HSE International

Rise in luxury London homes could trigger construction crunch

A record number of luxury homes worth £60bn are being built in London, creating a construction crunch that could lead to many of them being delayed or even ditched, a report shows.

The number of new luxury homes being planned or built over the next decade has climbed 25% to 25,000 units, according to the report from EC Harris, a built asset consultancy. The properties have a combined sales value of £60bn, up 20% on the level reported last year.

The rate of growth is down from 29% in 2013 and 70% in 2012, indicating that there are fewer development opportunities in central London.

Mark Farmer, head of EC Harris’s residential team, said: “With the UK economy back on track and London deemed a safe haven for international property investors, it’s not surprising that demand for luxury homes is fuelling ever-increasing development.”

However, with developers and investors struggling to keep up with buyer demand, up to half the homes planned in the next five years could end up falling well behind schedule due to a lack of available contractors.

The South Bank is the most popular area for high-end homes, accounting for a third of new projects, closely followed by Chelsea, Fulham and the City.

There is growing interest in building homes valued at £500 to £1,000 a square foot, particularly near Crossrail, which will link west to east London, or close to the London Overground network.

The South Bank stretch from Battersea to Tower Bridge has had the largest increase in unit numbers, up 34% to 7,705 new homes under development. Chelsea and Fulham is next with a 6% increase to 4,861 homes, followed by the City, up 45% to 4,176.

The unprecedented level of building is creating a shortage of qualified workers, and the report predicts many projects will be delayed or even scrapped.

Farmer said: “There is simply not the capacity out there to meet demand and many projects will undoubtedly fall by the wayside or experience delivery difficulties due to sheer lack of resources. Many developers and investors, when in a position to do so, are therefore looking to jump the queue and are paying premiums for construction so they can deliver on promises they have already made to their purchasers.”

About 1,300 luxury homes are likely to be completed in London this year, 700 fewer than EC Harris had predicted last year amid delays in the construction process.

The consultancy defines luxury homes as those that will sell for at least £1,350 a square foot, up from £1,250 last year.

Original Source: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/07/record-luxury-london-homes-construction

Laing O’Rourke worker killed at Heathrow Airport

A Laing O’Rourke worker has been killed at a Heathrow Airport construction site.

The fatality occurred this morning at O’Rourke’s T2 multi-storey car park site where the worker was hit by a dumper truck.

The Enquirer understands that the victim was part of the night shift.

It is believed a mobile hoist broke down on the site and a colleague was using a dumper truck to try and shift it when the truck came into collision with the victim.

A Met Police spokesperson said: “Police were called by London Ambulance Service at 04:46hrs on Thursday, 2 October to Cayley Road, close to the Ground Floor Car Park at Terminal 2, Heathrow Airport, following reports of a road traffic collision.

“Officers attended and found a man in his thirties suffering serious injuries following a collision with a truck.

“The man died at the scene a short while later at 05:45hrs.

“Next of kin have been informed but we await formal identification.

“A post-mortem examination will be held in due course.

“The driver of the truck stopped at the scene. It is not believed that any other vehicles were involved.

“The Health and Safety Executive has been informed and enquiries are under way into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

“No arrests have been made. Enquiries are ongoing.”

It is understood the £77m car park job is just weeks away from completion and hand over.

Original Source: http://www.constructionenquirer.com/2014/10/02/laing-orourke-worker-killed-at-heathrow/

Dust control enquiries on the rise in the UK

Dust extraction specialist Dustcontrol UK has reported a rise in enquiries from London-based construction companies expressing concern about a lack of compliance with UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines.

It said the contractors were looking for guidance on the introduction of mandatory Supplementary Planning Guidance revealed by the Mayor of London, which aimed to reduce the impact of construction and demolition dust.

The HSE has also launched an awareness campaign about dust control requirements, and Dustcontrol UK said companies were now looking for information on the best control measures to implement in order to meet the required air quality standards, according to Dustcontrol UK.

James Miller, Dustcontrol UK general manager, explained, “The HSE has worked hard recently to try and broaden awareness of dust control regulations. On top of this, the Mayor of London has recently released details that outline the plan to reduce air pollution and combat dust issues in the capital.

“This appears to have caused many construction firms to wake up to dust related problems. The side effects of dust inhalation are potentially very serious and it’s certainly a good thing that decision makers in the construction and demolition industries are becoming more aware of the need to implement measures that help to reduce its impact, not just for site workers but also on the wider community.”

The Dustcontrol UK range of mobile dust extractors includes the DC 1800, the DC 2900, the DC AirCube 500, and the DC AirCube 2000, which were designed for onsite mobile dust extraction.

The DC 1800 and the DC 2900 have been designed to work with handheld power tools and small table saws, while the AirCube models are used in conjunction with on-tool extraction to prevent dust migration.

Growing our way out of climate change by building with hemp and wood fibre

How can buildings help with climate change? It’s all about renewables and “sequestered carbon”.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ 2010 report on Low Carbon Construction concluded that construction was responsible for around 300m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, which is almost 47% of the UK’s total. Of this, around 50m tonnes is embedded in the fabric of buildings.

Making one tonne of steel emits 1.46 tonnes of CO2 and 198kg of CO2 is emitted make one tonne of reinforced concrete. One square metre of timber framed, hemp-lime wall (weighing 120kg), after allowing for the energy cost of transporting and assembling the materials actually stores 35.5kg of CO2.

If we can convert plants into building materials, we are in a win-win situation. Plants use the energy of the sun to convert atmospheric CO2 and water into hydrocarbons – the material from which plants are made.

The plant acts as a carbon store, sequestering (absorbing) atmospheric CO2 for as long as the plant continues to exist. This CO2 is only re-released when the material is composted or burnt, and the great thing is that through replanting it you can re-absorb this CO2 annually, in the case of straw or hemp, or every decade or so in the case of timber, rather than the 300m years that it takes to recycle coal or oil.

Secondly, plant based materials can be used to make high performing building envelopes, protecting against external weather and making a building more comfortable, healthy and energy efficient to live in.

Not only can they be used as insulation materials, displacing oil-based alternatives such as polyurethane foam, but they also interact with the internal environment in a way that inorganic materials just can’t do.

This is because they are “vapour active”. Insulating materials such as hemp-lime, hemp fibre and wood fibre are capable of absorbing and releasing water vapour. This is doubly effective, because not only can they act as a buffer to humidity (taking moisture out of the air), but they also stabilise a building’s internal temperature much better through latent heat effects (energy consumed and released during evaporation and condensation within the pores of the material).

To build using hemp, the woody core or shiv of the industrial hemp plant is mixed with a specially developed lime-based binder. Factory-constructed panels are pre-dried and when assembled in a timber frame building, the hemp shiv traps air in the walls, providing a strong barrier to heat loss. The hemp itself is porous, meaning the walls are well insulated while the lime-based binder sticks together and protects the hemp, making the building material resistant to fire and decay. The industrial hemp plant takes in carbon dioxide as it grows and the lime render absorbs even more of the climate change gas. Hemp-lime buildings have an extremely low carbon footprint.

Building with hemp lime
Building with hemp lime. Photograph: University of Bath

In this way bio-based materials can be used to construct “zero carbon” buildings, where the materials have absorbed more CO2 than is consumed during construction. By applying PassivHaus principles (the voluntary industry standard for low-carbon design) to bio-based buildings, a building’s energy use once inhabited can also be reduced to minimal levels. This is a true “fabric first” approach, where the fabric of buildings passively manages energy consumption, rather than purely relying on renewables such as solar panels and ground source heating systems, which have a more limited life-span and the potential for failure.

I worked on a project recently for the Science Museum to reduce the high energy cost of archival storage. They needed to have large enclosures kept at a steady humidity and temperature to ensure that items ranging from the first edition of Newton’s Principia through to horse drawn carriages and even Daleks do not deteriorate. Normally this uses energy intensive air conditioning systems.

The three-storey archival store that the Science Museum built in 2012 using a hemp-lime envelope was so effective that they switched off all heating, cooling, and humidity control for over a year, maintaining steadier conditions than in their traditionally equipped stores, reducing emissions while saving a huge amount of energy.

Improved bio-based materials can also passively improve the internal air quality of buildings by interacting with airborne pollutants, removing them from the building. The new HIVE building – a £1m project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council – has been designed as a platform for research projects into this kind of sustainable construction. The HIVE has a purpose-built flood cell, which will also support research into creating buildings and building materials that are more flood-resilient – a valuable resource in these times of climate change induced adverse weather conditions.

Hive building
The Hive building. Photograph: University of Bath

Industry and government must also embrace the opportunities presented by bio-based construction materials to reduce emissions. Domestic housing is a key part of this. Good quality housing can be built out of structural timber with a bio-based insulating envelope using straw; hemp-lime, or other systems using wood fibre or other cellulose fibres.

With domestic housing high on the government’s agenda, it is time the construction industry recognised the economic and environmental benefits of bio-based construction materials and became less reliant on depleting resources including oil and steel.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1sZdebw

Rochdale Borough starts construction of the UK’s ‘first publicly owned solar farm’

Rochdale Borough Council has started construction on the UK’s first publicly owned ‘solar farm’ in an attempt to become Britain’s greenest local authority.

The council is developing a 250kWp solar array on one acre of contaminated land located at the Rochdale Leisure Centre.

Councillor Richard Farnell, leader of Rochdale Borough Council, explained why the site was suitable for PV. He said: “Options for this site are limited, due to its former use as a waste disposal site and contamination present, so a solar farm would allow the council to turn this land from a liability to a productive asset.”

“Faced with making savings of £51 million over the next two years, we needed to come up with imaginative solutions in tough economic times and come up with an alternative as traditional energy sources become scarcer,” continued Farnell.

In addition to the development of the ground-mounted array at the leisure centre, the council is also installing a 100kWp array to Heywood Sports Village. Both of the council-owned solar installations will be completed by renewable installer, Southern Solar.

Howard Johns, managing director of Southern Solar said that his company was “excited” to be working on the project, describing Rochdale as a “proactive council”.

Mark Widdup, director of economy and environment for Rochdale Borough Council, added: “We are leading the way as a ‘green’ authority and this solar farm will not only bring in revenue for the authority but help us become more energy self-sufficient in a time where fuel bills are on the rise.”

The council currently consumes around 27.5GWh of electricity every year, at an expense of £2.8 million last year. Rochdale’s carbon reduction commitment tax bill alone in 2012 was £339,000. In an attempt to curb its emissions as well its energy costs, the council has agreed to a 48% cut in CO2 emissions by 2020.

Rochdale aims to secure the title of the greenest local authority by continuing to invest in renewables in order to generate “new multi-million-pound revenue streams, fund municipal services, put land assets to work, underwrite energy security and offset energy prices”.

In addition to the council’s solar portfolio, a pilot wind turbine in Kirkholt has been operating since April, with the council submitting plans for another two council-owned wind farms in Hopwood.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1ylOdj4

Everton FC gets council backing for new stadium plan

Everton Football Club has won support from Liverpool City Council to work up proposals for a regeneration scheme at Walton Hall Park in the north of the city that would be anchored by a new stadium for the club.

Liverpool Mutual Homes is also part of the consortium behind the project to develop a new neighbourhood in the park. Some of the park would be retained with new leisure and recreational facilities.

“We know that this is an area of the city that requires substantial investment and this project could bring this in a unique form,” said the mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson. “Everton’s investment into this area would be the catalyst for a development which could make a real difference. “

The partners will now develop ideas for the site in collaboration with the local community. This could lead to a formal planning application being lodged in the next 12 months. Financing for the scheme will be led by Everton Football Club with support from a number of partners.

A website for the proposals has been set up at www.waltonhallparkproject.co.uk.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1phN0iw

 

Foster & Partners to design New, Sustainable Mexico City Airport

The contract for an ambitious new airport in Mexico City has been awarded to Pritzker Prize–winning British architect Norman Foster of Foster & Partners. Foster joined forces with Mexican firm FR-EE, led by Fernando Romero, son-in-law of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, and NACO (Netherlands Airport Consultants) on the winning submission.

Foster’s team aims to make this the world’s most sustainable airport. The LEED Platinum design imagines a building outfitted with innovative systems to collect rainwater and sunlight to produce energy. Building materials are to be sourced domestically and sustainably wherever possible. Construction will be completed by locals, creating jobs in the surrounding area.

Mexico City International Airport

Initial renderings reveal one large central terminal—more eco-friendly than powering multiple structures—under an undulating ceiling. Foster + Partners have some experience with weaving local aesthetics into airport designs: the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan, features shapes inspired by Bedouin tents, and Beijing Capital International Airport’s Terminal 3 reimagines the dragon motif ubiquitous in Chinese imagery.

Original Source: http://www.architecturaldigest.com/blogs/daily/2014/09/foster-partners-mexico-city-airport

Safety concerns raised after a giant wind turbine crashed down on farmland in Bradworthy

A wind turbine in Bradworthy is one of two turbines in the Westcountry to have collapsed because of faults. Safety concerns have been raised about the wind energy industry after the giant masts crashed down on farmland amid initial rumours of sabotage and claims they had fallen victim to severe weather.

Documents have revealed that the towers actually toppled over due to defects and mistakes in the construction process.

A 115ft (34 metre) mast at East Ash Farm, Bradworthy, in Devon, tumbled in January 2013, prompting claims of foul play from the local parish council.

Around the same time, a 60ft (18-metre) tower sited at Winsdon Farm, North Petherwin – the family farm of Liberal Democrat Cornwall Councillor Adam Paynter – also came loose from its moorings and fell.

Subsequent investigations by both manufacturers identified further defects and prompted warnings to other sites, including in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.

Glasgow-based Gaia Wind wrote to owners and overhauled its entire first generation fleet.

Canadian firm Endurance Wind Power said it was also concerned about machines on dozens of locations.

Initial reports suggested high winds may have been responsible for the failures but restricted reports by the Healthy and Safety Executive (HSE), obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FoI), have blamed the way the towers were secured.

Specialist inspector Darren Nash concluded that the first generation model of the turbine sited in Cornwall appeared “susceptible to fatigue failure” and said Gaia Wind had found “ten units with existing defects” out of the company’s 70 or 80 turbines.

“A plan of remedial actions is in place to address these units,” he wrote.

Endurance Wind Power, makers of the E3120 turbine which fell in Devon, identified a further 29 turbines that might have been affected by a problem with the foundations.

Mr Nash said it had fallen because Dulas – the installation company – had used “cosmetic grout” to cement the structure in place and not the “prescribed” substance.

On his visit to the site on May 8, more than three months later, he also noted that the turbine had already been “re-instated using the original anchor bolts and studs.

He added that “no evidence remained to assist investigation”, recommending that Edurance improve its quality assurance procedures.

Dr Philip Bratby, a retired nuclear scientist and spokesman for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said several wind turbines in Devon were sited much too close to roads and factories and “pose a real threat to the public”.

“It is not the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive at the planning stage – they can only get involved after an incident occurs,” he added.

“It has been apparent to me for a long time that most developers of wind turbines and wind farms do not do a proper assessment of safety and of the risks to the public from wind turbines and none of them have acceptable quality assurance procedures in place.”

Alan Dransfield, a campaigner based in Exeter, who visited the Devon site days after the incident and later secured the two reports, said he was “disappointed”.

He criticised the response from the HSE, which rather than publish their findings, said the documents were not available in electronic form then only released the papers after a formal FoI request.

“These wind turbines which collapsed were unsafe and unfit for purpose,” he added.

“We should not have to resort to Freedom of Information Act to find this out.

“The root causes were not high winds but poor design, inferior materials and a systemic failure through the chain of command.”

Martin Paterson, spokesman for Gaia-Wind, said, “the firm and its reselling agents inspected all “first generation” towers, which were designed to the “prevailing engineering standard of the time”.

“This standard was superseded in early 2011 and this tube tower design is no longer available for sale or installation,” he added.

“Our second generation towers are designed to current industry standards reflecting the development of more demanding design protocols in this field.”

Dulas declined to comment on the findings.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/YnTkPW

 

Poor pallet hygiene poses threat to UK economy

“UK businesses using wood packaging materials for shipping goods could be putting the health and safety of staff at serious risk and causing untold damage to the UK economy”, says Jim Hardisty, Managing Director of Goplasticpallets.com.

This warning comes after a staff member for the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon, fell ill at one of its depots after handling packaging on goods imported to the UK.*

GMB, the union for staff at Amazon, is convinced that the illness is linked to insects carried in the packaging and has called for the company to conduct a thorough, independent risk assessment of the dangers of insect contamination in wood and other packaging of goods imported from abroad.

Jim continues: “Although all wood packaging used for transporting goods into the EU or out of Portugal (a known pinewood nematode area) must be heat treated in accordance with ISPM 15 regulations to kill off pests, it’s clear that insect invasions from abroad remain a very real threat to the UK economy.

“In May this year, the Ecological Society of America discovered the emerald ash borer in the wood packing material of goods imported into North America. This case surely strengthens the argument for enforcing stricter safety checks worldwide for verifying ISPM 15 compliancy and for extending ISPM 15 by making it compulsory to heat treat all wood pallets and crates moving within EU member states – something the European Commission is in the process of reviewing.

“Poor pallet hygiene however is a much bigger topic than insect contamination alone. Mould and bacteria are other common signs that pallets are being kept in unsanitary conditions which, when using plastic varieties, can be easily combatted with regular cleaning as plastic pallets are 100 per cent water resistant. Timber pallets are much harder to preserve as even kiln dried varieties contain some moisture, making them susceptible to mould growth and blue stain fungus.

“The timber industry is fully aware of the hygiene issues with wooden pallets and to their credit TIMCON – the Timber Packaging & Pallet Confederation – has launched a new Essential Guide Pack** for drying timber pallets to keep them mould-free.

“Guide or no guide, the fact remains that wooden pallets are still inherently more likely to harbour contaminants than plastic ones – the only variety that can be repeatedly steam cleaned and reused guaranteeing optimum hygiene throughout its working life.”

 

Original Source: http://mhwmagazine.co.uk/news-item.asp?id=16916

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