HS2 Ltd has announced a pilot project to repurpose worn-out wind turbine blades for use on the high speed rail project.

The innovation, believed to be a world first, will use suitable sections cut from decommissioned wind turbine blades in reinforced concrete instead of steel rebar.

HS2 Ltd estimates that the world-first project will cut carbon production by up to 90%.

The initiative is being taken forward under HS2 Ltd’s innovation programme by Skanska Costain Strabag joint venture, and the UK’s National Composites Centre, part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

HS2 Ltd innovation manager Rob Cairns said: “Reusing old turbine blades reduces waste, cuts demand for new steel and reduces the carbon generated during the production of concrete.

“This scheme is a brilliant example of the innovation happening on the whole HS2 project. If our world-first pilot project goes well, we could see a waste product from the energy industry becoming an essential material for the construction sector in the future.”

By 2023, around 15,000 turbine blades will have been decommissioned across the UK and EU. Until now, expired blades have either been ground down to be used as building materials or sent to energy-from-waste incinerators.

The innovative project will swap steel rebar, traditionally used to reinforce concrete, with sections of glass fibre reinforced polymer turbine blades that have reached the end of their operational lives generating low carbon electricity.



Skanska Costain Strabag Joint Venture’s innovation manger Harrison O’Hara added: “Wind turbine blades are extremely difficult to recycle. Ideas of what to do with them after they’re taken down range from turning them into playground slides to processing them into pellets for glues and paints.

“What’s potentially so significant about this innovation is that unlike some other turbine blade recycling initiatives, which involve reprocessing, our innovation reinforces concrete with sections simply cut from the turbines – massively reducing the carbon produced in repurposing the blades.”

NCC head of construction and infrastructure Graeme Jeremy added: “We’re looking forward to supporting this project. Composite materials offer huge benefits to a number of different industries, and finding new, sustainable uses for them as they are decommissioned from their first life is a challenge we’re finding solutions for all the time.”

With the innovation at an early stage, reuse will focus on swapping steel for turbine blades in low stress structures such as temporary access roads, top sections of concrete walls and ground bearing plinths – like those on which a portacabin might sit.

Work on the proof of concept pilot is due to start in Spring 2021 and, if successful, could be followed by a full roll out across HS2’s London tunnels between the M25 motorway and Euston station.


Source: New Civil Engineer


AIMCH housebuilding innovation project publishes encouraging results for advanced MMC 

 Advanced Industrialised Methods for the Construction of Homes (AIMCH), the innovation consortium set up to transform the housebuilding sector, has today published its second-year progress report showing encouraging results and key learnings for the sector.  AIMCH is a three-year research & development project aiming to help tackle the UK housing crisis by building new homes faster, to higher quality and more cost effectively than masonry methods using panelised MMC systems.

This latest report to be published by AIMCH highlights several key learnings for the industry across several important and innovative areas. One of the highlights being able to achieve a weather tight, insulated and secure superstructure in just one day. All advanced panelised MMC systems and lean construction solutions trialled so far have been successful and early analysis is recognising the benefits of these advanced panelised MMC systems with the hard data to back it up.


Other important outputs of the project in the last year include the completion of several studies and the publication of guides for industry:

  • Design standardisation and the development of product families
  • Guide to creating a BIM housing manual
  • Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA)
  • Designing a future factory


Stewart Dalgarno, AIMCH Project Director and Stewart Milne Group Director of Product Development, said: “Despite the challenges of Covid-19, the project team has worked hard to build momentum and has delivered some important outputs which confirm panelised modern methods of construction (MMC) as a very real and viable alternative to masonry, over the final year, we hope to take this to a new level.”


Mark Farmer, MMC expert and new AIMCH Chair, said: “Mainstreaming all categories of MMC is more important than ever.  In a post-Covid world the sector needs to transform productivity, improve quality as well as improving the welfare of its workforce.  We also need to find more sustainable ways of building in order to achieve a net zero-carbon built environment.


“The AIMCH project has already made great progress across a number of fronts which will better enable greater MMC adoption across all parts of industry including   SME’s. The work done on design standardisation, panelised and sub-assembly system applications, productivity and carbon measurement and manufacturing process optimisation are all rich sources of knowledge for others to learn from and use.”

A collaboration between Stewart Milne Group, Barratt Developments, L&Q, Forster Group, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) and Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), the project compares conventional and panelised MMC construction methods on actual building sites, and the impact scaling up panelised modern methods of construction (MMC) will have on the housebuilding industry.

The three-year AIMCH project, which has been live since early 2019, has been trialling new digital design tools, manufacturing advancements, and improved near-to-market offsite panelised MMC systems, using lean site processes on live housing projects over the past two years.

The project recognises the challenges of MMC manufacturing and through engagement with MTC, lead manufacturing partner, has conducted advanced manufacturing and digital business systems studies.  These include down selection process for a integrated ERP system for MMC manufacturing and installation, along with detailed proof of concept studies into specific manufacturing areas, where using robotics and advanced automation can improve MMC manufacturing output, productivity, quality and lower costs, including the design of future factories using mathematical models, dynamic simulation and 3D technology to improve investment decisions.

With decarbonisation of the built environment a priority, the project embarked on a study to measure and profile Embodied Carbon and Whole Life Costing in the use of MMC systems across four housing types to current and near zero carbon standards.  A strategy for a proof of concept, near zero carbon home trial was also developed with Barratt Developments.

The project also recognises the importance of SMEs and through Forster Group, roofing specialist, has helped accelerate their roofing technology, through collaborative learning and proof of concept trials with MTC and the AIMCH developers. Dissemination is important and provided by CSIC including presenting at several key industry events, a dedicated industry stakeholder group, project website and social media.

The goal of the project is to support the sector by delivering 120,000 homes for the same or less cost than traditional methods and built 30% quicker. The project has potential to impact on 35,000 homes being delivered by AIMCH partners across the UK each year.

In the project’s final year, a number of outputs and learnings for the sector will be completed and shared on the AIMCH website as well as at industry events, with final findings published in March 2022


You can read the full report here

Ancestral, but overshadowed by other technologies that have emerged over time, the rammed-earth walls are again gaining prominence in Brazil for being a low-impact, sustainable and economical solution. Known in Portuguese as taipa, it is a rudimentary construction system that compresses the earth into wooden boxes until it reaches an ideal density that allows a resistant and long-lasting structure.

Among the many benefits that rammed earth provides, its raw material is abundant, enabling the use of the same soil from the construction site, and reducing, therefore, the emission of carbon dioxide since it does not need long-distance transportation. In addition, it is non-toxic and provides a healthy environment in which the wall “breathes”, is fire resistant, and has excellent thermoacoustic insulation.

For example, in Arquipélago Arquitetos’s House in Cunha, the main walls are made from rammed earth. Using an authentic formwork system that avoids drilling and has developed a more efficient construction site, the modular components can be easily disassembled and reassembled. In addition, the rammed earth structures are tied by a concrete strap that serves as a support for the metal structure of the roof. The juxtaposed panels are solid enough to support the entire load weight of both the beam and roof.

Brazilian firm Argus Caruso decided to build the AA House, with rammed earth, in order to make the house breathe. Given the high humidity situation of Ubatuba, rammed earth could not be better. Employing several techniques, the foundation of the slab is in hyperadobe; the walls are built in the wattle-and-daub method and the structural wall is in rammed earth. For the architects, the top priority was to build a house with natural materials, ideally taken from the surroundings, but with a fine finish. The perfectly straight and smooth walls break the paradigm that a rammed-earth house is always crooked or badly completed.

All the soil generated by the earthmoving originated from the excavations of the foundations, can be used for the construction of rammed earth walls. In fact, this concept was used in the House in Mantiqueira, designed by Gui Paoliello in which the material was removed from the land itself and used in the foundation of three program-theme volumes (boxes) built with 30-cm thick (11.8-inches) earthen walls.

In the case of Guesthouse Paraty, designed by CRU! Architects, a 6.3-meter-long (21-feet-long) rammed red earth wall serves as soundproofing. As the site is on a slope, leveling was necessary. In this example, the raw material was also used with no extra energy required. In fact, the same formwork used for rammed earth was later applied to the roof structure.

Other features that architects seek to prioritize in the projects that adopt this ancient technique are color and texture. For example, at Estúdio OLO’s Casa Bosque, the orange rammed-earth structural wall works as an element that fits the intense chromatic palette of the project, which goes from the crimson kitchen to Sérgio Rodrigues’ Mole armchair in blue leather to the vibrant bookshelves at the end of the room.

Within the modern ways of adapting the use of rammed earth for the contemporary era, Casa Colinas features a unique system in the production of rammed earth structures with the use of metallic forms and the mechanization of the whole production process.








Source: Arch Daily



A new venture capital fund, 2150, has been launched to invest €200 million ($240 million) in start-up companies developing sustainable technologies to target the carbon footprint of cities. 


“Impact has been a dirty word, good for the world, but you’re not going to make any money on it. But we are capitalists – we are in this to make venture-style returns, and along the way have an impact on the planet. There are enough proof points now that those two can co-exist. These companies are going to outperform.”

2150 co-founder, Christian Hernandez


The advisory board for 2150, including former chief sustainability officer in the Obama administration and renowned urbanist and academic, Richard Florida, will review candidate firms working on everything from injecting carbon dioxide into concrete to monitoring energy use in buildings.

Based across London, Copenhagen and Berlin, 2150 was instigated by the fact that half the world lives in cities, increasing to two-thirds by 2050, creating an environmental impact the globe can ill-afford, given the climate crisis.

By fostering investment in sustainable urban technologies, the fund can enable construction firms and city planners to then use this technology to improve the environmental and climate intelligence of Europe’s cities.



“Our goal is to ensure the urban environment is liveable, healthy, and sustainable in 2150,” said Mikkel Bülow-Lehnsby, a co-founder of the fund and chairman of Nordic real estate company NREP.

Fellow 2150 co-founder, and a former Europe Facebook executive, Christian Hernandez, said the VC Fund is “driven by a desire to move the needle quicker and invest in companies which can affect big, systemic changes.”

The fund’s ambition was applauded by Michael Jansen, CEO of Cityzenith, creator of the Digital Twin 3D modelling platform, SmartWorldOS, able to visualise and co-ordinate exactly what is needed to transform cities and push back against Climate Change:

“Investment like that proposed by 2150 is vital to companies like ours. Cities produce more than 70%* of the earth’s greenhouse gases – the world’s 100 biggest urban carbon-emitters alone produce 18%**. It’s why we launched our ‘Clean Cities – Clean Future’ campaign to donate SmartWorldOS to key cities, one at a time as they strive to become carbon neutral.

“By handling massive data streams harnessed to cutting-edge AI, we have delivered custom climate resilience applications to greenfield cities, real estate developments, and infrastructure projects. We know the issues and have the capabilities to help solve them for those who design, build, and manage cities.”

New construction materials, and algorithms that make buildings more efficient to manage will be the 2150 fund’s priority; it launched in February with €130m already accumulated and is expected to close with €200m by mid-2021.

Early 2021 has seen a surge in sustainability and Climate Change focused action: the ESG-focused fund FootPrint Coalition Ventures was announced in January by Hollywood ‘Iron Man’ actor Robert Downey Jr, with major funds also launched in France and Germany.

And Bloomberg reported how banks and corporations issued a record $300bn of green bonds in 2020, while the EU committed €1tn last year to net-zero projects.



Before Covid-19, the interest in modern methods of construction (MMC) was growing – albeit slowly – but the pandemic has certainly sped things up.

The benefits of modular construction are no secret – increased safety on site and schedule certainty, as well as less material waste and fewer delays. Yet, despite many within the industry calling for greater use, modular take up has remained slow and currently only accounts for a very small percentage of housing delivery.

However, the recent lockdown measures and all the subsequent restrictions put in place – along with the government’s ‘Build Build Build’ and ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ pledges – has seen greater emphasis placed on its utilisation as developers and housebuilders look for innovative solutions to deliver much-needed housing quickly.

Traditional housebuilding is still by far the primary build method in the UK, but the last few months have forced the wider industry to start thinking differently. The sector has looked at how they can innovate, adapt, and ultimately build more homes in the face of the pandemic.

The proportion of new homes built using MMC is therefore predicted to increase from the current 6-10% to 20% of the market share in the coming years, according to the last report from Savills. This is great news for the industry but in order to meet not only the UK’s housing delivery target but its aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 – this has to increase.

I believe the industry has been slow to accept MMC because it is largely misunderstood. There is a stigma around modular and a general hesitance to change as people are used to working in the traditional way. There is also a perception that the product is low quality and has no integrity of design, but that simply isn’t the case now.


There is a real lack of knowledge within the sector about modular and this reluctance to learn is stunting innovation and growth in the residential sector – and ultimately preventing us from quickly building more homes.

The pandemic has started to change this as developers and landowners are beginning to consider how to move forwards. For instance, we have started to see local authorities look towards modular building as a way to unlock residential sites to deliver affordable housing.

One such project that we’re currently working on is with Bassetlaw District Council alongside Faithful+Gould. The modular housing scheme is the first MMC project for the authority and will deliver 120 homes in Nottinghamshire.

We are responsible for looking at the flood risk, drainage, transport, and structural design as well as providing specialist MMC advice and the project marks our tenth modular scheme.

It’s therefore clear that more and more decision makers are waking up to the fact that modular housing is an incredibly viable option for a post-pandemic recovery. But we still need to go further.

Developments such as the one with Bassetlaw District Council help deliver modern, innovative and energy efficient residential schemes that improve neighbourhoods, support local jobs as well as the council’s ambition to increase its housing delivery.

However, we need it on a wider scale to really make a dent in the 300,000 new homes target set by the government. The scale of our work has definitely increased – from roughly ten units on a development to almost 700 on our most recent scheme – so I just hope we continue to see action rather than all the talk of pre-Covid times.

By Wayne Oakes is director at multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy Dice


Source: Civil Engineer

Keystone Group is delighted to announce that Keyhouse – its revolutionary 12 Hour House – has been highly commended in the Innovation category at the 14th Annual Construction Excellence National Awards 2020.

The prestigious awards showcase excellence in the built environment and are part of a national programme of nine regional awards covering England and Wales. The commendation at the national awards recognises the company’s ground breaking Keyhouse. An innovative flat pack system which brings the reality of a factory built home to those housebuilders wanting to take the next move in offsite construction, it can be assembled on site in just 12 hours. The highly commended accolade follows a regional award win for the East Midlands.

Cathal Nicholas at Keystone Group said: “This is a fantastic achievement. The Construction Excellence awards are revered throughout the industry. The recognition is testament to our vast manufacturing and technical expertise, and the same ground-breaking innovation that can be seen across the Keystone Group. The Keyhouse 12 Hour House offers tremendous potential for clients who value the opportunity to fast track completion of homes with the minimum of onsite labour.”



Commenting on the standard of the awards, the judges from Constructing Excellence said: “The quality of the entries and winners to these awards demonstrates just how much the construction industry is progressing and the Keystone Group are very much at the forefront of that.”

The Keyhouse system is based around a series of factory built components that are delivered to site. Once on site a team of four people can construct the house in just 12 hours delivering the complete structure of a brick finish on a robust concrete outer leaf with an internal insulated timber frame, along with floor cassettes, staircase and a pre-tiled roof. It is watertight, airtight-insulated and ready for the first fix. This enables the housebuilder to add additional value and offer homebuyers a personal choice of finishes.

The Keyhouse flat pack system has inherent design flexibility. The company’s design team can work with architects, housebuilders and developers to adapt the concept design to suit most house requirements. The system can also accommodate ‘stepped’ and ‘staggered’ site layouts.



To find out about Keyhouse, visit www.thekeyhouse.co.uk

Hexagon Purus selected for hydrogen fuel cell project for construction equipment

Hexagon Purus will, for the first time, contribute to the development of zero-emissions equipment in the construction industry. Hexagon will deliver a 700 bar turn-key renewable hydrogen storage system for a demonstration project with a heavy equipment manufacturer to develop a fuel cell powered construction machine. The project will advance the understanding of the viability of hydrogen fuel cell power as a replacement for a traditional internal combustion engine to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

About the market

Unlike conventional diesel engine-based equipment, hydrogen-based electric construction equipment uses electricity produced through the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen as its power source, meaning that there are no emissions of toxic gases or greenhouse gases into the air.

“The construction sector is undergoing a number of changes that could have a far-reaching impact. In the future, homes, offices and large infrastructure projects could be built using this zero-emission equipment,” says Todd Sloan, EVP Hexagon Purus Systems. “We are excited to enter this segment. We believe in clean air everywhere and we look forward to further projects to enable zero emission technology in the construction industry”.



About Hexagon Purus
Hexagon Purus, a Hexagon Composites company, is a world leading provider of hydrogen type 4 high-pressure cylinders, battery packs and vehicle systems integration for fuel cell electric and battery electric vehicles. Hexagon Purus enables zero emission solutions for light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles, buses, ground storage, distribution, maritime, rail, aerospace and backup power solutions.

Learn more at www.hexagonpurus.com and follow @HexagonPurus on LinkedIn and Twitter.

A US company launched in November 2020 to offer developers fast modular buildings has brought in heavyweight manufacturing executives, including from Tesla, to develop its engineering and automation capacity.

The company, called iBuilt, with head offices in New York and factories in Pennsylvania, grew out of long-established modular builder Deluxe Modular and claims to be able to deliver multi-storey buildings 20% cheaper and 50% faster than conventional construction can.

Kazim Aya was vice president of advanced automation at Corvac Composites, a supplier of airflow management and water-deflection systems to the automotive industry (iBuilt)

It says its proprietary BIM platform allows it to produce full designs and drawings in 30 days with a guaranteed price and construction schedule and the promise of no change orders.

On 6 January iBuilt announced that Gonzalo Gonzalez, former senior director of manufacturing engineering at Tesla, had joined as chief manufacturing officer, and on 22 February it said supply-chain automation veteran Kazim Aya had taken up the post of chief engineering and automation officer.

“iBuilt is disruptive. This company is reimagining the fundamentals of the construction industry by streamlining the design and build processes and making great strides towards efficiency,” said Gonzalez. “Although the construction industry is one of the largest in the world, it’s the least digitised and has lacked innovation for decades. Joining the team presents an opportunity to be a changemaker and to create better and more efficient ways to build.”


The company joins Silicon Valley start-up Katerra in attempting to lure developers to tech-driven modular construction. Katerra, however, has struggled with delays, cost overruns and layoffs. Earlier this year it emerged that its investor SoftBank had to inject another $200m into its coffers to prevent it from having to seek protection from creditors.

iBuilt says it has more than $150m in signed orders for buildings, and $600m of new deals in negotiation.

Kazim Aya joins iBuilt with 40 years of experience in supply chain management, manufacturing, automation technology and quality control systems. Before iBuilt, he was vice president of advanced automation at Corvac Composites, a supplier of airflow management and water-deflection systems to the automotive industry.

“I was instantly drawn to iBuilt because the company is on the front line of innovation in the construction industry,” he said.

“No one in the industry does robotic-automated manufacturing and implementing this technology into our unique design-build-operate process will completely change the way buildings are built and enable us to deliver better buildings. Our new way of building will be as transformative as when the assembly line was introduced to automobile manufacturing 100 years ago.”


Source: Global Construction Review