Epwin launches Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) in social housing research

#windows #construction #architects #socialhouisng #mmc @EpwinWSystems


Epwin Window Systems is proud to announce the launch of its latest independent research project ‘Building for the Future – MMC in social housing’.

Combining the results of a survey of social housing professionals with desktop research, the research offers insight into the use of Modern Methods of Construction, such as modular, by UK social housing providers.
This research follows Epwin’s ‘Building for the Future’ and ‘Building for the Future – Social Housing’ research projects, which asked architects and social housing providers what they thought would influence housing design and build over the coming decade.

Sonia Travis, Head of Commercial Sales at Epwin Window Systems, said: “We have over 40 years’ experience of supplying social housing and Epwin has been at the forefront of driving or responding to innovation in construction and home design since the 1970s.



“Modular construction isn’t a new concept and the potential reported benefits are numerous, however these construction methods still aren’t commonplace in the UK.

“Some large social landlords are investing in manufacturing facilities, and we are now working on a small number of modular developments, however it is not clear how many social housing providers are using MMC and why the uptake of these construction methods has been so slow?

“Modular homes appear to have finally reached that commercial tipping-point that makes them a viable, scalable option, so are smaller social landlords now using MMC? If not, why not?

“This research examines these very issues, and the survey of UK social housing providers has uncovered some interesting results.”

Sonia concludes: “By commissioning independent research which enables us to better understand the challenges facing our customers, and by placing innovation at the heart of everything we do, we are able to constantly develop new solutions and technologies that meet the demands of our ever evolving built environment.”

To download the full research document please visit buildingforthefuturemodularhousing.epwin.co.uk, you can also receive updates by following @EpwinWSystems on Twitter


 The Royal Borough of Greenwich has announced A&E Elkins as the winners of the contract

#newhomes #modularconstruction #netzero #sustinable

The Royal Borough of Greenwich has announced A&E Elkins as the winners of the biggest contract for new build council homes using modular construction to date. The form of contract is the ACA TAC-1 Term Alliance contract, A&E Elkins has formed an alliance with Ideal Modular Homes and shedkm to deliver up to 750 affordable rent council homes across 60 sites.

The project will run across five years with the possible extension of a further five years. A&E Elkins has been appointed as the provider, shedkm as the architects with Ideal Modular Homes as the off-site manufacturer delivering the modular homes.

All of the homes delivered through the Alliance will be operational net zero, meaning the operational energy of the homes will be not only better for the environment but also more affordable for the tenants helping to address the fuel poverty gap.

A show home, which was planned with a four-week design and delivery, was delivered and installed onsite this week, and the first of these homes for council tenants are expected to be on site before the end of this year.


Royal Greenwich Cabinet Member for Housing Cllr Anthony Okereke said, “Employing modular techniques as part of our Greenwich Builds programme is allowing us to quickly deliver the high quality and sustainable council homes so badly needed in our borough. With plans for construction on 750 new homes to be underway by 2022, we’re excited to be at the forefront of delivering innovative zero-carbon council properties, making good on Royal Greenwich’s commitments to tackling both the housing crisis and climate change.”

Delivering the future of housing, Ideal aims to deliver beautiful, sustainable homes in a cost-efficient way, while significantly improving the quality of new build homes. The modular homes can be manufactured in just four days and installed on site in just eight hours, minimising disruption to the surrounding residents and cutting the delivery programme time by up to 50%.

Luke Barnes, Founder and CEO at Ideal Modular Homes, said, “Ideal is delighted to be a part of such an exciting project and Alliance. Councils are under constant pressure to deliver affordable housing at a reduced cost, while still delivering on quality. This Joint Venture will see that beautifully designed high-quality homes can be delivered in half the time that traditional methods would.”


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Almost £10m is being made available to retrofit up to 1,000 homes owned by housing associations and councils in Wales

#socialhousing #retrofit #funding #carbonreduction #netzero


Housing is responsible for 27% of all energy consumed in Wales and 15% of all demand side greenhouse gas emissions, part of the Welsh government’s larger Innovative Housing Programme, the Optimised Retrofit Programme (ORP) will fund measures to reduce the carbon footprint of existing social homes in Wales.

A competition will be launched next month to support the piloting of innovative solutions for retrofitting housing stock.

The knowledge gained from this process will be used to influence the future of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard, which sets out standards that homes in Wales must meet.

Announced earlier this year, the Welsh government’s £45m Innovative Housing Programme provides funding for the building of new carbon neutral social homes using modern methods of construction.

The Welsh government currently has a target to reduce greenhouse gases by 95% by 2050 with an ambition to reach net zero in the future.

Announcing the plans, Welsh housing minister Julie James said: “The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of a warm, secure and affordable home like never before. It has also shown the positive effects of reducing greenhouse gasses.

“Housing is responsible for 27% of all energy consumed in Wales and 15% of all demand side greenhouse gas emissions. While we have plans in place to ensure new homes are heated and powered only from clean energy sources, ensuring our existing housing stock is as energy efficient as possible is vital to if we are to meet our ambitious target of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2050.

“This scheme is essential to tackling climate change, and driving down household energy costs now and in the future. Helping people, including those on lower incomes, to reduce their fuel bills while keeping their homes warm.”

Clarissa Corbisiero, deputy chief executive and director of policy and external affairs at Community Housing Cymru, said: “Despite the immediate threat of COVID-19, the climate emergency has not gone away, and the pandemic has only highlighted the need for more good quality, affordable homes.

“Housing associations in Wales are committed to playing their part in tackling these issues. We now have an opportunity to learn from the experiences of the last few months, and be ambitious in our response. This funding is a welcome first step to decarbonise 1,000 homes, build local supply chains and create jobs in our communities.”


Source: Inside Housing




A major new residential building in Bristol is defined by its 170m long façade, clad in Nordic Brown Light pre-oxidised copper, complementing its modern, listed neighbour.

#construction #design #architects #affordablehousing #cladding #sustaiability


Designed by Ferguson Mann Architects (FMA), the Copper Building is the second phase of Bristol’s Lakeshore residential development for Urban Splash, set in 10 acres of established landscape surrounding a lake. It follows FMA’s redevelopment of the iconic Grade II listed former headquarters of Imperial Tobacco, designed during the 1970s in the International Style by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM).

The new Copper Building replaces the SOM-designed factory, demolished in the 1990s, and provides 136 apartments for rent or for sale, including purchase through Shared Ownership. FMA project architect Nick Brown explained:

The form and language of the Copper Building were always intended as a reference to its Cor-ten steel clad predecessor. We sought a more friendly and economic material to speak of the industrial heritage of the site, yet in a warmer and more refined way – a material with some life, that would patinate subtly over time.

The warm colour of the Nordic Brown Light pre-oxidised copper, along with the longevity, sustainability and natural credentials of copper made it the perfect choice. The new Copper Building still maintains a dialogue with the neighbouring Cor-ten clad Lakeshore building and they both sit comfortably together, just as the original factory and office did. Importantly, local feedback has been really positive’.


Nordic Brown Light is part of an extensive portfolio of architectural copper surfaces and alloys from Aurubis, with an unrivalled lifespan, no maintenance and full recyclability. With an ‘A1 (non-combustible material)’ fire classification to EN 13501-1, copper is suitable for cladding tall buildings, using appropriate constructions.

The range includes Nordic Standard ‘mill finish’ and Nordic Brown pre-oxidised copper offering lighter or darker shades of brown determined by the thickness of the oxide layer. The extensive Nordic Blue, Nordic Green and Nordic Turquoise ranges have been developed with properties and colours based on the same brochantite mineralogy found in natural patinas all over the world. As well as the solid patina colours, ‘Living’ surfaces are available for each with other intensities of patina flecks revealing some of the dark oxidised background material.



Copper alloys include Nordic Bronze and Nordic Brass, which can also be supplied pre-weathered. The innovative Nordic Royal is an alloy of copper with aluminium and zinc, retaining its golden colour. A wide choice of Nordic Decor mechanically applied surface treatments is also available. Nordic Copper is produced by Aurubis, part of the world’s leading integrated copper group and largest copper recycler. For more information visit: www.nordiccopper.com or email: g.bell@aurubis.com

Modular housing and technology company the Etopia Group has been recognised as a carbon neutral housebuilder

#carbonneural #housebuilding #construction #developers #climatecrisis #netzerohomes


Modular housing and technology company the Etopia Group has been recognised as a carbon neutral housebuilder, after achieving both the Carbon Neutral International Standard and also joining the United Nations Climate Neutral Now Initiative.

As a signatory of the UN Climate Neutral Now initiative, Etopia has calculated and disclosed the current carbon footprint of the company, including international air travel, and show a clear pathway to reducing it year on year. The current carbon emissions of the firm are then directly offset using UN certified emission reductions (CERs) and voluntary emission reductions (VERs).

Etopia has also partnered with One Carbon World, a grant fund set up to help organisations to become more sustainable, with the modular housebuilder offsetting its emissions through “carbon credits” for One Carbon World, who supports reforestation projects across the world.

Etopia, which currently has capacity to manufacture more than 2,000 homes a year from its Cheshire-based factory, describes itself as an Ecitech company – energy, construction and intelligent technology.

Joseph Daniels, founder and chief executive of Etopia Group, said: “The climate crisis is upon and unless we act now, the damage done will be unrectifiable. The Carbon Neutral International Standard recognises our commitment to ramping up our carbon-cutting efforts and we are proud to be working with One Carbon World to ensure that new trees are being planted across the world.

“But this is just the first step. The construction industry needs to be dragged forward into the 21st century and bring innovative technologies into both the methods of construction and the homes themselves. Our decisions are not an attempt to greenwash our image, it is about genuinely revolutionising the industry, and creating the high-quality, tech-driven net-zero homes of the future.”



Niclas Svenningsen, manager of Global Climate Action at UN Climate Change, said: “We have seen a pronounced shift in the way individuals and industries behave in relation to the climate crisis in recent years. The built environment, in particular, contributes an estimated 40% of the UK’s Co2 emissions. Energy inefficient homes and a backwards approach to housebuilding have been far too common, and if we are to radically reduce our carbon emissions, then we must look to innovate.

“We are glad to see Etopia Group applying new ways of thinking and building more sustainable homes, and welcome them to our Climate Neutral Now initiative, hoping that others will follow their example.”

Andrew Bowen, chief executive officer of One Carbon World said: “Etopia Group is not only pioneering eco-products but is operating as an economical and environmental company in its own right. To be the first housebuilder to be awarded both the Carbon Neutral International Standard and participation in the UN Climate Neutral Now Initiative demonstrates a commitment to driving sustainability that few companies in any industries can compete with.

“But this is just the first step on the sustainability ladder. We need to encourage more companies to offset their emissions and bring about real, long-term change. We are enormously grateful for Etopia Group’s support in our reforestation mission and look forward to working with the company on a long term basis.”


Source: Infrastructure Intelligence




Remote and flexible working, is likely to be accelerated as more people choose to work from home

#buildingmaintenance #digitaltechnology #postlockdown #homeworking #smartbuilding @SchneiderElec




By Graeme Rees, Digital Energy Marketing Manager at Schneider Electric UK&I


An invisible revolution has been taking place, further fuelled by the recent pandemic. A new generation is entering the workforce, which has coincided with a time of major change. To help businesses attract and retain the best talent, buildings and operations must be truly digitalised.

To achieve this, organisations will need insight and oversight over their assets, predictive maintenance, and real-time data immediacy. In addition to creating people-centric buildings, this will help businesses to cut costs and improve efficiency. With an integrated and comprehensive approach to building operations, businesses can keep staff and the bottom line happy.


The Times They Are A Changin’

The way companies work has been transformed over the past decade. The combination of new ideas, technological innovation and the influx of a new generation of workers has upended longstanding approaches to not only the way we work, but the expectations we have of the environments we work in. However, these changes stand to be amplified further as companies look to return to work, post lockdown.

As the needs and wants of staff changes, so too must the kind of buildings companies look to locate in. For most companies, buildings now need to provide much more than the traditional lease – they need to support business aims, help organisations attract the best talent, and energise and inspire their staff as well.

Companies will have to get serious about attracting and retaining millennial employees, who will comprise 75 per cent of the workforce by 2025 1. The latest game-changing technologies require skills only today’s generation of digital natives can provide on mass. Keeping them happy and productive is key to success.

The lockdown had meant that previous trends, such as remote and flexible working, are likely to be accelerated as more people choose to work from home. With collaboration remaining vital to business success, companies will need insight to be able to cope. Hot desks that have been utilised will need to be identified for aggressive cleaning in between occupants, while permanent desks arrangements may require checkerboard patterns and spacing to provide everyone with sufficient distancing.


Only The Best

By capitalising on the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data, building and energy managers can provide new business insights which can be used to enhance the experience of employees, and create more attractive, safe and desirable places to work. Doing so requires an overarching framework, where three layers of technology – connected hardware, software and applications – can communicate, collaborate and share precious insight with building managers. Done right however, these technologies lead to valuable results that not only to tackle our current challenges but help build a platform that can inform long term commercial retail estate decisions.

Sensors employed in a smart building can be used to record data on the location of office users within buildings, and report how they’re using space. In fact, it’s now possible to use solutions to monitor building occupancy to support the effective use of agile working environments.

This can be done using a network of connected sensors and anonymous tags inserted into the badge holders of building users. These tags can transmit information to the sensors, allowing the real-time usage of different spaces to be reported, visualised and managed. Insights gathered from these and other devices could then in time be used to measure the impact of space design on business performance.

How workplace design relates to the physical and mental wellbeing of employees is an equally important consideration. A number of studies have shown that high levels of CO2 in office buildings can induce feelings of tiredness and impact decision-making. In a smart building, however, carbon sensors can detect and measure levels of CO2, directing other building systems to adjust HVAC settings accordingly.

Companies are increasingly aware of the competitive advantages that can be secured from adopting a well-considered workplace and real estate strategy. Investments in a company’s workplace can support business aims and help attract the best people. Smart building technologies – which not only provide insights and data, but also allow companies to create an enjoyable and safe workplace – are essential for this.



A new Approach To Building Management

What’s good for employees is also good for the business. Therefore, getting people back to work safely is paramount. The systems installed to provide staff with a dynamic, enjoyable place to work also deliver crucial efficiencies and cost savings across multiple building functions. In this respect, the building power system is all important. All smart systems and apps depend on power, so a connected power infrastructure is the key to both systems reliability and efficiency.

Information exchange between different building technologies enables the building to identify and correct inefficient practices. For example, damper systems in buildings are designed to provide cool outside air, rather than relying on chillers or compressors. Yet, in many buildings, it’s common for chillers and compressors to continue to operate even on cool days when outside air could be used, despite this being highly inefficient.

Fortunately, embedded sensors generate masses of data which can be analysed by smart building software to provide actionable intelligence on building performance. Building managers are then better placed to make informed decisions on the operations of a building, or schedule pre-configured outcomes based on their desired model of operation.

The continual monitoring of data produced by building systems also enables advanced detection and diagnostics of faults. It allows building managers to understand why a building is or isn’t operating efficiently so permanent solutions can be introduced, rather than temporary fixes.

For instance, with data analytics, building managers can proactively identify operational problems such as equipment that needs to be repaired or replaced. Moreover, it can do this before critical failure and before it has an impact on the building occupants. Repairs can be scheduled before an emergency arises, eliminating costly short-notice or out-of-hours replacement and avoiding failure and downtime. With this proactive approach, equipment becomes more reliable, the cost of replacement and repair is lower, and occupants are assured of optimal comfort.

All businesses face the take of making our working spaces as resilient as possible. Adaptability has always been necessary to business continuity, particularly in the age of rapid change we are set to enter. While the challenge is immense, facility managers have the tools and skills required to face it head on and revolutionise the working world.


Source: FMUK


Twenty years ago one of the earliest offsite constructions went radically wrong, but it took five more years before the mistake was realised

#modular #offsiteconstruction #architects #developers #localauthorities #developers #designers


Not long after the world welcomed the dawn of a new millennium, a cutting-edge apartment block heralded as the pinnacle of modern living was built in Leeds.

Developed right on the edge of the Leeds Inner Ring Road in May 2000, the distinctive semi-circular building caught the eye and was advertised as stylish accommodation for young singles and couples working in the city centre.

It’s full name was City-Centre Apartments for Single People at Affordable Rents. The developers soon realised that wasn’t very catchy though, so it became known simply as CASPAR II.

The building, commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, followed the curve of the slip road onto the A64(M) from North Street, but the flats all faced inwards onto a central courtyard.

The semi-circular structure of CASPAR still stands today and is sandwiched between North Street and the Leeds Inner Ring Road.

It was the design that made it so unique though. Japanese construction firm Kajima built the flats using ‘flat-pack’ panels, with the individual units made off-site before being craned into place.

For five-and-a-half years, people lived there with no problems.

But then a report in 2005 highlighted a major safety issue.



The CASPAR development on the fringes of Leeds city centre was built using cutting-edge technology in 2000 (Image: Leodis / James William Bell)

Realising it was upside down

During construction, the bottom-floor panels were actually craned onto the top floor of the building. Similarly, the fifth-floor panels were installed on the bottom floor.

The panels designed for the bottom floor were far heavier than the others – but because they were put on in the wrong order, it risked the entire building collapsing in high winds.

The Arup report stated that there was a two per cent chance of the apartment block falling down completely and residents were hastily told to evacuate.

Speaking to the BBC in January 2006, a spokesperson for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: “The innovative method of construction for this development is creating serious difficulties.

“This form of construction was very much at the cutting edge of new techniques and the results have been very disappointing indeed.

“The wider lesson we have learnt from this experience is that it does not pay to be too ambitious in pioneering modern methods of construction which are now becoming more fashionable.”

The residents were compensated and found new places to live in Leeds, but the embarrassing mishap is still remembered to this day.

The flats have since been fixed and were renovated as part of a 2015 project, with new tenants back in the building now known as North Crescent.

Source: Leedslive


London’s Royal Borough of Greenwich has chosen developer-contractor A&E Elkins to build 750 affordable rent council homes.

#modularbuildings #developers #architects #affordablehousing #localauthorities #carbonpositive #environment


The £300m contract is believed to be the biggest awarded for new-build council homes using modular construction to date. The form of contract is the ACA TAC-1 Term Alliance contract. A&E Elkins has formed an alliance with manufacturer Ideal Modular Homes and architect shedkm to deliver the homes across 60 sites over five years, with the possible extension of a further five years.

All the homes delivered through the Alliance will be carbon positive, meaning the operational energy of the homes will be not only better for the environment but also more affordable for the tenants helping to address the fuel poverty gap.

The modular homes can be manufactured in four days and installed on site in eight hours, minimising disruption to the surrounding residents and cutting the delivery programme time by up to 50%.



Luke Barnes, founder of Ideal Modular Homes, said: “Councils are under constant pressure to deliver affordable housing at a reduced cost, while still delivering on quality. This joint venture will see that beautifully designed high-quality homes can be  delivered in half the time that traditional methods would.”


Designing the homes for the project, shedkm, is a collective of pragmatic architects who believe in a responsibility to deliver value to their clients through design with integrity. Alex Flint, director of shedkm, said: “Working closely with our partners, we aspire to bring the highest quality of homes to the borough. Designed to exemplar standards with sustainability at their heart, the homes will feature exceptional space standards, large expanses of glazing and robust facing materials.”

Cllr Anthony Okereke, Royal Greenwich cabinet member for housing, added: “Employing modular techniques as part of our Greenwich Builds programme is allowing us to quickly deliver the high quality and sustainable council homes so badly needed in our borough. With plans for construction on 750 new homes to be underway by 2022, we’re excited to be at the forefront of delivering innovative zero-carbon council properties, making good on Royal Greenwich’s commitments to tackling both the housing crisis and climate change.”

The project team have been working hard through the coronavirus crisis using virtual resources. This has enabled seamless design and virtual consultation events with stakeholders and the public. The first of these homes for council tenants is expected to be on site before the end of this year.


Source: PlaceTech

Images by Cosmoscube

Chile Green Building Council achieves Established GBC Status

#constructionindustry #environment #developers #greenbuilding #architects #sustainable

The Chile Green Building Council (Chile GBC) has achieved Established Green Building Council (GBC) status, the top tier of the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) membership.

Previously an Emerging GBC, the second tier of WorldGBC membership, Chile GBC has now progressed in its green building journey to become Established. This has been achieved in light of its continued efforts to demonstrate exceptional leadership within the building and construction industry, whilst growing and educating the Chilean market, and acting as the primary source of information and collective action on sustainable building in the country.

WorldGBC defines an Established GBC as a fully developed and operational organisation that is running impactful green building programmes of work—delivering change on a national level, and embracing best practice governance, accountability and transparency.



María Fernanda Aguirre, CEO of Chile GBC, said: “For Chile Green Building Council, both the staff and our partners and collaborators, this achievement inspires us and encourages us to work even more intensively than we have already been doing in these 10 years of existence, training professionals, generating public-private alliances, creating innovative projects and being local benchmarks in sustainable construction. This announcement has come at a precise moment – in our 10th anniversary – as it gives us a regional leadership position that invites us to collaborate in a multisectoral way, so that the construction industry grows within the framework of sustainable development.”

Dominika Czerwinska, Membership and Regional Networks Director, WorldGBC said: “I am delighted to welcome Chile GBC to the leaders’ league of GBCs globally. Their attainment of WorldGBC’s highest member status is due to their dedication to growing a strong, local market for sustainable buildings and a powerful members network. They send an inspiring message to all global markets who are on this journey.”

Chile Green Building Council is a non-profit organisation that aims to promote and boost sustainable construction and development, technological innovation, efficient use of energy and construction materials in order to improve the quality of life and health of people and communities.

Chile GBC rejoins WorldGBC’s Americas Regional Network of 15 Green Building Councils.