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:

www.groundbreaker.co.uk

  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

www.lhcprocure.org.uk/solutions

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.

www.tgescapes.co.uk

Planning permission has been granted for West Lothian Council to construct 18 houses, 30 flats and one staff building with landscaping, car parking and associated works.

Part of this development will see West Lothian Council build housing to support homeless young people and a further affordable housing project, both located at Almondvale Crescent, Livingston. This project will see West Lothian Council become one of the first councils in the country to use modular construction to build housing. The development is to be built on a vacant site at Almondvale Crescent.

Plans for the supported housing for young people consists of 28 one bed flats.  Flexible office space will be provided for staff members along with staff overnight accommodation to provide dedicated space and privacy, whilst still being on hand to assist and support the young people develop the skills they need to live and manage their home independently.

The affordable housing element of the development will provide 20 homes consisting of 18 houses (a mix of two and three bed homes) and two flats. With planning approval now in place, it is hoped that work will commence on both projects from June.

Executive councillor for housing services, George Paul, said: “There is a critical need to deliver social housing options for homeless young people. Significant demand is also present for mainstream social housing in the Livingston area. It is pleasing that planning permission has been approved for this project and we look forward to the day that young people and other tenants and will be able to move in.”

Plans to regenerate St James’ playing fields in Paisley have taken a major step forward after a deal for new changing pavilions was approved.

A contract for the supply and construction of modular buildings at the park, known as the Racecourse, was given the green light by Renfrewshire Council’s finance, resources and customer services policy board on Thursday. The agreement – worth at least £2.7 million – was welcomed by elected members and will now see SKW Construction take on the project at the Shortroods site.

SNP council leader, Iain Nicolson, said: “It’s a near £3m investment in St James’ and all elected members should know the background to the delay in implementing this particular project, due to Covid, Ukraine, cost pricings, ground conditions. The comments I’m seeing now within the Paisley community is that they welcome this and I think it’s testament to the officers and this administration in continuing to keep this project online and on track and deliver.

“I know some people are trying to slightly talk it down in a way by calling it portacabins and stuff, but modular units are what’s being delivered and these are full-scale buildings in the sense for the purpose of what they’re needed for.”

Image credit: Andrew Neil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Councillor Nicolson, who represents Erskine and Inchinnan, expressed his gratitude for the work behind bringing the project to fruition. He added: “I’m pleased to see it here today finally, because of the long time it’s been stuck in the system, so to speak. I’m pretty sure the community around that area in Paisley will be pleased to see St James’ being brought back into use for what it’s always been used for and that’s the provision of sports and football in that area.”

The work, which could begin from late March, forms part of a wider vision to redevelop the once-thriving location and reinstate football pitches. However, the report to the board referred only to construction of the changing facilities and associated civil works. It is understood that following this, four pitches will be brought back into use and operated by OneRen, the trust responsible for leisure, culture and sport in Renfrewshire.

Over 25 guests braved the January weather to have a first look tour of the site of the King’s Lynn Health Hub on Nar Ouse Way, King’s Lynn.

The centre at Nar Ouse Way is due to house a range of primary care services, as well as a maternity hub and rehabilitation therapy services from the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Guests from NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB), The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn, and Councillors from Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk joined representatives from NHS Property Services and health construction specialists Darwin Group for a private tour to see the progress on site of the £11.5m new-build healthcare facility.

The Health Hub will house over 20 new clinical rooms, providing a modern, fully accessible, and digitally enabled facility that will help to transform how health and care services are delivered in the King’s Lynn area and increase access to services for people in the town and surrounding areas.

Work commenced on site in late Autumn 2023, and progress over the winter has seen the installation of drainage, preparation and installation of the foundations, and installation of the modular building units.

Victoria Shaw, property development partner at NHS Property Services, said: “The new healthcare hub will offer people in King’s Lynn and the surrounding areas a sustainable, modern, and fully accessible facility. Through NHS Property Services’ partnership with customers, we can assist health professionals in delivering the best possible care to patients in a building designed to meet their needs.”

The building has been produced using MMC – Modern Methods of Construction – where building structures are manufactured offsite and then installed on site more quickly than if they were built there. This creates less material waste and reduces the impact on the environment.

Inside, walls have been sprayed with an intelligent membrane to create an airtight building shell. Insulation throughout the building has been upgraded, triple-glazed windows have been installed to improve thermal performance, and air source heat pumps and LED lighting will help to reduce energy consumption.

The building, which will have an A+ energy performance rating, will also be Net Zero Carbon in operation, meaning it will use less energy than it generates, leading to cheaper utility bills and less CO2 emissions.

Jim Pierce, deputy CEO at Darwin Group, added: “We know how important this facility will be for the wider King’s Lynn community, so to be able to show people the progress that has been made so far has been very satisfying.

“It’s been fascinating for our team to hear about the positive impact the health hub will have on maternity and rehabilitation services for the area too.

“It’s not often that so many stakeholders get to see the progress of a project in this way. I think it’s given them a good understanding of the benefits of using modular construction methods for this project, especially in terms of the net zero carbon aspect.”

The new hub is part of a wider £25.2m NHS capital investment into health and care facilities in Norfolk and Waveney, which includes the King’s Lynn Health Hub, a new build Health Hub in Rackheath, as well as renovation of two existing healthcare buildings in Sprowston and Thetford. Progress on at the King’s Lynn Health Hub will continue into the Spring, with the new facility anticipated to be ready for use in Summer 2024.

Architecture studio Populous has unveiled designs for a temporary cricket stadium to be constructed with repurposed elements in New York.

The Nassau County International Cricket Stadium is a modular sporting facility and will be constructed to host eight matches of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s 2024 T20 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by the United States and the West Indies in June 2024.

Planned for Eisenhower Park in Nassau County, New York – approximately 30 miles (48 kilometres) east of Manhattan on Long Island– the stadium will measure approximately 361,850 square feet (33,616 square metres).

Populous elected to use a modular construction system that could host the World Cup and then be “removed in legacy”.

“Our design for Nassau County International Cricket Stadium was inspired by the world-class standard set by the ICC and to serve as an exemplary introduction for those new to the sport of cricket,” Populous senior principal Jeff Keas told Dezeen.

“We developed an environment that not only embodies the passion and spirit of its fanbase but creates a remarkable experience for both US and international cricket fans to enjoy some of the sport’s greatest rivalries.”

Image credit: Populous

The stadium will seat 34,000 spectators across premium and general admission sections with six two-tiered sections and six lower single-tiered sections bracketed by support buildings. The modular grandstands are being repurposed from the Formula 1 Grand Prix facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. Additionally, the facility will include VIP and hospitality suites, a party deck and cabanas, a fan zone with food and beverage outlets and media and broadcast areas. The wicket, which is a drop-in square similar to those in Australia’s Adelaide Oval and New Zealand’s Eden Park, is being created in Florida and will be delivered to New York in May.

Site work commenced in mid-January. Building construction is set to begin in early February and is projected to wrap up in early May with the first match of the World Cup slated for 3 June 2024 between the Sri Lankan and South African teams. International sports procurement firm The Parker Company and the Arena Group will coordinate the assembly of the modular stadium.

After the commencement of the eight scheduled matches, The Parker Company and Arena will remove the installation and return the venue to Nassau County – where it will remain one of the largest open spaces in the New York metropolitan area – to be enjoyed by the public as it was before, the Populous team explained.

“Event overlay and temporary modular structures are a key part of our work at Populous,” Keas said. “From a sustainability point of view, it is essential that event organizers can utilize high-quality, demountable and modular structures that can then be reused while making sure that the fan experience remains at the heart of the project.”

The Built Environment Committee has published a letter to the Government following its inquiry into the future of modern methods of construction (MMC) in housing.

The Government’s approach to MMC is in disarray. Millions of pounds of public money has been invested, but the money has not been backed by a coherent strategy and set of measurable objectives. Some Category 1 (modular) MMC firms have failed financially, though with the right approach it could still play an important role in the building of much-needed housing.

There is evidence of real barriers to MMC, such as risk aversion on the part of warranty providers, insurance companies and insufficient clarity for building regulations. However, the Government appears to have made limited effort to understand and address these challenges.

If the Government wants the sector to be a success, it needs to take a step back, acquire a better understanding of how it works and the help that it needs, set achievable goals and develop a coherent strategy.

These are some of the findings and recommendations published today by the House of Lords Built Environment Committee following its inquiry on the future of modern methods of construction. The inquiry was established following the collapse and closure of several Category 1 MMC companies during 2022 and 2023.

Lord Moylan, Chair of the Built Environment Committee, said: “Moderns methods of construction are successfully used to construct homes abroad and build high-rise and non-residential buildings in the UK, but this success has thus far eluded the building of MMC homes in meaningful numbers.

“In the context of an ageing skilled workforce and the need for greater building sustainability, MMC has shown some promise. We heard evidence that the Government couldn’t achieve its housebuilding targets without a sizeable contribution from the MMC sector.

“Our inquiry found that the Government has not set out clear objectives for the funding it provided the MMC sector. Homes England has not given any clear metrics as to how success is to be measured and over what timescale.

“The Government needs to change tack. Simply throwing money at the sector hasn’t worked. If it wants to encourage MMC it must acquire a much deeper understanding of how it works, develop a clear strategy, and demonstrate leadership.”

Construction is set to start on a £4m retail, leisure and events space at Wirral Waters following a significant approval.

Peel, which is bringing forward the Wirral Waters development with Wirral Council, has formed a strategic partnership with Starship Group to lead on construction of Egerton Village. Peel sought approval to novate grant funding to the company to complete the scheme.

Councillors approved the agreement at a Wirral Council economy regeneration and housing committee meeting on 22 January 2024.

In 2022, Starship relocated its head office to Hythe, the new Grade A office building at Wirral Waters. The low carbon developer and modular housing manufacturer also moved its entire manufacturing arm to the Mea Park neighbourhood of Wirral Waters.

The retail and leisure village will be constructed using low carbon Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and will involve students from Wirral Met College, through work experience opportunities and apprenticeships, throughout its 16-month build.

Image Credit: Peel

Richard Mawdsley, director of development for Wirral Waters, said: “Egerton Village is a really important development for Wirral Waters. It is another jigsaw piece in the Four Bridges neighbourhood that will bring in much needed amenities to the area, including ancillary retailers, a café, restaurants, and workspace, with a southwest facing quayside and courtyard, where people can come together to enjoy the stunning waterside location and use the community, arts and events spaces, which are all important elements of its design.

“We are very aligned with the Starship Group on our vision for Egerton Village, with its low carbon, modular design, and I am thrilled, once again, to be able to offer construction students at Wirral Met College with yet another fantastic opportunity to learn about modern, low carbon construction right here on their doorstep.”

Simon Humphreys, director of Starship Regeneration, added: “Egerton Village will be a focal point at the heart of Wirral Waters providing valuable local amenities for this emerging neighbourhood. There will be host of new cafés, restaurants, arts, and retail space to choose from and we look forward to developing an events programme for the courtyard in this stunning dockside location.

“We are really excited about the future at Wirral Waters, which is why we are committed to investing in this project and working with our partners Peel Waters to accelerate projects like this and help create real change across the Left Bank of the Mersey.”

Egerton Village has been granted full planning permission by Wirral Council and was designed by award winning OMI Architects, following an architectural competition.