“April provides more positive news with big projects continuing throughout the UK”
- London’s first timber skyscraper plan put to Mayor
- £92m Bristol Arena gets the go-ahead
- Pipline of luxury London flats hits record high
- Plan to build 10,000 homes on railway station land
- High voltage cable system to enable renewable energy supply from Hornsea Project One offshore wind farm
- Apprentice winner signs up with NICEIC
- Building services sector backs new health survey
- The search begins for Britian’s top tradesperson
- Hybrid solutions becoming more popular shows poll
- New campaign pushes the beauty of solar
- The Gas Safety Trust supports petition for CO testing equipment in all GP surgeries
- The search is on for the 2016 UK Plumber of the Year
London’s first timber skyscraper plan put to Mayor
London’s first timber skyscraper came a step closer to reality this week after researchers presented Mayor of London Boris Johnson with conceptual plans for an 80-storey building.
Researchers from Cambridge University have teamed up with engineers and architects to work up plans for a 300m high wooden building integrated within the Barbican.
At present, the world’s tallest timber building is a 14-storey apartment block in Bergen, Norway.
The proposal presented to the Mayor by Cambridge University working with PLP Architecture and engineers Smith and Wallwork pushes the boundaries to envisage a structure that could be the second tallest building in London after The Shard.
Simon Smith of Smith and Wallwork engineers said: “Timber is our only renewable construction material and in its modern engineered form it can work alongside steel and concrete to extend and regenerate our cities. It is only a matter of time until the first timber skyscraper is built”.
Dr Michael Ramage, Director of Cambridge’s Centre for Natural Material Innovation, said: “We’ve designed the architecture and engineering and demonstrated it will stand, but this is at a scale no one has attempted to build before.
“We are developing a new understanding of primary challenges in structure and construction. There is a lot of work ahead, but we are confident of meeting all the challenges before us.”
The biggest concern for a timber frame building of such scale is fire, but the team said the proposed building would eventually meet or exceed every existing fire regulation currently in place for steel and concrete buildings.
The research team point to potential benefits, such as reduced costs and improved construction timescales and significant reduction in the overall weight of buildings.
The conceptual proposals currently being developed would create over 1,000 new residential units in a 1 million sq ft mixed-use tower and mid-rise terraces in central London, integrated within the Barbican.
Dr Ramage said: “The Barbican was designed in the middle of the last century to bring residential living into the city of London – and it was successful.
“We’ve put our proposals on the Barbican as a way to imagine what the future of construction could look like in the 21st century.”
£92m Bristol Arena gets the go-ahead
Planning permission has been granted for the long-awaited Bristol Arena project.
A final decision on the 12,000-capacity venue was put off by councillors earlier this month because of concerns about how people would get to and from it.
The planning go-ahead last night paves the way for Bouygues UK to begin work on the indoor venue later this year.
The new venue is due to be located on the derelict former diesel depot site, close to Temple Meads station.
International arena design team Populous together with Bath-based architects Feilden Clegg Bradley and engineering firm Buro Happold have developed plans for the innovative and flexible arena.
It will be financed by the council borrow £53m against its City Deal and raising the remaining £38m from the arena operator and car parking income.
Pipline of luxury London flats hits record high
More than 35,000 homes costing £1million+ are due to be constructed over the next ten years in London.
Consultant Arcadis estimates a total sales value of £77bn for these homes which are mainly flats and apartments.
The huge pipeline will intensify fears of an oversupply of “prime” properties in the capital.
The total floor space of planned prime homes in the capital is more than 40 million square feet – far greater than the area of the whole of the City of London (30.7 million sq.ft).
Arcadis identified 196 across the capital with the number of homes planned at 35,055.
And the consultant warned some of the luxury resi schemes will have to be “repositioned” into commercial jobs or even cheaper homes as demand at the top end softens.
Mark Cleverly, Arcadis head of commercial development, said: “Since around 2009, the value of prime residential property in central London has seen dramatic rises, making it one of the hottest markets in recent memory.
“That said, things are changing.
“Land, materials and labour are growing in price, meaning the costs involved in actually building these homes is growing significantly.
“This, coupled with a recent gradual easing off of buyer demand could affect margins and mean investors opt to convert their developments to target the more buoyant office and commercial markets.
“With no obvious end in sight to the unpredictability of the global economy this approach could soon become the norm.”
Plan to build 10,000 homes on railway station land
Network Rail and the Homes and Communities Agency have struck a deal to link up with local councils to develop land around railway stations for housing and businesses.
The Government claims the ambitious initiative could deliver up to 10,000 new homes on sites around stations in the coming years.
Its plan draws from the success of Birmingham New Street, Manchester Victoria and King’s Cross in London as a models for a new wave of station-based regeneration plans.
Three of the first scheme to be brought forward will be at York, Taunton and Swindon, where councils have agreed to spearhead the new station initiative.
Now the Government wants to hear from at least 20 other local authorities to take the next wave of schemes.
Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: “We’re determined to fire up communities and back local business so they build much needed housing and create thousands of jobs.
“With record numbers of people travelling by train, it makes sense to bring people closer to stations and develop sites that have space for thousands of new homes and offices.”
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Exciting visions for regeneration at Swindon, Taunton and York are being developed, with the potential for hundreds of additional homes and new businesses. I look forward to seeing how Network Rail and the Homes and Communities Agency’s excellent work on these projects develop.”
The government will encourage developers to target existing funding and loans available including its £3bn for developers to bring forward schemes and £1.2 bn earmarked for the Starter Homes Fund.
High voltage cable system to enable renewable energy supply from Hornsea Project One offshore wind farm
ABB has won an order worth more than $250 million from Danish energy company DONG Energy to deliver a 220-kilovolt (kV) high-voltage cable system that will connect the Hornsea Project One Offshore Wind Farm in the North Sea to the UK mainland grid. This is the third project that ABB will execute for DONG Energy, following the Burbo Bank Extension and Walney Extension links in the Irish Sea.
The over 400-square-kilometer wind farm will contribute to a significant increase in the production of clean power from offshore wind. This will reaffirm the UK’s position as the world’s leading offshore wind power contributor and take the country closer to its target of achieving 30 percent of its total energy production from renewable sources by 2020 and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The wind farm connection is scheduled for commissioning in 2019.
“High-voltage cable links are playing a key role in transmitting clean power to millions of people, efficiently and reliably” said Claudio Facchin, president of ABB’s Power Grids division. “This is another example of how ABB technologies enable the integration of renewable energy and lower environmental impact, a key element of the company’s Next Level strategy.”
“Hornsea Project One is record-breaking in terms of scale of energy production, physical size and its distance from shore, and we have worked together with ABB to find the best technical and commercial solutions. This joint approach has helped create the right solutions for this large and challenging project and has also enabled us to drive the lifetime costs in the right direction for the next generation of offshore wind sites” said Duncan Clark, Programme Director for Hornsea Project One at DONG Energy. “We look forward to continuing to work together with the ABB on the safe and timely execution of the project.”
Apprentice winner signs up with NICEIC
The Apprentice winner, Joseph Valente, has signed up with NICEIC – the UK’s leading voluntary regulatory body for the electrical contracting industry.
Valente was named the winner of the hit BBC show ‘The Apprentice’ last year. That victory earned him the backing of Lord Sugar and he is using his support to expand his plumbing, heating and electrical business, Impra Gas.
“It has been full on since winning The Apprentice, but it is a great platform for my business,” commented Valente.
“The investment and support has allowed us to explore new areas and we just want to get going now and grab the opportunity.”
Part of that development includes gaining NICEIC accreditation. As the nation’s leading and most recognised certification body, Valente admits NICEIC approval was vital to expanding his business.
“Having specialised in the heating and plumbing sector I was well aware of NICEIC and it was the only brand that people really spoke about.
“We used to sub-contract out all of our electrical work but winning The Apprentice means we have been able to take on two fully qualified electricians and start doing that work in-house.
“Being an Approved Contractor with NICEIC means we can now offer a full electrical service to our clients including consumer unit changes and electrical reporting and testing.”
Joseph is also keen to capitalise on the growing trend for smart technology around the
Continual developments in technology in recent years have transformed the way we work. They are also increasingly changing the way we live in our ‘connected’ homes – something Joseph has identified as a specialist area for his business.
“I think smart homes and the Internet of Things (IoT) is the way the industry is going,” he added.
“Technology is developing all the time and I think being a pioneer in that particular area is a strong unique selling point for my business.
“Winning The Apprentice has allowed us time to look at new avenues to explore – such as smart technology. Something we never had the time or money to do before.”
Impra Gas currently employs five gas engineers and two qualified electricians. Originally based in Peterborough, Impra Gas will be expanding into Cambridgeshire and Northampton this year with further plans to grow the business and the services it offers.
NICEIC CEO Emma Clancy added: “We are delighted to welcome Impra Gas and Joseph on board.
“The NICEIC name is associated with quality and is great to know that when it comes to expanding and growing a business that Joseph turned to NICEIC – the name which for sixty years has stood for excellence and safe electrical working.”
Building services sector backs new health survey
Leading organisations in the building engineering sector have offered their full support for the new ‘Occupational Health in Building Services Engineering Survey’.
The survey, being run by the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) and the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), alongside Constructing Better Health (CBH), has six additional industry supporters, as follows:
The Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group (SEC Group);
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) Construction Group
SELECT (Scotland’s electrical trade association);
The Fire and Security Association (FSA) – a specialist group of the ECA;
The Joint Industry Board (JIB) and
Voltimum (the electrical industry portal).
According to ECA director of business services Paul Reeve: ’We are very pleased that these bodies are supporting our sector-wide occupational health survey. The survey is open to everyone in the sector, and we are particularly inviting responses from senior and operational managers and professionals. The results will provide the information needed to develop a more cost-effective approach to occupational health management.’
BESA technical director Tim Rook added: ‘We’re really encouraged to see growing support from the industry and good uptake so far for the survey. Health is the next really major issue for the industry to address and we need a baseline starting point.’
The overall survey findings will be shared with key stakeholders across the industry in the second quarter of this year. The occupational health survey, which typically takes five to ten minutes to complete, can be viewed here, and is open until Wednesday April 13.
The search begins for Britian’s top tradesperson
Screwfix is once again launching the nation’s top competition for tradespeople – Britain’s Top Tradesperson 2016, but what trade will top the table this year?
The competition launches on 9th May, and previous winners have included plumbers, joiners and electricians.
Do you have what it takes to stand up for electricians across the nation to ensure this year’s winner works in your field?
Screwfix, which has 457 stores across the UK, is searching for the best tradesmen and women that keep the UK’s homes and businesses in tip top condition.
All electricians are invited to enter to be in with the chance of winning the coveted title. Not only will this year’s worthy winner carry the title of Britain’s Top Tradesperson to transform their business – but they will also win the keys to a brand new Toyota vehicle worth £32,000 (OTR) with all the gadgets they need.
Last year, Darren Lawton, an electrician from Newcastle, walked away with the crown after fighting off worthy competition from thousands of entrants. He wowed a judging panel with his passion and dedication to his trade.
His entrepreneurial spirit, attention to detail and passion for customer service also stood out amongst the finalists. He says it has had an amazing impact on his business, bringing him new customers and filling his diary for months ahead.
Lawton added, “It has been an incredible time since winning the title of Britain’s Top Tradesperson. Holding the title has been a great endorsement for me and has helped me to secure more customers. The experience has been brilliant, I would definitely encourage other tradespeople to enter and give it a go, there’s nothing to lose and a lot to gain!”
The Britain’s Top Tradesperson Award is given to those who can prove they excel in their trade.
Maybe you’ve just started your own company, or perhaps you have taken a course to upgrade your skill-set, or you are on social media and really engage with your customers? You may have completed a complex job for someone, or you run your business with customers in mind, by offering free quotes or on a no-fix, no-fee basis. No matter the reason, you have until 5th June 2016, to put your case forward and enter.
John Mewett, marketing director at Screwfix, said, “We run this competition to champion quality tradespeople and to celebrate their success. The selection process of Britain’s Top Tradesperson enables people working in different trades to meet up, share ideas and tell us about what’s happening on the ground.
“It’s the seventh year we have run this competition, and the calibre of entrants improves year on year. We’re looking forward to meeting and rewarding those in the trades who go that extra mile. This year’s winner will receive a Toyota van and the title of Britain’s Top Tradesperson 2016, so it’s definitely worth taking the time to apply.”
Entries to BTT are open until 5th June 2016, with regional finalists going head-to-head later that month.
The national final will be in July, with the overall winner being named Britain’s Top Tradesperson 2016.
Hybrid solutions becoming more popular shows poll
The demand for hybrid heating solutions is on the rise, as two thirds (66%) of heating professionals seek a way to respond to the heating and hot water needs of increasingly vast and varied property portfolios, according to an industry poll.
Commissioned by Baxi Heating’s commercial brands – Andrews Water Heaters, Potterton Commercial, SenerTec and Remeha – the poll highlights a strong commitment to investing in hybrid systems, which are seen as a good medium-term approach to decarbonisation.
More than a third (37%) of respondents said they were considering a hybrid system, while just under a third (29%) said they had already taken the plunge.
Hybrid systems bring together a number of heating and hot water solutions in order to get the best out of different technologies, with the overall aim of reducing carbon emissions while providing a reliable source of heating and hot water.
Respondents, which included heating engineers, specifiers and end users, identified that hybrids offer more flexible system integration and lower risks, although they also recognised that some technologies were not yet cost competitive.
When asked what manufacturers could do to encourage the take up of multi-technology systems, nearly two thirds (62%) said that cost was key, whether that be in terms of the upfront investment or that evidenced via a whole life approach.
Almost a quarter (23%) said that there was a need for better marketing from technology providers to raise awareness of the benefits, while less than a fifth (15%) thought that providers should focus on control strategies as a way to promote greater uptake.
The survey was part of an industry report designed to uncover changing attitudes towards the decarbonisation of heat and the underlying heat strategies implemented by building owners.
Andrew Keating, marketing director UK and Ireland for Baxi Heating, said: “The findings in our poll demonstrate a huge appetite for hybrid systems, which are really taking centre stage in the decarbonisation debate.
“It’s a trend that makes a great deal of sense, given that multi-technology solutions offer improved reliability through built-in redundancy, maximise overall seasonal efficiency, and are a practical, affordable route to upgrading existing heating systems in order to lower the overall carbon footprint.
“Overall our report highlights a significant opportunity for forward-thinking manufacturers in the shape of ongoing investment into the research and development of low carbon technologies, and working alongside government in helping to design legislation that can support the future of our industry.”
New campaign pushes the beauty of solar
The Solar Trade Association (STA) has officially launched the Stunning Solar campaign – a new push to raise awareness of how the latest rooftop solar technology can produce ‘beautiful and aesthetically pleasing’ installations.
A combination of inspired design, building integrated products and mounting systems that sit flush with the existing roof are creating more sleek and attractive solar rooftops on both domestic and commercial properties.
Paul Barwell, chief executive officer of the STA, said: “First impressions are everything, and that applies to houses just as much as people. Stunning Solar shows that solar can increase the ‘kerb appeal’ of a home, as well as making it cheaper and more eco-friendly to a household or business.
“We want to see solar become a desirable consumer product. There is mounting evidence that homebuyers are willing to pay more for a solar home and systems with symmetry, architectural integration and sensitive positioning and sizing are more likely to do just that. As Stunning Solar demonstrates, solar can be a tasteful and beautiful improvement to buildings of all shapes and sizes.”
The UK is a market leader in niche building integrated solar PV products such as solar glass and solar tiles that blend in seamlessly with traditional slate roofs.
Mr Barwell continued: “When done carefully and with the right roofing techniques, solar can be incorporated into buildings old and new. We want to challenge the industry to improve aesthetics so that every solar install, whether on a home or a commercial building, becomes an advert for our sunshine technology.”
The Gas Safety Trust supports petition for CO testing equipment in all GP surgeries
The Gas Safety Trust (GST) today announced its support for an online petition launched by CORGI HomePlan to have carbon monoxide (CO) testing equipment made mandatory in GP surgeries.
The GST has a long-standing commitment to improving healthcare professionals’ awareness of CO poisoning and to improving diagnosis when people present themselves with CO poisoning symptoms at emergency departments and GP surgeries.
The Trust adopted the healthcare professional related recommendations of the 2011 All Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group report, and made them a central part of its grants and research strategies.
Most recently, the Trust has funded a project being undertaken by the University of Hertfordshire, to work with maternity services in the county, who use this type of equipment, to look at the incidence of CO poisoning amongst pregnant women.
GST chair Chris Bielby said: “The Gas Safety Trust welcomes this initiative by CORGI HomePlan to ensure better availability and use of this important equipment by healthcare professionals.
“We have recently funded research into carbon monoxide awareness and incidence in GPs surgeries, among paramedics, midwifes and through the National Poisoning Information Service, which provides advice and information to healthcare professional regarding carbon monoxide and other poisons.
“I would encourage everyone to sign this petition, and I hope that it gets the signatures it needs to trigger a debate in Parliament.”
The search is on for the 2016 UK Plumber of the Year
Launched by shower tray manufacturer JT, in partnership with Bristan and Plumb Center, the competition aims to recognise the talent inherent in plumbers across the UK, with a massive £10,000 prize fund awarded to the worthy winner.
Now in its second year, the UK Plumber of the Year Competition recognises the very best knowledge, service and passion in the industry and is calling for entries from plumbers and nominations from members of the public nationwide.
Entries are now open via www.ukplumberoftheyear.com and the deadline for all entries is midnight on 19 June, 2016.
A judging panel made up of experts from JT, Bristan and Plumb Center will shortlist the best nominees based on their plumbing, customer service and business skills. The public will then vote for who they believe deserves to be crowned 2016 Plumber of the Year and win £10,000 worth of prizes, including JT, Bristan and Plumb Center products/vouchers plus products from Arctic, Big Wipes, CAT, CK Tools, Epson, Milwaukee, Monument Tools, PayPal, Regin, Rothenberger and Toolbank.
Paul Crossley, managing director of JT and the competition founder, said: “After an incredibly successful inaugural year, it’s with great pleasure that we launch the 2016 Plumber of the Year Competition with partners Bristan and Plumb Center. As a proud Great British manufacturer, we want to celebrate the pride of the plumbing industry and recognise the level of skill and knowledge amongst UK plumbers.”
Josh Colbert (pictured), the 2015 competition winner and a plumber from Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, added: “Winning last year came as a complete shock, I couldn’t believe it when I got the call! I am so grateful for not only the reward itself and amazing prizes that came with it, but the fantastic media exposure I received which generated new opportunities for my business. This is something every plumber should get involved with in 2016.”
For more information, please visit www.ukplumberoftheyear.com.