Wrexham Council say they are “taking sustainable housing to the next level” in the borough as it launches its first ever ‘modern methods of construction (MMC) new build’ at a site on Heol Offa, Johnstown.

MMC is described as a ‘off site construction’ techniques, then assembly on site, as a Welsh Government strategy explains should result in housing built ‘more quickly and cost effectively’.

The development will replace 2 semi-detached dwellings, which had previously been demolished with a two-storey apartment block offering one-bedroom apartments.

The council say construction aims to be completed in early 2025, and will offer long term homes for either single occupancy residents or couples, in line with Wrexham Council’s Allocation Policy.

There will be three apartments on the ground floor, which will offer accessible and adaptable facilities and three apartments on the first floor.

The council say, “The ground floor apartments will offer direct external access to the communal garden at the rear of the building, allowing easy access to fresh air and a potential place to socialise in the warmer months.

“These green homes will produce less carbon emissions than homes built under the current Building Regulations and will feature new technology when it comes to heating, hot water systems and reducing heat waste.”

“Waste removal will be easy for both residents and waste collection vehicles as a secure waste compound will be installed. The site will also provide 9 car parking spaces, allowing for residents and visitors to have accessible car parking facilities.

Councillor David A Bithell Lead Member for Housing added, “I welcome this project to build new Council homes in Johnstown and funding has been approved as part of our annual capital programme.

“Although this project has been delayed these new homes are very welcome. We hope to be on site very soon and I look forward to new Council homes being built, which will be part of our own housing stock.”

Nuaire, part of the Genuit group, has expanded its market-leading Xboxer heat recovery range with the addition of the UNI-X unit, which has now been rebranded to Xboxer Universal.

Originally launched in 2017 as a ventilation solution for student accommodation, the UNI-X has been a favourite amongst Nuaire’s customers, even becoming an Innovation of the Year finalist at the Student Accommodation Awards.  Since its launch, the UNI-X has proven to be a suitable solution across a far wider range of applications than ever anticipated, including schools, hospitals, offices, care homes, and apartments.  In line with its widespread appeal, Nuaire has rebranded the UNI-X units as Xboxer Universal, part of the Xboxer heat recovery range.

Fans of this innovative heat recovery unit will be pleased to know its construction and performance retain the quality that has made it so popular, with high efficiencies, low SEPs and ultra-low noise levels.  The latter is a result of the Xboxer Universal’s unique casing consisting of internal profiling and external acoustic cladding.

Xboxer Universal is available in three models – UNIX-220, UNIX-360 and UNIX-580 – with the largest model having enough duty to ventilate a cluster of up to 12 rooms.  The easy to use three speed controls are included as a standard feature, allowing full adjustability for site requirements. Each size is equipped with an integral mounting bracket, helping to reduce installation time no matter the project. Multiple spigot options are available, making the unit fully compatible with circular or rectangular ducting.

The various sizes allow customers greater flexibility when choosing a suitable unit for their space. The UNI-X580 will enable sites to ventilate a large cluster of rooms with just one system. Innovative space saving solutions mean the unit needs a maximum depth of 295mm, enabling it to fit neatly into low ceiling voids. Once installed, the unit is easy to maintain with the G3 filter accessible from the underside of the unit, meaning the highest indoor air quality levels can be maintained.

The Xboxer Universal range is enhanced by Nuaire’s in-line carbon filter range, IAQ-BOX, which filters out up to 99.5% of harmful N02 and up to 80% of Particulate Matter (PM). Nuaire’s all-in-one thermal ducting range, Ductmaster Thermal, can also be specified to improve thermal efficiency and reduce installation time.

Xboxer Universal is the latest addition to Nuaire’s Xboxer family whose combination of innovative design, flexible control options and high efficiency, make it an award winning, market-leading heat recovery solution.  Other units in the range include Xboxer Hybrid, which combines pure natural ventilation with mechanical assistance; and Xboxer XBC+ which has the lowest depth by duty unit on the market, for a space saving solution. All are designed to filter clean air into a building whilst extracting stale air from the interior, retaining heat that would otherwise be lost.

Established in 1966, and based in Caerphilly, Nuaire designs and manufactures practical solutions for all ventilation requirements across the domestic, commercial and industrial construction sectors.  Nuaire has a reputation for pioneering new air technology supported by high-quality units.

For further information, please contact enquiries@nuaire.co.uk or visit https://www.nuaire.co.uk/best-practice/xboxer-family

With its extensive range of market-leading ventilation systems, products and accessories designed to work in harmony, Domus Ventilation is in the enviable position of providing customers with a single source for all their residential ventilation requirements. A new short video has been uploaded to its website – domusventilation.co.uk – that clearly explains the benefits of this approach for customers.

Domus Ventilation manufactures high quality and solutions-based ventilation products that save energy and improve indoor air quality from its state-of-the-art production facilities in South Wales.  It takes a whole house approach to ventilation, with mechanical extract appliances, ducting and accessories designed and third party tested for end-to-end system performance.  A ventilation system designed and installed entirely from Domus Ventilation components makes for a highly efficient one, with smooth air flow and minimum energy usage.

Established over 30 years’ ago, Domus Ventilation built its reputation for quality on its ducting systems in the early years.  Today, Domus rigid ducting is available in six different profiles, with high efficiency duct bends, supported by patented duct insulation, and sound attenuation components, for a complete duct system solution.  The company has expanded its product portfolio over the past decade to include mechanical ventilation systems such as the award winning HRXE range of Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems; the highly energy-efficient CMX Mechanical Extract Ventilation (MEV) units; and a comprehensive range of intermittent extract fans.

But the benefits of buying from a single manufacturer doesn’t stop just at the product range.  By using a single brand, you can benefit from the full range of support on offer.  In the case of Domus Ventilation, this includes technical support from a dedicated, in-house technical team offering a range of services from duct take-offs and estimations, to Revit MVHR and MEV system drawings, all completely free of charge.  The company also provides a detailed Specification Guide and offers several CIBSE CPD accredited courses.

Domus Ventilation, part of the Genuit Group, has a well-deserved reputation for quality, supported by excellent technical support, from a market leading manufacturer and designer.  The company provides differentiated ventilation solutions, transforming the way developers, contractors, installers, home owners and distributors meet Building Regulations Parts F & L and emerging environmental standards.

For more information, and to view the new short video, go to domusventilation.co.uk

Established in 1939, O’Reilly Precast has evolved from a modest family enterprise into a paragon of innovation in the precast concrete industry across Ireland and the UK. Through decades of dedication, we have pioneered advancements that have not only transformed our operations but also the broader construction sector. Our journey is a testament to our commitment to excellence, innovation, and sustainability, setting new benchmarks in construction methodologies.

The Smart Choice: Offsite Construction

In an era where precision, efficiency, and sustainability dictate construction practices, offsite construction emerges as the smart choice for forward-thinking companies.

O’Reilly Precast is at the vanguard, harnessing advanced technologies such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) to ensure unmatched design accuracy in precast elements. This innovative approach aligns with the UK government’s preference for offsite manufacturing in publicly funded projects, highlighting its significance in modern construction. Offsite construction minimises waste and maximises resource efficiency, significantly reducing carbon emissions by limiting site disturbance and vehicle movement, thus embodying the principles of sustainable development.

Accelerating Construction: The Offsite Advantage

The adoption of offsite construction methods by O’Reilly Precast signifies a leap towards accelerating construction processes without compromising quality or safety. By allowing simultaneous progress in construction activities and site preparation, offsite construction ensures that projects are resilient to weather-related delays, thanks to the controlled factory environment. This method excels in expediting repetitive designs and ensures a predictable schedule, as precast elements arrive on-site ready for immediate installation. Such streamlined workflows eliminate common inefficiencies associated with onsite construction, offering a predictability that is invaluable in today’s fast-paced construction landscape.

Health & Safety: Our Foremost Priority

At O’Reilly Precast, the health and safety of our workforce and the broader community are paramount. Offsite construction significantly enhances safety standards by shifting the bulk of construction activities to a controlled factory setting. This transition reduces the risks posed by adverse weather and changing site conditions, leading to a notable decrease in on-site accidents. Furthermore, the precise offsite production of precast components minimises structural faults, while the reduced need for on-site workers lowers the incidence of accidents. The decrease in noise and dust pollution contributes to safer and healthier working conditions, underscoring our commitment to not only meeting but exceeding health and safety regulations.

Dispelling Myths: The Truth About Precast Construction

Precast construction is often enveloped in myths that obscure its true value and potential. At O’Reilly Precast, we’re committed to debunking these misconceptions, illuminating the versatility, efficiency, and sustainability of precast concrete.

Myth 1: Precast Concrete is Prohibitively Expensive

One of the most persistent myths is that precast concrete incurs higher costs than traditional construction methods. While the upfront investment in precast elements might be higher due to the precision engineering and quality control processes, the overall project costs are often lower. This efficiency comes from reduced construction timelines, minimised need for onsite labour, and lower long-term maintenance costs. Precast construction offers a cost-effective solution when considering the lifecycle costs of a building, providing value that far exceeds initial investment.

Myth 2: Limited Design Flexibility

Another common misconception is that precast concrete stifles architectural creativity. On the contrary, modern precast technology is incredibly versatile, allowing for a wide range of architectural styles and finishes. From intricate textures and colours to unique shapes and sizes, precast concrete can be customised to meet any design aesthetic.

This flexibility empowers architects and designers to explore creative solutions without the constraints often associated with traditional materials.

Myth 3: Logistical Nightmares

The logistics of transporting and installing large precast elements can seem daunting, leading to the belief that precast construction complicates project management.

However, with proper planning and coordination, these challenges are easily navigated. O’Reilly Precast’s Just-In-Time Delivery System exemplifies how logistical hurdles can be overcome. By staging deliveries to align with the construction schedule and utilising specialised transportation and lifting equipment, we ensure that precast elements arrive just as they are needed, streamlining the construction process and reducing site congestion.

Myth 4: Precast is Only for Industrial or Utilitarian Buildings

There’s a misconception that precast concrete is only suitable for industrial buildings or structures where aesthetics are a secondary concern. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Precast concrete is used in a variety of building types, including residential homes, schools, hospitals, and high-end commercial spaces. The material’s adaptability allows for a range of architectural expressions, from the sleek and modern to the ornate and classical. Precast concrete offers a blend of functionality and aesthetic appeal that can enhance any building project.

Myth 5: Environmental Unfriendliness

Some believe that concrete, as a construction material, is inherently unsustainable. However, precast concrete, when compared to other construction methods, offers significant environmental advantages. The controlled factory setting of precast production allows for more efficient use of materials and reduces waste. The durability and longevity of precast structures also contribute to their sustainability, as they require less repair and maintenance over their lifecycle. Additionally, the thermal mass properties of concrete contribute to energy efficiency in buildings, reducing heating and cooling costs.

Strategic Precast Implementation at Heathrow Airport Project Overview

Tasked with a significant undertaking, the main contractor, Grove Developments, alongside O’Reilly Precast faced the challenge head-on: constructing a 14-story hotel within the confines of Heathrow Airport’s bustling environment. This venture required not only technical expertise but also a mastery of logistics and safety regulations

Precast Execution

  • Scope: The project called for 13,000 m² each of Hollowcore floors and Screed, 12,500 m² of Precast Walls, and 80 flights of Stairs and Landings.
  • Location: A stone’s throw from Terminal 2, placing it at the heart of one of the busiest travel hubs globally.

Navigating Complexities

  • Intricate Logistics: The challenge of manoeuvring materials through the busy terminals was met with robust planning, ensuring smooth delivery and installation with minimal disruption to the airport’s operations.
  • Elevated Safety Standards: In an area where security is paramount, the team implemented a comprehensive online induction programme for all site workers, enhancing on-site safety knowledge and compliance with airport regulations.
  • Collaborative Precision: The project necessitated a high degree of coordination with various stakeholders, executed through clear communication channels and precise timing to fit the airport’s strict operational windows.
  • Advanced Installation Techniques: The use of state-of-the-art safety systems facilitated the secure and efficient assembly of precast elements, showcasing the potential for precision in complex environments.

Outcomes and Impact

The completion of the hotel’s precast structure demonstrates the viability of offsite construction methods in high-stakes scenarios. It stands as a benchmark for delivering complex projects with rigorous demands for energy efficiency, durability, and architectural integrity. The strategic use of Hollowcore floors, Precast Walls, and Stairs enabled a rapid, safe, and efficient build, setting a precedent for future projects within the sector.

Implications for Construction Professionals

This case exemplifies how integrating offsite construction techniques can offer substantial benefits, including adherence to tight schedules, impeccable safety standards, and logistical efficiency. For industry professionals, the project is a clear indicator that with the right planning and expertise, offsite construction can deliver superior results, even under stringent conditions.

The Practical Advancements of Precast Concrete

O’Reilly Precast is dedicated to advancing the understanding and application of precast concrete. By addressing the prevalent myths, we strive to showcase the substantial, tangible benefits of precast construction. Our focus on innovation, customer satisfaction, and sustainability is central to our approach, driving us to refine what precast concrete can deliver. As the construction sector progresses, we are proud to offer precast solutions that often surpass the performance of traditional methods.

The evolution of O’Reilly Precast reflects our continuous commitment to quality and sustainable practices. With a strategic approach to offsite construction and ongoing enhancement of our precast technologies, we are well-placed to address the demands of today’s construction challenges.

Looking to the future, O’Reilly Precast will continue to embrace the changes shaping our industry, maintaining a strong focus on delivering practical and efficient building solutions.

Invitation to Collaborate

We invite the construction community to explore the benefits of offsite precast construction with O’Reilly Precast. Whether you seek efficient, sustainable construction methods or innovative design solutions, we are here to support your project’s success. Reach out to us at
sales@oreillyprecast.co.uk to discover how our expertise can transform your construction journey.

O’Reilly Precast: A Precast Revolution – Smarter, Faster, Safer.



Continuous development and enhancement are integral to our operational ethos. A significant aspect of this pursuit of excellence is our commitment to investment. Over the past 12 months, we have seen an incredible amount of growth within our Wernick Buildings factory in Kenfig, South Wales. Through substantial investments in factory machinery and comprehensive user training, we’ve taken substantial strides towards refining our daily operations and processes.

Each of our investments has been implemented to ensure that our modular buildings factory can operate at the highest level of efficiency. Supporting our staff’s daily workload whilst tackling the large demand of work.

New industry leading machinery

  • Our Howick Frama machine is one of our newest investments in the factory and it has enabled a revolutionary transformation within the Wernick Buildings factory, particularly in our modular construction processes. This advanced technology empowers us to meet the exacting demands of high-end modular construction whilst reducing material construction times.
  • The straddle carrier, which we nicknamed ‘Big Bird,’ provides us with the capability to efficiently transport, store, and hoist complete modules, facilitating the relocation of future accommodations.
  • We’ve made significant advancements in our operations, including the introduction of electric forklifts, enhancing both efficiency and sustainability. This addition to our fleet signifies our commitment to eco-friendly practices while streamlining internal logistics and contributing to reduced environmental impact.
  • A 5-axis CNC router offers a game-changing advantage to our construction factory. With absolute precision, it ensures accurate assembly, particularly vital for structural integrity. Its speed and efficiency reduce production time and cost, while material optimisation minimises waste and aligns with sustainability goals.
  • We have also extended the cantilever racking areas within the factory. These are ideal for maximising storage space by efficiently accommodating materials. Its accessibility and durability ensure quick and safe material retrieval, reducing accidents. The system’s adaptability allows for configuration changes as storage needs evolve, while its cost-effectiveness minimises additional storage space requirements and maintenance costs.
  • Utilising a MEWP (Mobile Elevated Work Platform) provides us with a safer, more efficient way to reach those challenging heights during the construction process. With its flexibility and precision, a MEWP streamlines our operations, ensuring that tasks at elevated levels are performed with utmost safety and productivity. This versatile equipment not only enhances our construction speed but also helps us maintain the highest standards of worker safety.
  • Furthermore, we’ve made a substantial investment in a fleet of state-of-the-art electric trucks, specially designed to facilitate the seamless movement of modules within our advanced factory facilities. These eco-friendly vehicles not only bolster our commitment to sustainability but also enhance the efficiency of our operations, ensuring that the entire manufacturing process remains environmentally conscious while maintaining optimal productivity levels. This strategic decision underscores our dedication to both innovation and environmentally responsible practices, safeguarding the future of modular construction.

At Wernick, our commitment to improvement goes beyond equipment upgrades; it extends to our most valuable asset – our team. We believe in personal growth and career advancement for our employees through individualised development plans. By nurturing our team’s skills and knowledge, we collectively enhance our capabilities and strengthen the foundation of our success.


Specifiers and contractors want practical solutions for delivering resilient, sustainable buildings designed with the future in mind. Considering the need for future-proofed solutions, Iain Fairnington, Technical Director at A. Proctor Group, explains how the next generation of air permeable roof membranes is set to help.

Pitched roof underlays are often described using the catch-all term ‘breather membranes’. The generic description doesn’t reflect the distinction between high-resistance (HR) and low-resistance (LR) membranes. And LR membranes themselves can be air tight or air permeable.

Roofing membranes must meet a host of performance criteria, of which we’re going to focus on two: water resistance and vapour/air permeability.

Water resistance of membranes in a changing climate

When a roofing system is installed, there is an inevitable period of time where the underlay will be in place without a roof covering to protect it. The underlay might therefore have to bear the brunt of any inclement weather. Good practice will dictate that this period should however be kept to a minimum and a temporary cover used if rain is expected.

The NFRC’s Technical Bulletin TB06 describes how membranes should perform in terms of water resistance. It says an underlay with “a water hold out over 1m when tested to BS EN 20811 will be adequate.”

As the frequency and intensity of extreme weather increases as a result of the changing climate, roof systems generally – and membranes as a specific part of those systems – need to be capable of withstanding more severe levels of rainfall.

An underlay’s ability to perform with a 1m head of water is a minimum level of performance to look for during product selection.

Designing roof membranes to cope with modern living

Any manufacturer developing a pitched roof underlay must balance the competing needs of resisting the external elements, and contributing to the quality of the building’s indoor environment.

Water resistance on the external side must not impact on the vapour permeability – or air and vapour permeability, if both are offered – from the internal side.

Ventilation in modern buildings, and especially dwellings, is often not well aligned with the energy efficiency performance (including airtightness). With more people adopting hybrid working and spending more time at home, excessive levels of moisture vapour in the air are increasingly common.

Selecting an air permeable LR underlay can mean that no vapour control layer (VCL) is required in the ceiling. It’s also unnecessary to ensure that ceilings are constructed as ‘well-sealed’, as described in BS 9250, however the ceiling should be convection tight. Moist air passes into the roof space and, in quick succession, to the outside air.

Proctor Air®: an air permeable LR membrane for the future

With these competing challenges in mind, A. Proctor Group has developed a pitched roof underlay for the future: Proctor Air.

As an air permeable LR underlay, Proctor Air makes pitched roof constructions simpler. No VCL is required in the ceiling, which also does not need to be well-sealed. And no ventilation measures are required in the cold roof space, since the membrane permits the passage of both air and moisture vapour through the roof construction.

In fact, with an air permeability of 35 m3/m2.hr.50PA, Proctor Air provides a more uniform flow of air than normal vents. This is particularly useful in complex roofs, where ‘dead’ areas of poor ventilation can occur even when ventilation measures have been installed well.

Keeping with the theme of future-proofing, avoiding the need for ventilation – particularly at the eaves – helps when it comes to installing the substantial thicknesses of insulation required in lofts. With the impending introduction of the Future Homes and Building Standards to consider as well, those thicknesses may well increase.

Knowing that insulation can be installed right into the eaves with no risk of blocking ventilation is reassuring from a building performance point of view, and from the point of view of avoiding condensation in the roof space.

A true ‘fit and forget’ product

Hidden from view, pitched roof underlays usually warrant little attention from building users. Yet they play a vital role in protecting those same users from the elements, and from unhealthy indoor climates.

A. Proctor Group is a 4th generation family business with a history of technical innovation, promoting good practice, and developing products that roofing contractors want to use. We have applied this wealth of experience to creating the next generation of air permeable LR membrane.

By choosing and installing Proctor Air, specifiers, contractors and building owners/managers can enjoy the confidence that comes from a high-performance product doing its job without intervention.

Under BS 5534, Proctor Air can be used in Wind Zones 1-4 at maximum 345mm battens centres without additional tape. At the same time, it reduces the risk of issues occurring in roof spaces due to poorly installed VCLs or ventilation, since neither is needed.

All of this is backed by our unique 15-year warranty, offering peace of mind even in the face of an uncertain future climate.

For more information visit:


The complexities and sometime confusions to sustainability in construction put specifiers in a daunting position, with even apparently responsible choices of material – including picking recycled aluminium – leaving a host of questions still to be answered.

In an effort to help, SFS has published a series of well researched White Papers on the subject, including ‘Sustainability in aluminium rainscreen subframe solutions,’ with subject areas ranging from the verification of scrap metal streams, through the design of rainscreen system brackets to reuse and end-of-life strategies, explored in detail.

There are some irrefutable facts about aluminium in that it is one of the world’s most recycled materials, but while its reuse consumes only 10%of the energy required for smelting the virgin metal, the widespread use of coal-fired electricity (Far East / China) compared to hydro and other renewable resources, means the aluminium industry still accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gases.  It is also worth noting the recent CBAM (Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism) introduction which places a price on the carbon emitted during the production of carbon intensive products in an effort to limit supplies of intensive carbon products.

Manufacturing products from recycled aluminium is therefore a huge potential win from an environmental viewpoint, but the situation is complicated by the very varied performance characteristics of the different alloys available; with the 6000 series being most relevant here.

Magnesium and silicon impart additional strength to the alloy, with 6063 being commonly used in rainscreen systems.  However, the four types of support bracket in the SFS range are produced from the superior 6005 alloy.  Crucially, though in 6005, 100% of the raw material is recycled, which has required the company to create a closed loop supply chain involving certified brokers, to ensure the physical characteristics of the alloy are not threatened by mixing with other scrap.  SFS is also working towards becoming part of the Council for Aluminium in Building’s wider scheme, which brings together the value chain and supports enhanced recycling processes across the industry.

The superior strength characteristics of the 6005 alloy compared to the 6063 version. Not only is the 6005 variant’s tensile strength higher, providing it with greater resistance to bending, twisting, or breaking under stress, but it also offers improved yield strength. That means it can withstand higher levels of force without permanently deforming a crucial factor in handling environmental stressors in building applications. The 6005 alloy also excels in terms of fatigue strength, enabling it to endure repeated load cycles over time without failure. These enhanced properties make 6005 aluminium brackets a more durable, reliable, and long-lasting solution for rainscreen systems compared to their 6063 counterparts.

The material composition of rainscreen brackets plays a vital role in their thermal performance compared to steel counterparts. Equally significant are their design and engineering; therefore, it is crucial for specifiers to collaborate with a trusted manufacturer in a project’s early stages. This collaboration helps to avert the potential issues of selecting a product that, despite its seemingly lower unit price, may demand a higher number of brackets to support the loads. Consequently, this could adversely affect the installation costs and the overall thermal performance of the system.

David Fraser Business Unit Manager of SFS, explains: “We work with our customers to ensure the brackets provide the required loads to match the project demands, and in avoiding over-specifying, we keep down installation costs and reduce the environmental impact by using less material, which is of course itself recycled.

“Our Nvelope® Project Builder design tool offers specifiers project specific thermal calculations, together with bracket and rail spacings, plus budget cost per square metre.  Consultants and contractors should avoid concentrating unit cost, as employing more brackets increases thermal bridging and heat loss, leading to thicker insulation being required and the overall installation thickness rising.”

In addition to SFS’s support for CAB’s supply chain initiative on sorting and certifying scrap aluminium in the supply chain, the company is fully committed to cutting carbon in construction through improvements in product durability and waste reduction, which will eventually help to achieve a circular economy.  And through the adoption of digitisation, this will not only lead to an extended working life for buildings, but also to the potential reuse for its rainscreen support systems.

For further information, call 0330 0555888 or visit https://uk.sfs.com/

If our water usage patterns don’t change, the UK will have an ongoing water deficit of 4,000 Megalitres per day by 2050.  Some water companies are introducing a new strategy to manage the ever-growing demand caused by increasing population and new developments – ‘water neutrality’.

The continued growth in population and housebuilding means that reductions in leakage and domestic consumption have not been enough to offset the increasing demand.  In all regions, even in our traditionally wetter regions water companies in response to OFWAT guidance, will be introducing Environmental Incentive Schemes in the near future.

The common elements in all these schemes are:

  • Consumption reduction
  • Water reuse, and
  • Water offsetting

In some areas of England, particularly the southeast and some coastal areas, future developments are being restricted further and will not be permitted unless ‘water neutrality’ can be demonstrated. This requires both existing and new properties to reduce consumption to the extent that overall water usage levels do not increase despite the additional homes.

New developments could be required to supply a water neutrality statement with the planning application.  This statement must:

  • confirm that there would be no increase in water consumption, for example through a combination of water efficiency, water recycling and offsetting measures.
  • includes a water budget showing details of the proposed water consumption, any mitigation measures and mechanisms to secure them in advance of occupation/use1.

Reducing water consumption

An example of the new guidance for consumption reduction has been given by Untied Utilities. For a scheme to be eligible to meet the new

Environmental Incentive Schemes they must design for:

  1. Water efficiency 100 lpppd and flow regulator (14l per minute), and/or
  2. Property level SuDS (installation of water butt/raised planter/rain garden)

For one element of these new requirements there is an easy solution – Groundbreaker’s LoFlo®.  Reducing water flow to a property to 14L/min is one of the criteria for meeting these new consumption targets.

LoFlo® is available in two formats:

  • Rv2 LoFlo®, which fits into the meter housing adjacent to the meter, or
  • LoFlo® InLine, which is fitted after the stop tap inside the property.

Flow restrictors can be installed at the meter, with the permission of the water company, or after the stop tap on the main water supply.  Introducing whole site flow restriction can cost as little as £20 per property.

A fit and forget solution – how it works

‘Over supply’ of water, i.e. water flow rates that are higher than required to provide an adequate supply, results in waste of water.  Running taps when brushing teeth, showering, or rinsing cups uses more water than necessary.  Installing flow restriction devices has been proven to reduce consumption and are an accepted water efficiency measure for water neutrality statements.

Approximately 40% of domestic water usage is from bathroom and kitchen taps and showers.  ‘Eco’ or water saving shower heads and tap flow restrictors are designed to restrict the water flow to a single outlet are highly effective but fitting these come at a price, even in smaller properties.

The alternative, and now a recommended method for achieving water consumption reduction, is whole site flow reduction.  Fitting a device such as Groundbreaker’s LoFlo® to the water supply, regulates the level of flow entering customer premises – regardless of network pressure.  As the flow of water into the premises is limited, then the amount used in ‘time controlled’ activities is also limited – but without providing a degradation of service.  More importantly not requiring any intervention or behavioural change on the part of the customer, so leading to ‘natural’ reduction in consumption.  As an added benefit, the Groundbreaker’s LoFlo® has the unique property of providing whole site protection against contamination by back flow (up to fluid category 2) as standard.

The total package

Combining flow reduction with smart metering is currently believed by many in the industry to be the most effective method to reducing water consumption.  Groundbreaker also supply the surface mounted meter housing that provide the best environment for smart meters and are now the only acceptable option for some UK water companies.

The addittional benefit of Groundbreaker is that its unique design allows for what is effectively a ‘plug and play’ style installation.  Not only does this take the water supply out of the critical path, but enables future site development, without the need for a new supply to be installed. Allowing it to be installed at any time during the construction period.

The concept is simple.  Water services are connected to an externally mounted, pre-installed water service controls.  This allows flexibility in the management and scheduling of connection to the mains supply.  For modular build projects the pre-installation and certification of plumbing can facilitate early approval of water services to a plot.  This simplification of the connection allows for improved efficiency and reduces the time required for highway closures and cost of reinstatement.

For further information on how the new conservation guidance may affect future developments, contact your local water provider.

For further information on the full range of Groundbreaker products, visit:


  1. westsussex.gov.uk/planning/water-neutrality

By Dean Fazackerley, Head of Technical Procurement at LHC Procurement Group.

With high profile business failures in the MMC space, it is understandable that there may be some hesitation in taking this approach when procuring projects.

Reports into L&G’s modular housing business point to accumulated losses of £295m, while over £68m-worth of Ilke Homes’s £320m debt was owed to Homes England.

Housing minister Lee Rowley has dubbed the sector a “work in progress”, dismissing the failures as “not unexpected”. However, while these challenges exist, the government remains committed to MMC, and several organisations and experts – including the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) and a trio of Manchester academics – are campaigning for its increased use.

They point to benefits including the ability to accelerate house building to meet the government’s 300,000 new homes per annum target, and the positive environmental impacts through less waste, lower emissions, and the use of more sustainable materials.

A 2022 study of two UK housing development schemes, which delivered a total of 879 homes under a modular system by Tide Construction, found that embodied carbon can be reduced by almost half when using MMC.

For public sector clients then, there are positives to be had. And frameworks can help to reduce risk by bringing together clients and a pre-qualified supply chain that is ready and able to deliver.

Gold Standard procurement

To support achieving the Gold Standard – introduced by Professor David Mosey following the independent review of public sector construction frameworks – LHC recommends that every local authority, housing association and public sector client has a committed, and ideally approved, programme of work for at least three years ahead.

A three-year pipeline gives the ability to work with contractors and their supply chains from the outset to secure components at a competitive and agreed rate, and to reduce the common stop-start, bottleneck issues when tendering and managing projects on an individual basis.

They can also pre-assess the programme of works and provide better insights for the year ahead. This is necessary to a strategic alliancing approach, built on a foundation of collaboration, long-term commitments, and clear strategic priorities.

In the world of MMC, becoming an appointed company on a procurement framework removes some of the associated risks for contractors; they can work collaboratively with clients via a framework to establish a steady pipeline of orders, develop new processes and methodologies, and break down some of the barriers to wider MMC adoption.

The pipeline of work that can come from being part of a framework creates greater certainty and helps protect jobs for contractors who may be worried about the future. Traditionally operating on four-year cycles, frameworks can offer a more predictable calendar of work and create confidence, which in turn leads to investment in the skills and tools needed to deliver MMC solutions.

As an MMC contractor, having awareness of a client’s longer-term pipeline also provides opportunities to plan work more efficiently, thus improving resource planning and identifying cost efficiencies, while driving economies of scale.

Mutual benefits

By collaborating and being involved in early supplier engagement via a framework, each company can benefit from one another’s insight and expertise, which develops strong contacts and increases the opportunity of appointment to future projects. When dealing with a new market approach, it also increases opportunities for shared innovation and developing a forward plan.

Using a procurement framework also allows contractors to explore and mitigate potential risks – including rising costs – and agree how the impacts might be managed between them and the client.

MMC frameworks

Our NH3 (Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) of New Homes) framework has been developed to be a market-leading framework providing a wide range of systems and project delivery models to give public sector organisations the flexibility to deliver MMC projects tailored to their specific requirements and priorities.

Covering low-rise and medium/high-rise dwellings through to specialist accommodation such as care homes, it supports public sector procurers to increase the use of MMC in their contracts and help to deliver low and net zero carbon homes with high levels of pre-manufactured value. It will also create the opportunity for procurement teams to access a wider range of MMC solutions and suppliers, encouraging greater collaboration between suppliers and clients.

Meanwhile, the LHC Modular Buildings (MB2) framework provides public sector organisations with easy access to off-site manufactured, volumetric and panelised building systems for the use in non-residential buildings and residential projects where they are of mixed-use development or for student accommodation for schools and universities.

To speak to a local contact about our public sector construction frameworks, visit


Beacon Hill School serves students with high-dependency Special Educational Needs and Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities. The brief from Newcastle City Council was to create a bespoke, stand-alone facility capable of accommodating 60 pupils.

Collaboration was key to the project and TG Escapes engaged in numerous client sessions to gather feedback and insights from all stakeholders to ensure that the design aligned with all their requirements.

The building will provide 10 classrooms including 2 PMLD bases, hygiene rooms, a staff room and a sensory room as well as ample storage for specialist equipment.

The TG Escapes net-zero in operation design follows biophilic principles and is built on a timber frame providing a low-carbon solution. Easy access to the outdoors was an integral part of the proposal and the building features a raised external area giving the students the opportunity to spend time outdoors with ease.

Karl Stokes, Managing Director of TG Escapes says; “We are very proud to have been selected by Newcastle City Council for this important project. It reflects our commitment to providing tailor-made, inclusive and sustainable learning environments. Our in-house design team have been able to create the exact spaces that the staff and students will need which is one of the benefits of using our sectional modular system.”

Work started onsite in the second quarter of 2023 and the building is due for handover in the first quarter of 2024. The value of the 1200m2 project is circa £3.5m. Special features and additional considerations of the building include:

  • The use of natural materials, such as timber, at every opportunity.
  • Soft pallet pastoral colours on walls where end users require it.
  • Installing state of the art acoustics and lighting solutions to fit the brief.
  • Utilising the best technologies like automatic door systems that work for wider door sets to accommodate large wheelchair access (circa 1250mm auto doors)
  • Secure hoists and access platform lifts.
  • Plenty of storage for equipment.
  • Appropriate flooring solutions.
  • Sensory spaces with fixed swings.
  • An internal climbing wall to support pupil mobility, with a full risk assessment and additional fire treatment.
  • All internal walls are reinforced with additional ply/OSB lining to provide a high impact robustness.
  • Easy access to a secure outdoor sheltered activity space, that is fully DDA compliant.

As the project reaches completion, the TG Escapes team facilitated a student tour of the build.

Teacher at Beacon Hill Shaun Whillis says; ‘’The students had a wonderful visit to our new building. By exposing students to real-life building processes, it gave them a valuable educational experience. It helped them understand the various stages involved in construction and gain insights into the future of architecture and engineering.’’

TG Escapes modular eco-buildings have completed over 800 buildings throughout the UK, using modern methods of construction, traditional materials and sophisticated technology, to create stand-alone net-zero spaces.

The innovative, bespoke, architect-designed system provides timber frame buildings to suit most locations and uses, in a variety of finishes including timber, composite cladding or render in a range of colours, and brick slips. Offsite construction minimises disruption, cost and risk.

TG Escapes offer a complete design and build service for permanent buildings specified for a 50 year+ life span. The biophilic designs using natural materials, connect the interior to the outside providing external views and ensure consistent working temperatures, optimum air quality, ventilation and acoustic comfort.

Customers rate them 4.9 out 5 based on 187 reviews and recent awards include Education Estates Contractor of the Year 2021, MMC Awards 2023 Project of the Year and Public Sector Innovation of the Year. TG Escapes are members of Construction Line Gold, STA Gold and Site Safe, and the Pagabo Dynamic Purchasing System.

For more information email
info@tgescapes.co.uk or call 0800 917 7726.

For more examples of SEND and SEMH buildings provided by TG Escapes visit their website.