Specialist low carbon developer and modular manufacturer Starship is bringing forward a project in Wallasey, Wirral, which is set to be one of the largest modular carbon zero housing developments in the North West.

In partnership with North West housing association, Onward Homes, and supported by Homes England and the Liverpool City Region Brownfield Land Fund, which has allocated £195,000 to the project, Starship will deliver 13 carbon zero homes across a 64,000 sq ft site in Wallasey.

Constructed using low carbon Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), the Greenleas project will use eco-friendly construction methods by prioritising energy efficiency from the start of the design and development process.

Situated on undeveloped land at the bottom of Greenleas Close in Wallasey, the three-bedroom homes will be built with strong eco-credentials, holding an impressive EPC rating of A.

Onward Homes is one of the largest providers of social housing based in the North West, with more than 35,000 homes across the region. This development is Starship’s first project with Onward Homes and is expected to be completed in just over 40 weeks.

The MMC homes will be built in Starship’s Wirral Waters based factory, with each home taking a week to build and a day and a half to be erected on site.

Image credit: Starship

Dave Dargan, co-founder and chief executive of Starship, said: “At Starship, we are purpose driven to build better, and we have a strong commitment to low-carbon living, ensuring that everything we do is led by our commitment to the green agenda.

“Forming a partnership with Onward Homes is an exciting opportunity for us to continue delivering gold-standard, carbon zero homes and developing long-lasting communities with sustainability at their core. Greenleas will become a fantastic new addition to Wallasey, providing people with modern homes in the heart of one of Wirral’s most up and coming areas.”

Bronwen Rapley, chief executive of Onward Homes, added: “Onward is committed to becoming a leading environmentally-friendly landlord across the North West, providing warm and affordable homes in greener neighbourhoods for our customers to enjoy. Starship’s cutting-edge homes promise to make a real difference in this part of Wallasey, helping local people take their first steps on the property ladder while ‘treading lighter’ on the local environment through sustainable design and manufacturing.”

Cllr Graham Morgan, Liverpool City Region portfolio holder for housing and spatial planning, said building on brownfield sites was a central part of plans “to ensure there is a great choice of high-quality homes, right across the city region, as part of our ambitious plans to tackle the housing crisis.”

LoCaL Homes, an award-winning advanced offsite housing manufacturing facility in Walsall, recently received a high-profile visit from a trio of Tory politicians.

Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street CBE, Cllr Adrian Andrew, Deputy Leader of Walsall Council, local MP Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills) and their staff were given a tour around the LoCaL Homes factory to learn more about modern methods of construction (MMC) and the products which LoCaL Homes manufacture.

Mike Doolan, Sales and Partnership Manager at LoCaL Homes, chaired a discussion with the visiting delegation around the future of closed panel timber frames and the opportunities and barriers in housebuilding using MMC.

He said: “It was fantastic to welcome Andy Street CBE, Cllr Adrian Andrew and Wendy Morton MP to our manufacturing site in Walsall.

“I was proud to show our visitors the high-quality timber frame panel we make in the heart of the Black Country and demonstrate how they have been used to build homes in the West Midlands and beyond.”

The visit comes ahead of the introduction of the Future Homes Standard – a set of rules which will ensure that new homes built from 2025 produce 75-80% less carbon emissions. LoCaL Homes is already manufacturing its Eco-200 timber frame panels for a number of developments housing associations and contractors across the country to achieve the standard ahead of time.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, added: “Housebuilding has been one of the West Midlands’ best success stories in recent years, with record numbers of homes being built, the vast majority of them on brownfield land. This has kept us on course to achieve our target of building 215,000 new homes by 2031.

“But as we look to continue that success we must also think about how housebuilding can help tackle the climate emergency and support the region’s ambition to be net zero by 2041.

“We want to see greater use of Advanced Manufacturing in Construction so we can not only build homes faster but more sustainably.

“It was fascinating to see LoCaL Home’s  manufacturing process. It is a wonderful example of West Midlands innovation and exactly the sort of approach to construction that can not only build a cleaner, more sustainable economy but also create the hi-tech, green industries of the future, creating well-paid and secure jobs for local people.”

Wendy Morton MP said: “At the end of a busy week in my constituency, it was great to visit LoCaL  Homes  in Aldridge. They excel in manufacturing offsite solutions for various buildings such as bungalows, houses, apartments, care homes, and schools.“LoCaL Homes are shaping the future of housing solutions, and providing local skills employment opportunities.”

Residents of Lockleaze, Bristol, are facing the stark realities of modular construction gone awry. A development promising a faster, greener, and cheaper housing solution has turned into a prolonged nightmare, as homes built using modern prefabricated techniques face dismantling due to foundational flaws. This setback not only disrupts the lives of local residents but also casts a long shadow over the future of prefab housing in the UK. Despite governmental support, including hundreds of millions in funding, the industry struggles with demand, leading to significant financial losses and the closure of key players like Legal & General Modular Homes.

Challenging Conventions: The Prefab Predicament

The ambition to revolutionize the housing industry with prefabricated homes has encountered numerous challenges. From local opposition to restrictive planning systems, prefab ventures like the one at Bonnington Walk reveal the complexities of modernizing construction methods. The government’s strategy, criticized for its lack of coherence and direction, further complicates the transition to modular construction. With public and private investments yielding limited success, the dream of mass-producing affordable, quality homes remains elusive, raising questions about prefab’s viability as a solution to the housing crisis.

Future Foundations: Reimagining Residential Construction

Despite the setbacks, there is still hope for the prefab housing sector. Innovations and successes abroad suggest that with the right conditions, modular construction could play a significant role in addressing housing shortages. However, overcoming the industry’s current challenges will require a concerted effort from the government, manufacturers, and the public. As the UK grapples with the need for a more efficient, sustainable housing model, the story of Bonnington Walk serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the necessity for strategic planning, investment, and public support to realize the potential of prefab housing.

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

Make UK Modular has issued a response to the Built Environment Committee’s letter to the Secretary of State.

“This report is heartening and recognises the important role that Category 1 modular is already playing in solving Britain’s homes crisis, with global leading projects currently delivering thousands of homes. The Committee is right to point to a need for greater clarity around policy which, if it is got right, will ensure a stimulated market at a critical time for homeowners and renters alike. Unblocking the delivery of the 300,000 homes our country needs every year is key, and Category 1 modular can help deliver affordable homes which are economic to run in an ever-tightening labour market,” said Daniel Paterson, director of government affairs, Make UK Modular.

He added: “The current Future Homes Standard consultation aims to make sure all new homes are built to a higher standard from 2025. Make UK Modular encourages the government to use this as an opportunity to listen to innovators in the construction sector on the importance of high fabric standards as a critically important method of increasing sustainability in our future homes.”

“By doing so, the Government can develop a solid long-term strategy prioritising the most innovative forms of building that are already delivering tangible value for the UK while ensuring that innovators within industry do not face penalties for challenging outdated methods of working,” he concluded.

The supply chain is the lifeblood for offsite and MMC construction. So how can manufacturer partnerships help drive the industry forwards? Clive Reeves, Business Development Manager – Offsite, MMC at Knauf UK & Ireland explores how manufacturers like Knauf are working to develop solutions for the industry.

300,000 new houses a year was our government’s target for levelling up the country. The results so far are a little off the mark, but the ambition remains the same. We need more houses and that target isn’t shifting despite a predicted immediate slowdown in construction output of 7%*1.  MMC and offsite manufacturing offer the potential to deliver more houses at speed and scale. Something of a remedy to the current output trajectory. However, even this specialised industry is experiencing slower than anticipated growth. The Offsite Construction Market Report – UK 2021-2025 highlights how the market for offsite housing has only grown by an estimated 6%*2.

It doesn’t paint a particularly positive picture when combined with news of modular house builders like Ilke Homes and L&G Homes going into administration. Their collapses brought about by a struggle to fill order books to match factory output and ensure a sustainable business. Further delays in planning also contributed to this struggle while also delaying the building of much needed housing.

Despite the challenges faced by all, we at Knauf firmly believe offsite and MMC methodologies offer real advantages and benefits to the industry. The solutions just come with some immediate barriers we collectively must overcome.
So where are those pain points?  Put the problems first.

Our approach at Knauf is to start by identifying where the problems or challenges are and provide solutions. Every project carries a level of challenge and offsite or MMC manufacturing is no different.  Interestingly, when we engage with offsite and MMC builders and contractors, the challenges faced are similar to those experienced in the wider industry. It’s easy to think of this different methodology as having mysterious or complex issues which require nothing short of bespoke solutions. However, when engaging with the market we tend to note three common challenges: efficiency, sustainability, and knowledge.  Improving efficiencies across the board.

Sitting at the heart of offsite manufacturing is efficiency. By moving construction into a controlled location such as a factory, supply chains can be optimised, disruptions kept to a minimum, and build times reduced. But achieving this level of optimisation is hard.  Offsite factories operate on the basis of speed and a ‘just-in-time’ principle. Large production sites need a smooth operation of products into the production line to produce modular houses out the other end. Knauf works with volumetric housebuilders to create key supply lines which ensure a steady flow of product into the production facility. Productivity and efficiency are key to a quality product being delivered to site on time.  Where Knauf can add value is in the reduction of time spent in the building process. Modular builders can’t afford to have large commercial or residential ‘modules’ sat waiting for product to dry or sections to be installed. Here, product choice can have a huge impact on the overall efficiency of that production line.

Structural components such as the Knauf ThroughWall system provide a unique, BBA Approved solution. The all-in-one system is comprised of steel framing components (SFS), internal insulation, plasterboard, external sheathing and insulation.  The ThroughWall system delivers a panelised solution using rolled steel frame to provide certified performance levels. In addition, the system allows for a range of external finishes such as rainscreen cladding or brickwork to be added in the factory or on site.  Systematic approaches are gaining traction in traditional and offsite construction. This shift is driven by the need to provide proof of compliance or performance, particularly in areas of fire safety. Systems such as ThroughWall provide this level of reassurance for contractors and housebuilders. The Knauf System Performance Warranty is an extra level of protection afforded when a systematic approach is taken.

Another area where product choice can improve lead times and efficiency is in drying times for plaster. Even with all the temperature controls available, plaster takes time to dry before it can be painted. However, one of the biggest advantages Knauf can offer is its spray plaster alternative, Knauf Ready-Mixed Airless Finish.

Knauf Airless Finishes can be applied significantly faster than traditional plaster methods. Its full potential is best realised at scale, where there are multiple rooms or units which can be plastered in a short space of time. This means more rooms can be finished at a greater pace than with traditional plastering. Combined with its reduced drying times, contractors are able to move on to the next stage far sooner.

Additionally, Airless can achieve a faster finish with less manpower needed. Whereas a large contractor might employ several sub-contractor plastering firms to complete the work, Airless Finishes can be used by smaller, more agile teams to achieve the same effect.  GIFA Flooring, a high-density screed panel provided in a tongue-and-groove interlocking flooring system, is another solution which offers similar speed and efficiency benefits. The easy-to-install, structurally stable board make it an ideal alternative to traditional wet floor screed, effectively eliminating drying times.

In addition to its benefits versus traditional chipboard, Knauf GIFA flooring’s low thermal resistance and high conductivity make it an excellent choice when paired with underfloor heating systems.  Sustainability on top of the agenda.
When engaging with offsite house builders, there is always the objective of reducing waste and consumption in the production line. There’s no set approach to achieving this, instead requiring Knauf to work with customers to identify where excess can be cut back. Whether that’s through reducing offcuts from plasterboard or minimising water usage on site, Knauf work to provide solutions which aid these objectives.  The water usage factor is one area where product choice can again make real savings. Both Knauf Airless and GIFA systems utilise significantly less water than their traditional alternatives which offer modular and offsite housebuilders an immediate saving.  In aiding housebuilders reach net zero, Knauf are making changes to their own supply chain to improve sustainability. From using more sustainable fuels in delivery fleets, to increase recycled plastic content in packaging, Knauf have set ambitious but decisive net zero goals.  Knowledge is everything.

Building volume properties at pace is a challenge to say the least. It requires a workforce which provides pin-point precision and speed to production. It also needs designs and specification skills to ensure the brief is right at the very start as once production begins, minor errors at scale can be costly.  In addressing skill issues, Knauf offers training in its MMC products to enable constructors to quickly and effectively upskill their employees. For example, Knauf offers training for the Airless product, allowing labourers to easily get to grips with the system. Whereas GIFA Flooring and Corridor 400 are both easy to assemble systems which eliminate the need for specialist knowledge.

In aiding MMC and offsite designers, Knauf has recently launched a new and improved version of Planner Suite. This online tool is a three-in-one solution for simple product and system searches, immediate supporting data and Drywall Specification Documentation. It can be used as a digital hub for data and to enable easier designs through importing Knauf products into Revit and ArchiCAD. In effect, Planner Suite gives designers the tools to not only get it right first time but manage their specification from start to finish.


Proof in partnerships.

Offsite and modular building is an innovative and growing market. Whether it replaces traditional housebuilding or not, we at Knauf believe it’s the future of construction. It shows real promise in solving our immediate housing needs and fast tracking health and education projects.  Knauf product systems and solutions are already being used by large scale modular housebuilders. Through collaboration and partnership with volume builders like Modulous, who offer a digital solution for modular construction, we’re committed to supporting the industry innovate and develop more sustainable buildings.

*1 www.constructionproducts.org.uk/news-media-events/news/2023/july/cpa-summer-forecast-2023
*2 www.amaresearch.co.uk/report/offsite-housing-market-report-uk-2021

CLICK HERE for more information on MMC and Offsite




Ensuring airtightness is rapidly becoming a key objective for both traditional and modern methods of construction (MMC). This is driven by a number of factors including the protection of a building’s structure, thermal comfort for the occupants – and perhaps most importantly of all – energy efficiency.

It is fast approaching 2025, and compliance with the Future Homes Standard (FHS) will become mandatory. The goal of FHS is to ensure that new homes built from 2025 onwards will produce 75-80% less carbon emissions than homes constructed under the current Building Regulations.1 The Government has already updated Part F2 and Part L3 of the current Building Regulations, which came into effect in June 2022. Part F refers to new standards of ventilation and Part L highlights the airtightness requirements, minimum energy performance targets for buildings and improved minimum insulation standards required for new builds, renovations, and extensions.  With all these changes coming to play, the drive towards more sustainable building cannot be ignored. One way to improve energy efficiency, is to ensure buildings are airtight.


Demands for airtightness in buildings

Airtightness is particularly important in the design of energy-efficient homes for reasons such as reducing heat loss, protecting the building the fabric from moisture in the air and reducing air leakages (uncontrolled ventilation).   To help meet demands, MEDITE SMARTPLY offers two environmentally conscious airtight products that are suited for traditional and modern methods of construction (MMC). Firstly, SMARTPLY PROPASSIV, a structural OSB/3 panel with integrated air barrier and vapour control properties. The other, SMARTPLY SURE STEP, an airtight, tongue and groove OSB/3 panel with a high-performance and durable coating.

SMARTPLY PROPASSIV can be used for the walls and ceilings. The panel is airtight and is designed for use as internal structural sheathing on the warm side of the insulation in timber frame construction systems.SMARTPLY PROPASSIV is certified as an airtight component by the Passive House Institute and therefore contributes to comply with the air permeability requirements set out by the Passive House Institute.

For flooring and roofing, there is SMARTPLY SURE STEP. Using SURE STEP as an airtight layer for flooring or decking can contribute to sustainable building practices as well as reduce the energy consumption for heating. Its unique coating also brings improved durability during the construction phase and slip resistance to the panel in all site conditions. SMARTPLY SURE STEP is certified airtight by the Passive House Institute.  Both products can be used together to form an airtight, opaque envelope in buildings, which forms a fundamental part of the design of airtight structures.

The importance of ventilation in airtight buildings

It is estimated that people spend around 80-90% of their time indoors,4 and so without proper ventilation, airtight structures can have poor indoor air quality.  Controlled ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) is installed to stop this and is a requirement in Passive House buildings. This involves extracting hot air from wet rooms and supplying fresh air to living and bedrooms. The fresh air is filtered and is heated by the extracted air through a heat exchanger. In very cold climate, the fresh air can be heated through ground or air heat pumps.

SMARTPLY PROPASSIV has a distinctive green coating which offers consistent vapour resistance over the entire surface eliminating the need for additional Air and Vapour Control Layout (AVCL) membranes. The vapour control layer helps to prevent the transfer of vapour through materials by humidity or temperature differences through a process known as ‘vapour diffusion.’ Essentially, stopping air and moisture from escaping outside. This is especially important when it comes to timber frame constructions, as vapour transferring trough the fabric could condensate and cause long term damages to the timber frame structure.  As an example of how engineered wood panels can dramatically reduce embodied carbon outcomes, ‘live’ assessments were carried out using SMARTPLY PROPASSIV. The panels’ airtight performance was found to reduce heat loss by up to 90% in a typical building and up to 60% in a property constructed to current building standards.5

A sustainable material

When timber is managed responsibly, it can emerge as an exceptionally sustainable construction material. SMARTPLY OSB exemplifies this sustainability ethos, as it is manufactured from FSC® certified timber sourced from fast growing pine and spruce trees. Moreover, SMARTPLY OSB utilises logs from forest thinnings or top of the trees ensuring that all wood harvested is used.   Airtightness plays a pivotal role in energy-efficient homes. MEDITE SMARTPLY offers innovative airtight products like SMARTPLY PROPASSIV and SMARTPLY SURE STEP, which not only enhance airtightness but also contribute to sustainable building practices. In an era where sustainability, energy efficiency, and compliance with stringent standards are paramount, airtightness in MMC is not just a consideration but a fundamental requirement. MEDITE SMARTPLY’s innovative solutions not only meet these demands but also contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious construction industry.


1. www.cbre.co.uk/insights/articles/what-is-the-2025-future-homes-standard-and-how-will-it-impact-residential-real-estate#:~:text=In%202025%2C%20compliance%20with%20the,under%20the%20current%20Building%20Regulations.
2. www.gov.uk/government/publications/ventilation-approved-document-f
3. www.gov.uk/government/publications/conservation-of-fuel-and-power-approved-document-l
4. uk-air.defra.gov.uk/assets/documents/reports/
5. mdfosb.com/en/sustainability/our-sustainable-solutions


CLICK HERE to learn more about SMARTPLY products and its benefits to MMC





Situated seven degrees west of the Greenwich Meridian, and exposed to some of the harshest weather conditions anywhere in the British Isles, the Hebrides present a challenging location for building projects, prompting a recently-established building company to adopt offsite construction technologies which make full use of the technical and environmental benefits of West Fraser’s SterlingOSB Zero.


70-22’ Systems was established in 2022 by three business partners whose experience encapsulates architecture, education and manufacturing amongst other skills, and who decided to develop their own highly-insulated, modular timber building system.  Growing organically by providing bespoke packages to clients of parent business, Fraser Architecture, 70-22’ has already delivered properties on the Outer Hebrides; and has more than half a dozen schemes of different sizes in the pipeline for the coming year.

The trademarked system has been designed specifically to avoid the need for craneage, due to the inaccessibility of many sites, while the cellular component modules take the form of wall blocks, lintels and beams to span larger openings.  The SterlingOSB Zero is CNC machined and assembled in the workshop before being filled with Warmcel recycled paper insulation.

Significantly, the 70-22’ Systems design personnel were determined from the outset to utilise the West Fraser board because of its formaldehyde free formulation and the fact the material is manufactured in the North of Scotland, using mainly locally sourced softwood from well managed forests.

70-22’ Systems’ co-founder and Commercial Director, Alex Durie, commented:

“We use West Fraser’s SterlingOSB Zero to construct our ecological building components, that are prefabricated in our workshop utilising CNC technology to achieve 0.1mm tolerances for each beam and block.  It is the ideal material to use as the shell for our components, which are then filled with recycled insulation to achieve a building system that can achieve market leading thermal performance, with a U-value of 0.1 W/m²k, and excellent air-tightness, while maintaining a breathable floor, wall and roof construction. The added bonus of being formaldehyde-free, OSB enables us to build ecologically, utilising timber grown and processed in Scotland as we aim to limit the travel miles in each of our builds. The OSB produced by West Fraser has performed very well in our structural testing, with our system proving to be 1.6 times stronger than a traditional timber frame – and as our system arrives on site as a component that is pre-fabricated, pre-insulated and designed for manual handling, it is much quicker to assemble.”

Not only do all of the 70-22’ Systems structures exceed the thermal requirements of Section 6 to the Building Standards, Scotland, but can also be delivered as a Passivhaus compliant solution where the client or planning consent demand it.  In the medium to long term, the business is building a pattern book of standard house types and has plans to establish a pilot plant on the mainland.  The company will also be showcasing its system at the Self-Build and Renovation exhibition in Aviemore this autumn.

SterlingOSB Zero is available in a range of sizes and thicknesses up to 22mm as well as a T&G version ideal for flooring and decking applications.  The high performance panel product, free of added formaldehyde, has also earned BBA approval and meets the requirements of NHBC Technical.

As is always the case, West Fraser’s experienced technical team is available

to aid with product specification

CLICK HERE for downloadable data sheets



© Luleå University of Technology and the Application of FRCM: © University of Nottingham


Researchers from the University of Nottingham are collaborating with Luleå University of Technology in Sweden for the first time, on a project that aims to improve the resilience of the world’s bridges – making them safer and more sustainable as traffic levels rise.

The recent 26-month closure of Hammersmith Bridge due to concerns about cracking in the infrastructure, as well as the ongoing RAAC concrete crisis demonstrate that much of the UK’s current infrastructure is nearing, or has exceeded, its expected design life. With temperatures soaring due to climate change, and traffic levels gradually rising again post-pandemic, the speed of this deterioration is only increasing.

When it comes to bridges, it’s not economically or environmentally possible to simply replace them, meaning the only viable solution is to repair and strengthen them. In the UK alone, the cost of repairing bridges due to corrosion damage is estimated to cost millions of pounds.

Non-corrosive Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) composites are excellent strengthening systems for corrosion-damaged concrete structures, but they come with their own drawbacks, such as high price, high environmental impact due to resin use, and poor fire resistance. As a result, a new generation of composites has been developed – Fibre-Reinforced Cementitious Mortar (FRCM). FRCMs are compatible with concrete, breathable, resistant to fire, applicable on wet surfaces, sustainable, reversible, low carbon, and cost-effective – being at least 30% cheaper than FRPs.

The main goal of the Climate Adaptation for REsilient Bridges (CARE) project is to find durable and sustainable solutions by investigating how different temperatures and accumulated damage caused by repeated load cycles affect the performance of FRCM composites when used in bridge strengthening.

Dr Georgia Thermou, Assistant Professor in Structural Engineering at the University of Nottingham, said:

“Although experimental evidence has demonstrated the efficiency of FRCMs when it comes to improving undamaged structures, it has not been tested on more complex structural systems with accumulated damage or that have been subject to seasonal temperature changes.

“Our experiments and simulations will generate new knowledge, which will benefit the construction and composites industries by providing a sustainable solution for strengthening bridges and creating a new market for composites respectively. Additionally, it will greatly benefit society by providing safe and sustainable infrastructure that will contribute towards a greener economy and, crucially, minimise bridge closures or even failures.”

The CARE project has been funded by the Royal Society as part of its International Exchanges scheme, which allows scientists across the UK to collaborate with leading institutions overseas.

Professor Gabriel Sas, Head of Subject at Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering at Luleå University of Technology, said:

“Collaboration across borders is essential for tackling the global challenges we face in infrastructure and sustainability. This partnership with the University of Nottingham allows us to combine our expertise in structural engineering and material science to develop innovative solutions for bridge resilience.”

Dr Jaime Gonzalez-Libreros, Associate Senior Lecturer at Luleå University of Technology, who will be collaborating closely with Prof. Sas and Dr. Thermou in the project, added:

“Our aim is not just to extend the lifespan of existing structures but to do so in a way that is economically viable and environmentally responsible. This project is a step forward in creating a sustainable future for our communities.”

Dr Thermou added:

“Being able to establish connections and collaborate with other leading universities across the world is crucial when it comes to sharing knowledge and finding solutions that multiple countries can benefit from, so I’m looking forward to working with Professor Sas and his research group to see what we can learn together over the next two years. I would also like to acknowledge Royal Society for supporting this effort and enabling the project to take place.”

Bespoke Fibrelite GRP composite trench covering solution, 82% lighter than cast iron

Once in a while, a product will come along whose performance will drive a change in standards across entire industries. Like stainless steel. Or concrete. Or a trench cover which is over 80% lighter than the cast iron traditionally used, eliminating the need for costly specialised lifting equipment and the accompanying health and safety hazards. And, unlike metal and concrete infill covers, it’s engineered from a GRP composite material which is inert and impervious to corrosion from water and salt, as well as many other corrosive constituents.


Changing The Standard For Health & Safety

Heavy metal trench covers come with inherent H&S hazards & often require specialised lifting equipment lightweight Fibrelite GRP trench covers eliminate manual handling risks

Fibrelite’s GRP composite trench and manhole covers are fast usurping metal and concrete covers to become the standard for high-performance industries like airports, commercial ports, leisure cruise terminals, military and defence, power generation (both traditional and renewables), and data centres, with companies like Magnox, The National Grid, all branches of the UK armed forces, and the world’s largest technology brands specifying Fibrelite covers for new build and retrofit projects.

Recent Installation: Port Cruise Terminal Upgrade, UK

As part of this Southern English Port’s cruise terminal upgrade project, Fibrelite was approached by the end-user, who was providing the Onshore Power Supply (OPS) systems. The port had previously considered installing cast iron trench covers to cover the 500 metres of trench housing the high-voltage power cables, but due to their weight (approximately 350 kg) and the additional associated overheads, they approached Fibrelite for a lighter alternative.

Fibrelite developed a bespoke covering solution made up of dozens of custom-sized F900 (90-tonne) load-rated GRP composite trench covers in varying dimensions to suit the specified trench rebate dimensions, which were 65 kg, 82% (285 kg) lighter than the cast iron alternative. The Fibrelite covers are light enough for safe removal with the site dolly, complying with the load rating requirement of the site.

Recent Installation: Major Southern UK Airport Off-Apron Lighting Pit Upgrade

At one of the UK’s busiest airports, Fibrelite designed and manufactured a retrofit replacement for manhole covers over off-apron runway lighting pits where onsite staff have a window of approximately two minutes to effect maintenance and/or repair works between take-offs and landings, including removing and replacing the F900 load rated access cover. The new lightweight GRP composite Fibrelite covers now allow safe, fast access to the lighting pits, maximising time for maintenance and minimising the risk of injury.


A Bright Future For Fibrelite

I’ve been a part of the Fibrelite journey since 2011, and it’s been exciting to play a part in driving the upgrade from traditional concrete and metal trench and manhole covers to GRP composites in myriad industries, especially those where manual handling is critical, and seeing how we’ve helped increase health and safety and performance in those industries. We expect to see more and more industries make the upgrade to Fibrelite composite covers, especially in mission-critical areas.

Jo Stott, Marketing Director, Fibrelite

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