National construction equipment hire and services provider Speedy has further increased its ECO tool range by investing in 1,800 new Hilti cut off saws, which help to reduce waste and embodied carbon in its fleet while boosting availability of core tools UK wide.

The new DSH 600-X model is designed to operate for four years, compared to the two-year lifespan of an average cut off saw used in construction. The saws have a disposal rate of 99.7%, meaning that almost all the product can be recycled and reused at its end of life or incinerated to generate energy.

Hilti will also provide repair support for the hire provider’s assets to help maximise the tools’ lifespan while keeping stock availability high for Speedy customers. The models are suited for laying paving, masonry work, metalwork and construction applications.

Key product features include the saws producing 36% less vibration and faster blade stop than the main competitor, reducing the risk of exposure to hand arm vibration syndrome, fatigue, and other injuries. The saw can also cut deeper, has a 120mm cutting depth on a 300mm blade, with a water pump to minimise dust intake by the operator. This means more productivity, less equipment waste and reduced costs.

Andy Connor, supply chain director at Speedy, said: “Cut off saws are our bread-and-butter, being a tool that’s so regularly used on any typical construction site. It’s crucial that we always have good availability of these core products to help keep contractors’ projects moving.

“The Hilti saw delivers a competitive spec-sheet for our customers, while helping us to deliver on our environmental ambitions. Equipment that works into the circular economy has less embodied carbon from the extraction and processing of raw materials used in the manufacturing process, while creating less waste. Expanding our fleet with more recyclable and long-life equipment forms a major part of our strategy to become a net-zero company before 2050.”

The saws are now available to hire through Speedy’s four-hour delivery service.

Speedy is the UK’s leading provider of tools, equipment and plant hire services to a wide range of customers in the construction, infrastructure and industrial markets, as well as to local trade and consumers. It operates from 200 sites across the UK and Ireland.

For more information, visit: https://www.speedyservices.com/

 

AMA Research has found that the market for offsite housing is estimated to have increased by 6% at manufacturers sales prices, although this is lower than the 2019 estimate of 12%. This is due to the impact of the pandemicthroughout 2020 which caused a decline of around 11% due to the huge disruptive nature from distribution issues and site closures at the peak of restrictions.

Many areas will be responsible for the demand in offsite housing construction. There is still an ongoing shortage of homes, especially across England. We must also look towards the continued decline in numbers of key skilled trades and professionals. On the plus side there has been an increase in the capacity for offsite housing manufacturing as well as the number of systems with quality assurance.

The availability of quality assurance and warranties for offsite housing systems is key to growth especially considering the broad lack of which has up to this point been a barrier. There has been an increase recently in the number of firms and propriety offsite housing systems which are obtaining BOPAS certification and/or NHBC or other provider warranties.

A key area to look at will be where offsite methods are particularly well suited, for example large scalebuild to rent and affordable housing developments. Both of which see an urgency to accelerate the build times and increase the rate of completions. Offsite construction will make a significant contribution.

Alex Blagden, Senior Market Research Analyst at AMA Research and editor of the Offsite Housing Report comments “Offsite construction is key to accelerating the development of affordable homes, both social housing and build for sale properties. Many factors are driving up both demand and supply, among the most important being the urgent need to increasing affordable housing supply; a chronic shortage of skilled ‘wet’ trades; an increase in offsite housing manufacturing capacity and an increase in the number of firms and proprietary off-site housing systems obtaining BOPAS (Build off-site Property Assurance Scheme) certification and or NHBC or other providers warranties.”

Where timber frame has always taken the majority share in the offsite construction market, there will now be growth in demand and the use of volumetric and closed panel systems. Particularly as there are now several large factories that have recently started operation. These factories are capable of producing 2,000+ units per year.

The construction sector has seen a significant amount of progress in Building Safety over the last 12 months and to give some perspective on how things have changed, Simon LewisMichelle Essen and Ryan Lavers from Womble Bond Dickinson look at the biggest leaps forward in 2021; and have also cast an eye towards 2022 to consider what we can expect next.

Building Safety Bill

The most talked about legislative development in 2021 was the steady progress of the Building Safety Bill, which was officially laid before Parliament in July. While it was based in large part on the draft that was circulated for comment in 2020 and was therefore in many respects already familiar, its provisions are being increasingly scrutinised in its passage through Parliament.

The Bill’s proposed changes are considerable, and include:

  • more-than-doubling the limitation period for bringing a claim for breach of s.1 Defective Premises Act 1972 (DPA). This requires residential buildings to be habitable and built in a professional or workmanlike manner with proper materials. The Bill increases that limitation period from 6 to 15 years – and it would apply prospectively (going forward) and also retrospectively, meaning that claims that are currently time-barred would become an option again,
  • inserting a brand new s.2A into the DPA, which would extend the DPA to cover subsequent building works (as s.1 only covers the original construction of the building), with a limitation period of 15 years prospectively,
  • bringing s.38 Building Act 1984 into force, to allow claims for damage caused by breach of Building Regulations, with a limitation period of 15 years prospectively,
  • establishing a new Building Safety Regulator (BSR), and
  • creating a new “duty-holders” regime – where duty-holders would have greater responsibility to explain how they are managing safety risks and to show the BSR that a building is safe for occupation. Duty-holders would include existing duty-holders under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, such as (Principal) Contractors, (Principal) Designers, and the Client.

As we have said before, we are still just at the start of our journey with the Building Safety Bill. The effects of the changes it will bring and its impact on industry, including around risk and insurance, are hot topics of discussion which we explored with industry leaders recently.

In the meantime, the Bill continues to make its way through Parliament, and is expected to receive Royal Assent in 2022.

It is worth reiterating though that the Bill when it becomes law will have a more limited effect in Scotland, which has its own building and fire safety regime.

Fire Safety Act 2021

The Fire Safety Bill, which we have considered before, was given Royal Assent in April, becoming the Fire Safety Act 2021.

It was not smooth progress into law for the Bill, as the House of Lords requested leaseholder protection on three separate occasions because it wanted building owners to be responsible for the costs of remedial works, or a system of government grants or loans in place if leaseholders were to bear the cost of repairs themselves.

In the end, the Act did not take this leaseholder protection into account, and instead it is possible for building owners to pass the costs of fire safety works onto leaseholders via increased service charges or similar.

Again, the position in Scotland is different, as the Fire Safety Act only applies to England and Wales.

Cladding Remediation – Government Funds

The Building Safety Fund (BSF) of £1bn, which was set up in 2020, has continued to provide support in 2021 to help landlords who own residential buildings of 18m or more in height to remove unsafe non-aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding.  The aim of this fund is to protect leaseholders from the cost of these remediation works through increased rent payments or service charges.

2021 also saw a brand new fund created – the Waking Watch Relief Fund – to provide an additional £30m for applicants to the BSF to fund waking watch (i.e. building patrols to detect fire), since the cost of fire alarms are not covered by the BSF funding.  This fund was announced in December 2020 and opened for applications in January 2021. £22m of the £30m available was to be spent in cities where private-sector buildings were deemed most at risk due to their prevalence of built-up areas (namely Greater London, Greater Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Newcastle and Bristol), with the remaining £8m planned for other private-sector buildings in England plus all social-sector housing over 18m . The fund closed in April, reopened in May to distribute unused funding, and then closed again in June.

It is also worth noting that in the Autumn Budget, the Chancellor said “we’re also confirming £5bn to remove unsafe cladding from the highest risk buildings partly funded by the Residential Property Developers Tax”. We know about that Tax but details about what constitutes the rest of that funding is still awaited.

Changes to Planning Permission Requirements

The Hackitt Report’s recommendations included the addition of several “Gateways” to check that newly designed buildings are safe for residents to live in.

In August 2021, Gateway One came into force, in the form of new planning requirements.  Now high-rise developers must consider fire safety in new developments at the planning permission stage, to be evidenced as a part of the planning permission process through the submission of a fire statement. Local authorities are expected to engage with the Health and Safety Executive when reviewing the fire statements provided by developers, but this role is expected to be taken over by the new BSR when it is operational.

Gateways Two and Three under the Building Safety Bill will be before the building works start and when the building works are completed respectively, and are anticipated to come into force around late 2023.

What to look out for in 2022

We anticipate a number of other significant developments in building safety in 2022:

  • Phase 2 Grenfell Inquiry – despite delays due to COVID-19, the Phase 2 hearings continued in 2021. So even with the new Omicron variant, we expect that the hearings will continue in one form or another in 2022. At the moment, the hearings are expected to finish in the Summer, with the Phase 2 report potentially being published at the end of 2022.
  • A new tax – between April and July 2021, the Government ran a consultation on a new Residential Property Developer Tax on residential property developers’ profits above £25m p.a., to raise £2bn (over 10 years) towards remediating unsafe cladding in residential buildings over 18m. Draft legislation was then published for industry comment between September and October 2021.  In the Chancellor’s budget in October 2021, he referred to the Residential Property Developers Tax saying, “I can confirm [it] will be levied on developers with profits over £25m at a rate of 4%”. This is set to apply from 1 April 2022.
  • A new levy – as part of the Building Safety Bill, a new Building Safety Levy is being proposed on developers of certain high-rise buildings at “Gateway Two” (the seeking of regulatory permission to construct high-rise buildings). A consultation on this levy ran from July to October 2021, seeking industry input on the design and structure of the levy, timings for implementing it, and any potential impacts on the supply of housing which may result from it. An update on the outcome of this consultation is expected in 2022.
  • Building Safety Bill – as mentioned above, Royal Assent is expected in 2022, with changes to the limitation periods under the DPA and Building Act expected to follow shortly after.

For more anticipated changes see Womble Bond Dickinson’s Building Safety Timeline and for more information about Building Safety, visit the firm’s rebuild Hub.

The country started 2021 in lockdown and once unleashed from restrictions the economy began to recover at pace, however, supply chain challenges, including delays, shortages and rising costs have added pressure, even at a time when output is rising again. Simon Rowland, Partner and Head of Construction and Engineering and Michelle Essen, Managing Associate, at law firm Womble Bond Dickinson, take a look at the events of 2021 and the potential challenges and opportunities that the sector could be presented with in 2022.

There is no doubt that 2021 has been a tough year for the construction industry. Global disruption from the pandemic, Brexit and environmental disasters have left their mark on the sector. In the latest ONS figures, construction outputs fell for the third month in a row. Figures for July and August slumped back to their lowest point since February, hitting 58.7 on the UK index – a sharp reduction from the 24 years high of 66.3 in June.

With the sector at an apparent impasse and sustainability increasingly high on the global agenda, Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) look more and more likely to be a key part in addressing the struggles faced by the construction industry. In the face of such a dramatic drop in productivity, industry heavyweights are putting their stakes on MMC. For example, volume housebuilder Barratt has reported that 25 per cent of the 12,243 homes built by the end of its most recent financial year used MMC. As 2021 draws to a close, it’s time to consider new construction solutions for a new world.

Brexit and supply chain issues

In January 2020, we saw the UK finally leave the European Union almost four years after the Brexit referendum. While the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement has protected trades from any further tariffs, additional red tape and border checks have inevitably slowed down the movement of construction supplies.

Given that 80 per cent of timber used in the UK is imported, wildfires and insect damage in supplier countries such as Canada and Sweden have also had a detrimental impact on stock.

The shortage of materials has resulted in a price hike that cannot be underestimated. The Timber Price Index hit 92.13 in May 21 Trade Federation (TTF) reported that timber prices surged by 50 per cent between January and May 2021. Add to that, the October 2021 data from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)showed that structural steel costs were 72.6 per cent higher than the year previous, and in November we saw steel prices increase for the seventh time in 2021. With these and other shortages across the board, it’s a perfect storm for disruption in an industry built on tight margins.

While MMC is not the silver bullet to addressing the materials crisis and certainly not a short-term solution for everyone, MMC’s added benefits of less waste and less weather damage could clearly help the industry.

Housing crisis

The UK housing crisis is reaching fever pitch, with house prices rising faster than every other economic metric. The government itself has saidthat “a significant proportion of homes must be built using modern methods of construction (MMC) if we are to meet the target to deliver 300,000 homes annually”. Areas such as the South East of England in particular are in desperate need of housing, but lack the local skilled workforces required to carry out onsite construction.

MMC presents an opportunity to tackle the housing crisis in key areas of the country, while at the same time supporting local communities in different areas of the country through investment in MMC manufacturing sites, thus aiding the “levelling up” agenda.

Skills shortage

In June 2021, the ONS reported that the number of EU workers seeking jobs in the UK has dropped by 17 per cent.

But unlike the supply issues, the UK’s skills shortage began long before the UK’s departure from the EU. In 2018, the ONS reported that construction had fallen out of the list of top 10 jobs for people aged 22-29.

MMC has the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs for UK workers – it is estimated that if 75,000 modular homes are constructed per year it could create 50,000 new jobs. The challenge, however, lies in attracting new talent to the industry and keeping workers engaged. The solution to this may be to appeal to a younger, increasingly environmentally conscious workforce, who wants to make a positive contribution to society in a sustainable industry. MMC offers a route to greener buildings, and this could make the sector more attractive to younger workers.

Move to sustainability

2021 has been the year of sustainability. As we strive for a green recovery, electric vehicles, plant-based industries, renewable energy technologies and more have been at the forefront of both government and industry objectives for the future. Momentum has grown throughout the year, gathering pace in the lead up to COP26. This represents a major global shift towards reducing CO2 emissions to protect the planet.

As we embark on a decade of climate action, MMC has an opportunity to fill a gap in the housing market for homes that contribute to Net Zero targets. MMC enables geographical fluidity which then contributes to a reduction of on-site pollution levels and material waste. It bolsters the argument for focusing on a method of building with a lower environmental impact.

Looking ahead to 2022

Michelle Essen, Managing Associate, PDL, Construction and Engineering, Womble Bond Dickinson

What can we expect for the construction industry in 2022?

2022 for the construction industry is likely to bring the continued development of many of the themes mentioned above.

MMC will remain high on the agenda, with continued investment and learnings by the industry. There will be further discussions around how to incentivise increased use of MMC, part of which will be driven also by the need to standardise MMC so it is more easily and more widely adoptable.

Materials and labour and skills shortages are here to stay for the immediate future. It will take time for the dust to settle on materials shortages, for the industry to work out how to increase efficiencies and reduce waste, and to find new or alternative supply chains or materials. For labour and skills shortages, it will take time for training to take place to increase the number of HGV drivers, for apprentices to become qualified, and for the industry to attract younger talent. While the conversations around these issues will continue, positive steps are being taken – but the pace of change will depend on how quickly we learn from each other around what works (or doesn’t work), and how we share those learnings.

Net zero will increasingly be at the forefront of business’ minds, not just in the construction industry but across the board. Businesses which are not pure construction businesses will increasingly look to the construction industry to help them meet their Net Zero objectives. The conversation will also widen from Net Zero to ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance).

Finally, we will be hearing a lot more about building safety, as the Building Safety Bill is likely to be given Royal Assent next year, the new Residential Property Developer Tax will apply from April 2022, and outcomes from the Grenfell Inquiry start to filter through. These will bring significant changes for the construction industry and difficult but necessary conversations will flow from these.

All of the above are interdependent – building safety and Net Zero are all relevant to ESG. ESG will include looking at how our workforce is made up, for example from a diversity and inclusion perspective and the more diverse and inclusive the industry is, the more likely it is to attract young workers and new talent. This is turn will help address the skills and labour shortage. Skills and labour are needed to help physically deliver materials, to innovate solutions around materials shortages, and to deliver on MMC. MMC can then help businesses deliver on ESG through less waste, lower embodied carbon processes, and increased safety.

While we know the last couple of years in the construction industry have been tough, we can see the virtuous circle here, and a lot of potential for the year to come.

For more information on Womble Bond Dickinson’s rebuild Britain campaign, visit www.womblebonddickinson.com/rebuild-britain.

CITB’s annual migration report has revealed that the number of migrant workers in construction continues to fall significantly. The fall comes at a time when construction is experiencing a sharp rise in the cost of materials, wages, and an increase in demand for workers, Migration in UK Construction 2021 found.

The CITB said that with output growth at its highest level in almost 25 years, the industry is finding it difficult to cope. This is partly due to the number of construction workers who left the UK since the EU Freedom of Movement ended.  Additional pressures experienced because of the pandemic have seen even greater numbers leave and not return. These factors coupled with the surge in demand since Covid-19 restrictions have eased have left the industry under pressure.

Key findings from the research showed:

  • The number of migrant workers in the UK construction industry fell by 8.3% in 2020, with 25,000 fewer workers in the sector than in 2019. However, this is in the context of the whole industry shrinking by a similar percentage
  • Over the last three years the number of migrants working in construction has fallen by 15%, from over 326,000 to just 280,000, the equivalent of one in every seven migrant workers leaving the sector
  • ONS data shows year-on-year wage rises, including bonuses and arrears peaked at +15.1% nationwide in May 2021, and continued to record an above average +6% in September 2021, against a whole economy reading of +4%, supporting anecdotal evidence that labour shortages are driving up prices
  • In London, which has the highest concentration of migrant construction workers in the UK – where half of the workforce are migrant workers – the number fell by 15%, from 145,000 in 2019, to 125,000 in 2020.

The research found that many employers are simply not engaging with the Points Based Immigration System (PBIS) licence scheme to enable them to hire non-UK born workers, particularly SMEs. In addition, several large and medium sized employers were concerned that some skilled trades were not accessible through the skilled worker visa including dryliners, asbestos workers and insulators.

One construction employer in the south-east of England told researchers: “The impact will be that I can’t take on as many jobs and I’ve got to let my clients down. I’ve already turned down three jobs this week, and we never turn away work…I think that’s going to be the reality going forward.”

Steve Radley, Director of Policy at CITB, said: “The transition out of the EU and into a new immigration system was always going to be difficult, and the pandemic and interrupted supplies of materials has intensified skills and cost pressures. We know that developing homegrown talent will be at the heart of addressing these skills challenges and that government is taking action to grow apprenticeships and to get more college students into construction jobs.

“Employer investment in key skill areas such as apprenticeships is recovering and should improve further in 2022. But for many, their struggle to deliver on the current workloads is hampering their ability to free up time to invest in training just when it’s most needed.”

Suzannah Nichol, Chief Executive of Build UK, said: “We welcomed the recent commitments in the Autumn Budget to improve skills and recruit talent, but these will all take time to come to fruition and we are being asked to build now, not in 12 months.

“To ensure the industry can continue to deliver the ambitious programme of infrastructure investment and development, it is vital that we have a Points-Based Immigration System that can respond rapidly to changing pressures, with a clear path for the industry to raise these with government.”

Alasdair Reisner, Chief Executive of CECA, said: “Our members continue to experience very challenging conditions for recruitment and retention of workers. The likely outcome of this will be that those areas that have historically had higher levels of migrant labour, and generally higher salaries, such as London and the South East, will now pull resource from the rest of the country, exacerbating skills difficulties nationwide.”

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: “The fall in the number of construction migrant workers over the last three years is not surprising and helps to explain why many small construction companies have had to turn down jobs because of the lack of available workers. At a time of rising demand in the construction sector it is imperative that more home-grown talent is developed. Unfortunately, this is not an easy fix which is why the building industry will continue to experience an on-going skills problem over many years.”

The full report can be found here – Migration in UK Construction 2021.pdf

Arcadis has issued an updated tender price forecast for 2021, with inflationary pressures on buildings expected to peak at between 4% – 6% in London (4% – 5% regionally), and with increases of 5% – 6% in infrastructure. As inflationary pressures escalate, this latest upgrade reflects the extent to which the spotlight has moved from raw materials as the main cost inflation driver, to energy costs.

The analysis comes courtesy of Arcadis’ latest Autumn 2021 Market View, entitled ‘Lift Off’. The quarterly analysis of the UK construction market looks across sectors and regions to deliver a tender price forecast to inform clients about what is going on in UK construction, helping financial decision making for projects and programmes.

The inflationary pressures that began to accelerate at the end of Q2 show no signs of fading, and there has been a rapid lift-off in costs during the second half of 2021. This is forecast to continue into next year. Overall, the outlook for construction remains positive and business confidence is strong. Output reached £46.2bn in Q3, which is in line with long-term trends dating back to 2016, while new orders for the first three quarters of 2021 were also well ahead of pre-COVID levels.

Increasing energy costs are bringing a second wave of inflation across a much wider range of construction materials.

Due to the high energy intensity involved in their manufacture, products such as bricks, glass, cement and concrete are particularly exposed. This is expected to have a much wider impact on prices than the raw materials boom, which mostly affected metals and timber. It is uncertain how the situation will unfold, not only across different sub-sectors but also regionally. Whilst certain sectors including private residential or industrial warehousing will continue to boom, other more price sensitive markets, like affordable housing, could see a slowdown in the market.

As a result:

  • Arcadis has upgraded its overall 2021 forecast, driven by a combination of ongoing inflationary factors around construction materials and logistics, together with the emergence of new pressures around energy costs.
  • Infrastructure is particularly exposed to the cost of materials, and so the forecast has been upgraded from 4% to 5-6% for 2021. But demand remains strong with multiple frameworks entering the procurement phase.
  • In 2022, the forecast upgrade is less pronounced, but inflation is still expected to be between 3-5%.
  • From 2023 onwards, the rate of growth in many sectors is expected to ease, with inflation falling back to 3% in London and regionally, and 5% for infrastructure.

Agnieszka Krzyzaniak, Market Intelligence Lead at Arcadis, said: “Continuing high output proves that the strength of the construction industry shows no signs of abating, and the recovery continues. Strong new orders data indicates that the demand is still there and, as such, prices are not likely to decrease anytime soon. Although we can expect the upward pressure on costs to start easing in 2022, elevated inflation rates will still remain a defining feature of the market. The difference is that it will be mainly driven by rising energy costs and, with the energy used in manufacturing materials translating into around a quarter of total construction costs, the sector is particularly vulnerable to any prolonged price increases.”

The full UK Autumn Market View is available to download here.

UK construction companies indicated a sharp increase in business activity during November, led by the fastest upturn in commercial work since July as clients continued to boost spending in response to the reopening of the UK economy. Commercial activity helped offset a slowdown in housebuilding and signs that the worst phase of supplier delays may have passed.

At 55.5 in November, up from 54.6 in October, the headline seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction PMI® Total Activity Index signalled a robust and accelerated expansion of overall construction activity. The index has now posted above the 50.0 no-change value for ten consecutive months and the latest reading pointed to the strongest rate of expansion since July.

Tim Moore, Director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey said: “November data highlighted a welcome combination of faster output growth and softer price inflation across the UK construction sector. Commercial building led the way as recovering economic conditions ushered in new projects, which helped compensate for the recent slowdown in house building. Major infrastructure work also boosted construction activity in November, as signalled by the fastest growth in the civil engineering category since August.

“Input price inflation remains extremely strong by any measure, but it has started to trend downwards after hitting multi-decade peaks this summer. The latest rise in purchasing costs was the slowest since April, helped by a gradual turnaround in supply chain disruption and a slight slowdown in input buying. Port congestion and severe shortages of haulage capacity were again the most commonly cited reasons for longer lead times for construction products and materials.”

Steve Plaskitt, Partner at MHA, believes that despite output rising, the sector faces multiple challenges with persistent materials and labour shortages, high inflation and a lack of government stimulus posing long term threats to the commercial and residential property sectors. He said: “The UK construction output increased in November, however shortages of labour and raw materials will continue to hamstring the UK’s construction sector. The impact of distribution issues to and from UK ports and the lack of availability of staff with middle range technical and manual skills are weakening output, with labour shortages becoming so problematic that firms are resorting to poaching staff from competitors to fill employee gaps.”

Duncan Brock, Group Director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, said: “Commercial orders were the strongest, picking up the slack from the subdued housing and civil engineering sectors and demonstrating that business confidence in the UK economy was improving.

“Adding to this positivity was signs of recovery in supply chain performance with just 47% of construction firms reporting longer waiting times, which is the smallest number for eight months. Even with this glimmer of hope that the pressure on deliveries was easing, purchasing remained at higher level to counteract disruptions from ongoing driver shortages and port delays as supply chain managers bought more than their immediate need.

“Job hiring growth was still maintained in November but was the weakest since March. Builder optimism was somewhat flat as the costs of building still remained high and firms struggled to stay competitive.”

 

A new cladding fire detection system from Cannock-based Intelliclad, that removes the requirement for waking watch patrols, has been installed at a residential development in Croydon.

Intelliclad is pioneering a new level of building safety by installing alarms into the combustible external façade of high-risk buildings to detect early symptoms of a fire, potentially saving residents thousands of pounds a month in waking watch bills until remediation work is carried out.

A 38 apartment building in Croydon, south London was the first building in the UK to have the new Intelliclad system installed in a bid to boost residents safety as the wait for cladding remediation works continue.

By having this installation carried out alongside implementation of Intelliclad’s internal fire alarm system – which conforms with BS 5839-1 L5 guidance – the building has been able to remove the need for Waking Watch. The cost of installation was covered by the government’s Waking Watch Relief Fund.

Ryan Brough, Head of Operations at Intelliclad, said:  “We have been working on Intelliclad since Grenfell, to try and stop a such a tragedy from ever occurring again. Recent research suggests 60% of high-rise façade fires since 2010 have started externally, so we believe the system we have developed is the strongest solution on the market, and the best option to replace the waking watch.

“By installing internally to BS5839-1 L5 as per the NFCC guidelines, and externally in conjunction with research on the behaviour of a fire when it is subjected to a combustible façade, Intelliclad provides leaseholders and buildings owners with the highest level of building safety whilst they wait for remediation of the façade to take place.”

The new building safety system has been tested by the Fire Protection Association on a specially constructed 10 metre wide and 9 metre high cladding at the Fire Service College. The sensors were activated six minutes and 33 seconds prior to cladding being breached by fire on the first test and 9 minutes, 47 seconds prior on the second.

Intelliclad  smoke and heat detection sensors are integrated into the external façade. The smart system can alert residents of a fire via sounders and a smartphone app before a fire has a chance to take hold, as well as activating a building’s main fire alarm system .

More Intelliclad installations are due to take place in Plymouth and  Bournemouth.

A new all-electric office scheme located in the heart of Belgravia is being developed by Grosvenor and without compromising on aesthetics, the space is set to become one of London’s most sustainable office buildings. Holbein Gardens plans to achieve net zero carbon in line with UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) Net Zero Carbon Buildings Framework and intends to become a best-in-class example of how to achieve a net zero carbon rating.

HDR, a multidisciplinary engineering consultancy, has been commissioned by property business Grosvenor to provide engineering services on Holbein Gardens. The HDR team was originally involved in overseeing the strip out of the building before being appointed as Mechanical, Electrical and Public Health (MEP), Vertical Transportation and Energy consultants. The firm are also currently involved in ensuring that the project will be Smart Building-enabled. The scheme is ongoing, with practical completion due to be reached by December 2022.

Originally dating back to the 1980s, the building, which is located between 1 Sloane Gardens and Tarnbrook Court in London’s Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, will be repurposed to provide a high quality, flexible and sustainable working environment. Alongside the restoration of the existing four levels, the project work will include an extension adding a fifth floor and roof terrace, bringing the size of the project to 25,000ft2.

The need to incorporate clean and renewable energy is integral to the scheme and HDR’s expert team of MEP and Energy consultants have been instrumental in ensuring that the building will achieve BREEAM Outstanding, WELL Gold and Wired Score Gold certifications, with aspirations for Platinum and Platinum ratings respectively. The scheme is also a NABERS pioneer project.

The all-electric building is an example of Grosvenor’s commitment to net zero and how innovative low carbon development can contribute to this goal, with 99.95% of strip out waste having been diverted from landfill and 98% of the full scheme. To further reduce waste, the scheme will use some of the industry’s most innovative sustainable products, challenging suppliers on recycled content and recyclability. The all-electric building will maximise heat pump technology lending itself to decarbonisation which, when compared to alternative options, will be beneficial for local air quality and help minimise air pollution.

The 100% electric endeavour will incorporate in-use energy efficiency enhanced through high efficiency lighting and mechanical equipment, on-site renewable energy generation, blue roof and rainwater harvesting system.

Adrian Gray, HDR’s Global Corporate (Office) & Commercial Director, said “Sustainability and biodiversity are at the heart of this project and a range of innovative materials and technologies have been used to guarantee the greatest positive impact. Cross laminated timber (CLT) has been used as an alternative to other less sustainable materials, helping to reduce carbon emissions, alongside the use of reclaimed steel work. New low embodied carbon products are also being trialled in the building, such as Thermalite aircrete blockwork and reclaimed access flooring.”

Holbein Gardens’ project team includes: Architect is Barr Gazetas; Main Contractor is Blenheim House Construction; M&E Contractor is Briggs & Forrester and M&E Engineer & Energy Consultant is HDR.

Speedy has become the first UK hire company to publicly commit to adopting science-based targets to achieve net zero carbon emissions before 2050, further enhancing their accountability focused leadership in sustainability.

Science-based targets (‘SBT’) provide a clearly defined pathway for companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, helping prevent the worst impacts of climate change and ensuring sustainable business growth.

An emissions target is considered ‘science-based’ if it is in line with the reductions needed to meet the global commitment under the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C. In the long term, reducing the carbon output of Speedy’s hire and vehicle fleet through the use of solar, hybrid, electric and hydrogen technology will help achieve this global goal.

Speedy’s targets will be verified by the Science Based Targets initiative and published, alongside the first year’s progress, over the coming financial year.

Alongside the SBT commitment, Speedy will also be joining the We Mean Business coalition and the United Nations Global Compact’s to accelerate an inclusive transition to a net zero economy.

The move to commit to an SBT reinforces the firm’s position on setting the pace in the UK hire sector in the drive to achieve net zero. It follows on the heels of other market-leading sustainability commitments including: trialling a number of electric delivery vehicles including two converted electric London taxis; a company car list that now consists almost entirely of hybrid and electric vehicles; launching the first 7-tonne Electra eStar rear-steer beavertail body truck in the UK (in partnership with Sterling GP); being the first hire provider to switch to fuelling powered access machinery exclusively with hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), and working closely with customers and suppliers to trial the use of hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO), reducing carbon emissions by up to 90%.

Speedy’s Chief Executive Russell Down said: “I am proud to announce that we are the first hire company in the UK to commit to net zero carbon emissions under science based targets before 2050. We are committing to this to challenge ourselves in a transparent and measurable way.”

“As a key enabler within the supply chain, our aim is to inspire confidence in our people, customers and supply chain partners by reducing the carbon output of our hire and vehicle fleet through the use of new technologies. We will be working collaboratively with all our stakeholders to deliver net-zero carbon within the industry.”