Kubota unveils the prototype KX019-4 LPG mini excavator at Bauma

Prototype is powered by a next generation Kubota Spark Ignition series engine and can run on LPG

Kubota, a leading manufacturer of construction machinery, today announces the reveal of the KX019-4 LPG (Liquid Petrol Gas) mini excavator prototype. This model can run on LPG and is powered by a next generation Kubota Spark Ignition series engine.

The new KX019-4 LPG makes it possible for users to work in emission restricted access areas such as cities applying diesel-bans, and also generates less noise emissions. Using the industrial standard gas bottles available everywhere, the machine is easily and quickly refuelled by replacing the bottle. The machine is equipped with a reserve tank (gas accumulator) so that the operator can notice before the gas bottle becomes empty.

The performance characteristics of KX019-4 LPG is exactly the same as the diesel powered KX019. The excavator’s undercarriage is variable, which allows operators to enter into areas with less than a metre of access. This machine does not compromise on the level of stability and security required due to an enlarged lower frame. Furthermore, the working range of KX019-4 LPG provides an operational amplitude and guarantees a maximum digging depth of over two and a half metres which is sufficient for urban applications.

The KX019-4 LPG has been unveiled at Bauma, the world’s leading construction machinery trade fair in Munich. Along with in market testing of this prototype model, Kubota will continue to research into alternative fuelled solutions.

Keigo Watanabe, Vice President Sales and Marketing Business Unit, CE Kubota Holdings Europe B.V comments: “We are delighted to be unveiling Kubota’s latest solution for urban site managers and workers who are required to respond to the recent anti -diesel restrictions, in form of the KX019-4 LPG at Bauma. The development of this model is the answer from Kubota to the current anti-diesel trend, in which economy, practicality and environmental issues are all integrated. This machine, powered by the Kubota SI engine, will bring the most productive solution to urban work sites without having a considerable impact on the investment, or loss of productivity due to the refuelling time, while delivering high performance and quality of ‘Kubota’. We are looking forward to receiving customer feedback on the stand at Bauma”. For more information on the rest of the Kubota construction machinery range, please contact your local authorised Kubota dealer or visit

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How employers in construction can protect their staff’s mental health

The construction industry takes great care in protecting staff from visible risks, ensuring all precautions are taken to maintain the physical wellbeing of its workers.

Despite this, construction is still one of the most dangerous sectors to work in thanks to the big presence of a risk that isn’t visible: employee mental health.

“Safety is one of the biggest concerns in the construction industry,” says Daniel Ure from online PPE retailer Vizwear, “and since one of the biggest risks to workers in construction today is that posed by mental health problems, addressing them needs to be at the top of an employer’s list of priorities.”

“Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma around this topic, which causes too many people to keep their issues to themselves. This can lead to disastrous consequences, which is why it’s so important for employers to protect their staff.”

The state of mental health in construction

In the UK, mental health issues lead to over 70 million sick days per year. Whether it’s anxiety, depression or stress, mental health causes more sick days than any other health condition and costs our economy between £70 billion and £100 billion each year.

However, struggles with mental health can have much more serious ramifications. — and in no other industry is that quite so evident as in construction.

Data from the Office of National Statistics found that between 2011 and 2015, the highest number of suicides were found in skilled construction workers. With over 1400 in-work suicides, this sector makes up over 13% of those recorded, despite construction only accounting for 7% of the UK workforce.

Construction News created a survey along with Mind Matters to identify any changes to mental health in construction between 2017-2018. Although 67% of respondents believe awareness has improved over this period, the results show no real improvement to mental health in the industry and that 81% believe there is still a stigma.

Why construction?

While mental health issues can affect anyone, men are particularly vulnerable. 76% of recorded suicides in the UK are committed by men, with suicide being the biggest cause of death in men under 35.

And with men making up 89% of the workforce, this is a particularly problematic issue for the construction industry.

The working lifestyle of a construction worker can take its toll. Workers will often work long, demanding hours and can spend their days away from home for weeks at a time. Without a private, safe space to unwind, all the stresses of work add up and make it difficult to switch off.

The working environment — where speaking about emotional or mental issues has historically been stigmatized— is also to blame, as the ‘macho’ image of construction workers makes it difficult to talk about mental health.

Thankfully, there are a number of positive initiatives employers can take, as well as registered charities and support groups dedicated to the wellbeing of construction workers.

What are the signs?

Unlike physical injuries, mental health issues are difficult to spot and are often kept secret.

Thankfully, there are a few common telltale signs when someone is struggling with their mental health:

  • They find it difficult to problem-solve
  • They are easily distracted and are less productive than usual
  • They lack self-confidence
  • They are easily agitated and create conflict amongst co-workers
  • They feel easily overwhelmed
  • They are increasingly late or absent from work
  • They often isolate themselves from others

What can employers do?

The best way for the construction industry to tackle the importance of employee mental health is from the top. Business owners and management need to implement the same safety standards they take towards physical health and safety and use them to safeguard mental health.

There are a number of steps that managers can take to create a positive work environment for their staff so that mental health can be comfortably addressed, rather than hidden away.

1. Create a supportive culture

The first step for a manager is to evaluate the culture of their workforce to detect any potential pain points for staff. This can range from employee workloads to how staff communicate with each other throughout the business.

By putting their business under a microscope, managers can build a strong, supportive work culture from the ground up. This will help to establish mental wellbeing as a crucial value of the company, meaning open discussions about employee mental health will become the norm.

2. Educate employees

By making education a priority, employers can help to remove the stigma of mental health and ensure their staff understand the negative impacts that can affect anyone.

This can range from providing easily accessible information for your staff to hiring third-party organisations, such as Mates in Mind, to come in for regular staff training days.

With a team of knowledgable employees, a company will find it easier to combat any dangers and empower their staff to support each other when facing difficulties with their mental health. Improving awareness creates more opportunities to spot early signs of coworkers struggling and creates an overall healthier workplace environment.

3. Be open and available

Mental health is a private matter to many people, which makes it difficult to speak about openly. Without establishing a clear and open line of communication, it’s much more likely that workers will keep their troubles to themselves.

By letting employees know that they always have someone to talk to, they are much more likely to come out of their shell and identify any health problems like anxiety or depression early enough to put in place counteractive measures.

It can be difficult in construction as employees don’t often have a static working environment, so site managers should take it upon themselves to establish regular catch ups with staff to evaluate their wellbeing.

4. Be vigilant

Tackling mental health takes a lot more than running a one-off seminar. Many mental health issues take time to be resolved, which means companies need to be aware of their staff’s needs all year round.

By continuing to offer training, guidance and support to their employees, mental health care will be embedded into a companies culture and will become a natural part of its safety protocol – not just ticking a box on a form.

5. Put a support system in place

Spotting the early signs is important, yet employers also need to ensure they create a safety net for their staff. Companies need to make sure that helpful information is readily available for employees so that anyone struggling with their mental health knows where to turn to receive support through services like counselling and therapy.


When it comes to protecting your employees’ mental health, there are a number of resources available for extra support.

As of January 2017, the Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG) established Mates in Mind, its own registered charity whose sole purpose is to raise awareness and provide support for the mental wellbeing of construction workers.

Mates in Mind have a goal to reach 75% of the construction industry by 2025 and offer training courses based on four key elements: Awareness & Education, Guidance & Support, Communication and Research & Development.

If you work in construction and need urgent help or support in regards to your mental health, there are also a number of confidential services and advice lines available:

  • Construction Industry Helpline 0345 605 1956 – Provided by the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, the helpline advises on a range of matters including occupational health and wellbeing, support and advice for people with stress The services can also provide emergency financial aid to the construction community in times of crisis.
  • Mind 0300 123 393 – Provides advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem
  • Samaritans 116 123 – Confidential 24-hour support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts

“Despite construction’s reputation for poor mental health, there are actually a lot of support systems in place to help protect the workers,” says Daniel from Vizwear.

“Communication is still the biggest obstacle between employees and management, which is why confidential advice lines are so important. By giving construction workers the opportunity to discuss their mental health in a supportive environment, they can take positive steps without the need to speak publicly.

“If more workers make use of these services, they will feel more comfortable speaking to their employers about their mental health, which is the first step to making real change in the industry.”

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The Future of Liverpool Waters

Liverpool Waters is an ambitious 30-year vision costing in the region of £5.5 billion, aiming to redefine Liverpool’s iconic docklands into a world-class district in its own right. Stretched across 2 million square metres of land, this momentous regeneration scheme has bold plans to completely transform this waterfront into a mixed-use destination complete with high-quality office space and state of the art residential apartments, as well as creating a seamless extension of Liverpool’s city centre.

The Peel Group, awarded Responsible Business of the Year, are spearheading the Liverpool Waters regeneration with a 30-year time slot dedicated to completing the development. Redeveloping a total of 1.2 million square metres of property, 53,000 square metres of hotel and conference facilities, a new cruise liner terminal, plus 15,000 hectares of land and water is by no means an easy feat. Therefore, it is no surprise this project has been coined the largest and most ambitious in the whole of the UK.

Darran Lawless, development director at Liverpool Waters said,

“This really is a landmark time for the Liverpool Waters project. Following a decade of meticulous planning, we are now firmly in the delivery phase of this project, and I am excited to see these plans take shape.

The aim of Liverpool Waters project is an ambitious one, but one that will expand the city centre as well as creating jobs and bringing economic benefits to not only North Liverpool, but the region as a whole.”

There is a multitude of prolific developments that are well underway and progressing at a rapid pace. One of the most significant purposes of this extensive regeneration is not only to transform the city into a mixed-use destination but also offer new employment opportunities, a nicer place to live, and a more innovative place to do business, not to mention the investment prospects that are strong and profitable.

Liverpool has a distinguished and glorified history, and the transformation of the waterfront is no different. The city celebrates its plentiful maritime heritage which stems from its focus as a world trading port. Innovative technologies and an abundance of developments in the Liverpool Waters vision has solidified the city and its trading terminal as one of the best in the world.

Home to a major port, Liverpool Waters aims to sustain a positive future built on a successful past, aspiring to not only cater for professionals and tourists but a whole range of demographics that wish to use the superior facilities and amenities that are scheduled to complete in this pocket of the city.

First class residential accommodation will be a huge part of the new and improved Liverpool Docklands, as a total of five distinct neighbourhoods will join Liverpool’s existing property portfolio. Investing in Liverpool’s waterfront will provide a fruitful opportunity to produce high returns in an in-demand location as well as playing a crucial role in raising the city’s profile as an investment hotspot. Each development created will undoubtedly offer tenants a superior lifestyle, with the perks of living near the bustle of the city centre. If you’re interested in investing in rental properties, then the Liverpool waterfront is the perfect spot for high yields and positive growth. RW Invest, property investment specialists, have investment properties in proximity to this location and offer guidance to help you purchase your first buy to let property.

Liverpool has long been regarded as a vibrant city, attracting tourists from all over the globe to its plethora of attractions., however over recent years, the city has emerged as one of the leading destinations for property investment. High rental yields and strong house growth predictions are great news for both investors concentrating on maximising their income, and the local economy that thrives from increased investment. Liverpool waters is unquestionably setting the bar high for redevelopments of major cities across the UK and is an exciting time that is changing the face of Liverpool.

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Some of the most unusual bridges in the world

In our every day lives – particularly as commuters – we probably cross a number of bridges every day.

But there are some bridges in the world that are far more exciting than others. From a bridge that the Devil himself is said to have helped build, to a bridge that curls up, structure analysis software providers Oasys cast an eye over some of these unique structural successes.

1. Germany ‘s Devil’s Bridge

This bizarre bridge, combined with its own reflection, creates a perfect circle. The bridge is said to have been commissioned by a knight in 1860. But the rocks and stones used for its creation are jagged and spikey, so it was dangerous to cross.

According to Earth Trekkers, there were other Devil’s Bridges built in the past as a masonry challenge. The idea was that only Satan himself could help with a difficult build such as these bridges, and the first human who crossed the completed bridge would pay for the Devil’s helping hand by giving up his soul.

Today, the bridge is off-limits for preservation reasons. But it is still an oddly beautiful sight to behold!

2. India’s Living Roots Bridges

These bridges are a testament of patience and adaptability. These beautifully natural bridges were formed by guiding rubber tree roots with hollow canes so that they would grow outwards and meet from either side of a stream. It would take years to reach the opposite bank, but the hard work paid off as these Living Roots bridges can support the weight of a human.

They were originally made by the Khasi tribe, who realised the bamboo bridges they were building would collapse or rot after a monsoon or heavy storm.

3. The Rolling Bridge, found in the UK

Created by Heatherwick Studios, the Rolling Bridge is a steel bridge that covers an inlet in London. What makes this bridge so unique is that it can tidy itself away!

When needed, this bridge curls up into an octogen shape to stand on one side of the canal until a boat passes. The bridge also curls up every day at noon, if you want to see it in action!

4. Norway and the Da Vinci Bridge


This bridge was originally designed nearly 500 years ago by Leonardo Da Vinci, with the intention of being built across the Golden Horn in Istanbul. The original drawing had a single span of 240 metres, but the project did not go ahead as it was believed that such a design was not feasible.

But the bridge was brought to life in Norway, as the first example of a major engineering feat to be built from a Da Vinci drawing. The bridge has just three arches to support the structure. Though the Norwegian bridge is a smaller version of the original plans, it shows that the design works — one arch under the bridge, and two arches either side leaning inwards to spread the weight.

5. Vietnam’s Dragon Bridge


Located in Da Nang in Vietnam, the Dragon Bridge is certainly a spectacular sight! The bridge is the result of an international competition by the Da Nang People’s Committee in order to improve travel in the city. The bridge has six lanes for vehicles, two lanes for pedestrians, and 2,500 LED lights.

Incredibly, the Dragon Bridge is fully capable of breathing fire too. In fact, the bridge can spout water or fire, and this display is often used for special occasions in the city.

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Stunning glass door hardware wins innovation award

A minimalist hardware system for glass doors has taken top prize at the biennial Architectural Ironmongery Specification Awards, organised by the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers (GAI) in association with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The TECTUS glass hardware system, created by Simonswerk, has been designed to maximise the light coming through glazed panels by swapping large hinges and handles for more discreet finishes.

Typically, door hardware installed on to glass doors use bulky patch fittings which can impact on the final finish. The TECTUS glass hardware system uses a concealed hinge system, magnetic closure and handle. No glass processing is required to add any elements of the system to the door.

Douglas Masterson, technical manager of the GAI, said:

“In terms of innovation, this product was head and shoulders above the rest. Ironmongery for glass doors can be a problem area for architects and specifiers as the hardware options available don’t always compliment more minimalist designs, but this TECTUS glass hardware system takes that obstacle away.”

Two products were awarded joint second place: Guardian by Exidor, and Smart Entrance by Hafele UK.

The Guardian is an electro-magnetic door closer. It has been designed specifically to meet the needs of residential rooms in care homes. It has an inbuilt anti-slam function that has been developed to control and slow the motion of the door. The Guardian closer uses hydraulics to offer a low level control on the door, which stops it from drifting from its open position, at the same time allowing it to operate freely to the user.

The Smart Entrance by Hafele is a touch-to-open latch system consisting of a set of designer flush / low projecting handles with an electronic mortice lock. The technology used is similar to the use of touch lamps or smartphones. Touching the Smart Entrance handle activates the electronic mortice lock to retract the magnetic latch bolt to allow the door to swing open. When the door is closed, the magnetic latch bolt shoots into the magnetic striker supplied.

Third place was given to ASSA ABLOY for the DC700G-FT Security Cam-Motion Door Closer. It has the function of a Cam-Motion door closer with access control, and has been designed to be multifunctional by having delayed action and hold open options. The DC700G-FT Security Cam-Motion Door Closer also avoids secondary bracketry (z-angles) for the locking device to improve the final appearance of the door, and includes Cam-Motion® technology, extended mounting plate and integrated latch bolt and extended guide-rail with integrated escape door strike.

The best new product design and innovation award was sponsored by allgood.

This is the first time that specific ironmongery products have been recognised at the Architectural Ironmongery Specification Awards. The ‘Best new product: design and innovation’ category was created to celebrate new door and window hardware products, allowing advancing technologies to be fully showcased and recognised.

The Architectural Ironmongery Specification Awards also reward excellence in the specification of architectural ironmongery, and projects are nominated for one of four categories: commercial and hospitality; public health and education; residential; and international.

David Stacey, president of the GAI, said:

“The Architectural Ironmongery Specification Awards are unique because they reward the whole specification team, highlighting the importance of that professional partnership between architect and architectural ironmonger.

“These awards underline the importance of using qualified and experienced architectural ironmongers as the driving force in creating ironmongery schedules that are not only technically correct but also fundamentally affect the way a building looks and performs. Those ironmongery schedules help architects and clients minimise risk and achieve their aesthetic vision.”

Find out more about all of the winning projects on the GAI website.

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HMRC Cracks Down on Receipt Scam

A recent investigation by the BBC has found there’s a booming “rogue trader” business in selling fake receipts. Tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of these false documents are changing hands in construction right now, costing HMRC thousands and risking serious trouble for people using them.

According to HMRC figures, about £1 goes missing for every £17 paid in UK tax each year. Worse still, they believe that over half the people in construction, transport and hospitality are under-reporting their income in their Self Assessment tax returns. Of those, more than half are under-paying by at least £10,000 a year.

When you claim a tax refund or file a Self Assessment tax return, you’re making sure that you’re only paying the tax that you owe. Not only is HMRC continually making random spot-checks on tax returns and refund claims, but they’ve also got both highly trained people and computer algorithms constantly scanning for and flagging suspicious activity.

The HMRC “Connect” system, used by trained analysts, sifts through vast quantities of information, from many disparate systems to find otherwise invisible patterns, network and relationships that suggest fraudulent or unusual activity.

Knowingly and deliberately submitting false information in your self-assessment or tax refund claim counts as tax fraud and is illegal. If HMRC investigate and identify a false submission before you come clean about it, they will judge that your “deliberate action has been concealed” and that means more than just coughing up the extra tax you owe.

As well as the overdue tax itself, you will have to pay 50-100% of the amount owed in additional fines.

Bradley Post, Manager Director at RIFT Tax Refunds says ‘’If you’re working in the construction trade and have fallen for a scam of this type and want to put things right with HMRC before you get into serious trouble, get in touch with them as soon as possible. There will still be a penalty to pay for having made a “deliberate and concealed error” on a tax return but it may be possible to reduce the fine if you or your tax agent tell HMRC about the error, help them work out how much extra tax is due and give them access to information to enable them to check your figures.”

Providing false documentation to HMRC can result in a jail sentence, under Tax Evasion Laws. Depending on the severity of the case you could receive a summary conviction or via a magistrates court. The maximum UK penalty is a fine for up to £20,000 or a six months prison sentence.

About Rift Tax Refunds

Rift Tax Refunds is one of the UK’s leading tax refunds specialists, helping UK employees in the Construction industry successfully claim back the tax they are owed from HMRC.

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TIMco, one of the UK’s largest and fastest growing wholesalers to the construction industry, will be showcasing the latest additions to their expanding product portfolio as well as unveiling their complete set of specialist product guides at the NMBS Show at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry on 10th April 2019 at stands 265, 266 and 269.

TIMco will be revealing extensions to the TIMco SHIELD range – including the new SHIELD Protective Board, as well as additions to the VETO range. Demonstrations of both new products will be available, with the new protective board having been laid on the trade space floor for the whole day.

The TIMco Team is committed to the continued development of all their ranges. The dedicated VETO Security and Ironmongery brand continues to expand with the unveiling of a new range of premium quality hinges at this year’s NMBS Show, as well as the official launch of the innovative Fantom Doorstop.

The team will also be releasing an updated set of product literature at the show, as well as making their current catalogue which totals 160 pages readily available. The Product Team will be on hand to talk through the product information guides with visitors to the stand. They will also be handing out TIMco branded products including rucksacks for orders placed at the show (while stocks last).

The barista will be returning to the TIMco stand for a second year in a row, serving a fantastic selection of hot drinks for those visiting the stand. The team will also be providing complimentary brownies and cookies from the Cheshire-based artisan bakery, Buzzy Bee Bakery.

Simon Midwood, Managing Director of TIMco, comments: “The NMBS Show is one of our biggest events in the calendar, and our stand for this year is set to be our busiest and best yet! With so many of our customers in attendance to the show, this is the perfect place for us to launch our specialist guides and introduce a number of exciting new additions to our ranges. We look forward to welcoming visitors to our stand to discuss our new products over some delicious refreshments!”

For more information on the NMBS show or to register for tickets to the show, visit:

TIMco, one of the UK’s largest independent wholesale suppliers of screws, fasteners, fixings, nails, building chemicals and adhesives, power tool accessories, building hardware, site protection and ironmongery, is headquartered in Nantwich, Cheshire and imports and supplies more than 6,500 product lines from around the world to distributors throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe. The company was established in 1972 and now employs 160+ members of staff from its offices in the UK, Ireland and Taiwan. For more information, visit

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Adare Manor takes top prize in architectural ironmongery awards

An 18th century manor house in Ireland has been announced as the global ‘winner of winners’ in the biennial Architectural Ironmongery Specification Awards, organised by the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers (GAI) in association with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort is a luxury hotel in Limerick that was recently renovated and extended to add more guestrooms and facilities including a ballroom, spa, golf club and function suite.

The renovation project was led by Richmond International, an interior design consultancy that specialises in hospitality buildings.

The team enlisted the help of two architectural ironmongers; Carrson International, a division of Harbrine Limited, and Mooney Architectural. The brief included a hardware specification for approximately 1,500 doors that was in keeping with the gothic style of Adare Manor.

The hotel boasts a range of bespoke ironmongery including products from Sun Valley Bronze of Idaho, USA for the guestrooms and public areas. Stainless steel has also been used for the inside of bathrooms and the back of house areas.

Judges noted that the bronze finish of the ironmongery was continued throughout the hotel, highlighting the attention to detail and adding to the overall quality of the project.

Douglas Masterson, technical manager at the GAI, and assessor of the Specification Awards projects, said:

“Every piece of hardware had been carefully considered and was perfectly in keeping with the gothic nature of the original manor house. The bespoke ironmongery was particularly impressive. Every piece of hardware mirrored the smaller details of the hotel; from wardrobe fittings and light switches, even down to the badges of the hotel’s staff. It’s a truly striking building.”

The original Adare Manor was built in 1832 and is a rare example of a Calendar House. It has 365 leaded windows, 52 ornate chimneys, seven stone pillars and four towers to mark the number of days, weeks, and seasons in a year.

The project beat 19 other shortlisted projects to scoop the top prize in these awards which reward excellence in the specification of architectural ironmongery. Projects are nominated for one of four categories: commercial and hospitality; public health and education; residential; and international. There is also a fifth award focussing on new product design and innovation.

Adare Manor also won first place in the commercial and hospitality category. In second place was the Royal Academy of Arts, London by dline Eisenware and David Chipperfield Architects. Third place was the Royal Opera House by John Planck Ltd and Stanton Williams Architects. The St Andrew’s House project in London, also by John Planck Ltd together with DLA Architecture received highly commended.

The other category award winners were:

Public health and education:



Product design and innovation:

David Stacey, president of the GAI, said:

“The Architectural Ironmongery Specification Awards are unique because they reward the whole specification team, highlighting the importance of that professional partnership between architect and architectural ironmonger.

“These awards underline the importance of using qualified and experienced architectural ironmongers as the driving force in creating ironmongery schedules that are not only technically correct but also fundamentally affect the way a building looks and performs. Those ironmongery schedules help architects and clients minimise risk and achieve their aesthetic vision.”

The GAI is the body that represents the interests of the architectural ironmongery industry in the UK and internationally. Its qualifications, education and CPD programmes are widely respected throughout the world. Its technical information service is the only specialist service of its kind, providing GAI members with comprehensive advice.

The awards were sponsored by GEZE UK, Forza Doors, ASSA ABLOY, Harbrine, Frank Allart, dormakaba and Allgood plc.

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How an Efficient Building Envelope Saves Energy

Energy efficiency measures for buildings often focus on equipment upgrades and automatic controls. However, the building envelope design also has a significant impact on energy performance. Even if heating and cooling systems use the most efficient equipment in the market, deficient insulation and air leaks will increase energy expenses.

An efficient HVAC design minimises the cost per BTU of heating or cooling, but the loads served are determined by building conditions. At the same time, automatic controls ensure that the available HVAC capacity is used efficiently; when the full heating or cooling capacity is not needed, operating at maximum output is a waste of energy.

Specifying a High-Performance Building Envelope

To enhance energy efficiency, the building envelope must minimise heat transfer in both directions. Consider that summer heat gain is added to the air conditioning load, while winter heat loss is added to the space heating load. Thus, a high-performance building envelope achieves HVAC savings all year long.

Heat transfer across the building envelope can occur by conduction through walls, fenestration and other building elements. Air leaks also transfer heat, due to the temperature difference between indoor and outdoor air. The following are some effective strategies to improve the energy efficiency of a building envelope:

  • Increasing the R-value of the building envelope with insulation.
  • Using energy efficient windows with triple-pane glass and low-emissivity coating.
  • Ensuring airtightness, to minimise heat loss and heat gain from air leaks.

Deficient insulation and air leaks are invisible, but they can be detected with thermal imaging, and insulation performance can be modeled based on the properties of construction materials. Air leaks in particular can be detected with pressurization tests, which use a blower door and smoke infiltration to pinpoint their locations.

In new building projects, insulation can be improved drastically with innovative products such as insulated concrete forms (ICF), which serve as formwork during construction while increasing the R-value of finished concrete elements.

Window orientation can have a significant impact on air conditioning loads. While windows allow natural lighting, they also cause glare and solar heating if their locations are not planned carefully. In the northern hemisphere, the southern face of a building gets the most sunshine throughout the year, while the northern face gets the least. North-facing windows do not cause significant glare and solar heating, but windows with other orientations may require shading or outdoor vegetation.

Envelope Enhancements in New Buildings and Renovations

An efficient building envelope design is highly recommended in new constructions and major renovations. Deploying a new envelope for an existing building is expensive and disruptive, since walls and facade elements must be modified. However, a renovation is an excellent change for an envelope upgrade, since the building will be altered anyway. In the case of new constructions, a high-performance envelope can be specified from the design phase.

An efficient envelope design can also lower the upfront cost of HVAC equipment in new constructions and renovations. Since heating and cooling loads are reduced, the corresponding equipment can be specified with a smaller capacity. This reduces all ownership costs associated with HVAC installations: the initial purchase, operation and maintenance.

High-performance windows can be deployed easily in a new project, since there are no existing windows to replace. On the other hand, a window upgrade in an existing building can be challenging: window frames are not normally designed for triple-pane glass, and must be replaced completely. Scheduling a window upgrade along with a major renovation is strongly recommended, since two disruptive projects are combined in one.

Fixing Issues in Existing Building Envelopes

As mentioned above, an envelope upgrade is more challenging in an existing building due to the disruptive nature of the project. However, there are ways to improve the thermal performance without taking apart building elements.

Storm windows are a lower cost alternative to triple-pane windows, if a property owner prefers not to disrupt the existing envelope. Storm windows are installed on top of the existing ones, creating an air gap that reduces heat transfer. Although triple-pane glass offers better insulation, this project does not require the removal of existing building elements. As a complementary project, air leaks can be fixed with special foams that are sprayed in place.

Property owners who are planning an HVAC upgrade should consider a building envelope assessment. If insulation and airtightness issues are fixed first, the new HVAC equipment can have both a higher efficiency and a reduced workload.

Michael Tobias, PE, LEED AP, CEM.

Michael Tobias is the founder and principal of New York Engineers, an Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Company in America. He leads a team of 30+ mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineers from the company headquarters in New York City; and has led over 1,000 projects in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland and California, as well as Singapore and Malaysia.

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Aarsleff Ground Engineering latest member to join ASUC

Aarsleff Ground Engineering are proud to have become official members of ASUC, the Association of Specialist Underpinning Contractors. ASUC’s activities are focused around key domestic techniques and practises including subsidence repair and underpinning, retrofit basement construction, engineered foundation solutions and mini piling operations.

ASUC is an independent trade association originally formed by a number of leading contractors to promote professional and technical competence within the subsidence industry. ASUC work with and across a large number of organisations, partners and supporting bodies to deliver a range of highly valued activities and services on behalf of the sectors and members they support.

Aarsleff are already well experienced in restricted access piling operations. In June last year, Aarsleff installed mini piles for a new residential development on behalf of main contractor J Tomlinson. The site, located on Salthouse Lane in Beeston, will soon accommodate a new student residential complex. Specifically, Aarsleff installed 16 No. 300mm Sectional Flight Auger piles utilising a 14 Tonne Restricted access piling Rig. Due to existing Tree Preservation Orders in place on several mature trees, the rig was selected to provide minimal disruption. Apart from some localised pruning to the trees, the rig was capable of working from the existing tarmac and on a reduced spec piling platform. In 2017, McLaren Construction awarded Aarsleff the design and build contract for the construction of a new cinema and retail development within The O2 Arena in South East London. Specifically, Aarsleff’s scope of work included the design and installation of 21No. 18m 340mm diameter ‘restricted access piles’ situated beneath 2No. Quadro-pods which had to be pitched in 4m segments and welded by Aarsleff on-site during installation. Due to the height restriction Aarsleff utilised their bespoke Banut 500 limited headroom piling rig to solve this issue.

Kevin Hague, Managing Director of Aarsleff Ground Engineering said: “We are thrilled to share our knowledge and experience of the industry, and support ASUC and its member’s in the drive to improve project delivery capability across all of the specialist techniques and practices the association promotes”.

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