‘A massive project goes into planning in Manchester, Engineering Services sector ends 2016 on a high, Schneider Electric opens their Customer Experience Centre and a new skills partnership is established’
- Plans in for Manchester £1.3bn vertical village towers
- Engineering Services sector ends 2016 on a high
- Installers encourage interest in smart home products, says survey
- Let’s all work to end workplace suicide, BESA urges
- 25 million homes need energy-efficiency refurbishments by 2050
- Schneider Electric opens State-Of-The-Art Customer Experience Centre
- Skills partnership established to fulfill industry needs
- Opportunity for big savings
- Householders prefer to hire trades who employ apprentices
- Go-ahead for London Albert Embankment twin towers
Plans in for Manchester £1.3bn vertical village towers
Developer Allied London has submitted final detailed plans for a cluster of five towers in Manchester’s St John district.
The ‘vertical village’ designed by architect Child Graddon Lewis will be known as Trinity Islands and attempts to offer residents all the services they need within the one scheme.
Planned are two towers of 26 storeys, one of 37, another of 41 and what will be the tallest in Manchester at 67 storeys.
Manchester’s race for the sky is now confirming it as Britain’s second city for towers. The next tallest building will be a 64-floor block of flats in a group of four at Owen Street, now under construction, by developer Renaker.
Original plans to link the St John’s towers with bridges have been dropped in the final planning submission for 1,400 homes that will be offered as either to buy or rent within the mixed-use development next to the Irwell.
Allied London, which is already pressing ahead with its more centrally located St John’s Place high-rise scheme, said it aims to start work subject to planning before the end of the year.
James Sidlow, Project Director at Allied London, said: “Trinity Islands will appeal to a wide variety of people with its excellent onsite amenity and community-lead retail offering, as well as its sky gardens and lounges that allow residents to relax and unwind.
“One of the tallest residential schemes in Western Europe, residents will enjoy some of Manchester’s most scenic views”.
The Trinity Island towers will offer residents farmers’ markets, shops and educational facilities forming the core of a city-centre village.
Its town square within the cluster will offer cafe and bar life, event space as well as a new boat club.
Allied London’s Chief Executive, Michael Ingall, said “Trinity Islands is without doubt one of our most ambitious developments so far.
“This area, at the dissection of two cities, is an incredibly important one and is developing rapidly. Our success in transforming Leeds Docks, the Brunswick Centre Bloomsbury and creating the Chafford Hundred Village in Thurrock represents a relevant track record, one that we will require to build a real community on the edge of two cities.”
Engineering Services sector ends 2016 on a high
Over three in four (78 per cent) engineering services firms say turnover increased or remained steady during the final quarter of 2016, according to findings within the sector-wide ‘Building Engineering Business Survey’, sponsored by Scolmore.
Over the same period, almost four in 10 survey respondents (39 per cent) said that labour costs had increased.
Furthermore, almost six in 10 businesses (57 per cent) said that they were not being paid within 30 days for public sector work, in breach of legislation.
ECA CEO Steve Bratt and BESA chief executive Paul McLaughlin commented: “These new survey findings show that the engineering services sector is powering forward, despite challenges from rising material and labour costs. Our sector is extremely resilient and technological advances are continually opening up new business opportunities.”
SELECT managing director Newell McGuiness added: “This is the first time that SELECT members have participated in the business survey and we are encouraged at the confidence in future workload opportunities. However, this is tempered a little by the increase in material costs, which are beginning to be felt and the on-going issue of extended payment periods, particularly in the private commercial sector”.
Businesses of all sizes had a strong final quarter, with over three-quarters of micro, small, medium and large businesses all seeing turnover rise or remain constant.
Very large businesses (turnover over £20m) had the strongest quarter, with over half (54 per cent) seeing turnover increase.
Looking ahead to the first quarter of 2017, the business outlook is very positive, with almost nine in 10 businesses (86 per cent) expecting their turnover to increase or stay the same.
The engineering services sector covers a broad range of work including electrical, mechanical, renewables, heating and ventilating, datacomms, and fire and security systems.
The survey is now being run in partnership by the ECA, the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), and Scottish electrical trade body SELECT.
It had 529 responses from across the building engineering services sector in January. However, over six in 10 (61 per cent) engineering services firms say their material costs increased during the final quarter of 2016.
Installers encourage interest in smart home products, says survey
As the heating industry gears up for a ‘smart home’ revolution in years to come, new research suggests there is a significant level of interest in ‘connected’ products among UK homeowners.
In a survey carried out by Worcester, Bosch Group, one in four owners of its Wave control stated they were already planning the next purchase of internet-enabled products for their homes. What’s more, over 70% cited the ability to remotely operate their heating system as the main reason for their investment.
The news should come as no surprise to heating engineers, who have no doubt seen an increase in enthusiasm for remotely-controlled devices in recent years. However, the study revealed further areas of interest, suggesting that a Smart Home revolution really could be underway: smart lightbulbs appealed to around 60% of respondents; internet-connected security systems were of interest to 50%; and 30% homeowners would even consider an oven that could be controlled from a mobile phone or tablet.
The research also highlighted the important role installers play in recommending smart heating controls. In light of the vast range of accessories available on the market, well over half of respondents had first heard about their device from a heating engineer – suggesting that despite a glut of online information, homeowners remain keen to source the opinion of respected tradesmen.
“There has been a huge increase in the coverage of topics such as smart homes and the Internet of Things within the media, and clearly this is filtering through to homeowners when it comes to the choices they make for their heating systems,” said Martyn Bridges Worcester’s director of technical communication and product management.
“With so many products on offer, though, it is key that homeowners recognise the devices that are not just internet-connected, but which use this capacity to make our homes more comfortable and efficient. What is most encouraging is that installers remain a vital support in the decision-making process, meaning they can continue to help homeowners make the right choices when called upon.”
Let’s all work to end workplace suicide, BESA urges
The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has urged employers to face up to the growing risk of suicide in construction related professions.
It cited a new report from the mental health charity Samaritans highlighting the vulnerability of people with unstable employment, low income or in areas of socio-economic deprivation.
BESA also drew attention to the Mates in Mind initiative, launched last month by the Health in Construction Leadership Group with the support of the British Safety Council, which pointed out that the number of deaths from suicide in construction related professions are up to 10 times higher than those from physical accidents.
One in six people experience a mental health issue in the workplace and 91 million working days are lost each year to stress and depression at a cost of £26bn to employers, according to the Centre for Mental Health.
The Samaritans report: Dying from Inequality, highlights suicide risks linked to the closure and downsizing of businesses and the vulnerability of people in manual, low-skilled employment as well as those facing unmanageable debt.
Awareness BESA has announced plans to raise awareness of the issue and to help its members put strategies in place for dealing with mental health problems among their workforces.
It launched a partnership with Samaritans following a joint mental health workshop in London last year; and has now agreed to step up an information campaign and develop training packages.
“Our industry has a problem with mental health and it is vital that employers and work colleagues create a culture where people feel it is OK to talk about depression and stress,” said BESA chief executive Paul McLaughlin.
“This predominately male and so-called ‘macho’ industry can make it hard for people to open up about their feelings, which means depression can spiral out of control. If we achieve nothing else, let’s at least aim to get a dialogue going and encourage engineers to be better listeners,” said Mr McLaughlin.
“Everyone can feel overwhelmed at times in their life,” added Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland.
“People at risk of suicide may have employers, or they may seek help at job centres, or go to their GP. They may come into contact with national and local government agencies, perhaps on a daily basis.
“So, in light of this report we are asking key people and organisations from across society to take action and make sure their service, their organisation, their community is doing all it can to promote mental health and prevent the tragedy of suicide.”
Anyone can contact Samaritans. Whatever you’re going through, call free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), email email@example.com, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.
25 million homes need energy-efficiency refurbishments by 2050
More than “one home every minute” will need to be refurbished in the UK between now and 2050, according to a report by the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC), and it is likely that 25 million existing homes will still not meet the insulation standards required by this time.
The report, ‘Building Places That Work for Everyone’, says four out of five homes that will be occupied in 2050 have already been built. That means 25 million homes need refurbishing to the highest standards by 2050. The UK needs to cut carbon emissions by 80% by then and a third of those emissions come from heating draughty buildings.
Such home renovation would save on bills and improve people’s health, comfort and happiness and the UK-GBC says the “fiddly business of insulating roofs, walls and floors creates more jobs and has more benefits than any existing infrastructure priority”.
The report recommends:
- Setting staged targets for refurbishing buildings.
- Reintroducing the “zero-carbon” standard for buildings from 2020.
- Recognising energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority.
- Setting long-term trajectories for ratcheting up home energy standards.
- Obliging commercial buildings to display the amount of energy they use.
BSRIA has welcomed the report, which is says discusses a crucial issue directly affecting home owners, home occupiers and the environment.
Tassos Kougionis, principal consultant – residential, at BSRIA’s Sustainable Construction Group, said: “It is true that the existing housing stock in the UK suffers from low energy efficiency, along with other inherited issued. This not only creates social implications, as in the case of fuel poverty, environmental issues and high carbon emissions, but also directly affects the health and well being of the people living in these properties.”
The wider economy – through additional construction claims, impact on investment, frequent required retrofit work, additional NHS costs and potential reduction in people’s productivity – is also affected, Mr Kougionis explained.
“Undertaking tasks to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes, such as increasing the levels of insulation or adding insulation where non-existent, is an important step forward and can provide the right opportunity for critical maintenance work to be scheduled alongside minimising disruption and optimising the retrofit process. This can also work the other way around,” he argued.
The UK-GBC announcement comes hot on the heels of government’s Housing White Paper, which sets out the government’s preferred approach in tackling the country’s housing crisis focusing mainly on the delivery of higher volumes of new homes.
“Nevertheless the new homes of today will be the retrofits of the future, so it is important to consider resilient new home designs and take into account the buildings’ expected lifecycle. Preventing new homes from facing similar issues in the future will require a good feedback loop being introduced as well as quality standards to be set,” Mr Kougionis continued.
“The Bonfield Review launched at the end of last year picked up on domestic energy efficient issues and called for a holistic approach towards achieving good energy efficiency standards. The report included 27 cross-cutting recommendations assisting in establishing a clearer way forward.
“There are still questions that remain unanswered, including how to best assess the energy efficiency of existing homes, who can cover the costs, what can be the role of local authorities to it and what are the levels of buy in from both potential investors and home owners.
“We have seen numerous incentives in the past with varying results. A proper evaluation of the impact of policies, new innovative solutions and financial support mechanisms will need to further explore solutions that work and adapt to the market needs accordingly.”
Schneider Electric opens State-Of-The-Art Customer Experience Centre
Schneider Electric has announced the opening of its state-of-the-art Customer Experience Centre in Telford. The new facility provides a means of showcasing digitised and connected technology, systems and equipment and is open to everyone.
As part of the investment, the new site will become a key European facility for showcasing Schneider Electric’s partner offering, as well as providing a place for prospective customers to engage with some of the top engineering minds in the industry. The Customer Experience Centre will feature the latest range of products from Schneider Electric, including wiring devices, smart panel, Masterpact MTZ and spacial SFM.
Furthermore, due to its location, next to the Schneider Electric manufacturing warehouse, customers visiting the new site now have a real time view of their products being built on site. They are also able to log-on to the Schneider Electric website to check the build status of their product via webcam connectivity, as well as accessing information on when it will be delivered.
The centre comprises three core areas:
- Innovation centre – An area to showcase products manufactured in the UK. Solutions are fully modularised to keep up to speed with product enhancements and market trends. Designs can be created that can be replicated at customer events and exhibitions around the country.
- Training Centre – A space dedicated to training graduates, customers and to host meetings. The training facility and conference suite can be utilised by customers that wish to be trained on the equipment or hold internal meetings. All products are fully controllable from an iPad.
- Customer reception area – An area to allow visitors to relax, unwind and socialise. Connectivity stations provide an opportunity for visitors to catch up on work.
The UK’s skills shortage is one of the biggest threats to continued economic growth, with one of the worst gaps in Europe, between the skills that companies need and those available. Schneider Electric aims to help address this problem and close a widening skills gap with the opening of its new centre.
Stewart Gregory, vice president, Partner Projects at Schneider Electric comments: “By educating visitors on energy management best practice, we are taking significant steps forward in helping to achieve the goal of making the industry more connected, safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable for today and for future generations.”
Skills partnership established to fulfill industry needs
The Plumbing and Heating Skills Partnership (PHSP) has been created to take over responsibility for the skills needs of the industry, in view of the imminent closure of SummitSkills.
Established by plumbing industry organisations APHC, BPEC and SNIPEF, this new Skills Partnership will have a UK focus and be led by employers from the plumbing and heating industry. It will ; and will take over responsibility for the skills needs of the industry as from 01 April 2017. The PHSP will work closely with other industry and government organisations that have a keen interest in skills to help meet the needs of our industry.
Andrew Beaumont, chairman of the APHC said: “We are very much looking forward to the plumbing and heating industry taking full responsibility for meeting the education and training needs of those who work in the industry.”
George Thomson, chairman of BPEC, reiterated this and added: “We see the new Skills Partnership as a unique opportunity for employers to be at the very heart of identifying and meeting the skills needs in a complex and rapidly changing world.”
Brian Warrender, president of SNIPEF, concluded: “We believe the PHSP represents an exciting new era for the plumbing and heating industry and we are very much looking forward to the challenges ahead.”
The APHC, BPEC and SNIPEF on behalf of the plumbing industry would like to thank the staff at SummitSkills for leading on the development of the building services engineering sectors standards, qualifications and apprenticeships over many years.
Opportunity for big savings
Electrical contractors buying new test equipment now have a great opportunity to make big savings. For a limited time only Megger is offering a Safe Insulation Test Kit, which includes an MIT220 insulation tester and a TPT320 two-pole tester, for a very special price that is around 40% lower than the price of the two instruments purchased separately. As an added bonus, a protective hard carrying case, which will accommodate both instruments, is also included at no extra cost.
Householders prefer to hire trades who employ apprentices
Consumers prefer to hire firms that train apprentices, according to new research from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) that coincides with National Apprenticeship Week.
This new research, based on responses from 2,000 home owners across the UK, reveals that:
- Almost two thirds of homeowners would have a more favourable image of a building firm knowing they train apprentices
- Half of homeowners would be more likely to actually hire a building firm knowing they train apprentices (all else being equal)
- More than two in five would be more likely to recommend a building firm to a friend or family member based on the fact they train apprentices
- Almost two-thirds of homeowners think that building firms should highlight the fact that they are training the next generation of tradespeople in their marketing material.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: “This new research confirms what many of us already knew – apprentices are good for your business. The building industry is extremely competitive and these results suggest that training an apprentice will help a firm stand out from the crowd. Homeowners aren’t just concerned about the craftsmanship of their builder, they want to know they are hiring a firm with strong values. It therefore makes sense that a business that invests in young people is seen in a better light. If the burgeoning skills crisis in the construction industry wasn’t enough to motivate those firms not already training to start doing so, hopefully this evidence will do the trick. It’s helpful to know that apprenticeship training can not only provide rewarding career opportunities for young people, but it can also help a firm’s bottom line.”
Mr Berry concluded: “Next month will see the introduction of the government’s new Apprenticeship Levy on large firms, so this year could see a big shift in terms of who is directly involved in apprenticeship training. In construction, two-thirds of all apprentices are trained by SMEs and it is our hope that the new Levy will encourage the larger firms to also engage more readily in training the future workforce. What’s great about this research is that it demonstrates the positive image that a real focus on quality training can bring to a company from a commercial perspective – no doubt this applies across the business community and not just in the construction sector.”
Go-ahead for London Albert Embankment twin towers
Lambeth Council has given the green light for a pair of 25-storey towers on London’s Albert Embankment.
Developer Ocubis aims to build the 166-home twin-tower scheme at 36-46 Albert Embankment at a former Texaco garage site in the heart of Vauxhall overlooking the River Thames.
Designed by architect Make, the scheme will test the appetite in the London market for prime residential in the Vauxhall area.
The design presents several engineering challenges with several sections of the stepped 85m tall buildings cantilevered to break up the profile.
Waterman is both M&E and structural consultant on the project.
Waterman’s Regional Director, Marcello Marinoni said that the complex building geometry presented structural engineering challenges that were solved by adopting reinforced-concrete framing, comprising core-and-outrigger stability systems, balanced cantilever floors and “walking walls” to dramatic effect.
The development for site owner Hotchkiss will use combined heat and power to provide over 70% of the heating requirements and have renewable energy provided by 35m2 of photovoltaic cells.