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Our industry needs to change. To do this, we must cast a critical eye over our own behaviour and acknowledge our shortcomings; something many feel understandably hesitant to do. The bad news is that the UK construction industry is currently responsible for 45% of total UK carbon emissions, 32% of all landfill waste and is responsible for more water pollution incidents than any other industry. The good news is that we have the knowledge, skills and technology to facilitate real change in the world, when we put our minds to it. Offsite construction is the clearly catalyst. It’s time to stop quietly knowing it and start being proud bastions of our trade… before it is too late. Buildingspecifier.com Editor Joe Bradbury discusses:

Material usage

One of the key factors that will either seal our reputation as innovators or sully it indefinitely is the materials we use and how we choose to use them. With an unprecedented shortage of housing and schools in this country (coupled with a thriving private sector), it is clear to see that despite what construction industry doomsayers print, the UK has a voracious appetite for buildings that isn’t going away any time soon.

The construction industry is the largest consumer of natural resources in the UK today; a stark point that highlights just how high up on the agenda reconsideration of our building practices should be. The impact of our materials usage on the environment in of itself is staggering; a recent report by Willmott Dixon Group suggested that the construction industry alone is accountable for around 45-50% of global energy usage, nearly 50% of worldwide water usage, and around 60% of the total usage of raw materials.

Construction will always eat up a lot of resources by its very nature, but modular construction is taking steps to address this through combining modern building techniques to reduce cost and time with a moral sense of duty to minimise the negative effects on our environment.

The benefits of adopting more considerate ways to use materials are far-reaching. Take FSC-approved timber as just one of many examples; manufacturers who use forest products that are FSC approved can do so with confidence, safe in the knowledge that they are helping to ensure our forests are alive and well for generations to come. But the benefits are also far more immediate and closer to home than that; wood is a natural, renewable material, used often in modular building. It offsets our carbon footprint and offers significant thermal efficiency, keeping energy bills low.

For the four million people in Britain living in fuel poverty today, building more energy efficient homes using modern methods of construction is urgent. Interestingly, if housing targets were met through timber-frame construction alone, new build homes in the UK would serve as carbon ‘banks’, capturing and storing nearly 4 million tonnes of CO2 every year… unfeasible I know, but food for thought!

Reducing waste

According to ‘The Waste and Resources Action Programme’, offsite construction can generate up to 90% less waste than traditional onsite building methods. This is largely because a factory is a much more controlled environment than a traditional building site – with far fewer variables. Within the four walls of a purpose built factory we can continue to learn how best to use (and more importantly, re-use) resources and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill; something which is financially unproductive, unpopular, unsightly and unhealthy for our planet.

Another reason for offsite methods generating less waste is due to the fact that modular construction offers a greater degree of reusability; buildings can often be disassembled and moved to another site entirely if necessary. They can be shifted and repurposed when required. However, should a modular building find itself no longer fit for requirement as it stands, many of its components can be salvaged and re-used in another project, reducing the need for fresh new materials in each new build. This reduction in materials usage protects depleting stock of resources whilst simultaneously lowering waste.

Environmentally conscious

Offsite construction is far less energy intensive than traditional building methods. The carbon footprint left by the many construction vehicles and machinery on the site of a traditional construction project alone is considerably larger than that of modular construction. Put simply, fewer vehicles involved and less time spent on site results in less greenhouse gases being released into our environment.

Construction pollutes our world in more ways than one, and noise pollution has always been a serious problem on building sites throughout the country. There’s no getting away from it, the construction industry has a huge impact on all our lives, with most construction work taking place in sensitive locations. But there are things we can do to soften that impact. If all construction sites and companies presented an image of competent management, innovation, efficiency, awareness of environmental issues and above all neighbourliness, then they would become a positive advertisement, not just for themselves but for our industry as a whole. Due to being built away from the construction site, modern methods of construction such as offsite and modular are a great way to reduce and control noise levels, causing less disruption to the environment and the people around it.

In summary

The positive effects of modular construction on our environment cannot be understated and implementing it into our daily lives as an industry needs to happen fast. Widespread adoption coupled with a continuing focus on eco-friendly materials can only increase those benefits.

In the past, fines for pollution have been relatively low and environmental regulations notoriously slack, and it could have been perceived as cheaper (and easier) to pollute rather than take adequate steps to prevent pollution. Thankfully, this situation is now changing. Legal enforcement of environmental regulations expensive and can irreversibly damage the reputation of a firm. This is something that should be avoided at all costs.

With the UK Environment Agency and other government bodies putting increasing pressure on construction companies to reduce pollution and conform to environmental regulations, it is clear to see that change is imminent – the future is coming and we can either chase it or make it our own. Expect modular construction to take an even larger share of the construction industry, for awareness of its benefits to increase even further over time and stand at the forefront of that change.

Milbank Concrete Products based in Colchester, North Essex, are one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of precast concrete products with a focus on exceptional customer service.

Throughout the design, manufacturing, delivery and installation stages, Milbank offer one of the most comprehensive and professional service packages, providing a range of precast concrete products including: balconies, beam & block flooring, bespoke concrete products, ground beams, hollowcore flooring, helical stairs, rail products, sea defence & flood solutions, stadia products and straight stairs & landings.

Following on from market research and the identification of the need for an affordable, cost effective and efficient thermal floor arrangement, Milbank Concrete Products have recently launched their new and improved insulated concrete flooring solution, WarmFloor Pro.

WarmFloor Pro offers construction professionals a cost-effective alternative to quickly assembling a thermally insulated concrete ground floor over the industry leading competitor brand, Jetfloor, by Forterra (Bison). Reduced initial construction costs and an increase in energy savings make WarmFloor Pro a compelling alternative to a standard beam and block floor. In combination with its certification and A+ Green Guide rating, WarmFloor Pro is proving to be a must have addition to any new, eco-friendly development where keeping heating costs low is paramount.

WarmFloor Pro is suitable for almost any structure, but is most commonly used in housing, from single dwellings to complete housing developments. It offers a simple, cost effective, concrete insulated flooring solution to self-builders and construction professionals alike. Without the need for any specialist tools or skills, installation of WarmFloor Pro is efficient and streamlined whilst minimising waste and emission rates.

WarmFloor Pro works by combining rigid insulation modules (EPS panels) manufactured from lightweight closed cell expanded polystyrene which is laid in-between prestressed concrete beams (either 155mm or 225mm deep) with an EPS top sheet, damp proof membrane and structural concrete topping. If required, underfloor heating can be incorporated with the pipework attaching to the EPS panels with plastic pegs before the concrete topping is applied.

WarmFloor Pro is comprised of 6 main EPS components that are available in two types of EPS; standard issue in white (0.038W/m²K) or an alternative high-performance platinum in grey (0.031W/m²K). The 6 components are made up of Top Sheets – available in depths of 75-150mm, Infill Panels – available in 533mm for nominal 600mm beam centres and 343mm for reduced beam centres, and End Panels – available in both 178mm and 300mm.

EPS end panels are used for both the start and end of the flooring installation. The end panels are inserted at the start of the row with the straight (1200mm edge) opposite to the beam. All units are 1200mm long and can be cut on site to the required length using basic tools such as a handsaw; (minimum 300mm long).

As every building is different, Milbank are well equipped to design your floor to achieve the specific targeted U-Values (reaching as low as 0.07W/m²K) together with the structural layout of the floor to suit. Milbank then manufacture the concrete components and supply the materials (including the EPS panels) directly to your site. WarmFloor Pro is currently available on a supply only or

supply and installation basis using their vastly experienced installation teams.

WarmFloor Pro Benefits:

  • Easy to install – does not require any specialist tools or skills.
  • Quick to install – each EPS panel is the equivalent length of 5 standard concrete blocks.
  • Cost effective – WarmFloor Pro is designed to save you money. Faster installation speeds combined with reduced waste and excavation removal allow for an increase in overall savings.
  • Bespoke – a wide range of EPS panel depths and grades are available to satisfy your U-value or budget requirements.
  • Sustainable – WarmFloor Pro is designed to last the lifetime of the building while maintaining its exceptional thermal performance.
  • Clean, safe and easy to handle – lightweight EPS panels only weigh around 2Kg.
  • Underfloor heating compatible – heating pipework is simply held in place using plastic pegs that push into the EPS panels.
  • Proven Technology – now in use for over 10 years.
  • Industry compliant – Milbank WarmFloor Pro is Fully certified and has an A+ green guide rating.

For more information on Milbank Concrete Products or to enquire about their extensive range of products including WarmFloor Pro Insulated Flooring, please visit their website or call them on 01787 223 931.

For more information please visit www.milbank.co.uk.

Faced with the problem of having to explain a complicated notion it is sometimes helpful to draw on an analogy. The conundrum of how to capture the golden thread of information through a design and build cycle to properly support effective operation and maintenance of a residential development could rightly be considered one such complicated notion.

In many cases, drawing on an analogy with a natural phenomenon is particularly useful if an audience already has some semblance of understanding of the physical entity, and can therefore easily link related concepts. In this instance, I am going to employ the idea of a river as the natural phenomenon that has parallels with the task of capturing the golden thread of information.

In terms of relevant characteristics of rivers, it is worth highlighting certain features which will hopefully assist in bringing the analogy to life. As the graphic below shows, such features contribute to the overall eco-system of a river and can include the following: sources of water; water flow; the concept of a water course; tributaries; a channel; a meander; a watershed; volume and velocity; and a delta.

Consider how, with a river, the volume and velocity of the body of water at the mouth forming the delta is directly influenced by the sources that contributed to the initial flow, plus any further rainfall that might have occurred as the body of water gradually builds over the entire water course. The sources of a river typically flow through independent tributaries before combining at points over the water course to form the main body of water flow.

Consider also that a river does not typically follow a linear path in travelling from sources to destination: it meanders contingent upon the topography of the land it traverses over, but is largely directed to flowing in channels between watersheds that have become defined over time due to effects such as erosion. Since some water is always lost to factors such as evaporation and spillage to flood plains, the volume and velocity of the body of water at the mouth of the river only comprises the water that needs to form the delta before spilling into an ocean.

Capturing the golden thread

The challenges associated with creating a complete and accurate digital record for a new residential development from conception, through the design and build cycle to practical completion, are typically pernicious. As with the analogy, the golden thread of information for a residential development emerges from multiple sources and there are many potential points across the design and build cycle where this information can be amended or embellished, or indeed where new information can be created.

Like a river, these multiple sources and additional downstream activities have the effect of causing the body of information to steadily grow. Accordingly, the complexity of capturing the golden thread of information for a residential development can be likened to controlling flow in a digital river. Often, the initial sources of the golden thread of information are manifold, comprising inputs from the manufacturers of raw materials, components and equipment (i.e. assets) that might be incorporated in a residential development. Subsequent activity facilitates ever-increasing definition of product comprising these assets and also elaboration of build logic which further enhances the body of information forming the golden thread, with the volume and velocity of information generation increasing with time. Again, as with the analogy, a typical design and build cycle does not follow a linear path and is often highly iterative in nature, much like the meandering of a river.

Unlike the case with the physical entity, topography in the human-made landscape is actually defined using artificial constructs such as model inter-operability scheme, execution plans, stipulations relating to organisational information requirements, and information management maps. Additionally, a framework such as the RIBA Plan of Work which helps define broad stages of the design and build cycle to practical completion from Stage 0 (Strategic Definition) to Stage 6 (Handover and Close Out) is usually employed to help maintain design and build activity within the confines of boundaries. These multiple artificial constructs are often configured to be bespoke to individual organisations, or indeed projects within the same organisation, and can be considered similar to the concept of channelling a river between watersheds.

In recent times, there have been advances in technology such as digital design software solutions and common data environments that can be used to help create a complete and accurate digital record for a residential development. These tools can be considered to represent additional artificial constructs that can help facilitate control of information flow, so in a sense they are also akin to the concept of channelling a river between watersheds. But equally, there have been important changes in the way parties engaged on a project work together which are also yielding influence. Furthermore, we have seen the emergence of new standards and codes of practice associated with the likes of naming conventions, common language definition, data exchange and building of information models, all of which also constitute artificial constructs which are intended to make the process of capturing the golden thread easier. This wealth of change in working practice is equivalent to adaptations in topography in the analogy.

Under normal circumstances, it is easy to comprehend how the fragmented nature of conventional construction approaches cause complexity in terms of information authoring and liability, and subsequent revision control, which acts to thwart and frustrate the process of capturing the golden thread of information to properly support effective operation and maintenance of a completed residential development. This complexity might arise due to a lack of foresight regarding the need to capture and manage information from potential sources ab initio, or from a lack of application of the artificial constructs required to control information flow over the design and build cycle. In contrast to the re-generative nature of a river eco-system which essentially constitutes a closed loop system, it is often the case that the lack of application or even inappropriate artificial constructs can lead to the evolution of a form of extractive process which is overly linear with many disconnects and embedded wasteful logic reflecting an ineffective approach to capturing the golden thread.

Notwithstanding, it is reasonable to take a perspective of end-state requirements and attempt to categorise the information that should constitute a complete and accurate digital record for a new residential development. Such end-state requirements would be somewhat akin to the body of water that needs to form a delta being directly influenced by all sources that contributed to the flow. At high level, these requirements should include:

  • Why was it built?
  • What was actually built?
  • When was it built?
  • Who played a part in the design and build process?
  • How was it built?

This information, constituting a definition of end-state requirements, is captured on the graphic below, along with a rough mapping of the RIBA Plan of Work stages through to practical completion. This definition of requirements provides useful insight insofar as it cements a really important concept regarding information which will provide the basis of the golden thread cannot be created in a single moment in time ex nihilo towards the end of the design and build cycle.

Indeed, it is plainly the case that since information is continuously authored from the very outset of a project and evolves progressively through the design and build cycle, there are manifold problems to overcome associated with managing currency, relevance, accuracy and robustness of the same from conception to practical completion and handover.
Starting at the source

The fact is that despite all the technology improvements, and the significant cultural shift towards more collaborative working, conventional construction approaches are still largely inefficient, and frequently flawed in terms of capturing the golden thread. It is interesting to note that even today there are many organisations across the construction sector involved in residential development who adopt a default position of employing junior level resource towards the end of a project to try to collect and collate relevant information falling in the categories referred above.

Whilst such a position is admirable in the sense it at least represents an attempt to capture the golden thread, it is common that this sort of approach can result in critical information being missed or lost, akin with the concepts of evaporation and spillage to flood plains in the analogy. Of course, it could be argued that these organisations do not really comprehend what creating a complete and accurate digital record implies, because what it should definitely not mean is curating a plethora of scanned drawings and other relevant project documentation that cannot properly support effective operation and maintenance.

Much is being made at present of the importance of the construction sector finding ways to leverage productivity, and organisations involved in residential development are not exempt from this challenge. There have been numerous publications, including material from central Government that sets out the aspiration to transform performance with more focus to be brought to bear on leveraging productivity, driving innovation and developing and training new talent. In the simplest terms, the productivity problem can actually be characterised as either generating higher levels of output using the same levels of input, or generating the same levels of output using reduced levels of input.

Nothing in the typical, conventional construction approach to capturing the golden thread of information is helping to yield improved productivity. This is because the resource typically being employed to collect and collate relevant information are not authoring information, nor are they really managing the same, and often the task is deemed to be unglamorous, so at best they could be considered to represent additional input cost which has limited likelihood of generating the required quality of output from fragmented input sources.
Charting a unique course

At Berkeley Modular, we have sought to examine everything from first principles. We are a business focused on the offsite manufacture, as opposed to offsite construction, of three-dimensional primary structural product (i.e. Category 1 in accordance with the recently published MMC definition framework). We have been afforded the luxury of time to conceive how we can apply lean thinking to information authoring, capturing and revision control, as well as to our manufacturing and assembly logic.

The result of this thinking time has yielded a transformative methodology for creating digital connectivity compared to conventional construction approaches. The work we have undertaken to create a Digitally Enabled Agile Manufacturing (DEAM) platform has focused on how technology can help resolve the conundrum of capturing the golden thread of information from the very start of the development process to the point of practical completion and handover. This DEAM platform we have developed has been configured to encompass the following:

  • Digital capture of information from source – We have deployed certain options from the coBuilder suite of software to configure the DEAM platform to facilitate a single source of truth for all assets to be incorporated in a residential development. These options represent the tributaries that allow information to be authored by manufacturers’, and subsequently filtered and fed to other components of the DEAM platform
  • Digital creation of design information – With the help of Majenta, we have deployed certain options from the Autodesk suite of software to configure the DEAM platform to facilitate a product lifecycle management tool wherein digital geometries and build logic definition are automatically linked to asset information in a common data environment. These options represent the topography that allow Berkeley Modular to author design and build definition, and subsequently filter and feed to other components of the DEAM platform
  • Digital creation of manufacturing instruction – Working with DAS, we have deployed computational rule-based logic to obtain high levels of design automation to support the efficient creation of data-rich, fully federated digital models and related manufacturing machine code. This logic represents watersheds that afford authoring of automated build definition by Berkeley Modular, which can be filtered and fed to other components of the DEAM platform
  • Digital management of supply chain, operations and finance activity – We have deployed certain options from the Oracle Fusion suite of software to configure the DEAM platform with an ERP environment which facilitates a single source of truth for all aspects of operational activity at Berkeley Modular comprising a design and build cycle. This environment represents further topography that allows capture of all transactional information authored by Berkeley Modular, and subsequent filtering and feeding to other components of the DEAM platform
  • Digital instruction of manufacturing and assembly activity – We have deployed certain options from the Siemens suite of software to configure the DEAM platform with an MES environment which facilitates a single source of truth for organising and communicating all facets of physical activity performed by Berkeley Modular. These options represent final elements of topography that afford capture of work instruction to both machine and human resource across all factory and site operations, which can be filtered and fed to other components of the DEAM platform

The challenge of creating a productive business operation whilst simultaneously addressing the conundrum of how to capture the golden thread of information has required us to think carefully about digitisation in general, but in particular about responsibility and liability for information authoring, and subsequent revision control. The technological platform outlined above represents certain of the artificial constructs we needed to configure, but in reality this platform is actually supplemented with a combination of other industry-standard and customised constructs that help shape the topography to allow the channelling and progressive capture of information in an efficient, lean manner.

There are plentiful example initiatives from across the construction sector wherein investment has been made into new technological platforms with an expectation that the same will readily yield increased productivity and capture of the golden thread, Despite these examples being many in number, it is somehow still common for expectation associated with the investment to be inflated, yet finding the right solution is not easy and often people easily become disenchanted and disillusioned which impacts the intended outcome. Hopefully the insights presented here regarding the complexity of creating a complete and accurate digital record to properly support effective operation and maintenance of a residential development being likened to controlling flow in a digital river represent a useful contribution to the field and will help steer future initiatives towards more successful and rewarding outcomes.

For more information please visit www.berkeley-modular.co.uk

Written by Graham Cleland, director at Berkeley Modular

Doors open on November 20th, 2019 at London’s ExCeL exhibition centre for edition 5 of this top class event specialising in offsite construction (OSC).

According to show director, Steven Callaghan, offsite construction (OSC) is now more in the news than at any time since he launched the show in 2015.

“Housing shortages in the UK, in particular the lack of affordable housing, have seen OSC advanced as something that could make a major contribution to solving these particular problems. This has lead to a wider appreciation of the other benefits of OSC such as improved quality of the finished product and, vitally, improvements in health and safety at work.

Shortages of skilled labour are another good reason why OSC needs to be considered very seriously – many employers are finding that current entrants to the workplace are less enthusiastic about working on a windswept building site than their fathers and forefathers, this is the digital generation” Steven adds.

Head of Sales, Maddie Maclellan takes up the story. “We organise the show in association with London based organization, buildoffsite, who we call the ‘voice of the offsite construction industry’. They are a membership based organization whose sole role is to promote the use of offsite construction technology and it only takes a brief glance at their list of members online to see the extent of their influence – it’s a real who’s who of end clients, contractors, manufacturers even government departments.

“A very popular feature of the Offsite Construction Show is the buildoffsite Seminar Theatre and I’m pleased to confirm that it will be making an appearance once again in 2019. The programme is yet to be published but for a flavor of what can be expected, please follow this link to see details of the 2018 presentations in the programme of events – there is also a series of Masterclasses plus the show’s own seminar theatre and programme and it’s all absolutely free of charge”, says Maddie.

The organisers feel that the show’s high turn out and excellent visitor quality is strongly influenced by it’s location in London, one of the Worlds most dynamic cities and the home to many spectacular flagship OSC projects. “London ExCeL is located in the heart of the Docklands and is a truly World class venue,” continues Steven Callaghan, “with superb facilities for visitors and exhibitors,” and nowhere is this more evident than with it’s communication links, he stresses.

“Visiting the show could not be easier,” says Maddie, whether by public transport or by your own car. “ExCeL has 2 of it’s it’s own onsite DLR Stations (Docklands Light Railway) and this is the most popular way of travelling to the show – fast, cheap and efficient however if you do prefer to come under your own steam, the venue has an underground parking garage with over 3000 spaces.”

“Register online on the show website  – for your free entrance ticket beforehand, it will save you time on arrival at the show hall’.

According to the organisers, this means that the show has easy access to the many thousands of senior construction, design and specifying personnel based in the capital city, as well as both central and local government.

In 2018 the show was attended by over 4,000 people, a record attendance, and a similar number are expected in 2019, with up to 100 exhibitors anticipated to show at the latest event, ranging from specialist manufacturers of offsite buildings, construction technology and design to product supply chain producers and the 2019 show will feature at least 20% brand new, first time exhibitors.

“The show is THE place in the UK to do offsite business” says Maddie and we cater for all aspects of the process – whether your reason for visiting is to learn more about OSC with a view to incorporating it in your future projects or to look to develop your supply chain, the show has something to offer you,” concludes Maddie.

For more information please visit www.offsiteconstructionshow.co.uk

Fassa Bortolo, one of the leading Italian manufacturers of renders and integrated building systems has brought its popular Fassarend timber frame system to the UK market, making off site construction easier than ever.

To meet the soaring demand for timber frame and modular builds, this system is made with the potential to be installed off or onsite. Using a four-stage application process, light-weight carrier boards are mechanically fixed onto the frame batons and finished on site with Fassa’s high quality, thin-coat render, either by hand or by machine once the project reaches the final stages.

With superb insulation options, this system can be combined with a mechanical external wall insulation (EWI) rail system, in the form of mineral wool or Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) inside the timber frame, to help the build reach a required u-value and reduce emissions, as well as protect the structural integrity of the frame from any foreseeable damage.

The Fassarend timber frame system has been third party certified by KIWA BDA and approved by the National Housebuilding Council (NHBC).

For more information please visit www.fassabortolo.com.

Invisible Connections is currently working with precast concrete and DfMA specialist SCC Design Build to construct stair cores at Manchester Airport.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is undertaking a transformation programme that will position the airport as a ‘Global Gateway’, offering more routes and creating increased economic growth in line with aviation forecasts.

As part of this development the airport is expanding its terminal facilities, apron space and customer car parking facilities to accommodate increased demand.

With many MSCP projects already to its name, SCC Design Build (working for BAM) successfully manufactured and constructed the precast concrete frame and cores (incorporating flights and landings) at the newly completed 6,500 space ‘meet and greet’ MSCP at Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.

As part of its innovative build process, SCC Design Build (‘SCC’) used telescopic connectors by Invisible Connections extensively throughout the structural frame and cores, being SCC’s tried and trusted connection solution for rapid construction.

With a clear pedigree in car park construction and an existing presence on the airport, SCC was the natural choice by Galliford Try for the newest 7,669 space car park that will link to Terminal 3 and have buses to the other terminals.

Although a steel frame was chosen for this latest car park, SCC was appointed to construct the stair cores in precast concrete, chosen for its fire properties and the stabilisation of the structural steel frame.

There are 10 stair cores in total, which vary in height up to 5 storeys. All 10 cores incorporate precast flights and landings, with 6 of the cores also housing the lift-shafts.

Building on the success of several previous project collaborations, Invisible Connections was chosen by SCC for its landing-to-wall system of telescopic connectors. The RVK101-30 pinned connection detail was specified to tie landings to the core walls (tying into REDiBOX PIN recess formers) thereby satisfying the Engineer’s design requirements for robustness.

It’s increasingly common to combine precast concrete stairs and landings with core walls which are either precast or poured in-situ. When connection methods are left as an afterthought, using traditional rolled steel support angles is often the only practical, yet inefficient, fixing solution.

With a little up-front planning, there’s much to gain by incorporating telescopic connectors, which come with a host of advantages; such as improved health and safety, robustness compliance, and significantly improved cost effectiveness. Indeed, a recent study found that using telescopic connectors instead of rolled steel angles reduced man hours by 80%, which contributed to a total 33% reduction in direct costs.

For more information please visit www.invisibleconnections.co.uk.

In this article Adam Taylor, Business Development Manager – Building Envelope of the A. Proctor Group outlines the need for designers and manufacturers to understand and embrace a best practice approach to heat, air, moisture management in DfMA.

As the construction industry seeks to address the challenges which relate to the UK’s housing shortage and deliver more energy-efficient buildings across the residential and commercial sectors, it is clear that Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) will form an essential part of the delivery process.

The application of DfMA is ideally suited towards offsite modular construction, with its focus on ease and efficiency of both manufacture and assembly. The benefits of fast-track offsite manufacture for assembly onsite can lead to higher outputs, whilst significantly reducing the project programme time, with less material waste and costs, and fewer delays in relation to snagging and re-working on site.

The A. Proctor Group Ltd as a leading manufacturer of vapour permeable membranes and vapour control layers provides essential best practice advice to designers and manufacturers of offsite modular buildings based upon the proven model of Heat Air Moisture Management (HAMM).

The importance of Heat Air Moisture Management (HAMM) to DfMA

Based upon over 50 years of providing solutions and products for the construction sector we understand that a totally holistic approach is required to DfMA building design. In doing so, the points below consider six core aspects in the process:

  • Building
  • Weather
  • Occupants
  • Heat
  • Air
  • Moisture

For any building to be an energy efficient, healthy, moisture free building envelope there is a clear need to manage the balance of Heat, Air and Moisture movement throughout the process of the building’s life cycle from design, construction, completion and use.

Understanding the importance of these key elements upon the building envelope is crucial to the successful construction and operation of a building. Architects, designers, and off-site construction manufacturers must seek to understand the science behind our buildings, managing the external and internal forces, which impact on the quality of the completed building, its performance in use, as well as the health of its occupants and the wider environment.

Airtightness and modular building design

There is absolutely no question that an integral part of modern building design is influenced by energy efficiency. In the EU it is estimated that buildings account for approximately 40% of energy consumption and are responsible for some 36% of CO2 emissions. Closer to home, around 45% of UK CO2 emissions come from the built environment, (27% from domestic dwellings and 18% from non-domestic).

As thermal insulation requirements have increased over the last few years, the proportion of energy lost through air leakage has become more evident. The ever-increasing thermal insulation required will, however, be rendered largely ineffective unless the airtightness of the structure itself is addressed. Air leakage greatly reduces the effect of thermal insulation; therefore if energy efficiency is to be improved within buildings, this is the most critical area to focus on.

In addition to improved insulation, energy efficient heating systems will also be ineffective if warm air can escape the building and cold air can seep in. This is reflected in the fact that total space heating costs in an airtight construction may be considerably less than in a leaky one.

Air leakage through cracks, gaps, holes and improperly sealed elements such as doors and windows can cause a significant reduction in the performance of even thermally insulated envelopes.

Effective airtightness design

The two main ways to achieve airtightness in the building envelope are internally or externally, or in other terms, “inside of the services zone’ or ‘outside of the services zone’.

Traditional use of internal air barriers can be more complex and costly to install, due to the need to accommodate building services such as electrical, lighting, heating and drainage systems. An internal air barrier is only as good as it’s installation. If all the service penetrations are not adequately sealed, performance will be compromised.

For many years, external air barriers have been commonly specified in North American building design and construction. By moving the air barrier to the external side of the structural frame, external air barrier systems such as Wraptite® from A. Proctor Group allow for an almost penetration-free airtight layer, which can be installed faster and more robustly. This offers an effective but simple system comprising a self-adhesive vapour permeable air barrier membrane, plus vapour permeable sealing tape, Wraptite Corners and Wraptite Liquid Flashing, and provides effective secondary weather protection while preventing trapped moisture and air leakage. Far simpler than internal options an external air barrier system like Wraptite will maintain the envelope’s integrity, with less building services and structural penetrations to be sealed, and less room for error.

Fixing Options for Air & Vapour Control

The traditional forms of VCLs and airtightness membranes will often require mechanical fixing. In the case of timber structures using steel staples, and on concrete using a separate double-sided adhesive tape. The self-adhered nature of Wraptite allows for a simple and fast installation process, minimising the use of additional sealants and tapes, and requiring no specialist contractors to achieve a robust result. This one-step solution provides both a damage resistant air barrier layer and effective secondary weather protection in one installation process, allowing a wind and watertight envelope to be achieved more quickly than using traditional methods.

TopHat incorporates Wraptite into the design

One of the UK’s leading modular housing manufacturers TopHat has successfully incorporated Wraptite into the design of its high-quality timber-framed homes.  Wraptite is a patented external air barrier membrane system, which offers manufacturers and designers of modular and off-site buildings the ability to reliably and comfortably exceed current airtightness requirements. Wraptite is the only self-adhering vapour permeable air barrier certified by the BBA and combines the important properties of vapour permeability and airtightness in one self-adhering membrane.

The A. Proctor Group provides a range of high-performance membranes to address the requirements of heat, air, moisture management within the building element, and provides comprehensive guidance using modelling & analysis tools to ensure compliance and guide designers and manufacturers on best practice related to DfMA.

For more information please visit www.proctorgroup.com

Deceuninck Commercial Sales Manager John Duckworth explains how the company’s holistic approach to commercial projects benefits the specifier, contractor and end user.

Windows are a key part of the build process, providing natural light, protection from the elements and ventilation. They also have great architectural importance by helping to define the overall character of a building and create visual interest.

The latest innovations in window technology has given developers and specifiers a choice of materials, styles and designs to choose from. The very best of this technology also works seamlessly with modern construction methods to create the right aesthetics, reduce installation time and improve the building’s overall performance. Choosing the right supplier is critical in this process.

Deceuninck is a leading window systems company with strong ties in the commercial and housebuilding sector. We work with a number of large developers including Crest Nicholson, Catalyst Housing, Countryside Properties and Berkeley Group. Developers choose Deceuninck because our high performance window systems are engineered for aesthetics, with perfect symmetry and balanced sightlines, and they’re tried-and-tested for commercial applications. Linktrusion™ is our flagship window technology that combines pultruded glass-fibre with PVC-U in Deceuninck’s 5000 window for light and strong windows with slim sightlines and outstanding thermal efficiency. In terms of performance and benefits, Linktrusion™ combines the very best of PVC-U and aluminium, and developers love it, often choosing Deceuninck windows over aluminium, and in Deceuninck’s Grey Matt foil on grey substrate, it’s hard to tell them from aluminium.

Commercial partnership

Product is half the story and Deceuninck’s success comes down to our holistic approach to commercial projects. We work closely with developers, specifiers, fabricators and contractors to look at the full picture of how windows work within the build, be it timber frame, steel frame or modular, to get the best results for our clients.

Our commercial team works with partners to ensure products not only meet technical specifications but are correctly installed and perform effectively in the finished project. We supply accurate data and test results on performance and acoustics, a growing and important point of specification. Working with Bluesky Certification and the University of Salford, we’re the first PVC-U systems company to commit to acoustic testing of our full range because it gives fabricator customers a big advantage in the tender process.

The Hinkley Point Worker Accommodation development is an example of a technically demanding project in which 80% of the 1,400 windows were installed into pre-fabricated modules off-site. Working in partnership with fabricator Dempsey Dyer, Deceuninck’s technical team ensured our Tilt and Turn windows met the highest energy and weather requirements both off-site and in installation. Once assembled, the windows passed the most stringent CWCT water testing, normally only used for curtain walling. Deceuninck’s technical team worked with Dempsey Dyer to successfully cut the windows’ decibel rating down by RW35db to RW40db and RW43db, helping to minimise the impact of noise on workers and make a quieter, healthier environment.

The Woodward Building at Imperial College London is another example of Deceuninck’s strong ties with developer, contractor and fabricator. Despite the complex requirements for aesthetics, weather performance, acoustics and safety, Deceuninck and fabricator Dempsey Dyer successfully broke the original specification for aluminium, bringing a 30% saving for the client. Our 2500 Tilt and Turn window impressed developer Berkeley Group with outstanding performance: Class 4 Air permeability; Class 8A Water tightness and Class A5 2000Pa exposure. The windows delivered U-Values of 1.5 and G-Values of 0.27 to prevent overheating in the building. Safety and durability were also important factors, and Deceuninck’s Tilt and Turn window is ideal for high-rise and student developments because it can be locked in the tilt mode for added safety and unlocked by maintenance teams when cleaning is required. The installation process included full EPDM shrouding and on-site water testing, and was completed on time and in full. Due to the success of this project, Berkeley Group has awarded Dempsey Dyer further contracts, and Deceuninck is now an approved supplier for the developer.

Call 01249 816 969 or visit the website to see more exciting commercial case studies and learn more about our commercial work. You can also download Deceuninck’s full product portfolio from the NBS National BIM Library at www.nationalbimlibrary.com/deceuninck-ltd.

For more information please visit www.deceuninck.co.uk

Whether you love or loath IKEA, there is no denying the thrill of picking out furniture and seeing it in your home on the same day. More and more house builders are now taking a leaf out of Ikea’s book with housing estates being constructed using modular build practices. Editor of buildingspecifier.com and MMC Magazine, Joe Bradbury hears the top three benefits of modular builds according to premium coil coated aluminium supplier Euromax:

While modular builds won’t mean new housing estates springing up in a matter of hours, it will considerably reduce the wait. However, that is just one of the benefits of a pre-fabricated approach, as Nick Cowley, managing director of uPVC windows and doors expert, Euramax, explains.

The flatpack phenomenon is still changing the way we live and work. In the last three decades, machinery and technology developments have meant that bigger, stronger and more efficient modular structures, including schools, business parks and medical facilities, are being built across the globe.

Modular buildings and homes are prefabricated away from the final building site in sections, or modules. These are then delivered to the intended site where installation occurs.

The need for speed

As modular buildings are able to be constructed in highly controlled environments, it means that the build process can be completed up to 50 per cent faster than by using traditional construction methods.

This ability to be built and installed quicker, means that the return on investment (ROI) is potentially far greater than traditional building projects, as the construction phase is significantly shortened.

Show me the money

The overall cost of the build can be reduced by up to 30 per cent by using modular practices. Shorter build time saves money on reduced labour costs and on-site equipment hire costs.

The overall cost of construction materials will also be reduced as it means that the pre-fabricator can buy materials required in larger quantities for multiple projects, rather than just on an ad-hoc basis. These materials will all be delivered to one location, rather than multiple construction sites, so transportation and delivery costs are lower too.

Modular construction also means that any installed elements, like windows and doors, or practical elements such as kitchens or light fixtures, can be delivered and installed all at once. Expert suppliers, like uPVC window and door manufacturer, Euramax, can deliver equipment and materials either to the pre-fabrication facility, or directly on site.

The process of constructing a modular build off site means that any errors or issues with construction can be eliminated before arriving on site. This means that staff are less likely to need to spend large amounts of time and effort fixing things once installation is complete.

Customisable options

Modular builds open up huge potential in terms of design aesthetic and innovation. Traditional building designs are often restricted by the amount of space and planning regulations of how much work can be done to the local area and land. However, modular builds can be designed to a set of specifications that adapt to any restrictions that may be in place.

Nick Cowley - Managing Director

Nick Cowley – Managing Director

As each modular build is tailored to the individual users needs, the construction can be designed and made to the exact space, budget and design requirements. Modular buildings are also commonly constructed out of more durable and environmentally sustainable materials, making the properties a better investment for both the construction company and the buyer.

So, while the cheap and cheerful, cookie-cutter style furniture you buy and build from IKEA can be cost effective and an instantaneous moment of gratification, modular builds open up a much wider range of opportunity to reduce costs, speed up projects and create a unique look.

The UK’s first energy positive office, the Active Office, was opened in June last year at Swansea University. Designed by SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre to be powered entirely by solar energy, the Active Office aims to generate more energy than it consumes over the course of a year.

The Active Office isn’t just meant to be a high performance building for its own sake, but also to demonstrate how well buildings can perform with technology available today. The building is packed full of cutting edge, commercially available technology to help generate, store and manage energy for the building.

One piece of technology provides both electricity and heat to the building; the photovoltaic thermal (PV-T) system by Naked Energy. Made up of a number of photovoltaic panels contained in vacuum sealed tubes, the system has been mounted onto the front elevation of the building and could potentially provide heat energy for the entire building through spring, summer and autumn.

More solar energy is collected through the roof which is covered in, or more accurately made up of, solar cells. The PV cells are bonded directly onto pre-painted steel to create a roofing system that can be installed using conventional methods. The Active Office features the first commercial installation of BIPVco’s technology on a curved profile, which aside from adding architectural flair, will also generate power throughout the year even in low light conditions.

The various systems are monitored by extensive metering installed throughout the building, enabling SPECIFIC to determine where energy is being generated and consumed. This is reflected in a real time display in the entrance foyer, allowing occupants and visitors to find out how the building is performing.

However, the building can’t reach its energy positive target if all the energy it generates is wasted. “We took a fabric-first approach to reducing energy consumption,” commented Joanna Clark, Building Integration Manager with SPECIFIC and Architect for the Active Office.

The Active Office was designed and conceived by SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre and funded by Innovate UK with support from Swansea University and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

It was manufactured offsite by Wernick Buildings, in their factory in nearby Port Talbot. SPECIFIC knew that modular construction could deliver the levels of performance they needed against a challenging programme and budget.

Months later, the choice of modular is being borne out by data. On current performance, SPECIFIC predict an annual consumption of approximately 20MWh versus an annual generation of 24MWh.

The future looks bright for this new type of solar-powered building design. In September, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond annouced funding for the Active Building Centre through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and UKRI. The new independent national centre will seek to remove barriers and accelerate market adoption of new Active Buildings.

It seems likely that modular construction will play an important part in progress towards a low carbon future.

For more information please visit www.wernick.co.uk or www.specific.eu.com.