CRUNCHING THE COSTS

One of the key outcomes COP 23, the UN Climate Change Conference, was the ‘Powering Past Coal Alliance’, led by the UK and Canada. According to the International Energy Agency, Coal-fired power plants produce almost 40% of global electricity, making carbon pollution from coal a leading contributor to climate change.

With more 20 countries in addition to numerous businesses and non-government partners on board, the new global coal alliance aims to phase out existing traditional coal power and freeze any new traditional coal power stations without operational carbon capture and storage. Commitments have also been made to focus on powering business operations without coal- something which many businesses here in the UK are already working towards.

In our last blog, we looked at how Hub 69, a 6,039 m2 warehouse and office space, was constructed by IM Properties to be their flagship Electricity Cost Neutral (ECN) building, and a template for future construction. Investment in renewable technology on this scale can be considerable, so what is the financial justification for such a step?

Whilst discussing why IMP were so keen to lead the market on sustainability and the innovative use of renewable technology, IMP’s UK Development Director, Kevin Ashfield, made the point that “there is a general trend of increasing utility costs, which affects the bottom line of occupiers. Our first ECN building provides a carbon-positive facility which will result in long term cost savings.” But how does this add up in reality?

COSTINGS

The Hub 69 has provided the basis for IMP’s ECN model. The model works on various educated assumptions, such as the typical hours of operation for the facility (which includes both warehouse and office spaces), and a standard supply contract from NPower (wherein the daytime rate is 10.623p and the night-time rate is 14.804p per kwh).

From this, IMP has estimated that the combined warehouse and office energy total annual consumption of 303,925 kWh. This equates to a cost per annum of £32,286 plus a £4,933 standing and capacity charge on 300 kVA, totalling £37,218.

Estimates suggest that the building will consume 90% of the energy it generates through its solar array (at times it will generate more energy that it needs and can store). This is 201,857 kwh of ‘free’ clean energy.

Remaining energy demand will then be drawn directly from the national grid. The estimated cost of this power (£15,775) is more than met through revenue generated from the FFR (Firm Frequency Response) service which is subsided by the National Grid (£11,669), and through TNUoS (Transmission Use of System charges, often known as TRIAD) (£7,124) and DUoS (Distributed Use of System charges) (£1,256). When weighed against the energy bill, this will result in a potential net revenue of £4,273. Additionally, there is the potential to export any surplus energy generated back to the grid to generate further revenue[1].

Fossil Fuels

But it’s not all about the money. The hidden costs using fossil-fuel power are well-documented. Air pollution, subsequent health implications, and of course the greenhouse emissions the burning of natural gas, oil and coal produce are all factors that need to be taken into consideration. As stated in the first blog in this series; we are at a tipping point if there is to be any chance of containing the rise in global warming and slowing climate change. Not to mention that the supplies are finite- once it’s gone, it’s gone.

The third and final step of the Trias Energetica model is to be efficient with our remaining supplies of fossil fuels. If we must draw upon them, we should ensure they are used as cleanly and sparingly as possible This, of course, will be easier if the first two steps have been followed to create a building constructed to the highest efficiency standards with integrated renewable technologies.

Futureproofing

Projects such as Hub 69 and IM Properties’ ECN Building Model illustrate the definite shift in attitude in the UK construction industry. Developers, architects, contractors and even building owners themselves are increasingly embracing the benefits of sustainable construction, applying its principles in innovative ways to create buildings which will future benefit both our pockets and our planet. And with the country’s engagement with initiatives such as the ‘Powering Past Coal Alliance’ and our commitment to the Paris Agreement, these measures may also protect against future legislative changes too.

As product manufacturers, Kingspan is aware of its responsibility to this cause. As the market continues to expand, it is up to us as market leaders to not only pioneer new technologies with energy conservation at their heart, but to educate the industry on the issues underlying the necessity. Which, we hope, this series of blogs has begun to do.

[1] http://im-ecn.co.uk/

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INVESTING INTEREST IN RENEWABLES

UK_IS_PV_Stennack_House_79

25th September to 1st October is World Green Building week[1], highlighting how buildings can be ‘heroes’ in tackling climate change. A key part of that solution must come from using our buildings to generate their own power, becoming net zero energy.

The New Energy Outlook 2017, the latest long-term forecast from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, estimates that renewable energy sources will take 72% of the $10.2 trillion the world will invest in new power generation by 2040[2]. Whilst this is undeniably positive news for our planet and our industry, there is still ongoing cynicism surrounding the capacity of renewables to wean us off our centuries-old dependency on fossil fuels, particularly when it comes down to the issue of cost.

Whatever the Weather

If there’s one thing we are sure about here in the UK, it’s that you can’t rely on the weather forecast. Variability has always been a key point of contention for wind and solar-powered energy production. On windless, overcast days, wind turbines and solar arrays will generally under-perform, or generate nothing at all. By the same token, on very windy and bright days, they can produce an excess of energy which can be wasted if it exceeds the demand.

This is where batteries come in. They can help companies to harvest this excess energy and store it for times when energy production is low. This smooths out the peaks and troughs in supply to offer a consistent and reliable solution which can match the supply from conventional gas and coal-fired power stations. As Simon Virley, a former senior energy department official and a current partner at KPMG, stated in an article for the Financial Times, “[the use of battery technology] is a game-changer for the way the power system works in the GB market. I think it’s the biggest disruption there will be over the next five to 10 years.”[3]

To illustrate how this works in practice, let’s look at one of our recently-completed projects: Hub 69.

A Building of Firsts

Hub 69 is a 6,039 m2 warehouse and office space, situated in a prime location on the edge of Birmingham, constructed by IM Properties. It is set to be the country’s first industrial and logistics space that could effectively benefit from zero electricity bills in the launch of their first Electricity Cost Neutral (ECN) building. To do this, they have combined Kingspan’s photovoltaic panels with next-generation battery technology – the first time this has been done in the UK – helping it to become the first EPC A+ non-domestic building in Birmingham, and EPC A+ B2/B8 building in the West Midlands.

The system is simple and logical. 250 kW Kingspan Energy Roof Mounted PV Solar panels, with a forecast generation of 224,286 kWhr, supply electricity straight to the building for immediate use. Any extra power is then used to charge the 100 kW /170 kWh battery, which will automatically supply the building with power when there is a dip in energy production from the solar array, such as at night. This ensures a continuous supply and no interruptions to business. If more electricity is still needed, power can be drawn down directly from the grid to supply both the building and the battery as required. The battery can also charge itself from the grid at times when the tariff is at its cheapest, in a process called peak shaving. Any excess power generated from the solar array can be exported back to the grid to off-set any costs of doing this.

Producing renewable energies that can meet the demand and easily be integrated in the building design is a crucial part of the strategy. But these technologies must also be economically viable for developers in the first place. At present, constructing a new building which successfully generates its own renewable energy requires greater upfront investment than simply connecting to the grid.

Nonetheless, as the old adage goes, this is a marathon not a sprint, and it is essential to think about the medium to long term cost benefits. The final blog in our series looks in detail at the business case behind Hub 69, and reminds us of the hidden costs we face if we don’t change.

[1] http://www.worldgbc.org/worldgreenbuildingweek

[2] https://about.bnef.com/new-energy-outlook/

[3] https://www.ft.com/content/b62b356e-2d10-11e6-bf8d-26294ad519fc

TRIAS ENERGETICA: BIG PHRASE, SIMPLE CONCEPT

The UK Green Building Council reports that approximately half of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions is generated by the fossil fuels consumed in the construction, operation and maintenance of our buildings[1]. It is a similar picture around the world too, with the global built environment responsible for around 35% of global energy consumption and contributing 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions[2].

It is clear that the construction industry needs to become a key player in the fight against climate change. And a good place to start is by applying the principles of Trias Energetica.

The Magic Number

Developed by the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands in 1979, the Trias Energetica model offers a logical, three-step guide for tackling energy sustainability in the building sector:

  1. First, reduce demand through energy efficiency measures and minimising energy waste.
  2. Then, supply as much of the demand as possible through renewable sources such as wind, water and solar energy.
  3. Finally, supply any remaining demand as responsibly as possible through the efficient production and use of fossil fuels.

Throughout the next couple of blogs in this series, we will be taking a closer look at each of these steps and how they can be applied effectively, beginning with reducing demand.

Fabric First

Following the Trias Energetica concept, the first step is to create a building envelope which reduces the amount of energy needed to heat or cool it, commonly known as taking a fabric first approach. Of course, a well-designed energy efficient building takes into consideration both fabric performance and the use of renewable energy. However, the starting point should always be improvements to the thermal performance of buildings, which will help to reduce demand in the first instance, and then keep delivering energy savings over the long-term with little or no maintenance. This can result in both long-term energy and building management costs being minimised.

The principle of taking a fabric-first approach is well recognised, whether you are refurbishing an existing building or constructing something new. A highly-insulated building envelope is created using high performance materials, with carefully constructed junctions to minimise air-leakage and therefore unnecessary heat loss. For fabric-first schemes to meet their potential, it is critical that they’re deployed as part of a holistic, quality-controlled package by qualified installers. Poor attention to areas such as the jointing, detailing and ventilation during the installation stage can undercut a building’s final fabric performance and energy waste-reduction.

Insulated panel systems, often also referred to as sandwich or composite panels, are an ideal solution for fabric first applications. The product combines a metal façade, insulation and waterproofing in a single panel which can be fixed directly to the structural frame. The systems offer excellent levels of thermal performance from a slim construction whilst the precision jointing can help to create highly airtight building contractions. They also have additional onsite benefits, especially where access to a site is limited. Issues such as site delivery, transport, storage, waste and project timescales can all be managed better, helping to cut overall costs. They often come with guarantee too, providing peace of mind.

Thinking long-term, by taking a fabric first approach for both new and existing buildings, developers and owners can essentially ‘futureproof’ their investments. The energy efficiency of a building with high fabric performance can be enhanced further later down the line through the implementation of improved building services, or the addition of renewable technologies.

Starting at Home

In 2011, Kingspan Group set out to become a Net Zero Company by 2020. In the words of our Building Technology Director, Mark Harris, this means “that our energy use is minimised through maximising energy efficiency measures, all energy consumed must come from renewable sources on an aggregated basis across the manufacturing estate, and as far as possible should be self-generated.” Whilst in the beginning it seemed a daunting task, we are well on track to achieve this goal, having already reduced our carbon intensity by 35% and energy costs by 23%[3].

How have we done this? By applying the Trias Energetica concept.

As manufacturers of high performance insulation and insulated building elements, we understand how to use a fabric-first approach to create extremely thermally efficient buildings (and where we can get the right materials for the job!). We’ve taken every opportunity we can to exploit this in-house expertise, both to upgrade our existing facilities and to inform the design of new ones.

We don’t just leave it there. From simply implementing a ‘lights off’ policy to undertaking surveys of air flows around buildings to identify where heating savings can be made, energy-efficiency saving opportunities in all aspects of our energy use are explored and employed where possible across all our sites.

Next week, we will take a closer look at renewable energy and how it can be used effectively on both new and existing buildings.

[1] http://www.ukgbc.org/resources/additional/key-statistics-construction-industry-and-carbon-emissions

[2] http://www.ukgbc.org/resources/additional/key-statistics-international

[3] https://www.kingspan.com/group/what-we-do/sustainability/net-zero-energy

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.