A report commissioned by WWF finds that UK businesses must invest in sustainable forest management if they are to guarantee access to timber that their businesses rely on in the near future. Leading countries that supply timber to the UK are either at the point of expiry or running at a deficit as forest resources are used without adequate provision for sustainable timber supply.

However, the report highlights key benefits that will make the case for businesses to switch more rapidly to sustainable sourcing. These include:

  • advantages in regulatory positioning
  • easier raising of finance
  • added brand value
  • a more engaged workforce

It also gives manufacturers maximum scope for product development and provides retailers with a full range of tradable goods. These benefits can increase performance of the timber industry as a whole and ultimately aid the bottom line of all companies involved.

As the international market for timber will change in its dynamics in the next decades, without urgent action UK businesses who have failed to adequately plan for continuity of their timber resource could be left exposed with fewer commercial options.

Depleting sustainable resources

The implications are far reaching with WWF’s Living Forests report series concluding that global demand for timber is expected to triple by 2050 due to an increase in demand of wood and paper products from growing economies and populations. At the same time this report’s analysis indicates that:

  • Brazil has only 16 years of timber forests remaining, South Africa 7 years, Colombia 12 years, Mexico 9 years, Nigeria 11 years, Thailand 9 years and Pakistan 10 years.
  • Primary forest is being depleted at an alarming rate in many forested countries, the most extreme examples being Nigeria, losing 99% of primary forest, and Vietnam 80% since 1990 – a loss of almost 2 million hectares in these two countries alone. This has a huge impact on the biodiversity and other important forest ecosystem functions.
  • In the UK by 2050 less than 22% of the timber will originate from Britain.
  • All the UK foresters interviewed for the report expressed grave concerns over the future of domestic softwood supply.

The report also sets out how sourcing timber from sustainably managed forests, will help protect the natural environment as forests not only provide timber but also supply a range of ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, water provision, flood prevention, erosion control and biodiversity. Securing long-term supply of timber from sustainably managed forests, will help protect wildlife and ecosystem functions residing in these forests, as well assisting in securing wider social benefits, and is also a contributor to the bottom line of businesses utilising timber as a resource, which currently is as yet widely unaccounted for as a benefit, only as a cost.

Julia Young, Global Forest and Trade Network Manager for WWF-UK commented “Committing to sustainable timber sourcing isn’t just an added bonus, but is something that any timber dependent business must be investing in if they want a healthy and resilient business that will survive. This report sets out important areas in business functions where benefits are likely to accrue, but are not accounted for when making decisions about the overall cost benefit of sustainable sourcing. We can no longer rely on our usual sources of timber as unsustainable practices are having devastating consequences on forests, and we face a real danger of not having enough timber to satisfy our growing population needs.

“Businesses need to review how their timber is sourced if they want to secure supply for the future, and in keep timber prices stable. This will have tangible business benefits of sustainable practices including advantages in regulatory positioning, easier raising of finance, brand value and an engaged workforce. It also gives manufacturers maximum scope for product development and provides retailers with a full range of tradable goods. These business benefits can increase performance and ultimately aid the bottom line.

“The UK Government must lead by example and address sustainable forest use in the urgently upcoming 25 year plan for nature.”

Balfour Beatty, working with Populous, Buro Happold and the London Legacy Development Corporation, have repurposed the iconic London 2012 Olympic stadium, originally built to host London’s 2012 games. Their latest video (see below) talks us through the redesign, highlighting how they are championing sustainable practices throughout the project.

According to the video, the stadium, which is now home to West Ham United FC, will have a capacity of 54,000 people for football matches and 80,000 for athletics events and music concerts.

Sustainability and skills building

Sustainability has been at the very heart of the redesign. So far the work undertaken has included the reuse of 19,000 tonnes of recycled demolition materials, 6,000 m of cable, 3,800 lights and 1,000 mechanical and electrical components. This will undoubtedly help send a message out to the refurb and retrofit industry of what can be done to try and push the industry towards reducing the volume of waste to landfill. (According to a report by the Wates Group, the UK construction industry sends 36 million tons of waste to landfill sites each year.)

The regeneration project has also been doing its bit to tackle the skills shortage, with Balfour Beatty creating 50 local apprenticeships and over 300 training opportunities across the site.

Continuing a legacy

Stephen Tarr, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty’s Major Projects business said, “From the very beginning we were focused on continuing the legacy of this historic venue, transforming it from its original use of a single-purpose venue to a multi-functional world class venue providing numerous opportunities and uses for generations to come.

“We have utilised some of the most complex engineering techniques on this project, capitalising on our in-house capabilities and expertise to ensure the project was delivered safely to a high specification whilst boosting the local economy through employment opportunities; it’s a project we are all immensely proud of.”

Watch the video below:

Rinnai’s Energysaver range of fanned convection powered flue gas-fired space heaters are designed specifically for use in schools, community centres, libraries, conservatories and churches and other large spaces, where they have earned themselves great popularity with end-users and installers.

Now, with a new super energy efficient addition to the range in the form of the Rinnai Energysaver 559FT with sleek good looks, and a matching new streamlined look for the popular Energysaver 309FT, Rinnai is leading the field in large interior space convector heating.

Sporting a modern, sleek casing, the heaters simply blend into the background in line with modern demands for modern interior aesthetics while offering exceptionally high efficiencies in operation and reduced running costs.

Changes have been made to the operation board which is now an easy to use touch control pad sited conveniently and discreetly on top of the appliance, (rather than on the front with a flip up cover). The unit is also supplied with a child lock to eliminate any problem of small hands tampering with the controls.

Added to these advantages are the timer function and eco mode which are combined with the new unit’s ability to heat spaces fast.

The 559FT has an input of 6.4kW and output of 5.2kW. The streamlined unit measures 554mm x 750mm x 250mm.

The Rinnai Energysaver 309FT, like the 559FT, sports a similar sleek casing and turns in net efficiencies of 88%.

It has an input of 3.4kW and output of 2.92kW. The streamlined unit measures 695mm x 465mm x 257mm. Natural Gas usage has been pegged at 0.31m3 while LPG consumption is 0.26kg/hr.

Also available is the Energysaver 1004T with its impressive input of 11.6kW and outputs 10.23kW. Its measurements are 670mm x 930mm x 315mm and it has energy efficiencies of 96% under the guidance of Part L 2014. This puts it in the top rank of space heaters in its class.

Like the Energysaver 559FT and 309FT, the 1004T heater is also suitable for central timer control. This feature allows the building manager to run any number of Rinnai space heaters off a central time clock providing heat to the largest of spaces. The Energysaver Multi controller is not limited to single Energysavers as the flexibility of the system guarantees units can be mixed and matched to satisfy even the most unique of buildings.

Rinnai Energysaver range delivers energy-efficient and consistent warm air powered by Natural Gas and LPG options and is built with fully modulating burners so heat output and energy input is reduced as the space warms up.

The Rinnai Energysaver range comprises fanned convection-powered flue models that exceed seasonal thermal heating guidance under Building Regs Part L.

In a building with high vaulted ceilings, with conventional convector heaters the heat will immediately rise to the ceiling. With the Energysaver range Rinnai has successfully come up with a solution that heats from the floor up and by modulating gas usage in relation to room temperature, provides unparalleled levels of comfort combined with efficiency.

For more information on the RINNAI product range visit

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.

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.

Sir David Attenborough officially opened the new conservation campus named for him… by abseiling down the living wall in the atrium.

Sir David Attenborough said “By bringing together leaders in research, practice, policy and teaching, we stand the greatest chance of developing the solutions required to save our planet. I am enormously proud that these collaborations are occurring in a building bearing my name.”

The building is the new home of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, a strategic collaboration between the University of Cambridge and nine biodiversity conservation organisations. The radical remodelling and refurbishment, designed by Nicholas Hare Architects, is a working exploration of how to promote biodiversity and create new habitats in the midst of a busy city.

Do you ever dream of living off-grid? We all daydream of that elusive log cabin in the mountains, a beautiful beach hut on a remote island, or a quiet cottage in a sleepy country village. Unfortunately, the initial outlay involved in getting a property like this and then adapting it for off-grid sustainability can be staggering. As such it often remains all but a pipedream for many.

Ecocapsule believe they have a solution for those on a smaller budget, offering a very real opportunity for them to finally getaway and enjoy an authentic, low-carbon life in nature.

What is the Ecocapsule?

According to their website, “the Ecocapsule is a compact mobile home which can enable off-grid living under specific conditions and in specific environments.

The Ecocapsule is an opportunity for an eco-life. It does not need to be plugged into the traditional power and water supply as it is self-sustaining and can generate both resources from the surrounding environment.”

Check it out for yourself in the video below:

Could you live in an Ecocapsule? Let us know in the comments below!

Urban Splash and shedkm announce the first phase of their new and innovative ‘hoUSe’ project.

Offering customers bespoke, architect-designed homes along the canal in New Islington, Manchester, the development gives buyers the power to choose the layout of their home.

The first 43 hoUSes adopt a traditional terraced approach but internally layouts can be configured to tailor one, two, three, four and five bedroom homes with an open-plan or more traditional feel. The hoUSe project represents an alternative to the established mass house-building schemes across the UK in terms of design and delivery.

These homes in New Islington are made of volumetric timber pods that are delivered to site with minimal disruption to neighbours. The benefits of building homes in this manner is that all standards and tolerances can be monitored in a factory-controlled environment, meaning the houses are warm and incredibly energy efficient, as well as flexible to plan and adapt. With a striking modern design, featuring familiar pitch roof motifs, the hoUSe has proved incredibly popular with the first 43 homes selling out prior to launch. It’s not just the method of construction that is revolutionary but also the manner in which hoUSe was conceived.

Architects shedkm and developers Urban Splash came together to generate the concept in the first instance and this evolved into a delivery system and a search for the right sites; it can easily be adapted for a range of different locations across the UK.

The hoUSes on the New Islington plot are long and slender and range from two to three storeys. The grey exteriors are broken up by thick-banded black window bays that offer occupants with views out over Manchester, while also allowing an abundance of sunlight to enter the rooms. Internal configuring means that owners can select between ‘loft’ or ‘garden’ living, which means that you can opt for the communal areas to be located at the base or top of the house. This approach to upside down living was pioneered by shedkm and Urban Splash at Chimney Pot Park, where gardens were located at first-floor level to create parking spaces below and best use the space available of a tight urban site. This development is now regarded as an exemplar housing scheme in the area.

Director at shedkm, Ian Killick said “We’re delighted to see the first phase of the hoUSe project completed at New Islington. This concept has been a long time in the making and we believe that it is a game-changer to tackle the current housing shortage this country is facing. They also happen to be homes that people are proud to live in.”

Urban Splash Chairman Tom Bloxham MBE added “hoUSe is born from our desire to create something for customers who want to live in well-designed homes and stay in the city centre. We noticed that within UK cities there is a real lack of diversity in terms of new residential stock and our traditional customers – those who had bought and enjoyed Urban Splash flats – would ultimately get older, richer and end up moving to Victorian and Georgian terraces in the suburbs.”

“hoUSe is our way of offering them something in the city. It’s a really exciting prospect and I am as excited by this as I was by our first lofts over 20 years ago. At prices less per square foot than city centre flats, lower maintenance costs than old Victorian houses or blocks of flats, big floorplates, high ceilings and huge windows they have already been well received and I’m certain will be a big part of Urban Splash’s future.”

DONG Energy confirms a positive Final Investment Decision for Hornsea One offshore wind farm off the coast of Grimsby in Northern England.

This morning, Wednesday 3 February, the board of directors at DONG Energy confirmed a positive Final Investment Decision for Hornsea One offshore wind farm off the coast of Grimsby in Northern England, meaning that construction can now go ahead.

Located 75 miles off the Yorkshire coast and capable of powering over one million UK homes with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, Hornsea One will be – by a considerable margin – the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

The project has the potential to create around 2,000 jobs during its construction, with up to 300 additional jobs supported throughout its 20-25 year operational phase. A new Siemens blade factory in Hull, due to be built by the end of this year, will support the project, boosting a Northern and UK wide supply chain.

Hornsea One is expected to be fully operational in 2020.

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said “Thanks to Government support the UK is the world leader in offshore wind energy and this success story is going from strength to strength. Dong Energy’s investment shows that we are open for business and is a vote of confidence in the UK and in our plan to tackle the legacy of under-investment and build an energy infrastructure fit for the 21st century.”

“This project means secure, clean energy for the country, jobs and financial security for working people and their families, and more skills and growth boosting the Northern Powerhouse.”

Charcon, the commercial hard landscaping product range of Aggregate Industries, has successfully completed delivery of over 2,000 tonnes of landscaping materials to Manchester Metropolitan University’s new £140 million sustainable campus in Hulme.

Materials including 7,501m² of EcoPave, 4,521lm of Eco Countryside Kerb, 896lm of wide top Eco Countryside Kerb units and 398 EcoPave step units have been supplied alongside 1,051m² of Charcon premium Andover Textured flag and block paving. The products, which were specified due to their sustainable qualities and unique range of shading, provided optimum design flexibility and strong visual appeal.

The use of Charcon’s Eco range helped Manchester Met to meet the project’s sustainability targets. With the new student accommodation being amongst the most sustainable buildings in the UK, Aggregate Industries’ Eco Countryside Kerb and EcoPave block paving were the perfect choice for the University.

EcoPave Textured contains up to 50 per cent recycled and reclaimed materials, while Eco Countryside Kerb is made with up to 82 per cent recycled and reclaimed material. Developed to maximise resource productivity, the products provide optimum use of finite resources by minimising waste and incorporating high proportions of non-primary materials.

The paving has been utilised to complement the external design of the teaching facilities and student accommodation, and blend in with campus surroundings.

In addition to providing materials, Aggregate Industries helped develop bespoke kerb angles and Eco units, providing on-site landscaping solutions. Contrasting Charcon step inserts were incorporated into the design to reduce the risk of slips and increase visibility.

Mike Davies, Specifications Manager at Aggregate Industries, said “The Birley Campus project has been an exciting one to work on and we are delighted our Charcon product range and expert advisory role on-site have been able to contribute to such a prestigious educational facility.

“The Eco range of paving and kerbing is highly sustainable and durable, meaning the University is environmentally friendly without having to compromise on quality or functionality.”
Manchester Met’s vision was to create “the most sustainable campus in the UK”. The new Birley Campus represents an exciting chapter in the ongoing regeneration of Hulme, and is breathing new life into a site earmarked for development since clearance in the 1990s.

The new campus opens up new paths of higher education to local people and is at the heart of the community for residents to benefit from the facilities, training and knowledge at hand. A brand new centre for teacher training and health facilities will educate up to 6,000 professionals for the region’s schools, hospitals, health and social services. Over 300 new jobs will be created and the local economy in Hulme and Moss Side will be boosted by £29 million.

To find out more about the Charcon range of products, visit