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With six billion people estimated to be living in cities by 2050, how can ceilings help accommodate such growth? Ian Clarke, commercial technical manager for Armstrong Ceiling Solutions, discusses.

The construction industry is at a critical juncture. Headcounts worldwide are growing, and growing fast – and the projected numbers are staggering. It’s predicted there will be nine billion people worldwide by 2050, with two out of every three living in cities by the same date. For those tasked with designing and building our cities, the challenges of such accelerated growth quickly add up. From skills shortages and needlessly complicated supply chains to a fear of embracing BIM, it’s never been more important to face the challenge head on.

But what can be done today to help counter the increased building demand of tomorrow? Simply put, a drive towards greater construction efficiency. To this end, any opportunity for increased simplicity and proficiency should be welcomed. While the building envelope is an obvious focus for building faster and more effectively, the internal space should not be overlooked.

Start how you mean to go on

While the outside of a building goes a long way to define architectural appeal, it’s the interior space which creates comfort and usability. By enhancing light and acoustics, ceilings are a critical aspect of this process, and they are an area where architects, specifiers and installers all stand to benefit from enhanced methodologies.

Involving ceiling manufacturers at the beginning of the design and specification stage is critical. In doing so, a more collaborative, transparent working environment is established where questions from all parties are openly asked and existing conventions are challenged. The result is that key concerns are raised earlier, leading to less rework down the line. A team that’s working together clearly and cohesively also works more efficiently, which will become increasingly important as demand and population figures continue to rise.

On call with one call

In our always-on world, everyone expects to be able to get what they want with a single tap, click or call. The ceiling industry is no different. It’s why, at Armstrong Ceiling Solutions, we provide everything from industry-leading products and expert support right through to training. For example, in the UK 90% of Armstrong products are available next day, while a 24-hour call-to-site service is also available. This approach aids efficiency by greatly simplifying supply chains and, in turn, minimising exposure to unforeseen delays.

Working the right way, right away

Increasingly, contractors are being asked to take on greater responsibility and become jacks of all construction trades. This is leading to increased levels of superficial knowledge and a move to hiring generalists over specialists. While some short-term benefits may exist, the long-term inefficiencies in moving away from specialist expertise are likely to cause serious issues in terms of meeting demand and maintaining quality standards.

By realising this, we’ve made it a clear mission at Armstrong Ceiling Solutions to maintain specialisation and in-depth knowledge in contractors’ skillsets, combining comprehensive training at the renowned Armstrong Installation School, technical support from our ceiling specialists and – in the UK – the Omega Contractor programme of Armstrong recognised specialist ceiling installers. As a result, contractors are able to draw on both their experience and comprehensive, targeted expertise in order to deliver best practice in terms of cost and construction efficiencies.

Win with BIM

The digital age is playing an ever-increasing role in all aspects of construction, meaning a meticulous attention to data is no longer a need, but a must. And Building Information Modelling (BIM) is set to play an ever more prominent role in terms of delivering ceiling construction efficiency.

The benefits of BIM are manifold, not least in terms of improving collaboration and enhancing decision-making. It also greatly reduces rework and eliminates costly duplication of drawings, freeing up talent and capital to be used elsewhere. Yet many within the industry are still not yet fully equipped to deal with BIM, preferring instead to rely on time-proven methodologies. But with just 30 years before we reach the estimated worldwide populace of nine billion, it’s way past time for the industry at large to embrace future-facing technologies and techniques; to look proactively at methods that will enable all of us to construct a more efficient future for all.

Building efficiency into products

While service and support help increase project efficiency, it’s important also to consider the role of the products themselves – in terms of both ease of installation and environmental sustainability. In both cases, Armstrong Ceiling Solutions builds efficiency into its portfolio.

To complement our world-leading range of tiles, we’ve developed a range of highly engineered products – including grids and canopy kits – which simplify installation and maintenance, helping minimise time on site and accelerating project completion.

Last but not least, there’s the efficiency in the products themselves. Currently, some 60% of all materials are used in creating and maintaining our built environment – with a significant amount enduing their service life in landfill. Products which can be recycled and re-used therefore add value to the process as well as to our planet. Among Armstrong Ceiling Solution’s range are a number of products certified as ‘Cradle to Cradle’ (C2C), which means they’re responsibly manufactured and endlessly re-usable. Already a requirement for certain projects in the United States and Europe, C2C is sure to become more widespread, helping contractors provide transparency and protecting our environment for future generations.

To learn more about how Armstrong Ceiling Solutions can help you construct a more efficient future, visit www.armstrongceilingsolutions.co.uk.

Labour is announcing that climate change will be a core part of the curriculum from primary school onwards. The announcement comes on the same day that the UK Climate Strike Network hosts more school strikes across the country.

Under plans set out by Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner, the next Labour government will ensure all young people are educated about the ecological and social impact of climate change.

A review of the curriculum will also make certain that it focuses on the knowledge and skills that young people need in a world that will be increasingly shaped by climate change, particularly in renewable energy and green technology jobs.

Climate change adaptation and mitigation will drastically increase future demand for the knowledge and skills required for the green jobs of the future, with these skills severely underrepresented in the current curriculum.

As part of the review, an expert panel will consider how climate change and its impact are taught from primary school onwards.

One of the key demands of the climate school strikes is that the national curriculum is reformed to address the ecological crisis as an educational priority. Currently, teaching climate change is restricted to Chemistry and Geography in Key Stages 3 and 4.

Under the Conservatives, the curriculum has narrowed, with Michael Gove scrapping the last Labour government’s plans to start teaching children about the environment and climate change when they are in primary school.

Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Education Secretary, said “Today, young people are taking to the streets to send a  clear message to the government that climate change will be a fundamental and defining feature of their adult lives, and we must take the action needed to tackle it.

“We need to equip people with the knowledge to understand the enormous changes we face, and skills to work with the new green technologies that we must develop to deal with them.

“That must be part of a broad education and that prepares pupils for adult life. Climate change should be a core part of the school curriculum, and under a Labour government it will be.

“As well as teaching young people about the impact of climate change, their education must prepare them for the jobs of the future. As part of Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution to create 400,000 skilled jobs across the country, young people will be taught the skills they need.”

Evinox has extended its best-selling range of ModuSat® Heat Interface Units with the introduction of the new ModuSat® XR and ModuSat® XR- ECO Twin Plate models. Providing both indirect space heating and domestic hot water, ModuSat® XR units are ideal for use in modern, efficient district and communal heat networks. All units deliver fast, dynamic domestic hot water response, and the ModuSat® XR-ECO models also provide ultra-low DHW return temperatures to the primary heat network.

With extensive experience in the design and application of HIU’s across thousands of UK-wide installations, Evinox has made significant advances in the performance of its latest range, aiming to help improve the overall efficiency of heat networks, whilst retaining high levels of user satisfaction and comfort levels.

ModuSat® XR – even faster, more efficient domestic hot water performance

An overriding requirement for many consulting engineers involved in the design and specification of heat networks, is to ensure abundant and responsive supply of domestic hot water. This goes hand-in-hand with residents expecting consistent and safe hot water at the tap. ModuSat® XR HIU’s deliver fast hot water without reducing the efficiency of the heat network.

“There is strong evidence that speed of hot water delivery is a key requirement for residents living in homes operating on communal and district heating schemes” comments Emma Alexander, Evinox Energy Marketing Manager. “The ability to be able to deliver abundant hot water quickly, while at the same time ensuring the efficiency of the heat network is not compromised, is a key challenge for heat network designers and HIU manufacturers, so the improved performance of the new ModuSat® XR range is an important step forward in this area.”

Evinox ModuSat® XR-ECO; how low can you go?

It’s clear that lowering system temperatures is a critical factor in the efficient operation of UK heat networks. Reducing the network primary flow & return temperatures enables heat generation plant to operate more efficiently; lower grade, low carbon heat sources to play a more predominant role in the energy mix; and network heat losses to be dramatically reduced.

ModuSat® XR-ECO units have been designed precisely with this in mind, incorporating ultra-high efficiency domestic hot water plate heat exchangers with improved volumetrics that encourage turbulent flow and optimal heat transfer.

These latest improvements mean designers are given the opportunity to focus on the energy efficiency performance of HIU’s and the wider heat network, with the confidence that units will continue to deliver impressive full load hot water capacity and flow rates.

A New Test Standard for Heat Interface Units from BESA

The ModuSat® XR has been tested under a new UK test standard, intended to help heat network designers to evaluate individual HIU performance on their network under typical UK conditions. The new scheme, operated by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), will provide HIU benchmarking, similar in many ways to the SEDBUK scheme for domestic boilers.

Evinox believes independent testing is an important step for the UK HIU industry, so the latest ModuSat® XR and XR-ECO models have been developed very much with these new standards in mind. Evinox is confident that this new standard will lead to HIU systems and heat networks being designed with efficiency as much as maximum hot water capacity being the key consideration.

Find out more about the new ModuSat® XR Range of Heat Interface Units by contacting us on 01372 722277, email info@Evinox.co.uk or visit www.evinoxenergy.co.uk.

Eleven new energy projects worth up to £176m per year have been successful in the latest competitive auction for renewable technologies, the government has announced this week.

The projects, which are set to generate over 3GW of electricity, enough to power 3.6 million homes, demonstrate that the UK continues to be an attractive place to invest in clean energy.

The government is committed to investing in clean technology and driving economic growth as set out in our ambitious Industrial Strategy and upcoming Clean Growth Plan.

The competitive approach is continuing to drive cost reductions in the renewable energy industry – the cost of new offshore wind projects starting to generate electricity from 2022-23 are now 50% lower than the first auction held in 2015. The other successful technologies, Advanced Conversion Technologies and Dedicated Biomass with Combined Heat and Power, also achieved significant savings.

Competition has also driven down the costs for consumers. The capacity delivered in this auction cost up to £528m per year less than it would have in the absence of competition.

Projects are to be delivered across Great Britain from Wales to the Scottish Highlands and the West Midlands from 2021.

Minister for Energy and Industry, Richard Harrington, said “We’ve placed clean growth at the heart of the Industrial Strategy to unlock opportunities across the country, while cutting carbon emissions.

“The offshore wind sector alone will invest £17.5bn in the UK up to 2021 and thousands of new jobs in British businesses will be created by the projects announced. This government will continue to seize these opportunities as the world moves towards a low carbon future, and will set out ambitious proposals in the upcoming Clean Growth Plan.”

This investment will help the UK meet its climate targets while supporting jobs in Britain’s growing renewable industry. The UK has the largest offshore wind capacity in the world and low carbon businesses have a combined turnover of £43 billion, employing 234,000 people.

Many existing, new and retrofitted buildings exhibit large gaps between design aspirations and in use performance. To meet policy objectives and meet the needs of building owners and occupants, in-use performance needs to improve rapidly and radically. Ambitious new start-up organisation, The Building Performance Network (BPN) hopes to influence change in policy, procurement and practice, both politically and technically across the UK and global Construction markets.

Whilst many people are now aware of performance gaps for energy use and CO2 emissions, fewer people are aware that issues are also evident in technical performance, occupant satisfaction, operating costs, environmental impact and importantly the health of the occupants.

Data is the key to understanding whether we are making the right choices throughout the lifecycle of the building. The UK suffers from a disjointed building performance evaluation sector, where data are inaccessible, study methods are not clear or shared, and decisions are often made on poor or limited data.

The Building Performance Network (BPN) will be an independent not for profit organisation, operating in all building related sectors. It will work to bring together individuals and organisations with an interest in improving building performance in operation. It is founded on the principles of integrity and robustness to ensure that it remains credible and authoritative. It is open to all, not just the existing Building Performance Evaluation industry.

The BPN has the following key objectives:

  • Bring people together with an interest in building performance
  • Understand how building performance data is collected and analysed to ensure members have reliable data on which to base their decisions
  • Move forward the practice of building performance evaluation to make it accurate and useable for the sector
  • Share and make members aware of a wide range of studies undertaken in the UK, creating a data-sharing platform to move the building performance agenda forward
  • Use data to influence change in policy, procurement and practice

The BPN is founded on the principle that participation should be open for all and that the member organisation has an interest in the performance of buildings in-use. It is constituted as an independent, non-profit organisation, which requires some core funding.

Members will be a part of an exclusive collective group of expert organisations shaping the building performance landscape and be seen as a credible collaborator by Government and other organisations with an interest in this field. If you want to support engagement with government in a unified industry approach, have a say in what is proposed as industry standards and enjoy a host of annual benefits then click here to find out how you can become part of this ambitious and fast growing organisation: http://building-performance.network/

Download the prospectus here.

Limescale can be a major contributor to a loss of efficiencies for water heating systems of any type, so leading continuous flow water heater manufacturer Rinnai has taken steps to maintain superior efficiencies throughout the life of the system by incorporating a proven limescale inhibitor that will significantly reduce the impact of limescale, thereby maximising efficiency over the product’s lifetime.

Rinnai has teamed up with electrolytic in line inhibitors, pioneers in limescale inhibitor technology, to maximise system efficiency on its range of A rated commercial water heaters.
This electrolytic scale inhibitor kit is for commercial hot water systems. Independently tested, it is a low-maintenance way to protect against the damaging and expensive impact of limescale on hot water systems.

Not only does it offer long lasting protection against the formation of hard limescale it also ensures bacteria has fewer places to hide as a result of cleaner surfaces, so in a secondary return DHW system the problem of Legionella is also heavily reduced. The independently tested and proven technology protects capital investment and occupier health.

The electrolytic zinc anode technology used in this solution is mentioned in the Part L Building Services Compliance Guide, whereas “external to pipe” water conditioning techniques are not.

The system’s low level zinc additions change the water chemistry to inhibit the formation of limescale by transforming calcite in such a way that they do not stick to the interior of the unit or pipework.

The system delivers value engineering as it does not decay after dosing and its effectiveness is not impacted by water storage or agitation caused by passing through a booster set.

Rinnai has recently supplied its system efficiency systems for London-based SGA Consulting, a specialist in low energy buildings, after liaising with the practice’s mechanical engineer Vivek Devan on two restaurant projects. Devan says “The Rinnai units are compact and their smaller footprint both physically and environmentally made them a good choice here. The scale inhibitor technology was also a factor.” Devan spoke with Rinnai technical experts before specifying the units and heard that Rinnai is actively promoting and selling scale inhibitor solutions following the successful results obtained from various trial sites.

The electrolytic unit may be installed in the rising main, before the water heater and booster set. Capex cost savings are probable because the rising main pipe size is often a smaller diameter than the hot and cold water distribution pipe sizes. Therefore, just one inhibitor system will treat the whole location, also offering an attractive value engineering opportunity.

The inhibitor is widely specified and installed in a range of sectors such as manufacturing, hotels, retail and supermarkets, healthcare and education as well as public authorities.

For buildings using BMS systems, a Pulse Splitter is an option that provides water flow rate or water usage data directly to the BMS from the water meter in the system.

The inclusion of the electrolytic system in Rinnai’s A-rated continuous flow water heating systems delivers peace of mind to installers and end users as performance is maintained throughout the lifetime of the appliances.

The scale protection units are available in a variety of pipe sizes – large 67,76 and 108mm; medium 28,35,42 and 54mm; and small 22mm.

For more information on the RINNAI product range visit www.rinnaiuk.com.

Built on the site of the Poor Clares Convent, is a new development of 16 luxury homes. In the sought-after village of Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire, landscape plans are now becoming a reality. The convent itself has been converted and six new dwellings built on the site which closed as an active convent in 2011 after 160 years.

Vortice has installed the energy efficient Vort Leto into the apartments. The Vort Leto MEV is a continuously running ventilation unit which continually extracts from the wet rooms. The fan runs on a constant trickle and then boosts up via switches located in the wet rooms. Vortice Specification Manager, Ken Johnson said “I worked closely with SANDS Plumbing and Heating Services London to ensure that the ventilation specified was suited to the type of building. Due to having only one break out of the building façade, the Vort Leto was an ideal choice in order to maintain the finish of the fabric of the building. It was important to both SANDS Plumbing and Heating Services and to Vortice to maintain the historic aspects of the building.”

For further information on the Vort Leto MEV visit www.vortice.ltd.uk or email technical@vortice.ltd.uk.

A house built using polyurethane materials consumes 85% less energy than a home built from conventional materials. They can provide very high levels of insulation with minimal thickness which in turn allows architects and designers to maximise the use of interior spaces. It is perhaps no surprise then that when it came to the construction of a passive house in Belgium, polyurethane insulation materials were used to create a highly insulating building fabric. Three years on, has the Polyurethanes Passive House in Brussels and its very well insulated and sealed envelope provided a comfortable and healthy environment throughout the year?

The end-of-terrace four-storey family house developed by ISOPA, the European trade body for diisocyanate and polyol producers, was completed in Evere near Brussels in 2013. It is now occupied and working as a low energy test bed, its running costs and energy use closely measured to show the savings possible for homeowners.

While there are over 12,000 new build Passive House certified buildings across Europe, the ISOPA house is unusual in using a high proportion of PU to achieve its highly insulating fabric first design which reduces the need for heating and saves around 80% of the energy used by a normal house. PU insulation has been used wherever possible from wall cavities to the floor, and windows to the roof.

The house has been designed so that all of the construction elements work together in an integrated way, from the solar panels on the roof to the geothermal heat pump and MVHR system which ensures that warm fresh air circulates internally despite the high air tightness levels. The University of Leuven has been evaluating the home’s overall performance, energy use and indoor comfort levels which would verify whether the PU products as installed were really achieving the calculated performance levels.

The analysis of the data yielded an estimated heat loss coefficient of 60.0 W/K, with a standard deviation of 3.0 W/K. This indicates that the thermal performance of the building fabric meets the very high standards expected, which was instrumental to the project reaching the performance levels required for Passive House certification.

Known for the comfort they provide, polyurethanes are ideal for Passive House construction because they provide very high levels of insulation thanks to low thermal conductivity, meaning they provide reduced thickness increasing their affordability and reducing the impact on building footprints. As well as requiring fewer adjustments to be made to the design of buildings and less aesthetic compromises such as with deep window reveals, further cost savings on depth of eaves, joists, rafters or studs, lengths of fixings can be achieved. In short, the extremely low U-values required for Passive House projects can be much more easily achieved with PU than with other materials as far fewer changes to design detailing are required.

Rigid PIR insulation boards are also light but strong, moisture-resistant and easy to install, and they, as well as spray foam PUR insulation, retain their insulating properties for the life of the building. Last but not least, PU materials contribute to preservation of natural resources by reducing the need for energy which assists their sustainability credentials in Passive House projects.

With a daunting 80% reduction in carbon emissions on 1990 levels called for globally by 2050, such efforts to create practical ‘near zero energy’ houses are essential. With houses accounting for 40% of energy consumed across Europe, achieving the means of constructing new Passive Houses affordably using PU which can deliver the results while saving homeowners money is the realistic way forward, as demonstrated at the Polyurethanes Passive House.

by Marleen Baes, BRUFMA Technical Committee Member

For more information about BRUFMA visit www.brufma.co.uk.

In construction, bringing a scientific approach to the design of a building that commits to an energy standard is not the easiest of things to achieve. When Passive House caught the imagination of those seeking answers to achieving an energy standard capable of dealing with today’s environmental problems, it seemed it would become the template for future buildings. However, the problem with science is there is always another answer and similar to politics, depending on how you define the question, the answer can lead elsewhere.

Active House, although not sitting directly opposite Passive House, is being proposed as a new option to the current issues. With the European target for all buildings to be near zero-energy by 2021, Active House design looks to achieve a neutral CO² balance without the rigorous Passive House standards that restrict many opportunities.

The principle behind the Active House approach is to consider both the passive and active components of a building, minimising the operational energy of a building as well as the emissions of each building and the embodied energy during construction whilst allowing architects more freedom.

Where passive design lays out ridged rules on heat demand regardless of size or function of a building thus creating a limit on design parameters, Active House states it takes a softer approach to heating requirements as part of the overall design which permits more flexibility to the architectural design of a building.

But which approach is right? Passive House has been around for 20 years-plus. It has a proven track record – although in a niche market in the UK – but many of its principles have become standard building practice such as air tightness, an awareness of thermal issues and solar-gain through fenestration.

The problem for architects lies in the limitations on a design that has to achieve a calculated heat demand which is the foundation stone of Passive House construction. I know from experience that trying to achieve a Passive House standard whilst working with an architect who is focused on design-first and an energy consultant who is constantly challenging his design, makes for uncomfortable construction.

Could Active House make life easier for architects and builders? Not an easy one to answer as with any type of construction the truth is in the detail and whilst passive may be difficult to build its issues and problems are known and we have answers to most of them. With Active House the idea requires a rethink on a new building energy standard that requires a balanced approach to each individual building and this could pose more than a few issues at the design stage.

So if you take the Active House design and for example a standard three-bedroom house that over a period of say 40 years will see several lifestyle changes and technological advances, how this will impact on the original design is very hard to say. But if you look back over the last 40 years the house we live in today is a different animal from the original design, and if we had designed it then based on a commitment to an Active House would it still stand the test of time?

One thing is for sure, there is no perfect answer to Europe’s drive towards reducing energy commitments and that will undoubtedly create long and protracted discussions across borders.

But without doubt delivering a one-type of design to suit all will be the hardest argument of all especially for builders.

By Martin Peat, Director, Richardson & Peat

Redring’s Selectronic Premier care shower range is now available with a class-leading conditional five-year warranty.

The UK’s number one care shower, which achieved the highest A class energy efficiency rating in line with the Energy-related Products Directive, will be supplied with the warranty on new purchases, providing guaranteed performance and peace of mind to specifiers and end-users.

The thermostatic shower has been a popular choice in the care sector for over 25 years, due to its ability to deliver water at a constant and safe temperature. Large one-touch buttons offer easy control, and audio feedback allows all changes to be clearly communicated to the user.

The inclusion of smart data logger technology means that showering patterns can be tracked at all times to save energy and monitor usage, and a unique fault-finder system allows problems to be easily diagnosed and solved.

The introduction of the five-year guarantee coincides with the launch of a new Selectronic product brochure, complete with full details of the range and an information leaflet to explain the benefits of Selectronic to carers and end-users.

The new guarantee provides two additional years, above the existing three-year warranty and is conditional on the purchase being registered with Redring within 30 days, via the warranty card supplied in pack.

For further information on the Selectronic Premier range or to download the new brochure, please visit www.redring.co.uk.