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May 28, 2021

BESA welcomes fast tracking of wellbeing standard

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has praised the British Standards Institute (BSI) for deciding to speed up the development of a new standard for measuring indoor environment quality (IEQ). Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 3003 was championed by engineering firm EFT Consult, which has been working on it for six

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How COVID Has Affected Health and Safety in Trade

As the UK begins its exit from lockdown, the trade industry can look to slowly relax its Covid restrictions. Life-critical health and safety product provider, Reece Safety looked at how the pandemic has changed health and safety across the trade industry, and whether the stricter elements brought about by the pandemic are

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Wellbeing at risk when converting shops into flats

Building specifiers and contractors must champion a healthy approach to M&E solutions when converting shops into flats according to REHAU, following claims from campaigners that this latest trend could lead to ‘low quality homes’. The move towards turning commercial premises into housing is already underway, with thinktanks like the Social

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6 Topics of Conversations for Business Meetings

Are you out of ideas for your upcoming business meetings? Don’t worry; there is always something you can discuss with the rest of your team. Whether it’s securing your business, finding new sources of income, or increasing your customer base, there are many topics you can bring to the table.

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Latest Issue

BDC 318 : Jul 2024

May 28, 2021

BESA welcomes fast tracking of wellbeing standard

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has praised the British Standards Institute (BSI) for deciding to speed up the development of a new standard for measuring indoor environment quality (IEQ). Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 3003 was championed by engineering firm EFT Consult, which has been working on it for six years. The BSI has now decided to accelerate that work into a full British Standard (BS 40101 Building Performance Evaluation) to be published later this year. The new standard will closely follow the work already completed by EFT Consult and its partners, including BESA’s Health & Wellbeing in Buildings group, providing guidance on efficient and suitable lighting, heating, ventilation, and minimising the unwanted and harmful effects of air and noise pollution to improve the health and wellbeing of occupants. The new standard may also provide benchmarks for a Wellbeing Performance Rating that could be applied to any building. Chris Jenkins, director at EFT Consult and lead author of the PAS, said the BSI’s decision was “good news for anyone who works in an office or regularly visits a building – and that’s just about everyone”. “Rather than simply being a recommended code of best practice…all of the important recommendations our combined work has highlighted will now be given the full weight of a British Standard,” he added. BESA chief executive David Frise said that by fast-tracking the PAS work into a full standard the BSI was responding to growing public understanding of the impact indoor environments had on health and wellbeing. He urged the team putting the standard together to be ambitious in the measures they set to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in particular. “This is an important piece of work because whatever standards we agree now will be applied for many years to come and could have an enormous impact on the health and wellbeing of future generations of building occupants,” said Frise. “The Association was grateful for the opportunity to support the development of the PAS and is standing by to provide any further assistance it can to those writing the new British Standard.” BESA said the standard should reflect the latest thinking from around the world including new air quality guidance about to be produced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Union, which is expected to set new air quality targets this year. Frise added that any measures proposed should also be specific to conditions inside buildings. “The government’s primary focus tends to be on outdoor pollution, but IAQ is a very different challenge, and it can often be many times worse than the conditions around the building,” he said. “Our members repeatedly encounter the serious problems caused by poor IAQ and have good practical experience of what it takes to fix it. We have a duty to turn buildings into ‘safe havens’ that protect people from the worst effects of airborne viruses and particulate matter so everyone can enjoy better health and wellbeing.”www.theBESA.com/iaq

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Beard brings history to life with handover of Bath Archway Project

Bristol-based construction firm Beard has completed work on a project to bring two thousand years of heritage to life, for visitors to the historic city of Bath. The Archway Project, comprising a new World Heritage Centre and Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre, has been handed over to Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) council, which will now focus on the fit-out of the buildings ready for opening later this year. The project represents another key development in the heritage sector for family-run Beard, which has established an impressive track record in the restoration of landmark and historic buildings in the region. Beard was able to draw on that extensive experience and management of complex buildings for the Archway Project, which partly involved working underground to develop the learning centre amongst ancient Roman remains dating back c2,000 years. Mike Hedges, director at Bristol-based Beard, said it was a truly unique project which brought out the best in the team in terms of problem-solving, technical expertise, quality of finish and seamless delivery. He said: “It is extremely rare that anybody gets to go to work everyday among 2,000-year-old remains, which are literally part of the fabric of our nation’s history. “Of course, the Romans were renowned for their innovative building and engineering skills. So as a construction firm with a specialism in the heritage sector, it was a truly unique experience to work among the remains of their construction work. “It is a project that will bring this fascinating part of our history to life for future generations and we’re proud to have played our part in creating the setting and space for that to happen.” Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project will provide: •             A World Heritage Centre in York Street with free admission, where people can find out why Bath is so special, and pick up trails and guides to help them explore the World Heritage Site •             A Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre for pre-booked school and community groups, with three state-of-the-art learning rooms, and a hands-on Investigation Zone set among real Roman remains •             New areas of the Roman Baths including a Roman gym and laconicum (a type of sauna) which will be brought to life for Roman Baths visitors by projections and sounds depicting the Roman spa experience B&NES Council Leader Kevin Guy, who toured the Archway Project last week, said: “After a huge amount of hard work by the project team, architects and construction company, it’s wonderful to see the buildings looking so spectacular. There is still more work to be done, but we look forward to opening these three areas to the public later this year.” Richard Samuel, Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Resources, said: “It’s great news that construction work has been successfully completed and the buildings handed over to the Council. We are now counting down to the opening, when residents, visitors and school children will be able to enjoy these fantastic new facilities and all of the exciting activities that will happen in them.” Councillor Dine Romero, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Communities and Culture, added: “About 15,000 school children and community groups are expected to use the Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre every year. The new, purpose-built facilities will improve the quality of their visit to the Roman Baths dramatically, with specially designed learning rooms and a hands-on Investigation Zone which will offer a memorable experience for primary school children.” For more information about the project go to: www.romanbaths.co.uk/archway

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Arup helps to unlock the commercial future of Birmingham’s Grand Hotel

The Grade II* listed Grand Hotel in Birmingham has been restored to its former glory, following extensive renovation work by Arup, the leading architecture and engineering firm. Nearly two decades on from when it last closed its doors to customers, Arup’s award-winning work has transformed the city centre landmark. Originally built in the 1870s and one of the best surviving examples of Victorian architecture in Birmingham, the Grand Hotel had fallen into a state of disrepair since ceasing trading in 2002. Listed in 2004, Arup was brought on board by Hortons’ Estate to explore cost-effective options to stabilise and restore its façade stonework, which was hidden behind years of inappropriate repairs. Solving hidden problems and preserving historic fabric A thick build-up of cement, paint, bitumen and resin, had trapped moisture within the stone behind and masked its decay. In places, the masonry was unstable and sometimes soft enough to tear by hand. Arup also uncovered issues with the original design, which included incorrect weathering details that were absorbing rainwater rather than pushing it away. The stone itself also appeared to be of poor quality, unsuitable for areas of heavy exposure. Stripping away the coatings and stabilising the damaged stonework would significantly eat into the finished surface of the façade, altering its carved details and creating a misshapen appearance. To mitigate this effect and reinstate the original grandeur of the façade, Arup developed a set of conservation principles to carve into the surviving stone, effectively re-setting the entire building envelope backwards. Recreating the finish and sourcing locally Point-cloud surveys of the façade were taken before and after the coatings were stripped, allowing the team to specify where and how each individual flat area should be finished. This information was translated into a set of small elevations for use by the masons on site, showing how far each block should be dressed back to contribute correctly to the overall arrangement. Decorative details were also re-carved in-situ, as far as possible, to recreate the entire ornate finish of the building, while in turn keeping the quantity of new stone to an absolute minimum. The project supported businesses and craftspeople from the region, sourcing both labour and materials locally. This included stonemasons from Midland Conservation Ltd, who carried out repairs using traditional tools and techniques, working by hand to conserve almost every piece of decorative as well as most of the plain ashlar stone. This work led to Historic England describing the scale and traditional nature of the stonemasonry repairs at the Grand Hotel as unique, at the time in 2015, for a non-ecclesiastical building. Arup’s structural engineers were subsequently involved in redesigning the internal structure. This included the construction of a new full height central circulation area and a steel structure for penthouse suites. Thomas Pearson, Associate at Arup, said: “In our conservation architecture practice, we place particular importance on the original materials of a listed building. In this case the decay was so widespread that repairing the Grand Hotel’s façade demanded technical innovation, design creativity and painstaking craftsmanship. “I am proud to have led Arup’s team, providing conservation architecture, stone consultancy and façade engineering services to save the building from demolition. It is hugely satisfying to see one of Birmingham’s most loved buildings open again as a landmark hotel for the city.”

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How COVID Has Affected Health and Safety in Trade

As the UK begins its exit from lockdown, the trade industry can look to slowly relax its Covid restrictions. Life-critical health and safety product provider, Reece Safety looked at how the pandemic has changed health and safety across the trade industry, and whether the stricter elements brought about by the pandemic are here to stay. The trade sector stayed open throughout most of lockdown Many trade businesses and work sites were open across the second lockdown while the rest of the country stayed home, meaning many trades workers across construction sites, factories and manufacturing plants worked in additional PPE, with sanitising stations, and enforced social distancing measures in place to meet demand as essential workers. In addition to existing health and safety procedures, Covid-19 saw new regulations brought in to protect industry workers. Construction was most significantly affected Research found that the construction sector has been significantly affected by Covid‐19, as there has been a potential knowledge gap regarding the practical feasibility of applying Covid‐19 measures within construction, made more difficult by factors such as the types of projects and complex working environments. In the UK, the construction industry is worth over £100bn and employs over 2.4 million people, with the immense sector adjusting to new ways of working. Throughout the pandemic, it has been hit hard by both stricter safety precautions and higher rates of infection due to an ageing workforce, with over 40% of workers over 40 years old, and a significant number of over 55-years-old1. This means that the construction sector had a slower rate of productivity and profitability throughout the pandemic due to illness. Self-employed tradespeople were also affected Covid not only affected the workforce for larger businesses but has also had a direct impact on self-employed tradespeople. Gareth, a joiner from Sheffield, explained how new health and safety measures have affected his business: “Covid health and safety measures have made working more complicated, with more measures to consider for each job. However, it is important for everyone to remain cautious and stick to the implemented safety measures as I spend much of my time in people’s homes, so it is vital to ensure correct PPE is worn, the household is Covid-free, and I am safe from risk of transmission while working. Post-Covid, I am sure that much of the public will remain cautious for a long time, ensuring that the spread continues to slow, which means tradespeople like myself can continue to feel safer.” Many businesses struggled to maintain staff training As rigorous health and safety procedures came into action for the trade sector to enable workers to continue working, many important parts of the job, such as upskilling and training staff, took a back seat. Managing Director of Reece Safety, Andy Graham, explains why he thinks some elements of health and safety introduced throughout the pandemic are likely here to stay: “We noticed that many businesses struggled throughout the pandemic to upkeep training for new staff and deliver refresher training to existing staff as trade sector businesses shifted their focus to ensuring staff safety and welfare. “To accommodate, we introduced “live stream” virtual training sessions and socially distanced learning environments to ensure that businesses can keep up with necessary health and safety training for their staff, with offerings such as confined space supervisory training and lockout tagout training. As things go back to normal, we are sure that flexible ways of training will allow businesses to train their staff in a much easier way.” For more information on life-critical safety products to keep your business and staff safe, visit: https://www.reecesafety.co.uk/ 1 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hfm.20882

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Wellbeing at risk when converting shops into flats

Building specifiers and contractors must champion a healthy approach to M&E solutions when converting shops into flats according to REHAU, following claims from campaigners that this latest trend could lead to ‘low quality homes’. The move towards turning commercial premises into housing is already underway, with thinktanks like the Social Market Foundation suggesting that turning collapsed retail businesses into residential space could create 800,000 new homes. While new Permitted Development Rights ensure space standards will be upheld and extremely small ‘rabbit hutch’ flats avoided, polymer supplier REHAU is exposing further concern with regards to wellbeing being ‘value-engineered’ out of these buildings later on. The warning comes off the back of REHAU’s recent report ‘Designing Healthy Apartments,’ with 44% of architects and specifiers surveyed identifying this issue of later ‘value-engineering’ as a concern during the design process. Over 500 respondents took part in the independent research, with 125 specialising in multi-residential projects. Steve Richmond, Head of Marketing and Technical for REHAU Building Solutions comments: “The new Permitted Development Rights put forward by the housing secretary are a welcome move but it’s not just space utilisation that impacts an occupant’s wellbeing, it’s temperature control, water provision, acoustics, air quality and so on. The worry is that because retrofitting and repurposing existing space can be seen as a less expensive option, there could be pressure to cut corners on fundamental components that improve occupant wellbeing. These actions could also impair a building’s also lifespan, raising further concerns.” Overheating in summer, excess cold in winter, privacy and lack of daylight have also been highlighted as potential issues by Julia Park, the head of housing research at the architects Levitt Bernstein and one of the Mayor of London’s design advocates. Steve continues: “All the issues raised by Julia Park are synonymous with the findings in our latest research, and then some. While we fully support the drive to refurbish and repurpose the abundance of empty office and retail units across the country, there’s a plethora of considerations to take into account when repurposing a building. M&E solutions need to sit at the heart of this rather than being an afterthought.” Designing Healthy Apartments is the first in a series of reports to spotlight on the challenges and opportunities to improve the UK’s commercial buildings by sector.  To download Designing Healthy Apartments, visit:  https://www.rehau.com/uk-en/designing-healthy

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6 Topics of Conversations for Business Meetings

Are you out of ideas for your upcoming business meetings? Don’t worry; there is always something you can discuss with the rest of your team. Whether it’s securing your business, finding new sources of income, or increasing your customer base, there are many topics you can bring to the table. By focusing on one topic at a time, you will give your employees a chance to speak up and comment on the current situation. More importantly, you will create an environment where every voice is heard and valued. Without further ado, here are some topics of conversations that you should use for your next couple of meetings: How to Reach the Company Goals Goals are set for a reason. They direct your company to where it needs to go in order to be successful. Whether you own a startup or a small business, goals should be created and followed no matter what. At the beginning of every quarter, discuss your goals with employees. For larger companies, it is recommended that you hold quarterly meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page. If you manage a company that has multiple branches or stations, you can hold a yearly meeting where the goal-setting process takes place. Remember to give your employees the possibility to ask questions and express their concerns, whether you talk about the benefits of a managed SIEM or hiring a new cleaning company. This way, you show them that you care about their opinions. Developing New Sources of Income If you want to reach all of your company goals, you need to find new sources of income. In the end, if there is no money to cover the costs, your business won’t be able to grow. Although most companies depend on regular customers, they don’t really care where those come from. But every customer is valuable since they help sustain your business. Instead of trying to replace those that are leaving, it would be better to find new customers. At a business meeting, discuss new ways of finding clients and keeping them loyal to the company.   Improving Current Products Your company is only as good as your products are. If the products aren’t up to par, then your business won’t last long. If you want to remain competitive in the market, you need to improve your products or create new ones altogether. Improving current products can take more than one form. For example, if you have a line of clothing items, you can add a few new designs or make the materials stronger so they last longer. If you have a food brand, you can change the recipe to make the product tastier or add more nutritious ingredients to give it more value. Your employees can help you brainstorm and create new ideas for development.   Determining Which Product Ideas Are Worth Pursuing You might have heard about several product ideas that were too good to be true – so much so that they never made it past the drawing board stage. Nowadays, there are so many products out there that it can be challenging to determine which ones should and shouldn’t be sold on the market. The solution? Holding meetings where you can decide which product ideas have real potential and which ones should be cast aside entirely. Have a brainstorming session or ask your employees or colleagues some questions about the products via Google forms. This can save you both time and money. Improving Productivity at Work One of the hardest things about managing a team is getting it motivated enough to work hard on a daily basis. However, improving productivity is not an easy task, as there can be many causes for your employees’ decreased enthusiasm. Too many or too few tasks, short-term objectives with no career vision, lack of flexibility, feeling undervalued – these are just a few. To learn how you can improve your workers’ productivity, ask them about that. Take an interest in what they do and do not like about the job, and figure out together how you can improve the overall experience.   Getting Feedback from Employees If you want to make sure that your employees are happy, you need to ask them for feedback. This is important regardless of the type of company you manage – whether it’s a large corporation or a small business. The truth is that if employees feel like they can voice their opinions, they will be more willing to give their all to the company. More importantly, you should show your employees that their opinions matter to you. Even if you disagree with what they have to say, you should still listen to them as long as it’s constructive criticism. However, you don’t have to bear the complaints if they lack any confirmation.   Conclusion Business meetings can seem senseless, especially if you don’t know what to discuss. In that case, not only will you lose precious time, but your employees will also lack respect for you. After all, both you and they could have done something productive, but instead, you have spent half an hour in one room trying not to fall asleep. However, there is always something to talk about when it comes to business meetings. Reaching company goals, getting feedback, improving productivity, brainstorming new product ideas – these are just a few things that you can discuss. To make the most of your time, choose one or two topics, invite your employees to a business meeting, and spend some quality time together.

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