Weekly Email News – the future of the building industry


Largest onshore wind farm

Balfour Beatty Engineering Services (BBES) has been awarded the electrical infrastructure contract for the extension of Scottish Power Renewables’ Whitelee Wind Farm.

Located at Eaglesham Moor to the south of Glasgow, Whitelee is already the largest onshore wind farm in Europe with the existing 140 turbines having the capacity to generate 322MW, enough to power around 180,000 homes. The extension will add another 75 turbines raising the generating capacity to 539MW, enough to power about 300,000 homes.

The extension will see 69 Alstom ECO 100 turbines added, each with a 3MW capacity and six ECO 74 turbines with 1.67MW capacity each.

BBES was an integral part of the team responsible for delivering the first phase of the project ahead of schedule.

For the extension, BBES will be working with John Sisk and Son and Roadbridge (Sisk Roadbridge JV) to provide the electrical infrastructure works including the substation and control building services, the supply and installation of switchgear and the installation of around 400,000 metres of power and control cabling.

The project is due to be completed in 2012.

Ground source success

Social housing tenants in the West Midlands are celebrating massive savings on their heating bills following the installation of ground source heat pumps from Danfoss Heat Pumps UK.

The tenants live in a low-rise block of flats in Knowle, constructed in the 1970s and now part of Solihull Housing Association’s stock of 10,500 homes. The housing association decided to trial a range of renewable technologies at its properties to reduce carbon emissions and help tenants avoid fuel poverty, which is defined as spending 10% or more of household income on domestic heating.

The pilot project included five ground source heat pumps installed in the block of flats and fed through vertical bore holes, along with solar thermal panels and air source heat pumps at other properties.

Tenant Leslie Minshull said: “We’ve lived here for 11 years and with the storage heaters, I was always cold – I used to have to wrap blankets around myself when I was sitting on the settee. Since the heat pump has been in it is always lovely and warm, even through the coldest days of the winter. Our average heating and hot water bill has dropped by more than half from £130 a month to just £60.”

The installation was carried out under a framework agreement with British Gas which specified Danfoss Heat Pumps UK’s 6Kw DHPH6 Opti-Pro pumps. Each pump has an integral 180 litre hot water tank and is powered with energy sourced from125m deep vertical boreholes which have been drilled in land behind the block.

The heat pumps supply all the space and hot water for the one and two-bedroom homes and were installed in the airing cupboard of each flat, replacing the existing hot water cylinders, with no loss of living space. Radiators were fitted in place of the bulky storage heaters and the building’s insulation was also improved to maximise their efficiency.


Living the green life

Youngsters from military families in Gloucester are living the ‘green’ life in a new eco-friendly nursery building which has drawn praise from judges in a prestigious building awards competition.

Working with industry partner Debut Services, Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) delivered the nursery at Imjin Barracks as part of new facilities for troops from the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), one of NATO’s front-line high readiness forces.

The building was a finalist in the RICS South West Awards 2011, prompting judges to describe it as ‘a sustainable, energy efficient building providing a good standard of accommodation and facilities serving the Barracks and adjoining residential area’.

Shortlisted for an award in the Sustainability category, the building provides a high-quality environment for the children of service personnel with light airy spaces in a highly energy efficient building.

DIO project manager Steve Jeffries said: “Our top priority is to support our Armed Forces and their families. We are delighted that the RICS judges have recognised the work which went into ensuring that both youngsters and staff enjoy a building which is so eco-friendly.

“Every aspect of the building’s impact on the environment was considered – from project inception, design, construction and subsequent operation.”

The building was designed so that low winter sun enters deep into the building, providing high levels of natural daylight. The structure’s well insulated building envelope keeps the interior of the building warm in winter and cool in summer.

Most activity rooms are located to the south, providing bright airy spaces for children to play in. South spaces are high so that they gather maximum sunlight and north spaces, such as offices and the kitchen, are low.

Nursery managing Director Sarah Steel said: “We are delighted with the light and airy build. High ceilings and large amounts of glass make bright welcoming spaces for the children and the high quality finish lends a really comfortable feel to the nursery. We wish all our buildings were this good.”

The nursery exceeds environmental standards for buildings (scoring the equivalent to the BREEAM industry standard of ‘Excellent’). It incorporates many sustainable features such as: a wind turbine; sedum roof; solar water heating; rainwater harvesting; and zoned lighting.

Eco revamp

Products from the Dulux Trade Ecosure range of high performing sustainable paints have been used in the refurbishment of Natural Retreat’s lavish eco friendly holiday accommodation in Richmond, North Yorkshire.

Dulux Trade Ecosure Matt and Ecosure Quick Drying Eggshell were chosen to revamp 20 eco residences, as part of the hotel company’s continuing dedication to implementing responsible practices within its accommodation.

Natural Retreats provide high quality, self catering holiday homes in ten idyllic locations across the UK and Ireland. The contemporary residences indulge guests without compromising on environmental principles.

The Richmond site, set in the Yorkshire Dales, is brimming with eco initiatives, including green build technology and a wildlife management plan. It has been awarded the Green Tourism Gold Award for its sustainable credentials and design.

Rob Fradley, head of construction and maintenance at Natural Retreats, said: “In all aspects of our accommodation we aim to be as sustainable as possible. For example, we use low energy appliances and lighting, and buy energy from 100% renewable sources. Therefore, it was only appropriate that we specified a paint which had the lowest environmental impact.”

Mark Rigby, proprietor of MRQD Contracting, said: “To meet the company’s high standards, we specified coatings from the Dulux Trade Ecosure range. Not only does the range have outstanding sustainable credentials, the products deliver a high quality, long lasting finish, making them ideal for a popular location, which receives a large number of visitors.”

Dulux Trade Ecosure Matt was specified for all interior walls and ceilings in the retreats. Developed in conjunction with independent sustainability experts, Forum for the Future, Ecosure Matt has been specifically formulated to have 35% less embodied carbon than standard Dulux Trade Vinyl Matt products. In addition, the paint contains virtually zero VOCs and its packaging comprises at least 25% recycled content.

To provide a natural finish, Dulux Trade Ecosure Quick Drying Eggshell was applied to all of the woodwork. Created to provide a tough, durable finish, Dulux Trade Ecosure Quick Drying Eggshell offers good opacity and adhesion. In addition, it has 10% less embodied carbon and 20% less VOC content than standard eggshell products.


School of sun

Eco Building Products has supplied the photovoltaic (PV) panels for an installation on the roof of Long Sutton Primary School in Lincolnshire.

Eco Building Products supplied 42 Hyundai 230 Watt photovoltaic panels containing polycrystalline modules for the installation, which will generate more than 9kW of electricity for the school when operating at full power. This has substantially reduced the school’s bills for electricity from the grid.

Lark Energy, the newest company in the Larkfleet Group, oversaw the planning and installation of the project and installation of the panels, working closely with local group partners including accredited Micro Generation Certified Scheme (MCS) installers FE Peacock and Cawood Electrical.

Long Sutton Primary School will also benefit from the government’s Feed in Tariff (FIT), which guarantees payments for the generation of energy from renewable energy technologies such as photovoltaic panels. The school’s governing body is re-investing the money generated from FIT in further energy-efficiency projects at the school.

The new installation is just the first part of the school’s ambition to achieve success on its ‘environmental journey’ in the Eco Schools scheme. It is currently working towards the Bronze award which it is estimated the school will achieve over the next school term.

The school governing body’s long term vision is to reduce energy consumption, carbon emissions and energy costs at the school. At the same time it is seeking to engage the pupils and staff with coordinating its current sustainability activities such as waste recycling and monitoring energy usage with its teaching and environmental education goals.

School bursar Mark Lunn, said: “Long Sutton Primary is a friendly, exciting school to learn in. We pride ourselves on making education stimulating, meaningful and fun and wholeheartedly believe in teaching our children the value and importance of how to look after our environment.

“The school is already part of the Healthy Schools scheme and grows all sorts of fruit and vegetables thanks to the children’s gardening club and their rapidly expanding vegetable patch. We have teaching staff that are passionate both about the teaching as well as the eco-direction the school is taking. The next phase is to involve the children in developing ideas for energy saving, waste reduction and sustainability. Exciting times lie ahead.”


Efficient lighting

A leading UK high street retailer is on track to make energy savings of £30,000 a year at its half a million square-foot distribution warehouse in the Midlands, thanks to the installation of lighting control systems from Ex-Or, the Honeywell-owned lighting management company.

The retailer took over the business park unit early in 2010 and the refurbishment of the lighting system was undertaken by M&E contractors Imtech G&H.

Phase 1 of the contract comprised the upgrading of the lighting from SON discharge lamps units to more efficient 80w fluorescents installed in blocks of four in high bay fittings, controlled from a high level bus bar.

Imtech G&H project engineer Ian Pattenden explained that Phase 1 involved that part of the warehouse used as its national seasonal stock distribution centre.

"Because of the seasonal nature of the products, and the fact that at certain times of the year there would be very few personnel in that part of the unit, it was vital that all unnecessary use of lighting would be automatically eliminated.

"The SON discharge lamps were not capable of being controlled or dimmed effectively, nor did they suit the high density racking layout which extended upwards to 15m. We needed a minimum of 200 lux lighting level with the ability to control high level lighting."

Ex-Or Hi-Bay LightSpot presence-detecting controls, specially designed to eliminate unnecessary use of lighting in buildings with greater ceiling heights, formed the basis of the lighting control system in the warehouse.

Distribution hubs and storage facilities such as this are increasing in height to enable operators to maximise the value of the land footprint occupied by the building. However, stacking higher can lead to higher energy costs – in particular, large internal areas can remain lit despite being unoccupied for much of the time.

Like all LightSpot systems, Hi-Bay employs presence detection technology which enables the lighting to respond to any movement that occurs, however small, when the monitored area is occupied. Anyone entering the monitored area automatically activates the lighting and subsequently sustains it by the movements they make as they go about their normal working activity. When the area is vacated, the lights automatically switch off.

In any warehouse and storage application, especially where there are a large number of racking aisles, precise lighting control is needed. The Ex-Or Hi-Bay LightSpot detectors provide a narrow angle of view despite the fact they are mounted at great height. This means that much smaller and more precisely targeted internal areas can be monitored by Hi-Bay so that lighting can be delivered where it is needed with much greater precision.

Imtech G&H is installing Ex-Or lighting control and management systems into Phases 2 and 3 at the warehouse.


Solar event

Firefly Solar, designer and manufacturer of off-grid, portable and permanent solar-powered generators, has won a contract from Coca-Cola Enterprises to supply six of its Cygnus generators to power the company’s Event Recycling programme at outdoor events in Great Britain and France.

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) piloted its Event Recycling programme during 2010 with the objective to motivate festival goers to make recycling a daily habit. The Programme recovered over 18 tonnes of recyclate (PET and cans) and reached an audience in excess of half a million people attending eight festivals during the summer of 2010.

The equipment being supplied by Firefly Solar consists of two standalone solar power systems comprised of three of the company’s 5kW Cygnus solar generators, configured to provide a three-phase 5kW electrical supply. One system each will be supplied to the British and French teams to provide electrical power for waste compaction equipment and for portable office space at this year’s events.

Patrick McGuirk, recycling director for Coca-Cola Enterprises said: “By using Firefly Solar generators to provide a green energy supply to power our Event Recycling Programme we can ensure that we reduce the carbon footprint of our activation this summer. Coca-Cola Enterprises is committed to transforming recycling and reducing the absolute carbon footprint of our business. Firefly’s portable solar generators are an important capital investment to ensure the footprint of our Event Recycling activities are minimised.”

Andy Mead, managing director at Firefly Solar said: “At Firefly we are delighted by the association with Coca-Cola Enterprises and pleased to have won this contract. It’s been estimated that 20,000 tonnes of carbon are created annually through the use of standby diesel generators at UK music events. We applaud Coca-Cola Enterprises for selecting renewable energy supplied by our Cygnus solar power generators in its campaign to clean-up festivals and to promote recycling throughout Great Britain and France.”

Cygnus is a compact and high quality, forklift-able solar generator. With a footprint of less than 1m2 (excluding solar array), Cygnus generator’s built in battery bank can be charged using a range of renewable sources including solar, wind and pedal power – it can even be charged using the excess capacity of biodiesel or hydrogen generators or from a green mains supply.


First higher education BREEAM ‘Outstanding’

Lancaster University has delivered the UK’s first higher education building project to be rated ‘outstanding’ by the environmental performance measure BREEAM for both design stage and post construction review.

The University has been awarded this distinction for its £10m Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts (LICA).

The timber-framed building is home to Art, Design, Film, Music and Theatre Studies as well as LIVE@LICA which combines three public arts facilities; the Peter Scott Gallery, the Nuffield Theatre and the International Concert Series.

The pre-fabricated and cross-laminated timber structure provides high levels of air tightness and enabled a quick and safe construction programme.

Mark Swindlehurst, Lancaster University Director of Facilities said: “We are delighted that Lancaster has been recognised as a pioneer of sustainable building in the Higher Education sector.

“We see BREEAM as the yardstick for the environmental performance of our buildings and the effect they have on the wider environment. In 2005 we set out a strategy which had strict criteria to ensure that any new buildings on campus met the BREEAM Excellent standard and that any major refurbishments met BREEAM criteria of Very Good and in all buildings that have been completed to date we have met those targets.”

In addition to the ‘Outstanding’ LICA building, to date the University has delivered nine BREEAM excellent new build developments, including the £20m Sports Centre opening in August.

Sheppard Robson, the architects who designed the LICA building, has also just been listed as one of the Sunday Times Top 60 Best Green Companies 2011 (ranked 40th).

The University is committed to sustainability and to reducing its carbon footprint. For example, a wind turbine will be built on campus in 2012. Other projects include replacing the University’s main boilers, installing a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Unit and plans to install a biomass boiler.

The University is expanding its carbon saving competitions for students and is currently targeting staff to help them to improve energy efficiency in their work areas as well as implementing dozens of small scale energy and water saving projects to get everyone thinking about the way in which they use energy and the way in which they can contribute to carbon reduction.

Completion of all these projects over the next three years would reduce carbon emissions by over 30%, well on the way to the very challenging Higher Education sector target of cutting carbon emissions by 43% by 2020.

Results of the Staff Travel Survey show a 70% increase in bus use among staff since 2007, a 17% increase in car sharing and women cycling to work up by 35% (8% overall).

Sustainable festival

For the last three years CAT and Shambala have been working together with the aim of making Shambala the greenest UK festival by producing the most detailed carbon audit of any UK event.

This year, Shambala achieved the highest ever rating from the Industry Green assessment, and, alongside CAT, have been working with Julie’s Bicycle (www.juliesbicycle.com) to make changes at Industry level.

“Shambala is 99% powered by wind, sun and waste vegetable oil and has been judged the greenest outdoor event by Industry Green and A Greener Festival,” Sidharth Sharma, director and creative coordinator of Shambala festival, said.

This year CAT is teaming up with Shambala to demonstrate sustainable building to festival goers. As part of a shared commitment to sustainable futures (and having fun), the CAT team will be on site showing what can be constructed with natural raw materials.

"Houses out of hemp, walls out of willow, towers out of timber, structures out of straw and arches out of earth – come and help us explore the new worlds of zero-carbon building!" said Peter Harper from CAT.

Installation of the Year

When the Hon MP for North West Leicestershire Andrew Bridgen commissioned a new-build home, he was keen to use a renewable energy system that would reduce his carbon footprint and lower his energy bills.

The 581m2 property was built near Swadlincote in Derbyshire and is fitted with a ground source heat pump from Danfoss Heat Pumps UK to supply all of its hot water and space heating requirements. The project has been shortlisted in the ‘Installation of the Year’ category at this year’s National Heat Pump Awards.

The Conservative MP, who has campaigned on environmental issues, investigated a range of heating alternatives for his spacious five-bedroomed home, which also contains a cinema, gym and billiard room. Mr Bridgen was advised by renewable energy specialists Eartheat of Leicester that a ground source heat pump was the most sustainable and cost effective solution to his space and water heating requirements.

Although Mr Bridgen and his family originally planned to live in the house he was selected as the parliamentary candidate for the neighbouring county, so has since put the house on the market.

The property was designed and built by Bridges Developments of Derbyshire that specialises in low carbon properties. Managing director John Bridges said: “There were a range of challenges on this project, in particular the issue of achieving a high level of energy efficiency within a realistic budget. This involved a complete redesign of the original plan and we decided upon an innovative technique which used an insulated concrete form construction. This is a cost effective method of achieving a very high level of thermal efficiency.

“We worked closely with Eartheat on the design of the heating and hot water system. The original plan included solar thermals to supply hot water, but we added an extra hot water storage tank to the heat pump system to ensure there was an adequate supply. The quality and flexibility of the Danfoss heat pump, backed by the company’s technical support, was vital in achieving these design improvements.”

Because of the high level of air tightness achieved by the concrete walls, Eartheat was able to specify a 16kW heat pump, which is smaller than would usually be required for a new build property of this size and therefore uses less electricity.

A DHP-H Opti Pro heat pump system was installed with an additional 200 litre hot water cylinder to supplement the pump’s internal 180 litre tank. Figures recorded over the first six months show that the system will supply an estimated 49,000kWh of energy per year, while consuming just 11,000 kWh of electricity.

The pump is supplied by a ground loop buried in horizontal trenches, which extracts heat from the ground. It provides continuous hot water and feeds an underfloor heating system, which runs throughout the three-storey property.

The DHP-Opti Pro pump is one of the most advanced on the market and incorporates an intelligent control system on the circulation pumps to ensure maximum efficiency. It supplies both space and water heating and includes the latest HG technology, using the compressor as a ‘super heater’ to raise the temperature of the domestic hot water supply.

Eartheat’s managing director Richard Walkden explaind: “We were able to provide a highly cost effective solution for heating and hot water. This was achieved by using our bespoke design for the ground loop collector system which does not require a collector manifold. The developer and MP are so pleased with the result that they have written in support of our entry in this year’s National Heat Pump Awards.”


Solar Toyota

Toyota’s UK has installed 17,000 solar panels at its manufacturing plant at Burnaston, Derbyshire, that will produce about 4,600,000kWh of energy

The solar array will cover 90,000m2 of industrial land – enough to cover almost four and a half football pitches.

The energy generated by the solar panels will be used to help reduce the plant’s carbon footprint, saving up to 2,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year.

When fully operational the solar array will be capable of supplying enough energy to build approximately 7,000 cars a year at the Derbyshire-based plant, where Auris, Auris Hybridand Avensis are manufactured.

The solar array, a joint project between Toyota and British Gas, is expected to begin supplying power to the plant in July. The development is a key part of Toyota’s ‘Sustainable Plant’ vision in which manufacturing operations are designed to work in harmony with their local community and surrounding environment. Burnaston is one of just five Toyota plants worldwide to be designated a Sustainable Plant with first-rate environmental credentials.

Tony Walker, Toyota Manufacturing UK deputy managing director said: “We are already making a significant contribution to the UK’s low carbon economy with production of Auris Hybrid – the first European built full hybrid car. Generating solar power on-site to supply electricity to the plant underlines our commitment to do even more to further reduce our carbon footprint and is yet another example of our environmental leadership. We are delighted to be working in partnership with British Gas to achieve this.”

Jon Kimber, managing director of British Gas New Energy, said: “With energy costs increasing and a tough financial climate, all businesses are looking at ways to cut their bills as well as reduce their carbon emissions. Solar power has the potential to make this happen and really revolutionise the way Britain’s homes and businesses generate energy. Toyota is a real beacon for green business throughout the UK.”

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