Sustainability Wins Gold

By Mark Pointer.

In the wake of the recent delivery of an astounding and successful Olympic games and the excitement surrounding the Paralympics, London and Great Britain alike are basking in glory. Praise and acclaim continue to resound throughout the world from those who participated, attended and watched the London 2012 Games.

However the eyes of the world will now begin to scrutinise the key underlying ideology of London 2012: the legacy of the games.

The legacy of sustainability

A crucial element of this legacy is the sustainability. It has been well publicised during the construction of the Olympic Park that many of the buildings were designed as temporary or partly temporary structures and would be taken down after the primary use in order to be relocated and re-used elsewhere in Great Britain or indeed the world.

This ensures that the maximum life benefit will be achieved from stadia designed for specialist sports, also ensuring that those stadia intended to be permanent are able to be downsized to more manageable spectator levels for future use.

Hence this is the reason why the majority of these structures were constructed from steel, the only material able to provide this level of flexibility.

For those who visited or indeed passed through London throughout the games they will have noticed that the skyline of the capital has changed recently, most notably the with the addition of new high rise buildings such as, The Shard and The Heron building joining the now famous Gherkin or Swiss Re Tower and Tower 42, in the city Skyline.  Then at the centre of the City of London Financial district, the skyline will soon be changing again with the addition of the, “Cheese Grater” and the, “Walkie Talkie” buildings.

Total Life Costing

As with the Olympic Park all of these buildings have been designed with ‘Total Life Cost’, building function and sustainability as core design principals. Consequently, these buildings are made of steel frames with composite steel deck floors to allow for the potential for adjusting the building function during its life.  This also maximises the potential for recycling these large structures at the end of their life. Both these factors are of key importance on total building cost and influence the sustainability impact of a project.

Recycling

Recycling normally means that the hot-rolled steel framework is taken apart and re-located to another site for a new building; the secondary, cold-rolled steel can be unbolted and sent for smelting and finally the insulated panel envelope can be recycled by separating the steel skins from the foam and both parts sent to recycling centres.

With the advent of Building Information Modelling software or B.I.M. for short, the ability to design a building and control its design, construction, life cost and end of life is now a reality and will continue to gain influence within the building design sector.

These factors are of core importance to the development of the Kingspan portfolio, in terms of both product range and software support technology.  We are heavily involved in the development of B.I.M and have led the field for many years with the sustainability of our products.

The Olympics provide more than sporting inspiration

The Olympics should hopefully inspire a new sporting generation, but I imagine that many industries who were involved in the Games will also see benefits in some form.  For the Construction industry this focus on recycling and re-use of whole buildings and building materials is a fantastic, practical example of what can be achieved when Sustainability is a core objective at the planning stages. 

Mark Pointer, Sales Manager for Kingspan Structural Products

Mark.pointer@kingspan.com

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