THE CLOCK IS TICKING ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The Queen’s speech delivered on 21 June 2017 may have been somewhat lacking in substance, as well as the pomp and glory that usually accompanies the State opening of Parliament, but there was one crucial line that many heard with relief: My government will continue to support international action against climate change, including the implementation of the Paris agreement.”

This affirmation of the UK’s commitment to the Paris Accord, which was drawn up at COP 21[1] in December 2015, comes at a time when America’s withdrawal could have put the historic agreement at risk. Despite this withdrawal, many American States and businesses have declared that they will continue to work towards meeting their greenhouse gas targets, so compelling is the evidence that climate change is a real and present threat.

In July 2016, the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) issued its Risk Assessment 2017 Synthesis report[2], outlining the areas that are of greatest concern, including flooding and coastal change, deaths and health issues from heat waves, risk of water shortages, the impact on wildlife, affordability of food, and the rise of new and emerging pests and diseases.

The report highlights the fact that there has been a global increase in temperature of 0.85°C since 1880, leading to higher average temperatures and an increase in extreme weather conditions. Sea levels around the UK have risen by 15-20 centimetres since 1900, and the projected rise of 50-100 centimetres by 2100 will increase the risk of flooding and significant change to our coasts.

We are at a tipping point if there is to be any chance of containing the rise in global warming and slowing the march of climate change. It is easy to feel helpless in the face of what we see happening to our planet, and the stark facts that science is showing us. However, the window of opportunity to turn things round is still here – for now.

As individuals, we can make a difference. We can each alter our behaviour or make choices that help; from small steps like turning off a light, to more major decisions such as the type of car we buy or where we get our power supply from.

In turn, businesses need to take responsibility for their impact on the environment, and how they can mitigate that, or even to turn it to positive effect. This is where real change can occur. Not in the rooms of State or Parliament, but person by person, business by business.

In the next blog in this series we will be looking at the principles of Trias Energetica, and the first of these three key steps that can be taken to help combat climate change.

[1]    www.cop21paris.org/about/cop21

[2] www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/UK-CCRA-2017-Synthesis-Report-Committee-on-Climate-Change.pdf

EASY BEING GREEN

UK_SBS_KBS_Cover_Travelodge_LiverpoolWhilst there are some who dispute the truth of climate change, over 90% of scientists agree that it is caused by us[1]. Sadly, the shift to measures that tackle our impact cannot be done overnight. It takes a significant amount of time to address and, often, the effects of ‘green washing’ can prevent influential people from seeing the real environmental and economic benefits of improving their current ways of working. So, why is the business case for sustainability so important?

Firstly, let us be clear on one thing: ‘sustainability’ and ‘green washing’ are not the same thing, whatever you may have been led to believe. ‘Green washing’ is when a business promotes aspects of itself or its products as ‘green’ to appear sustainable when, in fact, they have taken few measures to reduce their impact on the environment. On the other hand, if you develop practices that aim to reduce the carbon footprint of your business, increase the use of renewable power sources, look to move to ethically sourced materials, and other such actions then you are well on track and you should be incredibly proud of that, at whatever stage you are on the journey.

For us at Kingspan Ltd, sustainability is at the very heart of the business. We also encourage sustainable innovations amongst our team. As a group, we have already exceeded the target to achieve 50% renewable energy in 2016 and now we are looking ahead to our aim of Net Zero Energy by 2020. This commitment to carbon saving targets has landed us on the RE100 list, which sees us amongst other businesses wanting to ‘aid the transition to a low carbon economy’[2].

By addressing our embodied carbon and life cycle impact of our products too, we are focusing on how these changes can benefit the world we live in now, as well as ensuring our legacy is a better, healthier world for future generations. Sustainability not only covers environmental benefits, but must ensure that a business is viable so it is essential that initiatives and products that are developed are what the construction industry wants and needs.

Kingspan Steel Building Solutions is proud to be sponsoring IStructE’s ‘Sustainability Conference 2017’ whose many excellent speakers will address the challenges to structural engineers and discuss potential solutions to help the industry meet climate and energy targets by 2020. We believe strongly that initiatives that are involved in educating on global issues such as this should be supported in any way we can.

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-06-15/97-percent-consensus-on-climate-change-it-s-complicated

[2] http://there100.org/re100

 

ENGINEERING EQUALITY

Today marks the first ever International Women in Engineering Day (INWED17). The national version has been running for a number of years but, as its indomitable message of inclusion and diversity gained support from governmental, educational, corporate and individual groups across the globe, the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) decided a change of name was in order.

During the First World War, many women took up roles in engineering and other technical professions. WES is a charity formed in 1919 by a group of female engineers to help support these women in their campaign to retain their positions once the men returned home. Whilst the pioneering women of the time undoubtedly paved the way in terms of safeguarding equality for women in ‘non-traditional’ sectors, the fight is far from over.

As the statistics outlined in our International Women’s Day blog highlights, there are numerous problems facing women in the construction and engineering industries: from simple things like inadequate facilities or protective clothing, to unequal pay and lack of promotional prospects, not to mention the more concerning risks of harassment in the workplace. It is clear a change is long-overdue.

Whilst it is vital to challenge perceptions, commit to equality and provide clear support systems, it is also important to celebrate the women who have made valuable contributions to our industry.

Kingspan is incredibly proud to have many skilled and talented women in influential roles within the business. For example, our Global Marketing Director, Louise Foody, has been named as one of Ireland’s most powerful women at this year’s Women’s Executive Network (WXN) 2017 Ireland’s Most Powerful Women: Top 25 Awards.

Louise joined Kingspan’s first ever graduate recruitment programme 12 years ago and has ‘risen through the ranks’ to her current role (in which she also runs the graduate programme she began her career in!). She is now the Global Marketing Director of Kingspan Insulated Panels – the biggest division in the Kingspan Group accounting for 65% of last year’s revenue. She leads a range of worldwide strategic projects, including the company’s digital and customer experience strategies.

“Working with Kingspan has given me the opportunity to travel and live all over the world, working alongside people from all walks of life,” Louise commented. “It is absolutely vital that we work together to ensure that future generations of women can look to our industry and see one which welcomes their talents, values the opportunity to nurture their abilities and, in turn, offers them the chance to grow as individuals, regardless of their gender.”

Network Ireland Business Women of the Year Awards “celebrate the excellence, professionalism, vision and leadership” of women in a number of industries and careers.

Louise Foody - Headshot

Louise Foody, Global Marketing Director, Kingspan Insulated Panels

SUNNY SIDE UP

2016_SWALOW_PARK_19_AWP_DLTR_UKThese days few people can take advantage of ‘the great outdoors’ as often as maybe they would like to. This is typically due to commitments that result in as much 90% of their time being spent under the harsh glare of poor electric lighting. The main issue of this lifestyle is the effect on mental health and productivity. But, with summer fast approaching, there is no better time to think about the benefits of bringing good lighting to indoor spaces. So, how do we create these sufficient levels of natural light inside?

The UK currently does not have any legislation or Building Regulations to dictate healthy levels of daylighting in either commercial or residential settings. Assessing adequate levels of light, and deciding the best course of action, is a complicated task with issues such as building location, occupancy, façade orientation, and glare requiring careful consideration[1]. Nevertheless, including good levels of daylighting in our buildings is essential for the occupants’ well-being and helps to save energy by reducing the amount of artificial lighting which, in turn, will keep energy bills low. Using less electric lighting also helps to tackle climate change through the reduction of carbon emissions.

Vertical windows will generally only allow daylight to travel as far as 6 m inside so, for large buildings such as distribution warehouses, rooflights are the only practical way to introduce natural light into the building. Products selected for the task must meet the required target emission rates (TER) as set out in Part L2A, whilst maintaining ambient indoor environmental quality. The Notional Building specification offers a basic route to compliance, and states that a U-value of 1.8 W/m2.K is required for rooflights in a toplit building with a 15% framing factor, and 1.6 W/m2.K for windows in a side lit building with a 10% framing factor.

Some polycarbonate rooflight products are now capable of achieving U-values as low as 0.8 W/m2.K, and 1.3 W/m2.K as commonplace – well within the regulatory requirement. The material also helps to limit solar gain, making it possible to maximise the benefits of natural light without affecting the overall energy efficiency of the building.

Fully integrated roofing systems are now available on the market, making it not only easier for the roofing contractor to install, but also helping to ensure that the performance meets the design. Whether installed as part of a roof refurbishment, or as a new building design, rooflights provide opportunities for both cost and energy savings, making them a great solution for letting in more light.

[1] https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/The_daylight_factor#Legislative_requirements_ensuring_adequate_daylight_provision_in_new_buildings

THE LIVING DAYLIGHT

The clocks go forward on Sunday 26 March, and suddenly the world seems a brighter place. There has been plenty of research around the benefits of daylight on our health and wellbeing, but we don’t need scientists to tell us that we all enjoy the longer days that the Spring Equinox heralds. For some, it is a much more significant event than a simple lifting of spirits, with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)[1] a recognised and potentially debilitating condition that is thought to affect 1 in 3 people in the UK to some degree.

With our largely indoor lifestyle, getting access to enough natural light can be a challenge, especially in the winter months. Getting out for a walk during lunch breaks can help, but is not always possible. The design and construction of buildings has a major impact on how much daylight we can absorb in the course of the day. So why is so little attention paid to the proven fact that providing good levels of daylight (or in some cases, any level) makes people happier, healthier and more productive?

It isn’t rocket science. As human beings we have some fundamental needs, and access to daylight is one of the things that enables us to function at our best. Natural light is better for the eyes, improves cognitive function, and has been proven to reduce the number of days that employees take off sick.

From a commercial point of view, if looking after your workforce and improving their output is not reason enough to consider increasing daylight in the workplace, it can also significantly reduce lighting energy costs. And if you’re concerned about climate change, reducing energy consumption also reduces your carbon emissions – everybody wins, including the planet!

However, as in all things in life, it is important to strike the right balance. Exposure to too much sunlight can carry its own risks, and buildings with large areas of window or roof lights could end up with poor thermal performance, over heating in the summer months and eating energy in space heating in the winter.

In the next blog we will explore how to get this balance right, and some of the different options that are available to introduce more living daylight into our places of work and leisure.

[1] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/Pages/Introduction.asp

TIME FOR A CHANGE

It is March 8th, 2017 – International Women’s Day #IWD2017. All around the world women are uniting to assert their right to be heard, to be treated with respect, to have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. But how well does the construction industry measure up on these issues? According to UCATT[1], women make up just 11% of the construction work force. In some areas, such as roofing, their numbers are so low as to be unmeasurable by the Office for National Statistics.

The problems facing women on site range from practical issues such as inadequate facilities or protective clothing not fitting properly, to lower pay than male counterparts, lack of promotion prospects and harassment.

The situation is not much better off site, with one in five women in the 2016 worldwide Women in Architecture survey[2] saying they would not recommend a career in architecture to other women.

If the moral issue raised by these statistics and other concerns is not enough to galvanise companies into action, there is also a practical incentive. The well documented skills shortage is going to be one of the greatest stumbling blocks for the future of the construction industry in the UK. With obstacles like conditions and general attitudes remaining a problem, it is going to be very difficult to convince young women entering the job market that construction is a worthwhile career. That means that the talent and ability of half of the potential work force will not be made available to help deliver the pipeline of work.

The campaign theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Be Bold for Change”. Where better to make that bold change than in construction?

We can all help to bring about change, by challenging perceptions, dealing fairly and providing support.

The next blog in this series looks in more detail at the skills shortage, and how it could impact on the future of the construction industry.

Proud sponsors of the Women in Roofing Conference.

 

www.winr.org.uk/

[1] www.ucatt.org.uk/women-construction

[2]www.architectural-review.com/rethink/results-of-the-2016-women-in-architecture-survey-revealed/10003314.article

PROJECT FOCUS: KNIGHTSTONE HOUSING BUILDING

Location: Weston-super-Mare, United Kingdom

Wall/Façade products: BENCHMARK Karrier

Finishes: Aluminium cassettes

Barton Willmore Architects, Knightstone, Weston Super Mare

Knightstone, a leading housing association in Somerset and the West of England, commissioned a new, 40,000 ft2 office in Weston Gateway Business Park in Worle, to accommodate 300 Knightsone staff. The new building, designed by Barton Willmore architects and built by Midas Construction, replaced six of Knightstone’s existing offices, enabling the organisation to make significant cost savings for reinvestment in new homes and improved services for its communities.

Meeting the design challenge

1,000m2 of BENCHMARK Karrier Engineered Façade System with Aluminium Interlocking Plank cassettes and Ceramic Tiles were specified for the building’s façade. The Aluminium cassettes were powder coated in Driftwood, Anodic Ice and Toledo, alongside the Ceramic Tiles in Smokey Blue, giving the building a colourful and striking look. The choice of the BENCHMARK Karrier System allowed the building to be made weathertight quicker, thereby minimising the overall construction time for the project.

“The BENCHMARK Façades were both simple and quick to install, and we found the input from BENCHMARK’s in-house technical team invaluable throughout the course of the project.”

  • John Meehan, Senior Site Manager, Midas Construction.

 

EASTWOOD HIGH SCHOOL

eastwood-high-school

PROJECT FOCUS: EASTWOOD SCHOOL

Location: Glasgow, United Kingdom

Wall/Façade products: BENCHMARK Evolution Axis & BENCHMARK Karrier

Finishes: Corten Steel and Aluminium cassettes

 

Eastwood High School in Glasgow was one of two exemplar secondary schools to be built as part of £1.25bn Scottish Futures Trust Schools for the Future programme. The award-winning pilot project, designed by Cooper Cromar architects and built by BAM construction, now serves as a blueprint for new schools across Scotland.

Incorporating form and function

This unique project aimed to deliver an innovative, cost effective and inspiring learning environment for pupils. To achieve the demanding thermal efficiency targets, and give the new building a suitably impressive appearance, Prater installed a range of BENCHMARK façade systems.

Meeting the design challenge

1,000m2 of BENCHMARK Evolution Axis premium, sleek unprofiled insulated panels in Kingspan Spectrum Onyx and Silver colours were specified with nearly 2,000m2 of BENCHMARK’s Karrier Engineered Façade System with 1.5mm Corten Steel, Athracite Grey and Grey Metallic Aluminium Interlocking Plank Cassettes.

benchmark-by-kingspan-40-spot-gold-2013-202x90                                             eastwood-high-school-2

 

INSIGHT SERIES: The unarguable business case for improved lighting in warehouses

zel_product_uk-futurebuild

Too many of the UK’s commercial properties are currently lit by low-quality, inefficient, costly lighting. When you consider that lighting makes up 43% of total electricity consumption in the Warehouse sector, it’s clear that building owners and occupiers stand to benefit enormously from a rethink on commercial lighting. We believe there are two compelling reasons, in terms of both an opportunity and a threat, for businesses to improve their lighting now and realise this benefit.

First, the carrot. Kingspan Insulated Panels recently conducted a study on the potential cost savings that better lighting systems could generate for UK businesses. The study showed that the adoption of improved lighting systems alone could result in a potential annual electricity cost saving for businesses of £3.7bn, with the average business lighting electricity cost falling from £25,583 to just £3,837.

So the opportunity to warehouse building owners and occupiers is enormous. Just by improving the way their properties are lit, they can benefit from drastically reduced electricity bills. That is not to mention the other associated benefits in terms of increased productivity and wellbeing of the building occupants, higher asset values, and lower carbon emissions.

That is why we launched Kingspan ZerO Energy Lighting, a bespoke solution that achieves the optimum balance of natural and artificial light in large buildings. At the heart of the ZerO Energy Lighting solution is a holistic approach, based on rigorous design principles, that utilises the best of lighting, building and energy technology to achieve unprecedented performance. It combines intelligent LED lighting with smart controls, and high-quality polycarbonate roof light products to deliver a typical lighting electricity cost saving of 85%. We complete the solution with the addition of Kingspan Energy Rooftop Solar PV to deliver the remaining 15% cost saving, and ultimately, ZerO Energy Lighting. The combined solution, which brings together these technologies for the first time, has been shown to pay for itself within just 30 months – well within the return on investment threshold required for most businesses.

But, in terms of motivating change, there’s a stick too. From 2018 it will be mandatory for all buildings with an F or G EPC rating to be upgraded to a minimum of E. In fact, landlords will not be able to agree new tenancy agreements until this improvement is made. The ZerO Energy Lighting solution alone will improve a typical G grade building to a D grade, thereby protecting rental yields for property owners.

The business case for improved lighting is unarguable. Through the launch of Kingspan ZerO Energy Lighting, we are helping building owners and occupiers to create better, brighter and more cost-effective buildings.

INSIGHT SERIES: Making roof replacements work for the public sector

We need to talk about roofs.

The nation’s public sector roofs are in a parlous state, particularly on some of the more functional buildings that underpin the public sector, such as school halls, council depots and departmental offices. Many of the roofs on these buildings are life-expired, and have been patched up more times than they were ever designed to be.

This is understandable. Years of austerity have had a drastic impact on refurbishment budgets. More often than not, what remains of budgets has been channelled into covering only the most pressing of building concerns, with estate maintenance reduced to the bare minimum.

Of course, this situation is not sustainable, and as such, many local authorities, primary care trusts and other governmental organisations are now having to look into options to replace roofs. But this does not have to prove a financial burden. Indeed, by taking into account certain important considerations, it is possible to undertake a roof refurbishment that reduces building operating costs, is guaranteed to last, and can even earn money for the organisation.

Make it save

The first consideration for a new roof, or any part of the building envelope, ought to be energy efficiency. Put simply, a new roof ought to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions drastically, especially when compared with older roofing technology.

There is clear direction from the Government for the public sector to reduce carbon emissions, supported by both public statements of intent and changes to legislation and regulations. But there is also a strong financial imperative for improving the energy efficiency of public sector buildings. Despite recent small falls, energy costs are still predicted to rise by a cumulative annual rate of 3% every year between now and 2030. Measures to reduce consumption will therefore have an enormous impact on running costs.

A new roof needs to perform to the highest thermal standards, taking the orientation, location and operations of the building into account. Similarly, it needs to be planned, managed and installed properly, preferably without too many different parties involved, to ensure that all elements of the building envelope perform to their utmost. Failing to manage a roof installation properly can lead to imperfect or even failed junctions, which lead to greater air leakage and reduced thermal performance.

Beyond this, the installation of a new roof can be an opportunity to dramatically reduce lighting electricity bills, improving the ambience and working environment of the building in the process. Installing modern rooflight technology as part of an integrated envelope solution can help to maximise natural solar lighting inside, without compromising on the envelope’s thermal performance.

Make it pay

The second consideration for a new roof ought to be the earning potential it offers. Linked to the above point about energy savings, installing a bespoke rooftop solar PV system on a roof generates electricity that can be used to offset existing costs, earn incentive payments, or be sold back to the grid.

The cost of rooftop solar has fallen in recent years, and it now offers a rapid return on investment for most building types. There are even options for organisations that lack the capital to invest in rooftop solar PV, with some companies offering fully-funded packages to help unlock the benefits of solar power.

Make it last

The final consideration in specifying a new roof ought to be longevity. With building stock expected to last longer and longer, it is vital that the products used in the refurbishment are guaranteed to last for as long as they need to.

This is important not just in terms of their structural integrity, but also in terms of their performance. Related to our first point about saving energy, the best new roofs will have their thermal and air leakage performance guaranteed alongside the structural guarantee.

Single manufacturer component systems will always have an advantage here, as they are covered by a single guarantee with one point of contact and responsibility. If something goes wrong with these systems, the manufacturer is very likely to take responsibility. While multi-component systems can still have long-term, comprehensive guarantees attached, there is more scope for potential grey areas.

The vast majority of product guarantees will never need to be used, but occasionally components do fail within their guaranteed lifespan. To plan for the potential of this happening, it is important to be confident that the manufacturer will still exist to rectify the problem in future years, especially as guarantees begin to exceed the average age of many manufacturing companies. While there is no firm rule for establishing the likelihood of a company’s existence 20 or 30 years in the future, looking at the size, success and history of the company provides some assurance.

***

The above list may seem simple when you break it down into three pithy titles, but it’s remarkable how often these factors are overlooked. With the products, technology and solutions on the market today, every new roof should achieve at least two of these fundamental aims.

Get it right, and the opportunities are enormous. Last year, the public sector (Education, Health and Government) spent almost £1.4bn on electricity alone. Saving just a fraction of this amount (and rooflights and solar PV systems could reduce this cost by 90%) would make a massive difference to public sector finances. At these times of reduced overall budgets, and with energy costs one of the few remaining areas that can be cut without necessarily impacting services, this is an opportunity the sector cannot afford to miss.