MORE than 2,500 factory-made low carbon houses could be pumped out in Oxford in the near future.

The new homes could be modular, meaning they would be made of pre-assembled pieces a bit like giant LEGO, and must also help to reduce the carbon emissions caused by buildings in the city.

Oxford City Council’s own housing company Oxford City Housing Ltd (OCHL) is looking for contractors interested in helping it to deliver the homes across Oxfordshire in the next 10 years.

To prepare the way for the new houses, the company has issued a prior information notice inviting developers to a ‘meet the buyer’ event, due to take place today (Tuesday, December 15).

Ahead of the meeting, Alex Hollingsworth, the city council cabinet member for planning and housing delivery, said: “Oxfordshire needs high quality, low carbon homes and we’re interested in working with contractors that can manufacture offsite with good economies of scale.

“If you’re a builder who wants to know how we intend to deliver more than 2,500 new homes in the next decade and are interested in being part of that journey, please register for our ‘meet the buyer’ event on December 15.”



The aim of the event is for the council and OCHL to update developers on their programme and understand the market options available to help deliver more low carbon homes that can be built more quickly and with fewer defects while controlling costs.

OCHL is starting the process of establishing a £750m modular construction framework for new housing schemes.

To do this, it aims to acquire and develop 2,245 new homes on sites across Oxfordshire in the next 10 years, with 1,124 of these being homes for social rent and a further 301 shared ownership and other intermediate tenures.

The council and housing company aim to open up the new framework to other social landlords and deliver more than 2,500 homes in total.

OCHL and the council are currently looking at four options for delivering sustainable homes.

  • The first option is a 40 per cent carbon reduction from 2013 building regulations.
  • The second is a drastic 70 per cent carbon reduction from 2013 building regulations.
  • The third is to develop to a Passivhaus equivalent standard, which is the highest environmental standard.
  • And the fourth is the option of zero carbon for both regulated and unregulated energy: that is fittings like lights and the boiler which are in every house, and plug-in goods like toasters and desk lamps which people can bring into a house.

OCHL is going to consider bidders for creating the new modular houses between January and June 2021.

Opposition councillors welcomed the call for more green housing, but also warned more could be done.

Lib Dem councillor Tom Landell-Mills said: “Oxford Lib Dems welcome moves by the city council to deliver low carbon housing – however the Labour city council are suffering from a lack of ambition and should be using their position as a house builder to specify new housing to zero carbon or passivhaus standards.

“The city council voted unanimously to become a zero carbon by 2030, the city will not meet this target unless we adopt challenging and ambitious targets. ”

And Oxford’s Green Party said the the procurement of ‘anything other than zero carbon housing is incompatible with the City Council’s own stated carbon targets’.

Green councillor Dick Wolff said: “The council’s own research, commissioned as part of the Citizen’s Assembly, clearly states that every new home must be zero carbon if the City is to have any chance of becoming net zero carbon.  To even consider procuring anything else shows a lack of ambition and commitment.”

He argued only two of the options on the table – the ‘passivhaus’ and  ‘zero carbon for regulated and unregulated energy’ options – would support a ‘genuinely zero carbon future’

The Greens also criticised the council for not requiring either passivhaus or zero carbon (regulated and unregulated loads) new housing and said developers would still be able ‘to build unsustainable housing’, even if the council committed to higher standards.

Though Oxford City Council’s Local Plan does not immediately require developers to build homes with a higher environmental standard, it does raise the bar for housebuilders in future years.

Modular houses have been touted as part of the solution for tackling the housing crisis by quickly building lots of homes.

A 16-home modular housing project was recently started in Lancashire, and another in Bristol.


Source: Oxford Mail


Winners include Impact Capital, Melius Homes and Totally Modular

Six offsite builders have been selected for a place on a £400m framework to build homes for housing associations.

Modular builders on the offsite housing framework include the newly formed Impact Modular, and Melius Homes, set up by Zero Carbon Hub founder David Adams and Willmott Dixon energy services boss Robert Lambe.

The four-year framework has been set up by Manchester-based Procure Plus, which calls it the Offsite Manufacture and Construction of Housing framework, and is designed to be used by any UK register provider (RP).

The other firms on the list are Jan Snel UK Ltd, M-AR Offsite, OSCO Homes and Totally Modular.

Procure Plus, which operates a number of frameworks and other procurement solutions for more than 75 housing associations and local authorities, said the framework covered standard house types. RPs will be able to use it to access contractors who can both design and manufacture the houses as well as actually deliver the homes on site.

While the firm said it has no specific pipeline of schemes for the framework at the moment, it expected demand to be in the region of £400m of construction over the four years.

Robert Whitton, founder and chief executive of Impact Capital Group said he was “so pleased” to have been appointed under this framework, which came after the firm – set up earlier in 2020 with the purchase of Lesko Modular (pictured) – was one of a number appointed to the £2bn Central Housing Investment Consortium contract.

Whitton said: “We are really excited to have the opportunity to contribute to a positive change in how housing is delivered, building the homes that Britain needs whilst assisting in the transition to net zero carbon housing by combining digital design, intelligent technology and offsite construction techniques to manufacture homes.”


Source: Housing Today



Innovative use of shipping containers characterizes this home design.

Some of the most innovative work in home design happening right now is being undertaken with an unexpected medium: shipping containers. A 2019 article in Dwell helped explain why — they’re durable and modular, meaning that you can easily create a cozy or spacious home or office with them as the base. And, over the last few years, shipping container homes have found a growing audience.

There are shipping container homes, and then there’s the Starburst House, designed by Whitaker Studio. An article at Business Insider notes that this distinctive home is on the market for $3.5 million, with construction on it due to begin next year. It’s spacious, distinctive and located near Joshua Tree National Park. Oh, and it’s made from 21 shipping containers.

“The home’s exoskeleton of cuboid forms emanate in all directions oriented to capture the sheer beauty of the vistas, sky and desert-scape,” reads the listing for the house from realtors Engel & Völkers.

The house features a trio of bathrooms and solar panels capable of powering the entire place. It was originally commissioned by film producer Chris Hanley, who has a penchant for distinctive architecture — he’s also one of the people behind the nearby Invisible House, which resembles a horizontally-aligned skyscraper.

It’s not hard to see the appeal of Starburst House, both via its innovative use of pre-existing objects and for how that design works to showcase the stunning landscape that will surround the building. And it’s a truly unique space to boot.

Source: InsideHook

Green Park Village Primary Academy

Leading brick slip cladding specialist, Eurobrick, has been supplying its systems to the education sector for 30 years and, more recently, with offsite construction specialist Reds10 to supply two new school projects in Reading; Green Park Village Primary Academy and Addington School.

Green Park Village Primary Academy is a new two-storey primary school that is situated within a new housing development of 1400 homes. Designed and built using a steel framed volumetric modular design, the 2,400m2 school project also benefits from SMART building technology to create an energy efficient space.

Eurobrick’s P-Clad system was chosen as part of a number of finishes for the exterior, with around 1200m2 installed with specially cut 22mm thick Vandersanden Corum brick slips and corners and Eurobrick’s specially formulated Europoint mortar in Light Sandstone.

The development was shortlisted for two categories at the Offsite Awards and one at the Building Awards 2020.

Addington School is for young people with special educational needs and disabilities. They needed to expand capacity due to an increase in applications, so Wokingham Borough Council embarked on a project to create a new space for Sixth Form pupils which would allow an additional 50 places at the school.

This 1000m2 steel framed volumetric modular design was created by HLM Architects and delivered by Reds10. Around 512m2 of P-Clad was installed with specially cut 22mm Olivier Karma White Grey stock brick slips and finished with Light Grey Europoint mortar. Whole bricks were also supplied for landscaping works.

The school won the School Procurement Awards and the Education Business Awards 2020.

P-Clad has proved very popular in the education sector with schools and universities alike. It is specially designed so that it can be fixed directly to steel frame structures as well as other batten or bracket systems, and is ideal for providing a brick finish rainscreen on prefabricated structures. As well as being extensively tested to achieve BBA certification, P-Clad is LABC registered and comes with Eurobrick’s own 25 year product guarantee.

These eye-catching buildings provide essential spaces for education that are sustainable and innovative in their design and delivery and show the quality and versatility that modular construction can offer.

You can find out more about Eurobrick’s systems and products at

The existing Borssele nuclear power plant (Image: EPZ)

EPZ, operator of the Borssele nuclear power plant, has called for an extension to its operation beyond 2033 and/or the construction of two new large reactors at the site in order to help the Netherlands meet its energy and climate goals. The company’s director, Carlo Wolters, presented EPZ’s vision yesterday at a parliamentary debate on the role of nuclear power in the Dutch energy system.

Nuclear power has a small role in the Dutch electricity supply, with the 485 MWe (net) Borssele pressurised water reactor providing about 3% of total generation. The plant was built by Siemens and has been in operation since 1973. It is scheduled to close in 2033.

In a position paper published on 28 November, EPZ said electrification in many areas of the energy sector will lead to a sharp rise in power demand in the Netherlands over the next 15 years. “EPZ foresees that all climate-neutral electricity sources must be used for to meet this increasing electricity demand,” it said.

“As far as EPZ is concerned, nuclear energy is also in the future under certain conditions one of these climate neutral sources …  Two options (or a combination thereof) are obvious,” it said. These are an extension to the operation of the existing Borssele reactor and/or the construction of two new reactors on the same site.

EPZ said it wants to investigate, together with the government, what the technical-economic preconditions are for an extension after 2033 of the current Borssele reactor. An operating time extension of 10 to 20 years is possible, it said. It noted that a letter from EPZ about this had already been sent to Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Eric Wiebes and the House of Representatives. Any market risk must be covered in the business case for the extension, EPZ said.

EPZ is in favour of constructing two new 1500 MWe reactors at Borssele before the mid-1930s. It said a precondition is the choice of a proven (and licensed) reactor design of which the permit and consultation processes can be completed on time. Subsequently, during the construction no changes to design and regulations are made. Finally it is necessary that any market risk in the business case is covered by the government.

“With an adequate project progression, the costs of a new Generation III reactor are between EUR8 and EUR10 billion and the construction time is about eight years,” EPZ said.

With a combination of these two options, by the mid-2030s the installed climate-neutral capacity at Borssele could be about 3500 MWe, with an availability of 90%, EPZ said. This would be sufficient to meet about 25% of current Dutch electricity demand.

“A fully climate-neutral energy system by 2050 remains within reach, even if electricity consumption continues to increase,” it said. If it keeps the existing Borssele reactor operating and constructs two new ones, the emission of about 13 megatonnes of carbon dioxide will be avoided, it added.

However, EPZ said government support will be needed for nuclear new build to be an option. The government must set financial and political-social frameworks (permits, financial guarantees and sureties). “This gives investors the guarantee that investments made over the long exploitation period can be recouped from a nuclear power plant.” It added, “Only the government can set and monitor the necessary frameworks.”

The Netherlands is considering the expansion of nuclear power in its energy mix, according to a letter Wiebes submitted to the Dutch parliament in September, together with a report by consultants Enco. The cabinet is now preparing a motion requesting that the country holds a market consultation to assess commercial interest in nuclear new build.


Source: World Nuclear News



Follow us on Twitter            Join us on Linked in  


Image credit: Dogger Bank

The project will have three phases and will power up six million homes per year


The UK, already the world’s leader in offshore wind, is getting ready to start construction of what will be the world’s biggest offshore wind park, Dogger Bank. The British utility company SSE and the Norwegian energy firm Equinor agreed to invest $8 billion in the project, which will be used to build the first two phases.

Dogger Bank is an isolated sandbank within the central to southern North Sea spanning UK, German, Danish and Dutch waters. The area was a landmass connecting the UK to mainland Europe. As the sea level rose after the last ice age, Dogger Bank became an island before being completely covered by water about 8,000 years ago.

The wind farm is being developed in three phases, Dogger Bank A, Dogger Bank B, and Dogger Bank C, located between 130km and 190km from the North East coast of England. Collectively they will become the world’s largest offshore wind farm. Each phase will have an installed generation capacity of up to 1.2 gigawatts (GW).

The construction of the first two phases, with 2.4 GW capacity, will be financed by a group of 29 banks and three credit export agencies. They will be built at the same time starting in 2021 to maximize the synergies due to their geographical proximity and make use of common technology and contractors.

The project will be the first to feature the 13MW General Electric (GE) Haliade-X, the largest wind turbine in the world. One rotation of the Haliade-X is estimated to power a British home for two days. Once completed, Dogger Bank will power up to six million homes annually in the UK, equivalent to 5% of the country’s electricity demand.

Join the ZME newsletter for amazing science news, features, and exclusive scoops. More than 40,000 subscribers can’t be wrong.

Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE Chief Executive, said in a statement: “We are putting our money where our mouth is on delivering net-zero and reinforcing the UK’s position as a world leader. This investment will help drive a green recovery from coronavirus through the project’s construction over the next five years.”

The UK is already the world leader in offshore wind, with more installed capacity than any other country. Offshore wind now powers the equivalent of 4.5 million homes per year and in many areas, wind is now the lowest cost option for new power in the UK, cheaper than new fossil fuel or nuclear power projects.

UK Primer Minister Boris Johnson announced this year a plan for offshore wind to power every home in the UK by 2030. This will require a $66 billion in investment and the equivalent of one turbine to be installed every weekday for the whole of the next decade, an analysis by Aurora Energy Research.

“Your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle – the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands,” Johnson said in a press conference in October, as part of a “build back greener” initiative.

Source: ZME science


Follow us on Twitter            Join us on Linked in  

The construction industry is vital to Europe’s economy, providing around 18 million direct jobs and contributing to about 9% of the EU’s GDP.

Its importance as a sector has prompted research into making it even more competitive.






The HEPHAESTUS project explores the innovative use of robots and autonomous systems in the construction industry.

European researchers have developed a cable-driven robot as part of the project. We went to see the prototype being tested in central Spain.

Eight flexible cables allow the robot to rotate and move in all different directions around a 100 square meter mock-up of a three-storey building facade.

The system can hold several different tools – and is able to install and maintain heavy curtain walls.

It can also hold around a ton of construction materials – and place them across large vertical workspaces with millimetric precision – in very challenging environments.


The system can be customised depending on the size of the facade where work will be carried out.

For example, bigger construction surfaces need longer cables – and different geometric patterns.

Scientists working on the European research project say the main challenge is getting the cable tension right, as Mariola Rodriguez Mijangos, an industrial engineer at Tecnalia, explained:

“Once the tension is determined, we can design the rest of the installation. The cost of it depends on the tension.

“The more tension cables require, the more expensive the whole installation will be.

“Our main challenge is to find the minimum tension but at the same time a sufficient amount in the cables for the robot to be able to fulfil its tasks,” she said.


Scientists say the system will increase efficiency and execute tasks with great precision.

As well as installing curtain walls, the robot can also fit solar panels and other construction surfaces.

It also has the capability to scan, paint, clean, and replace damaged parts of a building in need of repair.

“From our point of view as a construction company, this system has two advantages – one is the effective reduction of installation time when building curtain walls,” Joe David Jimenez Vicaria, a civil engineer at Acciona, said.

“This translates into a real profit for the company.

“The second is the reduction, or the minimising, of safety risks. The risk of working at a height is eliminated, or reduced, as there is much less risk of our workers falling from the building site,” he added.

Researchers say their technology could be ready for commercial use on construction sites in five to ten years.


Source: Euro News

Follow us on Twitter            Join us on Linked in  

There’s a lot of buzz around self-driving cars, but autonomous driving technology could revolutionise the construction industry first. That industry hasn’t changed much over the last several decades, according to some experts, making it an ideal candidate for automation.

“The way we build today is largely unchanged from the way we used to build 50 years ago,” said Gaurav Kikani, vice president of Built Robotics. “Within two years, I think we’re really going to turn the corner, and you’re going to see an explosion of robotics being used on construction sites.”

The industry is also faced with a labor shortage that the Covid-19 pandemic has further complicated.

“Covid is making people step back and say, ‘hey, the way we’ve been doing things for a long time is just not sustainable,’” said Kevin Albert, founder and CEO of Canvas. “It is just a wake-up call for the industry.”

Canvas is one of several companies working on autonomous construction technology. Big players like Caterpillar and Komatsu, and start-ups like SafeAI and Built Robotics, see value in using autonomous machines to accelerate construction projects.

The mining industry was one of the first to employ the use of self-driving tech. Caterpillar began its first autonomy program more than 30 years ago. The company now has the largest fleet of autonomous haul trucks. Caterpillar says it’s hauled 2 billion metric tons in just over six years.

Built Robotics is a San Francisco-based start-up founded by an ex-Google engineer that already has machinery out in the field. It’s automated several pieces of equipment, such as bulldozers and excavators.

“You can now collapse your construction timeline so you can knock out work overnight so that it’s ready for your human workers in the morning to speed them along,” Kikani said.

SafeAI is another Silicon Valley start-up. It recently teamed up with Obayashi for a pilot program. It’s been retrofitting equipment like dump trucks, bulldozers and loaders.

Robots are also helping inside. San Francisco-based Canvas created an autonomous machine for finishing drywall and has worked on projects like the San Francisco International Airport and Chase Arena. Humans work alongside its robotic system.

“Drywall is very hard work on the body,” Albert said. “And we’ve seen that 1 out of every 4 workers has to end their career early because of injuries. This will create longer careers for people and also enable people to join the trades that haven’t had access before.”

The construction industry is one of the largest sectors in the global economy, with about $10 trillion spent each year. That spending accounts for 13% of the world’s GDP, even though the sector’s annual productivity growth has only increased 1% over the past 20 years. According to McKinsey & Co., $1.6 trillion of additional value could be created through higher productivity, and autonomy would help the industry achieve that.


Source: CNBC

Follow us on Twitter            Join us on Linked in  

Computer scientists at the University of the West of England are developing software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help construction reduce the amount of embodied carbon in their building and infrastructure.

Computer scientists at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) are developing software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help construction companies reduce the amount of embodied carbon in their building and infrastructure projects.

Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Computer scientists at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) are developing software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help construction companies reduce the amount of embodied carbon in their building and infrastructure projects.

The £800,000 ($969,016) project is funded by Innovate UK, the United Kingdom’s innovation agency that works with organizations to drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy.

UWE Bristol’s Big Data Laboratory is leading the two-year project, which began in November, in collaboration with Winvic Construction and Costain, as well as working with Edgetrix, a start-up that specializes in cloud and AI solutions.

Together, they are developing a program that radically speeds up the process of determining how to reduce embodied carbon at the planning stages. Embodied carbon is the amount of energy (measured in CO2) consumed during the project’s construction phase and includes emissions from material extraction or manufacturing, transport of materials, among others.

Construction organizations have caps on the amount of CO2 their construction projects emit, which is in line with the UK government’s objective to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This means that when planning the construction of a bridge or building, they need to estimate the amount of embodied carbon. This can then be reduced by using alternative materials that have a lower carbon footprint.



However, determining which materials to use can be time-consuming and can take up to several man-hours, the new software will use machine learning to make that calculation and save time.

Lukman Akanbi, who is leading the project and works at UWE Bristol, says, “We are going to collect embodied carbon data from previous projects and machine learning models will be developed to learn the patterns from this data. The system will then be able to come up with alternative materials quicker.

“For a large scale project for example, instead of taking 5-10 hours to work out alternatives, it could initially take only one to two hours and further down the road, once more data is gathered, just a few minutes.”

The work, which started in November, will initially use Winvic and Costain’s commercial premises as test sites for the software. The plan is then to roll out the software to building designers and others working in the construction industry.

Akanbi says, “The objective is to make the system available to building designers and enable them to use it as part of their existing design systems, such as Autodesk Revit. This way they can implement embodied carbon analysis incrementally throughout construction projects’ delivery.”


Source: Construction Technology

Follow us on Twitter            Join us on Linked in  

A British company that was devastated by covid-19 has won a major US military contract just one week after winning a Lloyds National Business Award., a robot specialist based in the West Midlands, has been selected to supply the US military with new UVC disinfection robots. The good news for the troubled company comes just one week after the firm received the award for Best Artificial Intelligence Company in the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards 2020.

Months before the first coronavirus lockdown in the UK, the company moved away from robot hire for events and embraced a new aspect of the AI industry – robots that use UVC technology for disinfection. Now the shift has paid off and a company nearly destroyed by the pandemic has risen from the ashes.

The company’s robots have been chosen based on their exceptional disinfection capabilities and will be used to fight coronavirus in US military bases in Germany.

The UVC light comes from high-powered bulbs and is used to blast and disinfect hard-to-reach places as the robots move along a pre-programmed map.

The technology is currently being used extensively worldwide to fight coronavirus and bacterial infections in hospitals.

Tim Warrington, CEO of said: “This is a great achievement for the company. We have been working tirelessly with the US military and installed the first robot of the order last week. This has already opened up many other opportunities with companies that are interested in our products and the efficiencies they provide.”


Company website:



Follow us on Twitter            Join us on Linked in