Latest innovations and products in the sustainability sections of the construction industry.

Technical Editor Bruce Meechan looks at the range of very low carbon solutions available from a major timber frame manufacturer based on the Shropshire – Mid Wales border.

As an offsite manufacturer working across a variety of sectors including commercial, residential and education, Lowfield Timber Frame is well used to being presented with different technical challenges; and to meeting them through the use of different solutions that reflect the versatility of what is arguably nature’s most versatile material.

In essence, Lowfield has in recent years, responded to the demands of both clients and architects for PassivHaus and Near-to-Zero carbon buildings employing twin-wall timber frame, structural insulated panels (SIPs) and now a closed panel system based on timber I-joists.

Darren Jarman, Managing Director for Lowfield Timber Frame, told MMC Magazine: “We have an extensive product range that enables us to respond to clients targeting PassivHaus standard or other very low energy solutions; and we will work with their architects and assessors or other specialist consultants in order to ensure all the details – such as the floor wall junction or foundation connection, achieve the required levels of insulation.

“Some ten years ago we supplied a twin-wall timber frame system for the principal of Munro Associates who was building a new home up in Pitlochry, Scotland. That achieved the level of U-value necessary for PassivHaus – by filling with Warmcel recycled newspaper insulation; and now we are working with PYC Warmcel on a solution featuring 300 mm thick I-joists supplied by Metsa Wood for a social housing scheme featuring low rise homes. We have also built to PassivHaus standards using the Kingspan TEK system; so our product range can really cover all the bases and offer clients solutions to suit their individual needs.”

The architect, Mungo Munro commented: “We do a lot of work for housing associations as well as clients in other sectors, though this was a self-build where Lowfield produced a timber frame to my own design. I went for a double timber frame as it virtually eliminates any cold-bridging and achieved a U-value far better than the Building Standards required.”

Amongst the other highly sustainable projects Lowfield Timber Frame has helped deliver recently is the Telford Town Park Visitor Centre, offering bicycle hire and a café as well as classroom space. The original intention was to build the walls from straw bales, but the cost would have pushed up the budget so the specification switched to the Kingspan TEK system.

The jointing arrangement for the SIPs system helped keep the air leakage rate to around 1 m3/m2/hr at 50 Pascals. The addition of a high performance vapour control layer as part of the building envelope meant the overall airtightness figure for the finished structure outperformed the PassivHaus requirement at 0.58 m3/m2/hr. In terms of insulation value, combined with Kingspan Thermawall TW55 boards, the U-value for the Tek walls was 0.14 W/m2K.

Lowfield also contributed to the conversion of an eyesore, asbestos-clad packing shed into a stunning studio on the outskirts of Leamington Spa; which earned the architect, Sjolander de Cruz, the RIBA Sustainable Project of the Year Award.

Rinnai’s range of condensing hot water heater units using LPG are more economic to run than other sources such as oil or electric counterparts and they deliver lower carbon emission figures, greater energy efficiencies – this makes them the first choice for off-grid installations.

For installers, helping an off-grid user select an energy efficient water heater is critical — and a condensing continuous flow water heater using LPG is one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly options available. By choosing a continuous flow water heater, an end user can reduce energy costs by up to 50% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 61% (compared to electric equivalents). When compared with oil-fired systems this saving is even greater.

Tests show that a Rinnai Infinity condensing water heater has 107% efficiency and is low NOX compared with an oil boiler that emits approximately 364 mg/kwh NOX. That means a Rinnai condensing water heater emits approximately 10% of the NOX that an oil boiler emits, a 90% reduction. Therefore, combining a gas boiler and a Rinnai water heater will radically reduce NOX.

The EU is recommending that the maximum NOX level be reduced to just 56mg/kWh by 2018. Rinnai water heaters are already compliant with this proposed standard. This forms part of the new rules under the Eco-design of Energy-using Products Directive (ErP).

If we now compare the production of CO₂ between gas and electricity we find that for every GJ (277.78kW) of energy used gas will produce 44.44kg compared to 103kg with electric. We can see that for the same energy used electricity will produce twice the amount of one of the major greenhouse gases.

Then if we look at the emission per kW from thermal generation of electricity we find that electricity will produce 0.5kg of CO₂ compared to 0.16kg for the same kW generated with LPG, NOX production works out at 258kg per KW as compared to only 0.184kg.

The efficiency of this type of electrical generation is as low as 40%. So if we now compare the use of electricity to LPG to heat hot water we find that electricity is 40% efficient in comparison to a Rinnai water heater which returns 107% efficiency.

Electricity is not the ‘green’ fuel that its marketing portrays it to be. It has potential to produce more CO₂ and NOX and can be very costly.

A Rinnai LPG continuous flow water heater is an ‘on-demand’ system. When a hot-water tap is opened, the unit reads the demand and starts the heating process. The water flows through a heat exchanger, where it heats to the desired temperature using only as much gas as is needed. When the tap is turned off, the heater automatically shuts off.

For more details on RINNAI products visit

For a new production line floor at a bottling plant in Wales, a specialist floor surface system from Sika has delivered long term performance and excellent durability whilst meeting the demanding hygiene regulations within the food and drink industry.

The Radnor Hills Mineral Water Company in Knighton produces more than 175 million bottles each year. For a new bottling line, the floor surface had to meet industry standards, withstand heavy machinery and be easy to clean. Appointed to complete the application within the limited timeframe, specialist contractor Coatech turned to Sika and the company’s Sikafloor PurCem polyurethane resin system – a market proven high strength screed.

Following the re-screeding and sloping of an old warehouse floor to ease cleaning and drainage, Coatech diamond ground the screed to provide an effective key for the application of 100m2 of Sikafloor Purcem 20 which was laid to a depth of 9mm. The Sikafloor system was also used as a seal coat for covings, ensuring ease of cleaning and hygiene.

Offering excellent strength, Sikafloor 20N Purcem is a polyurethane modified cement screed that is highly resistant to chemicals, fatty acids and temperature. As the water-based system normally requires no primer, its installation is considerably less complex than many other systems, producing a joint-free surface that is slip and abrasion resistant.

Sika’s range of flooring systems for food and beverage production areas meets and exceeds client expectations, industry best practices and building regulations and legislation. All Sika flooring specifications are available via NBS+ and are supported with comprehensive technical support.

Now complete, the finished production floor at Radnor Hills Mineral Water can be steam cleaned to maintain the highest levels of hygienic surface demanded by the modern food and drink industry.

The careful and considered choice of product perfectly demonstrates how Sikafloor systems can help deliver high performance and cost-effective solutions for the most challenging and innovative commercial applications.

For more information please call 01707 394444, or visit

Evinox Energy recently worked with Higgins Construction & Circle Housing on a development in the creative heart of Walthamstow. Banbury Park is mixed-use scheme comprising of private and shared ownership homes, with landscaped community spaces, shops, offices, a community centre and public square that will help lead the regeneration of the area.

The site was a former warehouse, industrial works and electronics factory located in Waltham Forest. Evinox engineers completed a full design of the primary network for the district heating and hot water system for a complex of 6 different types of building.

The apartments are connected to the district heat network and each includes an Evinox ModuSat® FS storage HIU to provide heating and hot water. The integrated hot water storage within the ModuSat® enables the central plant to be reduced due to the increased thermal storage facility in each dwelling.

Residents at Banbury Park benefit from the Evinox PaySmart® pre-payment system, which is inbuilt in every ModuSat® Heat interface unit. The Evinox range of ModuSat® heat interface units, is the only solution available that features fully integrated pre-pay ready billing technology.

This system enables residents to be in control of their own energy bills by paying in advance and therefore removing any burden of building up unpaid bills or debt. Residents can purchase their energy online using our Residents Website 24hrs a day, at a local Payzone outlet, by monthly Direct Debit or Standing Order, using our Web App on a smart phone or tablet any time or over the telephone.

Energy Centre

Together with our CHP partners HELEC, a complete pre-fabricated skid plant room solution has been provided to supply the district heat network. This comprises of 1794kW ADI CD boilers, 109kWth CHP unit with 5000 L thermal storage and Matic-Pro combined pressurisation, expansion and deaeration unit.

Evinox Energy specialise in Communal and District heating solutions. Contact us today on 01372 722277 or visit for further information.

An innovative, affordable zero bills home created by architects Zed Factory, is using Acme clay plain tiles from Marley Eternit to help meet strict sustainability criteria.

The demonstration house launched at the BRE Innovation Park in March 2016. It will be one of the first properties to be assessed under the new Home Quality Mark (HQM), which gives credits for the use of responsibly sourced building materials with the lowest environmental impact.

Zero Bills aims to be the first commercially viable home with no net annual energy bills and enough surplus electricity to power a small electric car. Built with traditional construction materials, Zed Factory has incorporated high levels of energy efficiency and renewable energy into the design. A mansard roof has been created with a clear integrated photovoltaic roof on one side and Marley Eternit’s Acme single camber clay tiles in Red Sandfaced and Red Smooth on the other.

Rehan Khodabuccus, from Zed Factory, explains: “As well as looking at energy efficient products for the home, we also needed to consider the construction materials themselves to make a building with the lowest embodied carbon possible. Responsible sourcing was also very important, not only from an HQM assessment point of view but also because we wanted to maximise the use of materials from the UK to minimise the carbon footprint. We wanted a clay tile to create a traditional aesthetic as a contrast against the solar PV on the other side of the mansard roof. We selected the Marley Eternit tiles based on their responsible sourcing and sustainability credentials.”

The Acme single camber clay plain tiles have a ‘Very Good’ BES 6001 responsible sourcing accreditation, an A+ rating under the BRE Green Guide and low embodied carbon. As well as the demonstration home, the tiles are included in the specification for the first 96 Zero Bills Homes planned to be built on a site owned by the Sir Arthur Ellis Trust at Newport, near Saffron Walden in Essex.

The Zero Bills Home is a pre-designed, engineered and costed housing system with a wide range of custom build design options. The concept is aimed at low to medium density developments with a range of house types available from a kit of parts, delivered to site in containers for easy assembly.

Daniel Weait, specification manager at Marley Eternit, adds: “We are delighted to be providing tiles for such a pioneering zero bills development, which could not only help to meet carbon reduction targets but also tackle the need to increase the output of quality homes in the UK. The homes offer a sustainable and cost effective alternative that still uses traditional construction materials and local labour and minimises cost. This blend between traditional materials and renewable technologies creates homes that could quickly and affordably be replicated across the country, yet can be sympathetic to local vernacular.

“Responsible sourcing is becoming an increasingly important part of specification and we are proud that using our products helps architects and housebuilders to get credits under the environmental section of the Home Quality Mark. As one of the first homes to be assessed under the new HQM scheme, we hope to see the Zero Bills Home being offered at developments across the country.”

Marley Eternit’s range of clay plain tiles is now available in 24 different colours to help match local vernacular and meet planning requirements. For further details and samples, go to

For more information about the Zero Bills Home, visit

For further information on our range of products and services just ask ME at or call ME on 01283 722588. You can also follow ME on Twitter @MarleyEternit. If it matters to you it matters to us, that’s why with ME it’s all about you.

Leading British Manufacturer Keston Boilers has supplied three 55kW Heat Only twin flue boilers and a Frame and Header Kit to Lancing College in Lancing, West Sussex, which have been installed as part of a refurbishment project to improve the reliability of the heating system in one of the accommodation blocks and reduce overall running costs.

Lancing College is an independent boarding and day school, providing education for boys and girls aged 13-18 years. The boilers have been installed in Gibbs House, an accommodation block providing boarding facilities for 650 boys. Like all the buildings at Lancing College, Gibbs House is over 170 years old and the old heating system had previously been served by a central boiler room located in the main building over 50 metres away. The old boilers were not only unreliable and less energy efficient, but the long external pipe run resulted in excessive heat loss, as did the five inch cast iron pipework delivering the hot water to the radiators in the building, all of which contributed to high fuel bills.

The new Heat Only Boilers were installed on Keston’s Frame and Header Kit, which was delivered in prefabricated modules that were then quickly and easily assembled on site by Chris Smith, Heating Engineer. The system was installed in a new plant room within the building, eradicating the need for a long pipe run, and serves 60 radiators. Around 200 yards of new 67mm copper piping runs along four foot high tunnels located throughout the building, ensuring they are out of sight and retain the character of the school.

There are around 30 Keston boilers installed throughout Lancing College and this installation was the first that utilised the new range of Keston boilers, which were launched in 2013. Chris Smith commented, “The Keston Heat Only boilers were very straightforward to install, especially with the Frame and Header kit as supplied by Keston. They have been running perfectly since their installation and the increased energy efficiency has meant a large reduction in running costs for the school.” He added, “The flexible flueing options offered by Keston twin flue boilers were perfect for our needs, as they allow us to hide the flues so they do not affect the character of the buildings by emerging from the original flintwork.”

The Keston Heat Only condensing boiler range includes 45kW and 55kW outputs and it is the only dedicated boiler on the market for domestic or light commercial applications that combines twin flue capabilities with a fully modulating Energy related Products (ErP) approved pump built into the framework of the appliance. Continuing to make boiler efficiency easy for customer and installer alike, the Keston Heat-Only range is also supplied with integrated weather compensation and an outside sensor as standard. Weather compensation is instantly activated when the outside sensor is installed, creating a simple ‘plug and play’ solution with no intricate programming required.

Keston’s boiler range for both domestic and light commercial applications, manufactured in Britain and launched in 2013, includes system, combi and heat-only boilers, all of which incorporate market-leading twin flue capabilities that are highly adaptable, offering the perfect solution for awkward installations. All boilers in the range offer a high SEDBUK efficiency rating, are Energy Saving Trust endorsed and also feature on the Energy Technology List (ETL), qualifying them for inclusion in the Government’s Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme.

For more information on Keston’s condensing boiler ranges, visit, email or call 01482 443005.

District heating specialist to meter and monitor heat network performance at the Chobham Farm development of registered housing provider East Thames.

Insite Energy, the district heating specialist, has been appointed to provide full metering, billing, payment and monitoring services to one of the UK’s largest energy centre schemes. The community energy network which previously supplied the Olympic Village in Stratford, London, will now distribute heating and hot water to the 176 flats and houses of Chobham Farm, a new development by registered housing provider and social regeneration charity East Thames.

East Thames Group says monitoring the network will ensure residents pay the appropriate amount over the long-term, promptly identify if any faults occur in the system. Data gathered from this scheme will help East Thames Group develop the most efficient energy systems for housing schemes in future.

Simon Page, project manager at East Thames Group, commented: “In a competitive tender process, Insite Energy impressed us with its ability to provide a comprehensive service, which crucially will include monitoring overall heat network performance on site. Insite also demonstrated an excellent approach when working with the construction contractors to ensure successful metering system deployment.”

Anthony Coates-Smith, Insite Energy’s Business Development Director, said: “The planning consent for this site requires East Thames to connect to the district heating scheme operated by Cofely, taking away some control over the cost of heat supplied to their residents. Through Insite Energy, East Thames receives detailed information on heat network performance within their buildings, safeguarding the element of heat costs they can influence and reducing the risk of costly penalties included in the supply agreement with Cofely.

“With the provision of Insite’s flexible pre-payment and billing system, East Thames is also able to keep in touch with residents’ needs and protect itself from the risks associated with operating a heat network.”

The Stratford site’s energy centre scheme – which includes combined heat and power (CHP) units and biomass boilers, creating 20% fewer CO₂ emissions than a conventional system – was the largest in the country, with approximately 10 miles of energy distribution networks, when officially opened by Mayor of London Boris Johnson in 2011. It was designed at the outset to be adopted after the 2012 Olympics by new buildings and communities and the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) has granted planning consent to ultimately build a family neighbourhood of more than 1,000 new homes on the six hectare (14.8 acre) Chobham Farm site.

Insite Energy is the provider of metering, billing and payment services to more than 120 communal and district heat networks and 15,000 end-customers across the UK.

For more information please visit

Between August 1998 and February 1999 three Scalebuster® units were installed at the James Hornby School in Basildon, Essex. The Scalebusters® were specified to protect the calorifiers in the school heating system by inhibiting the build-up of harmful limescale and so preventing the need for costly repairs or premature replacement.

In 2014 a refurbishment programme was undertaken at the school that included changes to the heating system, but the question was, had the Scalebusters® actually done their job? The ideal chance came when the three original units were removed 16 years after their installation. Between December 2014 and February 2015 new boilers were installed for the upper and lower schools as well as the sports hall. At the same time five new Scalebusters® were installed to protect the new system and the old units were returned for a detailed examination.

Their effectiveness was immediately evident from the condition of the calorifiers. The contractor involved in their replacement took internal photographs of the original, 16 years old calorifiers, shown here, before they were removed. The images show no build-up of scale on either the cylinder walls or the heat exchange walls demonstrating conclusively that the ScaleBusters® had performed their function of inhibiting the build-up of hard scale throughout their operational life.

But what of the Scalebusters® themselves? If the old boilers hadn’t been replaced would they have carried on working even longer? External inspection showed the body of the units to be in good order. The nickel plating was in good condition and there was no corrosion or pitting of the brass. The central spindle and all PTFE fins were in good order on the flanged units. All the fins were present and were tight within their housing indicating that minimal reduction in the anode had taken place.

The PTFE sections within the ISB C50 threaded unit were clean and showed no sign of wear or fouling. All the zinc anodes were in place and although some signs of depletion were evident, this was to be expected after having been in use since 1999. A detailed internal and external examination of the units confirmed that despite the use of a zinc anode as a sacrificial element, minimal depletion of the anode had actually taken place.

During a service life in excess of 15 years, thousands of cubic metres of water would have been treated as they passed through the three units. The service life in the case of the removed ScaleBuster® units within the system and water type at the James Hornby School was found to be well in excess of 15 years.

How do Scalebusters® work?

The Scale-Buster® unit conditions hard water (preventing lime-scale build up) by combining a number of actions that release zinc ions into the water as it passes through the unit. It does not contain magnets or involve any sort of magnetic process. It needs no power supply and works completely automatically with no control panel to maintain. They are WRAS approved and can be installed with new systems or retro-fitted to existing installations.

Scale-Buster® is designed to cause precipitation of calcium carbonate into the water stream. This is as a result of the breakdown of the bicarbonate into carbon dioxide, water and carbonate due to the effects created within the Scale-Buster® itself. The particles which are formed in the water stream act as nuclei for the formation of further scale when the water is heated. In this way, scale deposition upon heating surfaces is minimised.

When a salt is precipitated from solution it results in a relatively less saturated solution remaining. The less saturated water is then able to dissolve and breakdown existing scale from pipe surfaces which form bigger particles that can then be removed from the system with a filter.

For further information, call The Rodin Group on 01795 423400, Email or visit

Rinnai, leading manufacturer of a complete range of A-rated continuous flow gas fired water heaters, is supplying the UK with what is thought to be the most reliable individual units* on the market.

The ErP A-rating** applies over the complete Infinity range – from small domestic models to XXL sized industrial units. Rinnai is the only manufacturer that can field a complete range of gas fired water heaters that more than achieve to coveted A-rating.

Rinnai can combine high efficiencies with high levels of reliability. During 2015 warranty claims against Rinnai stood at 0.05% demonstrating unparalleled reliability.

The next issue is servicing – the Rinnai system is simple and straightforward to service as all components are easily accessible and parts readily available.  Compare this to a business, for example a fast food restaurant or a hotel, running on just one cylinder, they would have to shut down the hot water system to allow it to be drained and inspected as part of the service. This would mean that during this down time the business may have to cease operating for a few hours while the work is carried out.

Another problem is a breakdown: if your only source of hot water fails then you have no means to provide hot water until the fault is rectified. If we take the worst-case scenario of a cylinder failure the whole thing needs to be replaced and this is no easy task especially when you consider the weight. You are now looking at multiple problems:

  1. a) You have lost all hot water capability.
  2. b) You need to pay for a replacement (if it isn’t covered by warranty).
  3. c) You have to pay for engineers to remove the faulty one and replace it, which can take days to change.

If we then look at a Rinnai Infinity water heater or multiples thereof, the down time would be reduced significantly, in the case of multiple units, putting up with reduced capacity for a very short period of time.

Servicing not only reduces the down cost of the business but can also reduce the servicing cost as a Rinnai water heater can be fully serviced and back operating within one hour. If a unit fails whereby it needs replacing, this replacement can be done in a couple of hours and if you have a bank of heaters you will still have the facility to provide hot water, albeit at a slightly reduced capacity, while one of the heaters is down. This is nowhere near as disruptive as having no hot water at all, and perhaps having to close the business while servicing or replacement takes place.

According to Rinnai UK Associate Director Chris Goggin: “The configuration of the Rinnai system is supportive of operational reliability. In effect, if you have a cylinder and you need to service it, or it breaks down, you are left with nothing but a standing body of water.

“Many Rinnai systems supply additional benefits to storage by using multiple heaters, let’s say three so the total system is made up of 33.3% by each heater. If one needs servicing there is still 66.66% still operational so there is no downtime for the hotel, restaurant or any other facility that uses hot water as a criteria feature.

“Some facilities incorporate additional heat engines as a means of built-in redundancy so that the system will always operate at full capacity even during servicing.”

Goggin concludes: “The Rinnai continuous flow system has significant USPs over any stored hot water system while at the same time offering built-in reliability and peace of mind to both installers and their customers.”

* With regards to the reliability of the units themselves a comparison of unit sales from 2013 until April 2016 against Rinnai UK’s warranty database shows 0.003% first year failure rate. (2013 is when the new database was set up.)

** All water-heating products sold in the UK need to meet minimum energy performance criteria in order to be legally placed on the market, and require an energy label.

For more information on the RINNAI product range visit

Evinox Energy have launched a Heat Network Design Guide and CPD Seminar for Communal & District heating systems.

Packed with useful information, our Heat Network Design Guide contains all of the key factors to consider when planning, designing and delivering a communal or district heating project.

The scope of any heat network project begins at the planning stage, and carries through to system design, product selection, network maintenance and end user support. Attention to detail must be applied at every stage of the project in order to deliver a successful, efficient and cost effective heat network.

Successful design, installation and operation relies on a large number of factors, that can vary from project-to-project. Our free guide is a useful tool for system design and product selection process, supplementing other industry standards, guidelines, regulations and codes of practice.

Our CIBSE approved CPD seminar provides the opportunity to explore this topic in depth and identify new ways to add value, performance and efficiency to your heat network project.

Visit our website to download the guide, or contact us on 01372 722277 / to request a hard copy or book a seminar.