“The latest project news from the estimating specialists – Hotcost Limited”
- Plans go in for City of London’s tallest tower
- Green light for three major Manchester projects
- Construction giants urge Osborne to extend Heathrow
- £100m roofing framework designed to give opportunities to smaller firms
- Electrical Contractors enjoy surge in work
- ECA and BESA join forces on health and safety programme
- Apprentices gain access to help and support
- Consumer campaign to promote registered electricians reaches record audience
- Scottish industry doubles use of renewable energy in 2015
- Boiler scrappage scheme for London announced
- Help for those living in cold or damp homes
- A buzz around boiler servicing
Plans go in for City of London’s tallest tower
A planning application has been lodged with the City of London Corporation to build the tallest skyscraper in the Square Mile.
Designs from Eric Parry architects plan the demolition of the headquarters of insurance giant Aviva to make way a 73-storey twoer at 1 Undershaft.
It will rise to 309.6m – putting it level with the Shard’s tallest steelwork point in London Bridge.
Singapore-based developers Aroland Holdings commissioned architect Eric Parry to work up a design for the site which has now been submitted for planning approval.
The 90,000 sq m building would be able to accommodate 10,000 people and boast a viewing platform higher than that of the Shard, and London’s highest public sky restaurant.
It would stand 28m higher than the replacement tower for the Pinnacle scheme at 22 Bishopsgate.
A conceptual design by Avery Associates for the previous owner of the 1 Undershaft site proposed an angular sloping sided glass tower peaking at 270m and prompted one contractor to dub the building “The Fang”.
The new design is for a more conventional office tower block with distinctive visible structural cross bracing.
Green light for three major Manchester projects
Manchester City Council has nodded through three major schemes that will fuel the city’s construction boom.
The mix of projects includes a £75m Nuffield hospital next to the Manchester Royal Infirmary, the £60m Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre for the city’s university and a new hotel and casino.
Nuffield Health has already completed some demolition work at Manchester Metropolitan University’s former Elizabeth Gaskell campus site where the private hospital is to be built.
It will comprise 30 consultation rooms, 60 patient en-suite bedrooms, eight critical care beds, six operating theatres and a rehabilitation gym.
The Council also approved plans for the University of Manchester’s £60m Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, which will develop graphene products, components and systems.
Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke and Sir Robert McAlpine are understood to be among the bidders for the building job with a contract due to be selected in March.
Along with the £61m National Graphene Institute, which opened in 2015, and the £235m Sir Henry Royce Institute for Materials Research and Innovation, the GEIC will be crucial in maintaining the UK’s leading position in graphene and other 2-D materials research.
Developer Portland Street Property also got the go-ahead to refurbish and extend the 13-storey 55 Portland Street office building.
The former CIS tower once occupied by Co-operative Insurance Society will be converted into a 14-storey office building while a 10-floor 183-bedroom hotel with a casino is built alongside as part of the scheme.
Construction giants urge Osborne to extend Heathrow
Bosses at some of the biggest names in construction have written to Chancellor George Osborne urging him to press ahead with expansion plans at Heathrow Airport.
Leaders like Ray O’Rourke and Balfour Beatty’s Leo Quinn said extending Heathrow “will bring with it a £15.6bn order book to the UK supply chain.”
The major firms also highlighted a slowing down in global growth and the UK’s poor record of infrastructure investment.
The Airports Commission recommended construction of a third runway at Heathrow last year.
But a final decision is being delayed amid controversy over the environmental impact of the plans.
The letter states: “At the Conservative conference in 2015 you announced “we are the builders”.
“We congratulate you on your vision to build the important infrastructure the country needs and make the hard decisions.
“We represent some of the largest developers and construction companies in the UK. We applaud your ambition and stand ready to help you deliver it.
“We are writing to encourage your support for Heathrow expansion.
“Heathrow is one of the biggest private developers in the UK, having invested around £11bn over the last 10 years.
“For over a decade, it has provided a steady base of work to UK construction companies and their supply chains, allowing them to invest in skilled UK jobs through the economic downturn, develop new off-site manufacturing techniques and provided an international showcase for their work so that they can sell their services around the world.
“Projects such as Heathrow expansion allow companies like ours to continue to invest in tens of thousands of skilled jobs this country badly needs and new construction techniques that will benefit developers in the UK.”
The letter was also signed by bosses of Bam Nuttall, Mace and Morgan Sindall.
£100m roofing framework designed to give opportunities to smaller firms
Local government procurement organisation LHC has issued a contract notice for its new pitched roofing framework that is worth an estimated £100m over four years.
LHC wants to hear from contractors and suppliers interested in tendering for the framework that will include the removal of existing roof coverings, the supply and installation of pitched roofing, flat to pitch conversions and associated roofing works.
The framework is likely to be used for social housing, schools and council office roofing projects across England, Wales and Scotland.
The framework has two value bands across 20 regional lots, providing an opportunity for smaller, local companies to be appointed. Each regional lot will consist of up to five companies per band.
With companies only able to tender for one band, the option designed for works between £5,000 and £250,000 should appeal to smaller companies, while larger ones are expected to target the band that allows for larger works values.
LHC director John Skivington said: “Our members are increasingly looking for a localised solution to service their requirements. This framework has been designed to encourage SMEs by splitting the tender into smaller regional lots and value bands, as well as introducing evaluation criteria aimed at assessing local economic and social sustainability.”
Electrical Contractors enjoy surge in work
Building services contractors ended last year with a boom with almost eight out out of ten firms enjoying increased or steady turnover.
Latest research from the Electrical Contractors’ Association showed the industry’s smaller and major players were the strongest performers in the final quarter of 2015.
The ECA’s Building Engineering Business Survey, in association with Scolmore, found that:
- Small businesses (turnover £201k – £1m) were the biggest winners, with 2 in 3 firms (65%) reporting an increase in turnover, up 29% on the previous quarter.
- Very large firms (turnover over £20m) also enjoyed a strong quarter, with 7 in 10 businesses (70%) seeing turnover rise, similar to the previous quarter.
- After a strong Q3, medium-sized businesses (turnover £1.1m to £5m) saw turnover hold steady, with nearly 6 in 10 firms (56%) reporting turnover remaining the same, while 21% had an increase.
- Large companies (turnover £5.1m to £20m) had a mixed final quarter, with slightly over 6 in 10 firms (61%) indicating that turnover increased or remained steady.
The specialist areas which enjoyed the most growth were: fire and security, datacomms systems, audio visual systems, and building energy management systems.
Payment remains a major concern for building services firms, with just 8 per cent of contractors saying that all public sector work was paid on time.
In the private sector just six per cent of respondents said they were always paid within 30 days.
ECA CEO Steve Bratt said: “The ECA’s Building Engineering Business Survey indicates that electrical and building services firms are doing more business, with the biggest increases in turnover seen among small and very large companies.
“However, we believe it is unacceptable that payment continues to be a major concern to contractors across the industry, with the overwhelming majority indicating that they are not paid within 30 days, which is now the widely understood measure of good practice”.
The outlook from building services firms is also positive with 8 out of 10 respondents expecting turnover to ‘increase or stay the same’ during the current quarter.
A series of four practical ‘Health and Safety Focus Forums’ have been launched by two of the leading building services trade bodies, the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) and the Building Engineering Services Association (the BESA).
- Thursday 11 February – Newport, Wales
- Thursday 25 February – Stratford City, London
- Thursday 14 April – Rugby, Midlands
- Thursday 21 April – Leeds, Yorkshire
The events will include key technical updates on core health and safety issues such as CDM 2015, and imminent changes to the health and safety Sentencing Council guidelines.
ECA director of business Services Paul Reeve commented: “The health and safety performance of our members is of paramount importance and we look forward to working closely with the BESA to ensure that building services contractors receive cost-effective, up-to-date and high quality health and safety guidance.
“Working closely with the BESA on these events is an exciting development, as part of wider collaboration to raise awareness and lead the way on health and safety issues across the building services sector.”
BESA technical director Tim Rook added: “Adherence to best health and safety practice is crucial to all reputable businesses – and represents a key element in the independent competence assessment regime with which all existing and aspiring BESA members must comply.
“By partnering with the ECA in this important enterprise, the BESA is making a valuable contribution to the raising of health and safety standards across building engineering services and the wider construction industry.”
The ECA and the BESA have agreed to collaborate on health and safety policy for the benefit of members.
Apprentices gain access to help and support
The Electrical Industries Charity has teamed up with JTL, the leading work-based training provider of electrical apprentices across England and Wales, and the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT), to launch the Apprentice Support Programme.
Designed to help young people deal with some of the key challenges that affect them as they work towards their apprenticeship, the Programme offers independent advice and information through the Confidential Helpline (0800 652 1618) on a wide variety of issues, such as rising debt and problems at home or work.
The charity has also partnered with a leading provider of interactive online career management to offer career development advice, which is available as part of the Programme, through a ‘work friend’ portal.
Managing director, Tessa Ogle said: “Apprenticeships provide a real opportunity for the bright young stars of the future but becoming an apprentice is by no means easy and the need to balance work and study can be tough. If there are added pressures in your personal life this can often be an obstacle that is difficult to overcome.
“The launch of the Apprentice Support Programme recognises our stewardship role in building resilience for the young lifeblood of our industry. By providing help when, and where it is needed most the industry is able to look after its most important asset – our people.”
Consumer campaign to promote registered electricians reaches record audience
The Stay Safe at Christmas campaign launched during the festive period last year. It warned about the additional electrical dangers that can arise at Christmas time and urged householders to call an NICEIC or ELECSA registered electrician if they had any concerns.
The campaign featured on regional TV and radio. It also appeared in national and local newspapers across the UK, making it the most successful campaign by NICEIC and ELECSA to promote electrical contractors yet. In total, the campaign reached a potential audience of 55 million people.
‘Research carried out last year showed us that the NICEIC brand is the most recognised in the industry amongst consumers,’ said Paul Collins, communications manager at Certsure, which operates the NICEIC and ELECSA brands.
‘It was important for us to build on this and to keep promoting the use of NICEIC and ELECSA registered contractors to homeowners.
‘This was the largest and most integrated campaign we have ever carried out, focussing not only on traditional media outlets but social media also.’
The Stay Safe at Christmas campaign launched with a series of radio interviews carried out by resident expert Tony Cable and DIY SOS Star Billy Byrne. The duo appeared on 57 national, regional and commercial radio stations – reaching in excess of 36 million potential listeners.
A second radio day saw Darren Staniforth carry out 11 interviews on BBC regional radio stations – reaching another 1.3 million listeners.
In addition the story appeared on ITV Granada’s primetime news programme as well as being featured in the Daily Mirror and Daily Star.
‘Certsure is committed to promoting the use of its contractors to more and more people,’ added Paul.
‘NICEIC and ELECSA registrants now carry out over 89 per cent of all Part P jobs in England and Wales. That is an astonishing figure and one we are very proud of.
‘We know that these two brands win contractors more work and we will continue to promote our contractors and the benefits of using an NICEIC or ELECSA registered electrician to both specifiers and consumers.’
Scottish industry doubles use of renewable energy in 2015
The number of Scottish businesses generating their own locally-generated renewable energy doubled in 2015, according to analysis of Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) deployment data by Raggnar, the renewable energy provider.
New data published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change reveals that 1,245 Scottish business started using RHI-backed renewable energy sources last year, adding 421 MW of clean energy to Britain’s energy capacity.
Seven in every 1,000 Scottish businesses now use some form of RHI-backed renewable technology to generate their own energy. These technologies include solar thermal, ground source heat, and – most commonly – biomass, which can be used to cleanly and efficiently heat and supply hot water to business premises, generate electricity and power industrial heating, drying and cooling systems.
With 421 accredited installations capable of supplying 53 MW of power, Dumfries & Galloway remains the hottest of Scotland’s renewable energy hotspots. Some 183 businesses started using biomass and other forms of renewable heat technology in this area during 2015, adding 24 MW of additional capacity. Thirty in every 1,000 businesses based in Dumfries & Galloway now use RHI-backed renewable energy systems.
Demand for renewable heating systems also surged in Aberdeenshire during 2015. The number of accredited commercial RHI-backed installations increased by 163% last year, as 143 more businesses started to generate their own renewable energy. This added 33 MW of additional renewable energy capacity in the area.
Across Britain, almost 14,000 businesses now generate their own heat and electricity using RHI-backed renewable energy sources. The total capacity of these accredited installations currently exceeds 2,200 MW, sufficient energy to supply the needs of more than two million homes.
Nigel Perkins, CEO of Raggnar, said: “2015 was a big year for the uptake of low-cost, locally-generated renewable energy by businesses in Scotland, with almost as many new installations and additional capacity as had been achieved in the three years that preceded it.
“We are seeing growing demand from community energy schemes and industrial users in particular, who can now use highly-efficient biomass technologies to become entirely self-sufficient on low-cost renewable energy, generate a rapid return on their investment from RHI payments and ensure a secure, long-term supply of clean power for even their most demanding industrial processes.”
Boiler scrappage scheme for London announced
A London Boiler Cashback Scheme, which will give up to 6,500 owner occupiers and accredited private landlords in the capital the chance to claim £400 cash back, has been announced by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London,
The £2.6 million scheme, which will be administered by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) across the 33 London boroughs and the Corporation of London., will see money given back once a working but inefficient boiler (rated at 70% efficient or less) is replaced with a new ‘A-rated’ model, or a renewable/low carbon heating system.
It is estimated that London’s homes are responsible for 36% of the city’s carbon emissions, and space heating and hot water is the largest contributor of this, accounting for around 85% of all domestic carbon emissions.
The scheme, which was announced on Tuesday February 2, is reminiscent of the boiler scrappage schemes previously run by both the UK and Scottish governments and seeks to encourage home owners and private landlords to take proactive action to reduce their fuel bills and carbon emissions.
The Mayor said: “This scorching scheme will help 6,500 London homes become more energy efficient and cut annual bills. As well as saving hard earned cash, upgrading an old boiler gives the environment a huge boost by lowering carbon emissions and making our air sweeter. I encourage everyone harbouring ancient boiler artefacts to sign up to my Boiler Cashback Scheme now and benefit from a brand new cost effective heating system.”
Reaction from the industry was extremely encouraging.
Tim Pollard, head of sustainability at Plumb Center, which – with 49 branches within the M25 – is the largest distributor of heating products in London, said: “Today’s announcement is good news for London’s homeowners and private landlords. Boilers account for over half of the average household’s annual energy spend and four-fifths of a home’s carbon emissions, so an efficient boiler makes a big difference. This cashback scheme offers homeowners the opportunity to claim back around 20% of the install cost so presents a very appealing proposition.”
“Previous scrappage schemes have proved to stimulate action and we have no doubt this initiative will do likewise. Our branches are already prepared for the spike in demand with the majority of boiler brands and models in stock now for immediate collection, and our branch teams are ready to advise installers on how they can help their domestic customers to take advantage of the scheme.”
Adam Foy, Ideal’s head of product and marketing, said: “The scheme is hugely beneficial for homeowners, as research from the EST shows that replacing an old, non-condensing gas boiler with an energy efficient A-rated condensing boiler could save householders up to £340 in heating bills each year.
“The UK has to meet tough energy reduction commitments – 20% by 2020 – and the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) commitment to improving the energy efficiency of homes in its area will be another step towards meeting that target.”
Neil Schofield, head of external affairs at Worcester, Bosch Group, said: “Where previous industry incentives have involved too much red tape, the London Boiler Cashback Scheme does away with the complications and makes things as simple as possible for both the installer and the householder.
“This is a simple policy with clear benefits for everyone involved, and the (GLA) should be praised for adopting a common sense approach to heating efficiency.”
Help for those living in cold or damp homes
A new service to help those whose health is affected by living in cold or damp homes has been launched by the National Energy Foundation, partnering with 11 local authorities across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
Cold homes cost the NHS in England £1.36 billion every year in hospital and primary care. In addition, during the winter of 2014-15, there were an estimated 43,900 deaths in England and Wales caused by cold weather, the highest number since 1999/00.
The government’s latest Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics Report estimated that, in 2013, there were 2.35 million households living in fuel poverty in England.
Better Housing, Better Health aims to reduce pressure on health services and improve health and wellbeing for those living with a cardiovascular disease or respiratory illness – those who are most at risk from the health impacts of cold homes. Through practical energy efficiency improvements and advice, the scheme aims to:
- Help to prevent avoidable excess winter deaths. In 2012-13, 510 people died as a result of cold weather across the two counties
- Reduce fuel poverty, which affects 7.9% of households in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
The scheme runs until December 2016 and covers:
- Grants of up to £2,500 for energy efficiency measures for owner occupied homes where someone has a respiratory illness or cardiovascular disease.
- Free surveys to identify potential risks to health in owner occupied and privately rented homes where someone has a respiratory illness or cardiovascular disease.
- Support with benefits checks, fuel debt mediation and switching energy tariff or supplier, for anyone in need of support.
To access the service, referrals are made by a health or social care professional. Anyone who thinks they could be eligible for support from Better Housing, Better Health can download and complete the referral from and get it signed by a health or social care professional.
The National Energy Foundation is also offering free training to frontline health and social care staff through the scheme. This will emphasise the link between cold homes and ill health, show how to identify at-risk patients and explain how to make referrals to the scheme.
Project manager, Alexandra Steeland, said: “With winter upon us, this is the time of year when anyone living in a cold or damp home with a cardiovascular disease or a respiratory illness is most affected by the weather. It’s also the time of year when the NHS is at its most stretched. Better Housing, Better Health will help those most affected and aims to lessen the stress on local medical and social services.
A buzz around boiler servicing
A service engineer was greeted with an unbeelievable sight when he attended a property in Essex to complete the landlord’s annual gas safety check today, as the interior of the boiler was filled with honeycomb.
Greg O’Connor, quality control inspector for Milverdene Ltd, removed the casing of the boiler, which had still been performing as normal, to find layers of honeycomb neatly wrapped around the heat exchanger.
It is thought the bees entered through the flue during the summer months and built their home before having to buzz off to pastures new once the boiler was in use during the winter.
“We’ve been specialising in gas since 1977 but not seen anything like this before,” said contracts manager Georgina Wagstaff.
Mr O’Connor was able to clean out the debris and certify the boiler for the next year.