to the micromorphous cell technology. All Schüco thin-film modules achieve optimum outputs even at high operating temperatures, in diffuse light and where module orientation is less than ideal. Schüco thin-film modules are manufactured with minimal use of raw materials and do not contain either cadmium or lead. Together with the MSE 100 mounting system, they form a complete and flexible PV system for every project requirement.


Thermal bridge blocking

Marmox Thermoblocks are designed to replace the bottom row of bricks in an internal wall. They virtually eliminate the thermal bridge between the wall and the floor and create a waterproof thermal barrier.

Marmox Thermoblocks consist of a core of fire resistant XPS reinforced with load-carrying, lightweight columns made of an epoxy composite. They are covered on the top and bottom with a layer of fibreglass mesh embedded in polymer concrete.

Standard 65mm high Marmox Thermoblocks are to be compatible with the UK brick height. They are available in two widths: 100mm and 140mm.

If even greater thermal insulation is required, a thicker version giving an R value of 2 is available. This is 80mm high and available in both 100mm and 140mm wide.

New building regulations are putting more importance than ever on minimising thermal bridging as they aim to cut down CO2 emissions by 25% more than in the 2006 regulations.

A thermal bridge in a building is where two different materials with different heat conductivities meet. If one of the materials is more conductive then the heat that would normally be trapped inside the building escapes, finding a path to the outside along the more heat conductive of the materials.

A good example of this would be where the floor meets the wall; here the floor cuts into the wall and allows the heat to trickle down the wall into the floor then outside along the concrete floor.

Small and efficient boiler

The new compact, high output BioWIN Excel wood pellet boiler from Windhager UK is aimed at larger properties with heating requirements of up to 180kW. Extensively tried and tested, the pellet heating technology has been adapted especially for high performance, focusing on maximum operational safety, fuel efficiency and economic operation for cost savings.

The high output BioWIN uses a new fully automatic pellet feed suction system not used on any other boiler system. The flexible system uses up to eight extraction points within the bulk pellet hopper, making the system incredibly reliable and space saving as pellet storage rooms incorporating inclined surfaces are no longer required.

An installation footprint of just 1.12m2 is all that is required for the BioWIN Excel. The BioWIN Excel is a fully automatic appliance and incorporates fully automated cleaning functions, ash removal, intermediate pellet hopper and a large ash box.

The BioWIN Excel has a number of features to reduce system maintenance and increase levels of comfort and efficiency including a fully automatic patented ash-sliding grate under the burner running in opposite directions about every six hours to ensure a clean burner bowl. The burner grate fully opens to allow larger pieces of residue left from combustion to be reliably removed for long and continuous burner operation as ash is removed at the same time as pellets are drawn into the burner.

The large ash box integrated into the unit holds ash from up to 8 tonnes of pellets, extending the intervals between emptying to just 1 to 3 times per heating season. Long cleaning intervals can also be attributed to the fully automatic heating surface cleaning as the ash generated is automatically conveyed to the ash box via two augers.

The high output BioWIN is available in outputs of 35kW, 45kW and 60kW and is available in a cascade version up to 180kW, making it the ideal heating solution for large buildings, hotels, schools, public buildings, apartment blocks and district heating systems. The BioWIN Excel is also available as a pre-packaged plant room for a total turn key solution for an energy efficient renewable heating solution.

Windhager’s system technology means that like all its biomass boilers, the BioWIN can be combined with other heating components such as wood or solar thermal, hot water tanks, buffer solutions and control systems to provide an energy efficient, heating solution.


PV protection

Carlo Gavazzi now provides a complete solution for control, protection and monitoring of grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) plants.

The Smart String Box bundles Carlo Gavazzi surge arrestors, power supply and EOS array master module, string controller, environmental module and I/0, together with a third-party isolator device, all packaged in an IP66 rated enclosure. It is ideally suited to installations ranging from 10kW-120kW and manages up to 250A of total string current.

Smart String Box systems can be fused on both the negative and positive side. New Carlo-Gavazzi DSF surge arrestors embody a special internal backup that ensures they remain safe at the end of varistor life, thus ensuring the safest transient overvoltage protection for combiner boxes.

Carlo Gavazzi’s recently introduced Eos-Array controller is flexible, easily scalable and is composed of a series of modular elements to provide efficient local and remote control of a solar plant, targeting small to medium or high power installations. With no auxiliary bus wiring, the system is simple to install and straightforward to expand. Further cost saving is provided by the integrated string fuse protection, and modularity also improves overall system reliability. String efficiency and inverter performance are monitored, enabling operators to rapidly isolate faults, failures and inefficiencies as soon as they occur.

Built-in independent monitoring provides basic or comprehensive plant control and monitoring on DC and AC sides. The expandable system gathers accurate and dependable data to help maintain an efficient revenue stream from PV installations. Controllers promptly advise users of events such as blown fuses, PV module disconnection or inverter failure, to enable rapid maintenance measures to be carried out, significantly reducing service time and missed production costs. There is no monthly charge for the data, which is stored locally to give users full control.

Monitoring systems also provide users with information including calculations of DC-to-AC conversion efficiencies and Balance of System. In addition, solar irradiation, wind speed and PV temperature are recorded and available for analysis. Data are displayed in graphical and analytical format and in real time.

Alarms can be set for reduced efficiency and interrupted production, with notifications sent via email or SMS according to the type of alarm. Anti-theft monitoring can also be added to the Smart String Box, notifying users as soon as a panel is removed.

Components and modules of the Smart String Box are fully compliant with UK and international photovoltaic electrical regulations.


Award for Environmental Technology

Daikin Altherma Flex Type air-to-water heat pump – heat pump for multiple occupancy buildings – has won the Innovation Award for Environmental Technology at the Environment and Energy Awards.

The award was presented at a ceremony on Tuesday 24th May at the National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham, as part of Sustainability Live.

Daikin Altherma Flex Type beat other short-listed contenders, including Environmental Innovations, Enval, Sainsbury’s and Aeolus Technologies, to scoop the award and was among a record number of entries to this year’s competition.

Peter Verkempynck, managing director of Daikin UK said: “The Daikin Altherma Flex Type heat pump is a genuinely innovative product, capable of providing highly energy efficient heating and hot water for multiple occupancy buildings, from domestic apartments and university accommodation, to schools and even prisons. As a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daikin Europe, Daikin UK is delighted that the Environment and Energy Award judges have recognised this innovation and the contribution that the Daikin Altherma Flex Type can make to low carbon buildings of the future.”

The Daikin Altherma Flex Type heat pump is the first system to allow independent control and billing of heating and hot water systems within each individual dwelling, with the whole building system powered from community-based outdoor units, each of which can serve up to ten individual dwellings.

This product has remarkable efficiency with COPs of up to 3.5, resulting in a 27% reduction in primary energy use, 59% fewer CO2 emissions and 33% lower operating costs compared with an installation of standard efficiency individual gas boilers. It also provides optional cooling through heat recovery technology, a feature that will become more of a necessity as buildings become more air tight.

One of the key features of the Daikin Altherma Flex Type is that it is a high temperature heat pump system, and therefore ideal for retrofitting in apartment buildings. As it needs no immersion heater to provide water flow temperatures of up to 80°C, it can be used with existing heat emitters such as radiators. Since the pipework connection between outdoor and indoor units is made by small diameter refrigerant piping, only a small sized utility shaft is needed to accommodate the system’s connections, making it suitable for most retrofit situations.


Wise with water

The Drainwave has obtained the Waterwise Marque.

Managing director Martin O’ Donnell said: “We’re delighted that Waterwise has recognised the water-saving opportunities that can be created by the installation of a Drainwave”.

Waterwise is the leading authority on water efficiency in the UK. The Waterwise Marque is awarded annually to products which reduce water wastage or raise the awareness of water efficiency.

Jacob Tompkins, managing director of Waterwise, said: “Like many innovations the Drainwave is a simple yet ingenious product that solves the common problem of domestic drain and sewer blockage without the need for jetting or flushing, as such it saves water, time and money.”

The Drainwave collects waste water from building use and combines this with water from the toilet to increase the flush volume down sewage pipes. The Drainwave stores the water temporarily and once it has reached a predetermined capacity (9.5 litres) automatically tips, which sends the water surging through the pipes. The device is stored underground near the building and contains only one moving part, so it requires little or no maintenance. This is a patented adaptation of the flushing methods originally used by Victorian engineers to keep the main sewers clean.

A report carried out by the Water Research Council (WRC) on behalf of the manufacturers of Drainwave, recognises the product as a solution to dry or blocked drains.

The Drainwave also eliminates the problem of back flooding after a reflux valve has been fitted. The valve prevents water backing up the pipe from downstream. Reflux valves are however causing blockages upstream of where they are installed. Waste water from buildings which contains solids is prevented from passing through the flap valve due to low flows and low water velocities. The configuration of the Drainwave will ensure reflux valves stop back flooding while the Drainwave will prevent upstream blockages. The WRC now recommends that a Drainwave be installed in conjunction with a reflux valve to stop flooding.

The device has received praise from influential architects such as Andrew Best of Buro Happold. “The Drainwave is a remarkably unglamorous product destined to spend its life buried below the ground, but it offered a very ingenious and simple solution to avoiding problems of blocked drains,” he said.


Picture: New-build installation with water efficient house fixtures.

‘Check compliance’ suppliers warned

Foremans Relocatable Building Systems, supplier of recycled and refurbished modular buildings, is urging construction clients to check all modular building suppliers comply with Building Regulations Part L2A 2010 requirements.

Kevin Jones, managing director of Foremans, said: “It has become apparent that some modular building suppliers are struggling to comply with the revised Building Regulations Part L2A and also that not all are understanding the requirement to provide Energy Performance Certificates on completion of every project.

“All buildings supplied by Foremans are fully L2A 2010 compliant. However, as an industry, there is clearly work to do to raise standards and ensure all projects, regardless of supplier, are delivered in line with the new legislation.

“While we are using a recycled building structure, we are achieving consistently high test results for air tightness. This is because of how we enhance our modular buildings – installing new cladding, new window systems with high U-values, high frequency lighting and all new M&E services on every project.”

Foremans is also advising construction clients to ensure that they are comparing tenders for modular buildings that are like for like and that they check suppliers’ track record of previous Part L 2010 compliant buildings. This will help them avoid being hit by unforeseen costs post-completion and potential time delays for Building Regulations compliance.

Pre-owned modular buildings are a highly cost-effective alternative to new build – an important benefit in the current economic climate where budgets are restricted. The recycling and refurbishment of relocatable buildings is also one of the most sustainable methods of construction – helping to reduce carbon emissions, waste sent to landfill and improving a building’s carbon footprint.


Waste reduction

A new initiative created by Gradient Flat Roofing minimises the quantity of waste created at every stage of the design and installation process, while helping to limit the resulting CO2 emissions.

It starts at the design stage where the insulation boards are set out from the roof’s high points. This means that square cutting is usually only required on the thinnest boards which minimises the volume of any off-cuts. Gradient also advises customers on waste reduction methods such the use of half-boards, flat gutters, infills and the potential to re-use large off-cuts.

The system also includes the use of accurate, factory pre-cut 45º mitres, which minimise any on-site cutting required (again reducing the amount of site waste) and also ensure a very accurate fit for the boards. Non-standard factory-cut mitres can also be provided, which cuts site waste even further.

“Clear communication between ourselves and the roofing contractor is another essential element,” added Gradient sales manager Richard Milward. “This helps everyone to understand the insulation scheme properly and make the installation process trouble free.”

When packing, Gradient’s ensures that the insulation boards are made up into the smallest load possible, to reduce transport requirements. “We can even work with contractors to complete a waste audit which specifies the exact quantity of product supplied to site and identifies the likely volume of waste they will need to remove,” Richard said.


Picture: A new single-layer tapered roofing insulation system designed by Gradient has formed part of a major package of works to convert Riber Castle into a block of 26 luxury apartments.

New solar control glass

Light transmittance (tV) 62 %, solar factor 29 %, a selectivity that is higher than factor 2 – these excellent technical values relate to the new solar control glass ipasol ultraselect 62/29 by Interpane (Laufenfoerde, Germany).

A newly developed triple silver coating on the inside surface of the outer pane has made this technological leap possible. The glazing reduces the summer cooling load while letting a maximum amount of natural daylight into the room. This saves energy, is good for the environment, and expands the creative leeway for architects and facade builders.

There is also a positive side effect: the low outside reflection (10 %), which reduces undesired reflection. This leads to excellent colour-neutral appearance and vision, even at acute angles. During cool outside temperatures, the especially low Ug-value of 1.0 W/(m2K), as double glazing, effectively prevents heat loss.


Take a seat

Workplace equipment provider Slingsby is reporting record sales of its outdoor furniture that is made using recycled materials.

The company supplies more than 35,000 workplace products across all industries and in recent years has significantly increased the number of products that are made from recycled materials.

Lee Wright, marketing director at Slingsby, said: “More organisations than ever before are specifically asking for products that are made from materials that are either recycled or come from sustainable sources. For many businesses and organisations it has become a key requirement when they are buying products and is more of a priority than the price.

“As the weather improves this is certainly the case with outdoor furniture and we're continually introducing new products to our range that are all proving to be an immediate hit with our customers.

“A lot of these products are made using recycled polystyrene or plastic and these materials also have several benefits over wood or metal because they don't require any maintenance and they won't splinter, rot or corrode if they are neglected or left outside all year round.”


Picture: Standard picnic table – made from recycled polystyrene, which will not rot or corrode. Weather and chemical resistant. No paint or preservatives required. Will not splinter.

Affordable thermal imaging

Testo has made its full range of thermal imaging cameras more affordable.

Testo has been developing and modifying the boundaries of infrared technology to create easy to use, robust, quality products with an industry standard feel and touch, but easy enough for an inexperienced hand to operate.

Testo thermal imaging cameras are ideal for use in HVAC, industrial and building applications to highlight thermal anomalies and reduce costs.

Exhibition presence

Viessmann, a leading international manufacturer of heating systems, is responding to market demand by focussing its presence at this month’s Greenbuild EXPO 2011 (June 29th/30th; Manchester Central) on biomass.

The company will exhibit in the Ignition section of the show (stand F31) following a surge of interest in biomass since the Renewable Heat Incentive announcement in March.

“Because we have products for all traditional and renewable fuel types and applications, we can be trusted to provide a fuel-neutral perspective in what can be a minefield of competing information,” said Peter Frost, managing director of Viessmann. “We look forward to talking to installers and end-users through the opportunities and considerations associated with biomass and other renewable heating options.” Viessmann will display its Vitoligno boiler (from the company’s 4 kW to 1,250 kW biomass range) in addition to a Vitocal ground source heat pump. Staff will be able to answer questions on any of the company’s broad technology line-up.


Sunny choice

The Soprasolar photovoltaic range from Flag-Soprema offers a choice of flexible or rigid PV options.

By combining PV and waterproofing technology, Soprasolar Duo provides a lightweight, flexible waterproofing membrane, the surface of which contains interconnected photovoltaic cells. As a waterproofing membrane, it enables flat roofs of low structural capacity to be used for solar power generation.

The manufacturing process was developed in partnership with Uni-Solar, a worldwide specialist in flexible cell technology. The cells of Soprasolar Duo are bonded to a high performance SBS bitumen cap sheet. Their light weight enables a greater overall roof area to be used and as the membrane lays flat, the cells are unobtrusive and create no shadows. The system includes all the necessary elements such as inverters, monitoring software and optional weather station and can be used for pitches of up to 5°.

Soprasolar Fix, by contrast, uses frame-mounted, rigid photovoltaic modules which do not penetrate the waterproofing layer. Cells contain no moving parts, so energy creation is silent and maintenance requirements are minimal. Optimum energy generation is guaranteed even in diffused sunlight or when panels are not fully clean.

Flag-Soprema provides a fully underwritten 20-year warranty for both photovoltaic elements and membrane.


Out on the tiles

With the launch of its Flex Design collection Forbo has extended the potential for loose lay vinyl tiles in commercial office, retail and hospitality environments.

At the same time, the new range provides an excellent environmental option as a result of its European manufacture, high recycled content and REACH (Registration Evaluation Authority and Restriction of Chemicals) compliance.

Flex Design encompasses abstract and traditional woods, concrete, stone, sand and metallic woven designs.

Highlights include Seagrass planks (100cm x 20cm) with their smooth grained linear design, inspired by wood but interpreted in a more abstract way, and metallic woven designs (50cm x 50cm) which offer a stylish softly textured effect in four different muted metal colours.

The collection has been specifically designed to combine well with carpet tiles and LVT (luxury vinyl tile) ranges in Forbo’s portfolio and broadens the choice available for all environments requiring speed of installation or the practical benefits of modular flooring, for instance where access flooring is installed and in renovation projects.

The combination of a glass fleece carrier and multiple calandered layers makes Flex Design unprecedented in strength, performance and quality. A top 1mm transparent wearlayer gives each tile superior strength, durability and clarity while the PUR Pearl lacquer delivers stain resistance, ease of maintenance and a natural matt appearance.


Structural insulating blocks

Natural Building Technologies’ (NBT’s) ThermoPlan fired clay structural insulating blocks deliver excellent levels of both thermal and acoustic insulation without the need for a cavity or additional insulation materials, making them a ready-made solution to the Revised Building Regulations Part L requirement to take into account heat loss at party walls.

A 425mm-thick block will deliver a U-value of only 0.20W/m2K, when finished with a breathable render externally and plaster internally.

Providing a high degree of airtightness, which is also a key factor in reducing energy use, the blocks are fully ‘breathable’ to the passage of water vapour, which helps to maintain a healthy internal atmosphere and avoids problems of damp and condensation.

Featuring a honeycomb cross-section, the blocks are manufactured using clays, mixed with small particles of waste cellulose. During a low temperature firing process the cellulose is burnt off to produce a strong, microporous structure, delivering the exceptional levels of insulation coupled with highly effective breathability.

The manufacturing process, helped to a large degree by the low temperatures required for the firing stage, means that a wall built from the blocks has 30% less embodied energy and 50% less embodied carbon than a conventional cavity block wall, meeting the same thermal performance. ThermoPlan blocks also carry a BREEAM Green Guide ‘A’ rating.

In construction, a true thin bed mortar, just 1mm thick, is used to secure rows of blocks, with interlocking dry vertical joints anchoring adjacent blocks along the row. The simplicity of the construction process enables ThermoPlan block walls to be typically constructed three to four times faster than conventional blockwork structures, with no limitation on the height that can be built in a day and no drying out shrinkage.

The absence of a cavity eliminates the cold bridging associated with wall ties, and the ability to use one homogenous material simplifies design detailing at door and window openings and junctions. This in turn makes it easier to achieve good airtightness and minimise cold bridging at these openings/junctions and, importantly, to achieve theoretical design values in practice.

ThermoPlan blocks also provide high levels of thermal mass to counter overheating in the summer months.


Waste monitoring

Real-time monitoring and control of waste with Reconomy Portal helps reduce waste handling costs and achieve reductions in landfill.

Reconomy has introduced Reconomy Portal, a 24/7 system providing users in any industry where waste streams are generated and need to be accounted for, with real-time control of their waste handling and disposal operations – waste cost, tonnage, segregation and diversion from landfill.

Reconomy Portal is a real-time monitoring and management system for effective control of waste across all sectors of industry and commerce and makes an important contribution to achieving reductions in landfill. Via a secure, 24/7 internet connection, it provides users with relevant data to allow the most cost-effective and sustainable processes to be employed and monitored.

Users logging on to the Reconomy Portal are presented with an intuitive dashboard which shows the type of waste stream, waste tonnage and how much of their waste has been diverted from landfill. Automated graphs give immediate access to supporting data, including relevant reports and figures, compliance certificates, carrier registration documents and environmental permits.

An essential resource for collecting, sorting and holding an unlimited array of relevant waste management information, the Reconomy Portal provides both visibility and tracking of waste handling activities.

An important benefit for construction and housebuilder companies for example, is the ability to see how many sites have a valid Site Waste Management Plan and, more importantly, how many do not.

The level of detail available to individual users can be set to the customer’s requirements. For example, a company director can be given access to all sites currently in operation, whereas a regional manager may need to access just one or two.

Further security is offered in the form of automatic lock-outs, whereby a user is automatically locked out of the system if he or she hasn’t logged on in any three-month period. This can be useful where an employee moves to a competitor and the administrator fails to update the system.

Incorporated into the Reconomy Portal is a report scheduler which issues reminders to relevant parties when updates are needed.

An online demonstration of Reconomy Portal is available at reconomy's website.


New facility

Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (BBES), provider of mechanical and electrical services, has officially opened its state-of-the-art off-site manufacturing and assembly facility – a facility that is set to offer new standards of M&E, safe and sustainable off-site practice in addition to cost and time savings.

Branded ‘Modular Systems +’ the new 117,000ft2 manufacturing and assembly facility, located in Wednesbury, West Midlands, is the largest of its kind in the UK. Its focus is on the production of mechanical and electrical systems, including packaged plant rooms, corridor modules, service modules, riser modules, and modular electrical systems.

In creating Modular Systems + BBES will be able to provide customers with substantial savings in terms of time and money. It will also offer a safer and more sustainable method of construction. This will be achieved through the use of efficient off-site techniques which due to their nature, provides operatives with safer and more productive working conditions.

The approach also minimises waste, reinforcing BBES’ position as promoting sustainability as a collective and inclusive responsibility, with the company working with customers, suppliers and communities to ensure that sustainability is embedded in every operation.

“The Modular Systems + facility has been built to enable us to deliver our lean construction philosophy, reducing the number of hours needed on site, improving lead times and providing safer and more productive working environments,” said Bob Francis, director of Modular Systems + at BBES.

Power and shade specials

Bowater Projects – installer of energy efficient architectural facades and entrance systems – now offers bespoke solar shading and photovoltaic (PV) panel options for its System10 Aluminium Curtain Walling.

Both products – which are only available as ‘specials’ – provide a simple, low maintenance way to cut both energy bills and carbon dioxide emissions.

Aesthetically pleasing, flexible and lightweight, the solar shading provides a quick-fix and inexpensive solution to offices and classrooms that suffer from excessive solar gain. It helps maintain room temperatures at around 24˚C – reducing the use of air-conditioning units and so reducing energy bills and CO2 emissions – as total solar gain is limited to 35 W/m2 (in accordance with Part L2 of the Building Regulations).

The PV panels generate electricity in a clean, quiet, renewable way and simply slot into any System10 Aluminium Curtain Walling frame where infill panels would normally be situated. The user can then generate electricity for export to the National Grid and take advantage of preferential ‘feed-in’ tariffs for solar-generated electricity.

Bowater Architectural, sister company to Bowater Projects and the manufacturer of System10 Aluminium Curtain Walling has calculated the effects of a PV installation (152m2) in London, subject to a mean annual temperature of 12˚C, and found that it would generate up to 6,697kWh in a year – and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced by 5,931kg.

System10 Aluminium Curtain Walling offers U-Values ranging from 1.5 W/m2K, with 28mm glazing units, to 1.0 W/m2K with 32mm triple-glazed units (both based on a 50mm mullion). It combines fully with either PVC-U or aluminium windows and doors so that buildings can be fully upgraded regardless of system requirements.

A full range of RAL colour options provides the complete choice of design finishes. Opening lights and doors are fully integrated; and a choice for frame-glazed and direct-glazed options is available – with direct glazing methods offering slimmer sightlines and reduced cost.


Low carbon hot water

Dimplex is extending choices in solar thermal water heating, with the launch of the SOLC201 flat plate collector, which provides a cost-effective way to start enjoying low cost, low carbon hot water.

The SOLC201 is solar keymark approved, meaning that it will be eligible for the financial incentives available under the Renewable Heat Incentive, available to non-domestic installations from July 2011, with domestic installations expected to be eligible from October 2012.

A laser-welded meander absorber pipe with a highly selective coating means low pressure drop of the overall collector field, while a solar safety glass covering with 85% transmission, allows the collector to absorb a large range of light frequencies for maximum efficiency. 30mm rear and side insulation holds on to the heat collected. Suitable for connection of up to four panels in series, in horizontal or vertical orientation to suit the available roof space, the SOLC201 collector plate is of robust construction, with 3.2mm structured safety glass that has passed optional impact resistance tests.

To make specification easy, the SOLC201 collector is supplied with a choice of roof fixing kits for slate or tile roofs, or freestanding for flat roofs or ground level mounting. What’s more, the new collector can be combined with a choice of either the premium SOLPU1 pump station or the new cost effective SOLPU0 module, giving great flexibility to tailor to every installation’s system to exact requirements of performance and cost. Compression fittings combined with a weight of just 29kg per panel when empty make installation straightforward. An aluminium, anthracite powder coated frame gives lightweight yet strong protection and blends unobtrusively with the roof. The SOLC201 collector is covered by a 10 year warranty.

Eco retrofit

Uswitch.com is the latest online re-seller to support Ecoflap – the only retro-fitting letterbox draught excluder to have been endorsed by the Energy Saving Trust. The product has also featured in The Telegraph’s top recommendations to save energy in the home.

Uswitch.com began selling Ecoflap online this week and joins over 20 re‐sellers stocking the product, along with Jessel Innovations themselves. Anne Jessel, Partner of Jessel Innovations, said: “We are so pleased that Uswitch has added Ecoflap into their portfolio – this will be a great boost to our exposure in the wider market and will help establish Ecoflap as the only brand associated with zero-draught door accessories. We would like to thank Uswitch.com, along with our other re-sellers, for supporting us.”

Jessel Innovations also recently announced their new Ecoflap Twin product – a full letterbox system designed for installation into doors prior to customer delivery. The most significant advantage of both products over others in the market is the absence of springs and brushes thus eliminating wear and tear, providing continued air tightness.

Ecoflap has been installed in zero-carbon housing. Other products in the pipeline include Eco-cat-flap which uses the same technology.


Free energy

Renewable energy company EOS Energy now provides free photovoltaic solar panel systems to domestic, commercial, local authority and community project customers that could otherwise not afford them.

The company's new scheme allows the customer to benefit from free fitting, maintenance and insurance of the roof top system, with the occupant receiving all electricity that the system generates free of charge for the 25-year period of operation, as well as a roof rental, where suitable yields can be obtained.

During the 25-year period the panels themselves will be owned by a green funding company, who will recoup their investment through payments generated from the feed in tariff. After the 25-year period the panels will become the full property of the customer.

EOS Energy hope this scheme will allow people that can't afford a system to protect themselves from the anticipated increases in electricity prices as its Director commented: "This is a great opportunity for people to benefit from renewable technologies without the initial outlay. Naturally, each roof top would have to be assessed to ensure that they are suitable and, in accordance with the REAL Scheme, we would provide a quotation explaining what it would cost to buy the system, what Feed in Tariff would be generated, as well as offering a 'free' system as an alternative."

The company are hosting an open day on July 15th from 10am to 2pm at their headquarters in Warwickshire where people can find out more about the free PV scheme. Everyone is welcome to attend.