Vincent Matthews (pictured below), Head of UK Marketing at SFS, discusses the benefits of working with a product manufacturer in construction to select an appropriate system solution.

UK’s built infrastructure bears testimony not only to changing architectural styles, but also a long and bitter history of political pragmatism, almost perpetual financial pressures and flawed specifications.

The country has failed to construct sufficient new housing in almost every decade since World War Two, and even when it has met Government targets, the resulting properties have often showcased a catalogue of shortcomings, ranging from poor thermal and acoustic insulation to catastrophic structural inadequacies, with the Ronan Point disaster having marked a low point in the development of factory-fabricated system building.  As we continue to await the full outcomes of the Grenfell inquiry, it’s highly likely that the over-cladding and overall modifications made to the council flats prior to the fire represent a seriously flawed effort to refurbish a 1970s tower block.

The poor workmanship and detailing together with apparent switching of specifications has cast a shadow across much of the construction industry, with Dame Judith Hackitt’s report serving as a wake-up call to specifiers that standards must improve radically. They come at a time when politicians and climate activists are demanding ever higher standards of energy performance in order to cut carbon emissions.

By tradition, the building industry has relied on a mainly empirical approach for its product development and evolution of new technologies, but arguably, time has run out for trial and error.  Across both the new-build and refurbishment sectors, we require a step change in both quality and consistency of outcome, and this will require far better cooperation up and down the supply chain.

Undoubtedly, if projects are to meet, and in many cases, necessarily exceed current standards on insulation and airtightness, while also achieving excellence in terms of fire protection, acoustic control and structural stability, all while meeting budgetary and environmental targets, it will require clients, contractors, consultants and product manufacturers to work together far more collaboratively.

Every generation has had its own Modern Methods of Construction, with housebuilders almost universally switching to trussed rafters when they became available in the late 20th century, but the Millennium marked a genuine acceleration in the adoption of off-site manufacturing with significant developments in doors, windows, roofs, walls and floors, as well as other key elements like building services.  The latter largely reduces energy demand and water usage.

If we look, for instance, at rainscreen cladding systems as being amongst the most visible aspects to contemporary building projects, they can be considered to highlight one of the significant quandaries for specifiers and project management teams.  For such systems demonstrate how the law of diminishing returns effects efforts to cut heat losses through building elevations as unfortunately heat transmittance is not linear.

National building standards do not actually constitute a means of future-proofing designs against the potential predicted effects of climate change, which might render many buildings uninhabitable, or at least unaffordable to upgrade.  Bolstering the U-values of walls and windows beyond those required by Building Regulations is complex, with such aspirations demanding proportionately wider insulation zones to the point that it can significantly impinge on the living space negatively affecting sale or rental values.  Deeper rainscreen systems inevitably require significantly increased lengths of fixing, along with larger brackets, possibly with closer spacing.  Again, the realities of thermal transmittance come into play and will demand difficult decisions on materials as well as configuration.

Aluminium is one of the world’s most recycled metals, whose reuse delivers a dramatic reduction in embodied energy compared to smelting the virgin ingots from bauxite ore.  On the downside, though, aluminium has a naturally high thermal transmittance and a relatively low strength compared to steel, so the density of brackets and cold bridges will rise.  A proven alternative is to specify stainless steel brackets instead, while working with a manufacturer offering a comprehensive product selection and flexible design capabilities will greatly increase the likelihood of achieving the correct and – ultimately – most economic specification.

Accuracy is key as, while it is possible to utilise ballpark figures for a building’s thermal envelope, those involved often make assumptions about the choice of brackets and fixings that bear little relationship to the final specification.  As insulation thickness increases, the point thermal bridging effect of brackets becomes more pronounced, leading to multiple layers in thicker build-ups, which makes the thermal bridging effect worse.  Unfortunately, a vicious circle will arise which will almost certainly derail the specification when it is re-examined in detail later in the project.  Particularly, where very low U-values are targeted, getting appropriate guidance on bracket types and materials (i.e. aluminium or stainless steel) in the early stages will help to steer and inform setting out decisions.  Those decisions shape the internal floor areas and long-term building comfort that can be achieved, so dealing with them from the outset significantly reduces the possibility of performance gaps.

As a leader in digitalisation as well as AI, SFS has invested in creating a set of intuitive calculation tools, meeting a variety of design challenges and referred to as the “ConnectSuite.”  Most popular of these amongst specifiers at present is Project Builder, which enables design professionals to input the full construction details for a wall build-up where a rainscreen system is envisaged.  Data can include parameters such as Target U-values and preferred materials, while outputs can be used in project pricing and other activities.

Project Builder is fully compatible with SFS’s NVELOPE systems of cladding rails and bracketry, and has long been popular with engineers, architectural technicians and specialist installers, when designing exterior walls.  As an online tool, it offers the enhanced security and confidence of undergoing an internal evaluation process, carried out by SFS Technical Advisory Service engineers, prior to a full specification being issued 24 hours later.  Meanwhile, the company has also published a series of White Papers covering a variety of subjects including insulation within façade design.  Technical support of this standard will become ever more valuable as the uptake of MMC accelerates and design freeze is demanded earlier prior to manufacture.

Protecting long term value

Accurate, early technical design sets the tone for the project.  Whether the end goal is ‘just’ regulatory compliance, or creating a building which will be resilient for the climate in the year 2100, knowing that the thermal properties or energy efficiency of the building envelope has been set accordingly, makes it harder to change later on.  Installers often review specifications purely on a ‘cost per item’ basis, and will seek to change individual components, with limited awareness of how they contribute to the complete system.  Understanding that every element of the building specification has been set with a certain performance in mind makes it far easier to ‘defend’ that specification against cost engineering exercises that imperil long-term value and therefore the ultimate sustainability.

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‘By 2050 the UK water deficit is anticipated to be 4017 mega litres per day’, was the stark announcement at the National Water Framework Consultation launch in January 2022.

Since then, all water companies have been developing plans to upgrade the UKs water supply to meet this demand and reduce current usage levels, Per Capital Consumption (PCC) to 110 litres per day from its current average of 150.

Smart meters are seen as a significant part of the solution to reducing domestic water usage.  Thames Water have recorded post installation savings of 12-17%. All water companies are now working on plans for Advanced metering infrastructure, where all new connections or meters use the latest generation of smart meters.

New meter locations, underground no longer works

The industry has recognised that the most effective methods of installing the advanced metering infrastructure is to locate the meter above ground.

The use of the Groundbreaker water management system co-locates the water meter on the exterior wall of the dwelling, alongside gas and electric meters.  It has the advantage of providing a better environment for smart technology over traditional underground boundary boxes and the additional benefits of readability for the consumer as well as extended signal transmission and easy meter exchange.

Design out leak paths: comply with Water & Construction Industry Guidelines comply with “Water Safe” initiatives

The unique location of the Groundbreaker water management system future proofs the network and minimises the risk of developing leaks.  The position of the meter allows for a joint free water supply, eliminating joints in the water supply pipe maintains the integrity of the supply pipe.  The use of an uninterrupted supply has been recognised as best practice by Water UK and the Home Builders Federation.

Steve Leigh, Managing Director of Groundbreaker commented, ‘Portsmouth Water have demanded surface mounted meter housings as the standard required for all new properties for over 15 years. Working with them we have established the effectiveness and reliability of Groundbreaker.’  He continued, ‘With the need to maximise the effectiveness of smart metering programmes, I can’t see that there is a viable alternative – putting smart technology in a hole in the ground just does not work.’

Water efficient homes

Whilst smart meters can go some way towards achieving PCC reductions, alone they will not achieve the target level of 110 l/m.

Recently announced policies by United Utilities have recognised that water efficient homes are the key, as part of their new Environmental Incentives Scheme, all new properties developers will be encouraged to install water conservation measures requiring an output of 14 litres a minute or less.

One of the elements of this is the installation of a flow regulator within the water supply system.

Flow regulators modulate the rate at which water enters customer premises – regardless of network pressure, meaning a reduction in the volume of water used by customers even when ‘variable use’ appliances (i.e., showers, taps, hosepipes) are used.

As the flow of water into the premises is limited, then the volume of water used by the customer is also limited – without a degradation of service.

More importantly, flow regulators do not require any intervention or behavioural change on the part of the customer, thus leading to ‘natural’ reduction in per capita consumption.

As these products are fitted to the main water supply, and not each individual outlet, they remove any risk of consumer interference and ensure that minimum standards of water supply are maintained as specified within the Water Industry Act and Water Fittings Regulations.

Groundbreaker supply two products that fulfil this role.  In properties with a meter Groundbreaker’s NRv2 LoFlo can be installed between the water meter and manifold in any underground or surface mounted water meter enclosure.  This means fitting does not interfere with occupier.  Entry to the premises is not required. It is an easy, low-cost intervention that can be introduced without expensive excavation or retrospective work.

For properties are not metered, the new addition to the range is the LoFlo Inline.  This is fitted on the main water supply pipe, normally just after the main stop tap.

Both products have the added advantage of offering whole site protection against backflow or contamination of water services from private water pipes – the only products available that can offer this facility.

Achieving targets

Although it is recognised that improvements to the vast UK water network cannot be achieved overnight.  The new policies being introduced by our major water companies will take UK water usage towards the targets required to maintain a secure supply and work towards UK Net Zero targets.

For further details please contact Groundbreaker Systems at

  • Steve Leigh is a Fellow of the Institute of Water and Managing Director of Groundbreaker Systems and was winner of the Home Builder Federation’s “Utility Individual of the Year for 2016”.
  • Groundbreaker Systems won the HBF’s ‘Utility of the Year’ in 2018.
  • Groundbreaker Systems are 2023 winners of the Building & Facilities News as Company of the Year for Innovation in Sustainable Water Management

Bath and North East Somerset Council have announced a planning policy to reduce carbon emissions and work towards net-zero construction

This approach, in collaboration with the University of Bath, shows six initiatives aimed at achieving net-zero targets through local collaboration.

The report presented by the Key Cities Innovation Network (KCIN) in “Civic Partners in Net Zero“ sets an example of sustainable construction practices across the UK.

Achieving net zero by tackling construction pollution

Since January 2023, the Council has implemented strict local planning policies requiring that all new building developments achieve net zero operational energy. Major developments must also meet an incorporated carbon target, surpassing national building regulations. Bath and North East Somerset were the first UK local authorities to introduce these planning policies.

What happens in our cities – in construction, in transport, in waste processing, in energy consumption – has a major impact in how we reach our net zero targets as a nation

The council worked with the university to review the impact. So far, they found that initial assessments reveal a significant improvement in the projected outcomes of new applications, showing a promising shift towards eco-conscious construction practices. Industry support for the policy aims has been strong, showing a collective commitment to combatting climate change.

Professor Ian White, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bath, praised the joint effort, highlighting sustainability as a priority research theme for the institution.

Initiatives across the UK

The “Civic Partners in Net Zero” report also features other initiatives from across the UK including:

  • Coventry University and Coventry City Council’s new technology enables active recharging of electric vehicles, changing transportation in urban settings.
  • Lancaster University’s collaboration with educators integrates sustainability into everyday teaching, inspiring future generations to embrace eco-friendly practices.
  • Wrexham University allows communities and industries to drive the net zero transition, promoting a culture of environmental management.
  • The University of South Wales explores the potential of biotechnology to support a circular economy by transforming waste into clean energy and fertilisers.
  • The University of Southampton teams up with a theatre company to emotionally engage primary school audiences with climate science.

Cllr John Merry, Chair of Key Cities and Deputy Mayor of Salford City Council, said: “The ideas presented here are important and exciting. Important because what happens in our cities – in construction, in transport, in waste processing, in energy consumption – has a major impact in how we reach our net zero targets as a nation, and we in the Key Cities are determined to play our part. Exciting because they demonstrate the ingenuity in our universities and councils, and the strength of our growing civic partnership across the network. These are ideas we can build on, both as a network and in partnership with our communities, stakeholders and the government.”

Professor Maria Hinfelaar, Vice-Chancellor of Wrexham University, also highlighted the collective effort needed to replicate and upscale these initiatives.

Working towards net-zero-carbon construction

Cllr Kevin Guy, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council and Deputy Chair of Key Cities, said: “In Bath and North East Somerset, I am proud of the strong and longstanding partnerships we have with our two universities so it is great to see our collaboration with the University of Bath on net-zero-carbon construction so well reflected in the report.

Source: Open Access Government

Meet the Swedish start-up making clean energy even greener

Wind power is a major piece of the puzzle in decarbonising the grid. But the giant constructions usually rely on carbon-intensive materials like steel.

Swedish start-up Modvion is channelling Scandi design to combat this problem and create ‘net zero wind power’ by erecting wooden towers.

The company recently debuted the world’s tallest wooden wind turbine tower, near Gothenburg in southwest Sweden.

The 150-metre-tall construction features a 2 megawatt generator that is now supplying enough clean energy to power around 400 homes.

Is wood a good alternative to steel for wind towers?

Steel – the more common material for wind turbine towers – is favoured for its strength and durability. But as towers get ever taller, the logistics of putting them in place become more complex.

Huge pieces of metal are heavy and difficult to transport. The high steel towers require extra enforcement to carry their own weight.

Modvion’s laminated wood towers are manufactured from modules that are easy to stack onto lorries and do not need reinforcement.

With a higher strength to weight ratio, they enable lighter construction and can be assembled by a small crane before being lifted into place.

They can also be joined together with glue, rather than the thousands of bolts needed for steel towers that require regular inspection. A coat of watertight paint protects them from the elements.

Cost-wise, wooden towers work out less expensive than steel towers over time, according to Modvion. The cost advantage is greater for taller towers, and they are also shielded from the fluctuating price of steel.

So far, Modvion has only installed wooden towers on land. But with minor adaptations, it says they could also be used offshore.

In theory, wooden towers could be built as high as 1,500 metres, but current demand is closer to 150-200 metres.

How do the emissions of steel and wooden wind towers compare?

The life cycle emissions of a 110-metre-tall steel wind turbine sit at around 1,250 tonnes of CO2, according to Modvion.

This is slashed by 90 per cent – to around 125 tonnes – for a wooden tower.

When they need to be decommissioned, wooden towers can find new life as high-strength beams for the building industry, further reducing their footprint.

We like to see our towers as vertical storage of future building material,

“We like to see our towers as vertical storage of future building material,” says Modvion.

Building towers in wood lowers the emissions from wind power plants by approximately 30 per cent per kWh, they estimate.

Between 300 and 1,200 cubic metres of wood are needed per tower. The company uses Scandinavian spruce from sustainably managed forests, for which re-growth exceeds logging.


Source: Yahoo News


  Images: Måns Berg


In the southern Swedish city of Uppsala, stormwater pond Exercisfältet designed by Scandinavian firm White Arkitekter hopes “to protect nature from the city’s polluted water and to protect the city from flooding as a result of reduced infiltration and climate change.” The development is the result of an ambition to turn a technical facility into a place for people. A meandering bridge elevated above the pond situates a continuous south-facing seating for the public, whereas the curving stretch pulls those who cherish a serene walk along the water. The platform is also an incredible lookout spot for locals as it captures views of the urban habitation on one side, and water and vegetation on the other.

The project encapsulates climate resilience through a strong combination of infrastructure and landscape design. Keeping the city and its people’s well-being at the centre, White Arkitekter delivers a place of equal necessity and value in the urban scheme of things. With offices in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the UK, the firm’s portfolio covers sustainable architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, and interior design. The firm, with its ecological approach to the building art, upholds the vision of seeing all its architecture become carbon neutral by 2030 through design excellence. Wooden architecture, a specialisation of the firm, was recently seen in the design of a timber-framed office building in Gothenburg, a 20-storey timber hotel, museum and theatre in Skellefteå, and the upcoming Stockholm Wood City, conceived in collaboration with Henning Larsen.

The pond comes along as a technical requisite to the urban demands. “In the wake of the so-called Weser ruling by the European Court of Justice,” states White Arkitekter, “cities are being asked to clean dirty water from roads and houses before it is discharged into the environment.” The stormwater pond commissioned to the firm by Uppsala Municipality and Uppsala Vatten acts in response to this notion, in addition to reinforcing nature in its scheme and making it a people’s place to socialise and connect with their neighbourhood. “The fact that this was also to be done in a sensitive cultural environment made the task complex. It is very gratifying to see how people have now taken it to their hearts, a proof that we have succeeded,” says Charlotta Råsmark, lead landscape architect at White Arkitekter.

The pond creates an open-ended connection with its place. Around the facility, generous spaces and paths tread along the water, allowing the beauty of the landscape to spill farther. A robust flood protection system comes together in the form of a concrete wall barrier that follows the lines of the block division, and further features a sharp edge of the pond closer to the city. The location of the pond at a low-lying terrain ensures it renders a discreet presence without disturbing the landscape, its cultural and historical values, as per the architects.

The vegetation within and around the pond has been adapted to suit the natural features of the site. A series of species that are both hardy and have water purifying properties have been included in the landscape scheme. “The various parts of the pond are flooded by different amounts of rainfall and have great potential to develop into a good habitat for many different animals and plants,” White Arkitekter states. The architects anticipate that the development along the pond shall continue to evolve and move closer to the edge, ensuring more life and activity will engulf the space, realising the overarching ambition that drove the design. The pond, beyond its ecological goal, is conceptualised as an engaging interface that ties the urban habitation and open landscape. The stormwater pond also articulates the need of innovative landscape interventions in urban microcosms as nature harbingers and people-pullers.


Source: Stir


Britain’s Octopus Energy said on Friday its renewables investing arm had launched a dedicated fund with Japan’s Tokyo Gas (9531.T) to invest 3 billion pounds ($3.7 billion) in offshore wind projects by 2030.

The Octopus Energy Offshore Wind fund, set up with a 190 million pound cornerstone investment from Tokyo Gas, will invest in offshore wind farms as well as companies creating new offshore wind capacity, with a focus on Europe, Octopus said.

The fund will look at both traditional offshore wind turbines and floating turbines.

“The potential to make a positive impact, boost energy security and reduce fossil fuels dependence is massive with offshore wind,” said Octopus Energy Generation Chief Executive Zoisa North-Bond.

Octopus Energy Generation has said it plans to invest $20 billion in offshore wind by 2030, with an aim to boost energy security and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

New technology helps create sustainable spaces

New technological developments within the architecture and construction industry are allowing Gloucester-based Roberts Limbrick to create more sustainable buildings than ever.

Roberts Limbrick is a practice that focuses on sustainability. It believes good environmental design can improve user experience and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and whole lifecycle cost. These elements are considered a holistic part of the design process and Roberts Limbrick collaborates with specialists to ensure its buildings are well designed and comfortable.

Joe Roberts

Joe Roberts, director, said: “Set in the context of a climate emergency, sustainability is a fundamental factor of design and business in the 21st century. As a practice, we believe it is time for architects to step up and take greater responsibility for the spaces we live, work and socialise in. We continue to embed sustainability at the heart of our business activities and seek to create buildings that are both sustainable and improve people’s lives.”

Working in this way means as many sustainable elements as possible are put into designs, employing technology and techniques aimed at enhancing energy efficiency and resource conservation. Technology such as rainwater collection, air source heat pumps and HVAC systems have been popular client requests, giving the practice a wealth of experience incorporating these systems into its designs.

Careful use of space is just as important, and Roberts Limbrick implements this through strategies such as green roofs in projects like Cirencester College’s Gloucestershire Applied Digital Skills Centre and the Hartcliffe apartment buildings in Bristol.

BREEAM is one of the leading sustainable standards within architecture, with ratings from Outstanding to Acceptable. To date, Roberts Limbrick has been involved with many buildings which have strong environmental credentials. These include buildings that have BREEAM Outstanding, Excellent and Very Good ratings. The firm’s own offices were designed to achieve BREEAM Excellent.

Spirax-Sarco Engineering plc

Roberts Limbrick was appointed to replace the current extension at Spirax-Sarco Engineering plc’s Group HQ with a contemporary, four-storey headquarters office that remained sympathetic to the adjoining Grade II listed building and was fully in line with the group’s One Planet: Engineering with Purpose sustainability objectives.

The firm strived to make the design as sustainable as possible, and the building has been accredited with BREEAM Outstanding at design stage. This rating recognises the top 0.5% of sustainable new builds and is the highest rating BREEAM offers. An energy-efficient building will be achieved with features such as solar glass, heat pump technology, photo voltaic array and materials reused from the demolished structure.

The redevelopment of the building offers an opportunity to enhance the outdoor space and create a haven for nature to thrive, in line with the group’s focus on biodiversity. New trees, planting beds and a wildflower garden will also help to improve the biodiversity of the site. Further ecological enhancements will include a wildlife pond, bat and bird boxes, hibernacula and an insect hotel.

Carnival Leisure Centre

Sustainability in the sport and leisure industry is of great importance. Creating a sustainable building provides users of the facilities with a more positive and uplifting environment.

The client for Carnival Leisure Centre was Wokingham Borough Council, which prepared a climate emergency action plan in 2019, prompting Roberts Limbrick’s involvement in the project.

Roberts Limbrick was appointed for its specialist sport and leisure experience and to make sure the project stayed on track. The firm redesigned and delivered an accessible and inclusive leisure centre, which met and exceeded Sport England design guidance, while retaining the sport, leisure, library and community facilities, working with Pellikaan Construction.

Sustainable features, such as photovoltaic panels and air source heat pumps, were incorporated and the thermal fabric was significantly improved. This saw an 87% reduction in CO2/ m2 in operation. The building is one of the country’s most energy-efficient leisure centres and received a BREEAM Very Good rating.

Carnival Leisure Centre

Forest of Dean Campus

Educational facilities are one of the most vital places to implement sustainable architecture. Making sure sustainability is at the forefront of students’ minds while they are learning, through the architecture around them, can help shape sustainable futures.

Roberts Limbrick was brought in by Gloucestershire College to design a new, highly sustainable campus for the Forest of Dean. The college required flexible, futureproof facilities, which could be shared by students and the community.

The building is situated on a site of national ecological importance populated by bats, newts and dormice. This meant that every stage of development needed to be extremely sensitive to the surroundings and, through targeted consultation and working with ecologists, Roberts Limbrick reduced the ecological impact of the campus on the site.

The sustainable building design is orientated to provide high levels of natural light and uses the existing site contours to minimise the impact of the facility on the landscape. It incorporates brown and green roofs to provide habitats for wildlife, along with greywater rainwater harvesting and roof-mounted solar panels.


Roberts Limbrick has been placing a huge focus on sustainability within architecture for many years. The firm’s architects understand the importance of looking towards the future when designing.


Source: Punchline



BALTEN chose RENOLIT and its ALKORPLAN Hydro geomembrane for the re-waterproofing of the Taco Mountain basin (Tenerife). The project allowed to ensure irrigation without generating negative impacts on the territory: waste materials were recycled, thus significantly reducing CO2 emissions.

Sant Celoni, Barcelona, 14 September 2023 – Efficient rainwater collection is a crucial issue in the context of a more sustainable use of resources that are becoming increasingly scarce and discontinuous due to climate change, such as freshwater.

RENOLIT ALKORPLAN has joint forces with Balsas de Tenerife (BALTEN) to minimize the impact of the waterproofing works of the Taco Mountain basin. The project shows how RENOLIT ALKORPLAN Hydro geomembranes can be used to reduce water dispersion and material waste in basins even in challenging environments.

The challenge of rainwater collection in Tenerife

 The Taco Mountain basin is built in the crater of a volcano and is the largest irrigation water reservoir on the island. The water is used almost exclusively to irrigate banana plantations, a key activity in the area. Located between the municipalities of Los Silos and Buenavista del Norte, it has a capacity of 821,739 cubic meters and a water height of 13.70 meters.

The bottom of the basin is characterized by an impermeable clay layer. However, the scarcity of rainwater on the island has led to the need to reduce the amount of water that disappears through the side walls of the basins. In addition, the site’s high exposure to solar radiation required the use of a highly UV-resistant material.

The conformity of the terrain makes the task even more challenging: the Canary Islands are characterized by a steep orography with abrasive aggregates and sharp edges. This leads to a greater need to optimize the capacity of reservoirs, requiring the design of basins with almost sub-vertical slopes in some cases.




RENOLIT ALKORPLAN Hydro, a flexible and UV-resistant PVC-P geomembrane

To tackle these challenges BALTEN ̶ the public entity in charge of managing all water storage facilities on the island ̶  has chosen RENOLIT and its geomembrane ALKORPLAN Hydro 00414 R SST in 1,5 mm thickness for the project, for a total amount of 38,307 m2. The characteristics of the geomembrane allowed to carry out the job within the pre-established times, facilitating the implementation of the intervention.

RENOLIT produces geomembranes with very high performances. As installers, RENOLIT ALKORPLAN Hydro 00414 R SST offers relevant advantages to us, such as its high malleability and flexibility which make it suitable for applications in any scenario. As we implemented the project, the PVC geomembrane allowed us to weld over the old material, with the peace of mind that the welding was going to be perfect», explains Rubén Lopez, Managing Director of the installation company Imperteide.

RENOLIT ALKORPLAN Hydro 00414 R SST offers the right solution to meet all the requirements of the basin: made of flexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC-P), it is ideal for re-waterproofing applications as PVC can be welded even after many years. Flexible and resistant at the same time, RENOLIT ALKORPLAN Hydro 00414 R SST geomembrane is applicable on very steep slopes and with a protective layer against UV rays. In fact, the new geomembrane has Solar Shield technology, a special protective layer that reflects the sun’s rays and protects against microorganisms. This means that the membrane does not age as quickly. Emilio José Grande de Azpeitia, specifier of the project and head of Trazas Ingenieria, remarks that there is no other solution on the market that offers all these advantages at the same time, making it the perfect product for such extreme conditions like the Canary Islands’ ones.

Innovation meets sustainability

BALTEN trusted RENOLIT not only because of all the benefits RENOLIT ALKORPLAN Hydro 00414 R SST geomembranes offers and its extensive know-how in these applications, but also because of its commitment to sustainability.

Going into this project we had two main goals. First, the intervention was aimed at ensuring water supply to the island, limiting the inactivity of the basin to the shortest period. Secondly, we wanted to set an example as a public entity to also take on the consequences of the works. For this reason, we agreed with RENOLIT to collect the cutoffs in a waste-free manner and treat the PVC material with the same care as we treat water: without wasting a single ounce», says Fernando Bonnet, Head of Exploitation sector of BALTEN.

An additional challenge that RENOLIT has tackled without much difficulty. «We sent big bags to the site to collect the cutoffs and bring them to our factory. They will be recycled and converted in new raw materials to manufacture new membranes. In this way, we were able to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted by about 40% compared to landfilling», says Jennifer Witty Che, Sustainable Manager, RENOLIT.


The Prime Minister’s controversial move to cut back many of the nation’s net-zero ambitions has received criticism from business leaders, environmentalists, and Conservative party backbenchers. Meanwhile, a new survey from energy company Vattenfall reveals a very different perspective from UK businesses, demonstrating their eagerness to decarbonise – without delay.

Rishi Sunak recently announced a major recalibration of the nation’s net-zero targets. Key changes include pushing back the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars to 2023, and the 2025 ban on gas boilers to 2035.

While the government’s reasoning for this environmental U-turn is to save consumers money, Sunak’s justification has been met with serious scepticism. Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged that “we cannot afford to falter now or in any way to lose our ambition for this country”, and that “businesses must have certainty about our net zero commitments”.

Jim Watson, Director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, argued that the weakening of our sustainable policies is likely to add further costs onto businesses in the future, rather than cutting them. He commented “Rishi Sunak’s Net Zero speech is full of contradictions and will make it harder to meet our medium – and long-term climate change targets. It also risks increasing the costs by delaying the shift away from fossil fuels and reducing the economic benefits to the UK.”


UK businesses are driving decarbonisation regardless

According to a recent study conducted by Vattenfall Network Solutions, UK businesses are committed to their net-zero regardless of the changes: 95.5% of companies surveyed, with a workforce exceeding 50, stated that they are steadfast in their commitment to reducing carbon footprints or achieving Net Zero. A majority, 77.4%, aim for significant cutbacks by 2030, with 58.1% envisioning substantial reductions within the next 5 years, highlighting business’ understanding of the urgency and commitment to the net zero imperative. Vattenfall’s survey, engaging a thousand mid-sized industrial firms, demonstrates that UK business is committed to cutting emissions as soon as possible, despite the Prime Minister’s wavering.

Electrification is one of the most vital strategies for the UK to reduce its CO2 emissions in time for the2050 net-zero deadline, which also makes economic sense since electrical processes are often more efficient. But surprisingly, according to Vattenfall’s investigative report, only 51% of companies surveyed anticipate a rise in their electricity usage in the forthcoming decades. This statistic raises a serious question – where will business’s energy be coming from, if not from electricity? Evidently, a deeper understanding of the net-zero roadmap and its key steps is imperative to navigate the transition.

Energy efficiency is the most obvious way to reduce consumption and was the most popular method of achieving carbon reductions with 23.4% of companies targeting savings this way, whilst almost 70% (68.6%) of companies with carbon reduction or net zero targets included electrification, solar PV or changes in energy use as part of their plans.

The biggest take-away from Vattenfall’s survey was that a resounding 80% of respondents acknowledged the necessity of guidance to meet their targets, underscoring an industry-wide thirst for expertise, rather than a weakening of targets.

This massive demand for financial, technical and implementation support highlights UK businesses commitment to net zero and the urgent need for clear guidance and programmes to help UK companies deliver on net zero.

But, where the Government is failing to deliver, industry is pushing forward to deliver on the urgent net zero imperative. Vattenfall’s Power-as-a-Service model is specifically designed to support UK businesses by providing funding, technical support and implementation for electrification projects. Whether a company is looking for solar panels, EV charging, or energy efficiency upgrades, Vattenfall will provide the investment capital, design, installation and ongoing maintenance to help companies transition to net zero whilst remaining focused on their core business goals.

As a nation, we have an urgent need to cut carbon emissions and there are extremely strong economic arguments to do so, which completely undermine Sunak’s views that strong net zero targets will increase bills. For example, Vattenfall’s fully financed offer for solar photovoltaics delivers electricity to UK businesses at under 7p per kWh on average over 25 years – a massive saving in comparison to contracts for grid-based electricity which are currently around 30p per kWh.

If a company has the roof or land space to install solar panels the decision to reduce bills is obvious, with many CFO’s describing it as a “no brainer” from a commercial perspective. The fact that the cheaper electricity is carbon free, and that solar and other carbon reduction projects, create UK jobs, grow the UK’s net zero expertise, and contribute to the essential reduction in global emissions might be something that Sunak should pause to consider.




As we contend with the global need to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change, the UK government is introducing bold initiatives to transition away from fossil fuels. One such initiative is the ban on new gas boilers, set to take effect in 2035 in the UK. While this move is commendable for its environmental ambitions, it brings a critical issue into question: the high capital costs and potential risk of debt for households in their transition to heat pumps. In light of this, Alex Hill, Managing Director of Whitecode Consulting discusses the feasibility of the complete replacement of gas boilers with heat pumps.

The UK government’s plan to phase out new gas boilers by 2035 is a crucial step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Heat pumps, which are considered a greener alternative to gas boilers, are being positioned as the go-to solution. However, this transition is being questioned by critics due to the financial burden it places on homeowners.

A recent report by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero anticipates that many households will need to take out loans to fund the installation of heat pumps. This raises a significant concern of the risk of debt accumulation for homeowners, especially those who are already financially challenged.

Financing arrangements, subsidies and the question of affordability

To mitigate the debt risks, the government is exploring financing arrangements and subsidies. The hope is that these financial incentives will encourage more homeowners to embrace heat pump technology. The report from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero acknowledges the importance of making heat pumps an affordable and practical option for consumers. However, it’s important to note that the implementation of such measures is still a work in progress.

A key aspect of the debate centres on affordability. Critics argue that the cost of purchasing and installing heat pumps, which can reach up to £15,000, may be unrealistic for many households. Concerns have also been raised about the transition potentially pushing vulnerable households further into debt, which would prove far from ideal.

Additionally, the transition to heat pumps also carries implications for businesses. While it’s true that the move toward greener technologies can provide economic benefits for some businesses, costs remain a key consideration.

Government response and industry challenges

The government has responded to these concerns by increasing grants for homeowners who choose to replace their gas boilers with heat pumps. While this financial support is a step in the right direction, there are still concerns about the availability of skilled professionals and the readiness of the construction industry to meet the demand for heat pump installations. The huge disparity between the number of installers and the installations required raises doubts about the viability of heat pump adoption across the UK.

The transition away from gas boilers toward more sustainable alternatives, such as heat pumps, holds significant promise for the environment. However, with concerns about capital costs, the risk of debt for homeowners and the skills gap in the construction industry, we’re left to ask: is the complete replacement of gas and boilers feasible?

The discourse surrounding heat pumps and the transition away from gas boilers is gaining momentum, and while it’s significant to acknowledge the progress made so far, the financial burden on homeowners and the readiness of the construction industry to implement heat pumps pose significant challenges.

As we navigate this transition to a more sustainable sector, open and honest dialogue within the construction industry and the wider community is vital. Through collaboration and shared ideas, we can find solutions that benefit both industry professionals and the planet. Ultimately, the transition to heat pumps must be as equitable and sustainable as possible to ensure a greener future for all.