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Kirsty Hammond, editor of Specifier Review looks at how far we have come towards sustainable construction.

It’s a well-known fact that we are in the midst of a housing crisis.  With environmental concerns evident, the pressure is on to not only to build quickly and efficiently, but to do so with energy efficiency and sustainability at the forefront of our minds.

But whilst we desperately need the ‘homes of the future’, we don’t have to wait for the solutions and technologies that can help ensure that these homes are much more sustainable than previously.

With advances in technology, research in sustainable materials and new building processes available, we have already come a long way …

There are multiple benefits from the offsite construction process as several articles have already focused on The Hub, including this one focusing on a recent event with George Clarke, where he calls on the industry to “stop building in fields”.

Wastage is minimised as the required building materials can be more accurately calculated, therefore saving money – which has to be good news in a tough economic climate.

Working offsite in a factory also delivers a controlled environment which improves working conditions for those involved. 

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 by Ellina Webb ~ Senior Marketing Executive at Mitsubishi Electric

With researchers estimating that 2% of deadly skin cancer cases in Britain affect people working outdoors, Ellina Webb revisits a previous Hub article and looks further into how HVAC installers and construction worker can protect themselves during the summer.

In the HVAC industry there are numerous types of job roles and functions that require work to be undertaken in an outside environment. In fact from a contractor delivering and installing a system to a technician maintaining outdoor units, working outside affects almost everyone who is involved in building services and the built environment.

What’s more, for those who do work outside, research has shown that they are at a significant higher risk of getting skin cancer due to high exposure to UV rays and chemicals. In fact, unlike those who work in other outdoor occupations like agriculture, construction workers especially are at a high risk of skin cancer, highlighting how our industry needs to sit up and take action.

So aside from mitigating the risks on site when it comes to summer safety (wearing appropriate clothing, gloves, shoes and goggles) and avoiding heat stress (stay hydrated), what can you do to limit your exposure to harmful rays?

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Mitsubishi Electric’s commitment to reducing the impact of air conditioning on the environment has been recognised at the recent edie sustainability awards. The company’s R32 Hybrid VRF won the edie Low Carbon Initiative of the Year Award at the finalist’s award ceremony in London.

“As the only provider of a large scale VRF air conditioning unit using R32 refrigerant it is a real honour to be recognised by the edie sustainability awards,” said Mark Grayston, Product Marketing Department Manager at Mitsubishi Electric. “As a company we strive to deliver products that have a minimal impact on the environment, while delivering maximum efficiency and comfort for customers.”

The unique City Multi R32 Hybrid VRF is the only VRF-type solution able to utilise the low GWP of R32 refrigerant. Mitsubishi Electric has long been a pioneer in the world of air conditioning and this unique product range puts the company at the forefront of the industry, and ahead of the on-going Phase Down of high-GWP refrigerant systems. This innovation has also been recognised by CIBSE (the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers) where the City Multi R32 Hybrid VRF was a finalist in the Building Performance Awards in the Products and Innovations category.

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James Latham has expanded its solid surface offering to include both the Avonite® and STUDIO Collection® brands.

Designed and developed in the US by Aristech Surfaces LLC, these latest additions compliment perfectly Latham’s existing added-value product portfolio which has been developed with the specification market in mind.

With 65 striking colours in the range, Avonite® is the only product in the solid surface market made with a double-belt technology and a thermal cure, ensuring a series of benefits including: versatile product width, impeccable colour consistency and a better manufacturing precision with narrower thickness tolerance and eco-friendly manufacturing.  It is used in architectural and design applications across numerous sectors including hospitality, retail, education, government, transportation, public and living spaces, healthcare and commercial workspace.

The STUDIO Collection® is a translucent, customisable ‘patented composite blend’, with 29 attractive designs in nine decorative colour groups: Venato, Recycled, Movement, Crystelles, Sea Glass, Element, Glass, Metallics and Petals.  Most of these groups can be backlit with dramatic effect and are therefore perfectly suited for prestigious and high-impact applications for example reception desks and sales counters within retail or hospitality environments.

Rob Goodman, Solid Surface and Specification Manager, James Latham said, “Available in a wide range of striking designs and colours, both of these collections are highly customisable and can be tailored to almost any shape and any environment and they have really bolstered our solid surface offering.

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According to health and safety guidelines, employers have a duty of care to ensure that all equipment is in good condition, and that all workers are trained in its use. This includes any Easi-Dec equipment.

If you are an employer, you need to make sure your Easi-Dec is safe to use at all times. Are your gates and legs in good order? Have some of the parts gone missing? When was the last time your system was inspected for damage?

At Easi-Dec safety is our top priority, and to that end, we are offering an annual audit (inspection) of any Easi-Dec equipment you have.

For just £185+VAT, one of our trained specialists will come to your site and inspect your Easi-Dec equipment for faults and damage, and check that it is still in safe working order.

Like an MOT on your vehicle, we will inspect the equipment to ensure the safety of the user and the public alike, leaving you feeling confident you are working from a safe platform.

We also offer training for all employees on how to use our platforms safely, so make sure you take advantage.

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Specifier Review by Kirsty Hammond - 2d ago

Ladders are a vital part of many work at height tasks, but also contribute to a large percentage of work at height injury statistics.

In general, ladders are best used when a risk assessment has shown that using equipment offering a higher level of fall protection is not justified because of the low risk and short duration of use, or when there are existing workplace features which cannot be altered.

Ladders should only be utilised in situations where they can be used safely, such as where the ladder will be level and stable, and where it is reasonably practicable to do so, the ladder can be secured.

If these general rules are followed, you are unlikely to run into trouble when using ladders, however, there is another important factor to remember: proper inspection and maintenance of your ladder.

A ladder that is not inspected and deemed fit for use regularly can lead to serious problems for the unlucky soul who uses it. However, by following a few simple inspection guidelines, you can make sure that your ladders are safe to use.

Ladder inspection guidelines

A detailed visual inspection should be carried out regularly by a competent person.

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When choosing the best cavity weep to suit a project, one should consider the exposure and the finish of the elevation. Choosing a weep that offers sufficient outflow to service the masonry absorption area is essential, whilst aesthetically the appearance of the building should not be adversely affected.

Brickwork and stonework can normally accommodate weeps within the perp joints, and selection of an appropriate weep colour (or a weep manufactured in suitably translucent material) can result in the outlet merging with the mortar shade. Rendered surfaces are another matter – does one omit weeps in the hope and anticipation the render will prevent penetration of all water, or does one make some provision – so a discharge route is in place should it be required during the life of the building?

Whilst render may be water resistant when new, during the life of a building all rendered surfaces are susceptible to fissures and cracks. These can occur anywhere throughout the rendered area, as well as at junctions with alternative finishes and window/door openings. Therefore building-in a means for water to escape always makes sense, with the accompanying caveat they should ideally be unnoticeable!

Water penetrating a rendered surface can initiate five major deficiencies:

1)        Damp banding and patching will manifest where arrested water pools on the DPC tray / lintel.

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Good habits start young – which is why top-rated Bramhope primary school in Bramhope, Leeds is introducing hands on cooking lessons for its pupils. When they heard of the project, Harrogate based Nest Kitchens who specialise in bespoke furniture decided they would like to be involved.

“Every year at Nest Kitchens we like to get involved in a community project, giving a chance for a local charity or community project to get something done that they would not necessarily have the time or budget to complete themselves. An opportunity arose earlier this year to support our local primary school who are striving to bring back hands on cooking lessons for their children,” says Nest founder Holly Simpson.

“Having taken a brief from the school, we have designed a fully functional kitchen that can be easily and safely used by the children. The kitchen will allow the school to regularly provide cookery lessons to the children empowering them to cook and create. The lessons will help to promote healthy eating, measuring ingredients will provide a fun maths lesson and mixing and cooking ingredients will show science in action! Thanks to the additional support of many of our suppliers, we are able to provide this to the school free of charge.”

Bushboard was delighted to become involved when Nest chose recently launched Evolve solid core worksurfaces for the scheme.

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Specifier Review by Kirsty Hammond - 6d ago

In a small secluded village not far from Newport an unusual planning permission was granted by the City Council.

Manic Street Preachers, the Welsh born band were unusually planning to convert a cottage into their new recording studio.

The planning permission was granted but with some unusual conditions. The cottage was to be used solely between the hours of 9am and 10pm during the week and before the band could begin the creative process the site was to undergo a series of soundproofing measures to ensure all nearby properties were not disturbed by the noise pollution.

Terry Norman, Acoustics Specifier from Trim Acoustics was contacted by the band to visit the secluded site.

They soon settled on a plan that involved using an acoustic blocker – Maxiboard, manufactured by Sound Reduction Systems Limited.

Maxiboard is an extremely high performance and versatile soundproofing board designed to be used much like plasterboard. It can be installed directly onto timber studwork, masonry or existing plaster. Maxiboard can be used to Meet Part E of the Building Regulations or just to improve comfort in a domestic situation, such as noisy neighbours.

Unbeknown to all around them, in both secrecy and confidentiality the Manic Street Preachers successfully recorded their new album!

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Climate change has become one of the most important environmental and social issues of the past decades, and thus mankind also faces its crucial challenges in 2019. The building industry has a special responsibility in this question, as the built environment is a great strain on the natural environment and is responsible for 23% of the world’s carbon-dioxide emissions. Besides the 11th point (Sustainable Cities and Communities) of the 17 target fields of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, other points of this document also relate to the building industry. This means that it is crucial that participants of the sector become committed to active participation in the relevant fields. Professionals of the Hungarian sustainable building industry’s leading company group, Paulinyi-Reith & Partners, have collected the most important trends in green architecture in 2019, which support the battle against climate change on the part of the building industry.

In 2018 trends have become more transparent, taking into account the effects of the building industry both on people and the environment, and reacting to these effects with the help of innovative technologies and architectural solutions. Green architectural solutions will gain a stronger emphasis in 2019, and this is also strengthened by new regulations and changing client needs.

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