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June 17, 2021

BRAND-NEW HOMES GO ON SALE AT EXCITING HOWDEN DEVELOPMENT

LOVELL TOGETHER, the joint venture between leading national housebuilder Lovell Partnerships and Together Housing Group, is celebrating the launch of its latest partnership site as sales for Saddlers Grange go live. When complete, Saddlers Grange will offer 175 three- and four-bedroom homes in the town of Howden, 131 on the

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University of Birmingham Dubai appoints Office Inspirations and Orangebox as furnishing partners for new Dubai campus

The University of Birmingham Dubai has appointed Office Inspirations and Orangebox to help create a comfortable and inspiring working environment for students and staff at its new campus, due to open in Autumn 2021. Following a successful tender process, the companies will provide furniture, fixtures and fittings across the state-of-the-art

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Smart & Sustainable Ports: Air pollution management

“Smart ports are the only ports that will survive … Smart means to me: no waste of space, time, money and natural resources.” – Olaf Merk, Administrator for Ports and Shipping at the ITF of the OECD As the commercial success of a port creates greater prosperity for it’s community,

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Cat® Connect insights keep things running

Catching the early warning signs of failure is critical in maintaining safety when working with construction machines. It also avoids unplanned downtime and costly breakdowns. Here, Nick Kakoudakis, Technology and Remote Services Manager at exclusive Caterpillar® dealer Finning UK and Ireland, discusses how digital connectivity means that Finning can ensure

Read More »

What does lower occupancy mean for the future of commercial buildings?

London’s Canary Wharf, home to the European headquarters of Barclays, Citigroup, HSBC and many other businesses is currently operating at 10 per cent capacity, with most employees working from home. To put that in perspective, that’s about 12,000 people of the total 125,000 workforce using the buildings. Here, Adam Fox,

Read More »
Considerations for Finding a Happy Family Home

Considerations for Finding a Happy Family Home

Homebuyers searching for the perfect family abode can look to ten top considerations from property experts when choosing a happy family home. Whether you are looking for somewhere to settle down and start a family or need to accommodate a growing one, there are many factors that need to be

Read More »
Design for Innovative Rail Project Revealed

Design for Innovative Rail Project Revealed

UK-based bridge design experts, Knight Architects, alongside a world-leading team of experts, reveal their innovative rail design for Network Rail’s ‘Flow’ Bridge; an innovative modular bridge which will have a wide range of applications across the network, including as a replacement to level-crossings. The new design builds upon Network Rail’s

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6 Reasons To Switch To Natural Gas

There are several different ways of powering your home, and each method has its advantages and disadvantages. If you’re more progressive, you most likely are considering more efficient ways of powering your home instead of sticking to oil and coal. If you’re in such a situation, the ideal decision would

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The Ideal Location for Solar Panels

Installing rooftop solar panels can provide home and property owners with the ability to power their homes using clean, renewable electricity generated on-site. Selecting the optimal location for panels to be installed can help to ensure superior output and performance. Home-Solar Installations Solar panels are devices which are used to

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Latest Issue

BDC 317 : Jun 2024

June 17, 2021

BRAND-NEW HOMES GO ON SALE AT EXCITING HOWDEN DEVELOPMENT

LOVELL TOGETHER, the joint venture between leading national housebuilder Lovell Partnerships and Together Housing Group, is celebrating the launch of its latest partnership site as sales for Saddlers Grange go live. When complete, Saddlers Grange will offer 175 three- and four-bedroom homes in the town of Howden, 131 on the open market and 44 affordable homes through Together Housing Group, with show homes due to be ready for viewings in early October. Heading up sales at the development is sales advisor Jade Banks, who has spent the past two years working at Lovell Homes’ Willow Grange site in Doncaster, which has sold up ahead of time with just a few homes remaining on the market. She said: “I’m incredibly excited to start working on Saddlers Grange after a successful stint at Willow Grange. This will be the first Lovell Homes development that I will be working on from the very beginning, so I’m looking forward to starting from scratch and building a rapport with our new customers as we prepare to launch show homes in autumn.” Jade joined Lovell Homes after working in estate agency for eight years, giving her a unique approach when getting to know new developments and supporting clients during the purchasing process. She added: “With any development I work on, I always touch base with the local estate agents to find out as much as I can about the area. Howden is such a lovely town and, while I don’t live too far away, there are certain things that only a true local would know. These points can make all the difference when it comes to supporting the customer in the purchase of not only a home, but the location as well. “My background has also given me a valuable insight into what our customers are looking for. Our developments have something for everyone, but being able to pinpoint their particular wants and needs efficiently is incredibly beneficial. This new development is going to create a fantastic community within the town and has already gathered high interest from prospective homeowners.” Lovell Together aims to build 3,000 new homes across the north in the next five years to help tackle the housing crisis, with several other strategic opportunities currently in the pipeline. Robert Adams, regional managing director at Lovell, said: “We’re thrilled to have launched this brand-new development in Howden, which is a crucial part of the ongoing Lovell Together partnership, and we’re equally very excited to bring Jade onto the site. She’s had an incredibly successful couple of years in Doncaster and we’re looking forward to seeing her continue to thrive at Saddlers Grange.” Kevin Ruth, deputy chief executive at Together Housing Group, said, “We’re delighted to be working with Lovell Partnerships on this great new development in Howden. Through this partnership, we can increase the supply of high-quality homes for affordable rent in the area and help local people to find a home that’s right for them.” A selection of three- and four-bedroom homes have now been released, the Newbury, Tattenhoe and Southwold, all of which are detached houses with prices ranging from £245,000 to £375,000. The scheme is due to be completed in the next few years with the first phase of homes ready to welcome residents in autumn this year. The marketing suite is not yet open at Saddlers Grange, however sales executive Jade will be based at Willow Grange in Doncaster for all appointments. For more information on Saddlers Grange, or to book an appointment, please visit: www.lovell.co.uk/developments/saddlers-grange-howden/ or call 01430 670 868.

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Parliament restoration programme invites public to share ideas and views on the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster

Public asked to give views on key topics including access and inclusion, sustainability, heritage, and jobs People across the UK are being invited to tell the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Programme what they think about key aspects of the restoration of the nation’s Parliament buildings. The Palace of Westminster is falling apart faster than it can be fixed, with maintenance and ongoing work costs doubling in just three years to more than £125m a year. Essential restoration and renewal work is needed to protect it for future generations. The work to restore and renew the Palace will create thousands of jobs and training opportunities across the UK. As the restoration team continues its work to develop a detailed and costed restoration plan, members of the public will be able to submit ideas and share their views on a range of issues to help inform the plans which are currently under development. Their views will be taken into account alongside those of MPs, Peers, the Parliamentary community and a range of other organisations with an interest in the Palace of Westminster. Sarah Johnson, CEO, Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Sponsor Body said:   “The world-famous Palace of Westminster is a national and international landmark, and the cornerstone of our democracy. As we develop the detailed and costed plan to restore and renew the Palace of Westminster we would like to involve people from across the country and give everyone the opportunity to tell us what they think about their national Parliament building.” Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees Mogg said: “People will rightly expect the essential work needed to restore and renew the Palace of Westminster to be cost effective to ensure taxpayers’ money is spent wisely. “I welcome all good ideas on protecting our magnificent Houses of Parliament while addressing important issues including making the Palace more accessible for Members and visitors.” Through a new online participation platform, people will be asked how the programme can make the restored Palace of Westminster more welcoming and accessible for Members, staff and visitors. The building does not meet all current guidelines for accessibility, with a wide range of challenges for people with mobility issues and other disabilities, including many areas of Parliament that are impossible to access step-free and without assistance. Members of the public will also have the opportunity to tell the restoration programme what they think about the importance of the 150-year-old Palace of Westminster being a more environmentally friendly and sustainable building. The programme will also ask people about celebrating and preserving the heritage of the Palace, including its world-famous architecture, as well as the potential for archaeological discoveries and how to highlight them. Finally, the public will be asked about how the restoration programme could make sure the thousands of jobs and training opportunities that will be created across the UK can benefit them directly, including considering how the UK-wide supply chain recruits a diverse range of people. People will be able to join in the conversation, starting today until 14 July by visiting the Restoration and Renewal online conversation platform. Members of the public can also share their views by post. The conversation will be centred around the four topics outlined above. There will be more opportunities for people to share views on the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster as plans are developed. The detailed and costed restoration and renewal plan, which will for the first time set out a true sense of costs and timescales, will be considered by Parliament in 2023. The work to develop the detailed and costed plan will include more than 100 investigative surveys, with specialist teams spending thousands of hours analysing the building, including the 1100 rooms and more than 3000 windows. The restoration and renewal team is also continuing to work with Parliament to determine all the functions the building needs to have in future, as well as look at vital improvements in areas like accessibility. With 3000 people typically working in and visiting the 150-year-old building every day, there are a huge number of requirements to consider. Restoring the building will create thousands of jobs and training opportunities across the UK, including through an industry-leading apprentice loan scheme that will see around 160 apprentices, including engineers, designers, stonemasons, and carpenters, employed by the organisations overseeing and delivering the restoration of the Palace of Westminster and loaned to UK businesses working on the restoration.

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University of Birmingham Dubai appoints Office Inspirations and Orangebox as furnishing partners for new Dubai campus

The University of Birmingham Dubai has appointed Office Inspirations and Orangebox to help create a comfortable and inspiring working environment for students and staff at its new campus, due to open in Autumn 2021. Following a successful tender process, the companies will provide furniture, fixtures and fittings across the state-of-the-art campus.  Students and staff will be able to work and relax in stylish, efficient social learning and study spaces. From the open and welcoming atrium space to the digital-focussed library, Orangebox will supply a range of tables, chairs, sofas and other fixtures which mirror those which have already proved popular with students in Birmingham. Dubai-based Office Inspirations will install the furnishings on the iconic new campus, recreating the style and atmosphere of study and social spaces on the University’s Birmingham campus. University of Birmingham Dubai Provost, Professor David Sadler, said: “Our new building has been designed as a comfortable and exciting venue for learning, where innovative, multidisciplinary teaching will provide students with the inspiration to successfully progress their studies – whether collaboratively or individually. “Office Inspirations and Orangebox will help us to deliver a comfortable and inspiring learning environment in Dubai that students and staff will enjoy. Everyone – students and staff alike – is eagerly looking forward to moving into our brand-new, bespoke campus building later this year. We believe that, in our new academic home, we will deliver an educational experience like no other in Dubai.” Designed to reflect real-world working practices, the new campus will encourage students to carry out research in interdisciplinary teams across all academic subjects. Flexible study spaces will ensure students have a learning environment suited to their needs; whether in large lecture theatres and laboratories or smaller seminar and tutorial rooms. Anne Barron​ , Dubai Regional Manager with Orangebox, said: “Orangebox are honoured to have been appointed as a partner and contractor on this prestigious project for University of Birmingham and its new Dubai campus. Having worked together on various projects in both the UK and UAE, we are delighted to continue the relationship offering engaging and social spaces within such esteemed educational institute.” Michelle Plant, Sales Manager at Office Inspirations said: “Office Inspirations are delighted to have been taking part in creating comfortable and inspiring working environments for the new campus of the University of Birmingham in Dubai. We aim to meet all expectations and comfort for both students and staff members and are indeed looking forward to pursuing this collaboration with such a reputable educational institute. We are determined to offer exceptional experiences like no other in Dubai.” With architecture inspired by the historic Aston Webb buildings on the Birmingham campus, the Dubai facilities will use shaded open-air courtyard spaces to create an enjoyable and productive student experience. The buildings will sit next to parkland offering sports pitches and an open air event space, whilst new student accommodation is a short walk away, across the parkland. As the first global top 100 and UK Russell Group university to establish a campus in Dubai, The University of Birmingham Dubai delivers the highest-quality education underpinned by a growing research focus in a leading global educational hub. Prospective students can find more information on applying for courses at the University of Birmingham Dubai at https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/dubai/study/apply/index.aspx

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Smart & Sustainable Ports: Air pollution management

“Smart ports are the only ports that will survive … Smart means to me: no waste of space, time, money and natural resources.” – Olaf Merk, Administrator for Ports and Shipping at the ITF of the OECD As the commercial success of a port creates greater prosperity for it’s community, pollution levels tend to increase. Multiple emission sources including those from ships, port handling equipment (diesel engines), the process of unloading break-bulk and those generated within the city itself create a complex air quality landscape with many moving parts. How do we accurately assess it? Traditionally, expensive reference equipment has been used by government sources to monitor background air quality. These remain the gold standard at a legislative level, yet it is understandable that port authorities would hesitate to deploy them in a measurement campaign. Not only are they very expensive, but they are also large and do not lend themselves to being easily repositioned to suit different measurement needs. The other option has been to use passive diffusion tubes, a simple indicative technique. Whilst very low-cost and can measure longer-term average gas concentrations in a specific location, they cannot track changes in air quality over minutes, hours or days. Self regulation is vital for port authorities to understand their impact on air quality and to select actions to address emissions under their control. Yet, the financial burden of installing analytical equipment suitable for comprehensive monitoring has been prohibitive. Over the course of the last three years, South Coast Science has worked to develop a portable product capable of data quality that is comparable with the reference-level monitor, yet at only one-tenth of the cost.     Robust measurement of pollutants such as SO2, NO2, particulates, VOCs and others can now be established with ease from products offering high accuracy and repeatability. All pollutant and device data is cloud-mediated and can be viewed online via a cloud dashboard.   It is clear that this new technology in general remains less well established than the traditional reference instruments. South Coast Science has responded to this with a data correction algorithm and a policy of data transparency, which allows users and external specialists to interrogate and validate the data provided by the system. To this end, South Coast Science has developed an open-source platform that allows customers to do their own checks. The collaboration with global environmental consultancy Ricardo PLC is described in a short video here.  The task of establishing baselines early on should be one of the aims of any measurement campaign so that subsequent pollution mitigation strategies can be measured and effectiveness established. For this purpose where priorities are yet to be decided, consulting services might be used to assist in focussing on the quickest wins with the most economical solutions. South Coast Science has worked with independent air quality consultants with many years of experience in various market sectors and would be happy to pass on details. For more information please contact David.Johnson@southcoastscience.com.

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Cat® Connect insights keep things running

Catching the early warning signs of failure is critical in maintaining safety when working with construction machines. It also avoids unplanned downtime and costly breakdowns. Here, Nick Kakoudakis, Technology and Remote Services Manager at exclusive Caterpillar® dealer Finning UK and Ireland, discusses how digital connectivity means that Finning can ensure the longest life from its equipment. If you’ve recently insured a vehicle, you’ll have probably heard of the black box. Installed on some insured cars, these devices monitor how the car is driven and report that information back to the insurance company. This information is used to encourage safe driving and to capture vital data in the event of an accident. A watchful eye-in-the-sky While installing a black box in a car is relatively cheap, managing downtime, breakdowns and user-profiles across a highly varied fleet of construction equipment can be costly. The costs can include everything from recovery and repair of the equipment, as well as the resulting loss of production uptime and construction delays. Unlike the black box, Finning’s solution — Cat Connect — combines the use of smart technology and services on equipped machines, making sure everything is running as effectively and reliably as possible. The insight and information received helps to improve jobsite efficiency, whether the goal is to maximize production, reduce cost or improve safety. When installed on Finning Cat equipment, Cat Connect records every parameter on a Cat machine and reports the information back to Finning HQ. The technical team of experienced Cat certified engineers then work through the data and looks for any problems and opportunities for optimisation. For instance, a few minutes of idle time for a dump truck may be necessary during loading and unloading, but a backhoe operator keeping the engine running during a lunch break may lead to bore glazing on a diesel engine. If a machine is running idle then it is incurring extra fuel, maintenance and staffing costs for no real benefit — the team at Finning can spot issues like this and advise appropriate action. Similarly, an engine might be running rough. Perhaps it has been unused for a while and the fuel is stale, or the fuel mixture is misconfigured for the type of work or weather conditions — the team at Finning identifies these problems and can advise users to replace the fuel or alter the fuel mix to compensate. Tracking outside of the fence Cat Connect devices also include GPS, which allows engineers to track the machines as they move around the work area. This also allows for “geofencing”, where an alarm is triggered if equipment is moved outside a designated area. In one instance, Finning engineers were alerted by a geofencing alarm in the middle of the night. Using the GPS tracker on Cat Connect, the machine was successfully tracked and retrieved the next day from a secluded lay-by, over 20 miles away from the worksite. Without Cat Connect and its real-time alarms and customer-configurable alerting capabilities via text or emails, it’s very unlikely that it would have been recovered, especially if the equipment was stripped for parts. Uncovering operational optimisations Real-time condition monitoring not only helps to predict failure and keep equipment running, it also uncovers some surprising systemic problems. One particular example was on a worksite that had a substantial hill that earthmoving equipment often traversed. Going up the incline was no trouble for the heavy equipment, but it was found through condition monitoring that the operators were allowing vehicles to coast when travelling back down. By not using the retarder correctly, the operators were inadvertently exposing the powertrain to extreme stresses. Finning advised the customer that this was a problem, and the operators were retrained to use the retarder correctly and safely. This action directly increased the working life of the equipment, saved thousands of pounds in costs and eliminated the potential downtime. For more information about Finning’s Cat Connect service, and more, visit www.finning.com.

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What does lower occupancy mean for the future of commercial buildings?

London’s Canary Wharf, home to the European headquarters of Barclays, Citigroup, HSBC and many other businesses is currently operating at 10 per cent capacity, with most employees working from home. To put that in perspective, that’s about 12,000 people of the total 125,000 workforce using the buildings. Here, Adam Fox, director of vibration control specialist Mason UK, explains how these quieter times could change the face of London forever. Changing perceptions People’s perception of noise, or tolerance of it, may be different post-Covid. The busy office blocks that were synonymous with London work life have taken a different shape. They’re much, much quieter. Of course, less commuters, also mean London’s roads are a lot quieter too. In fact, in the height of lockdown, reports revealed London was quieter than it was back in 1928. As London begins to return to normal — or closer to normal — will people have become acclimatised to the quieter world? Will returning workers start to notice noise and vibration that they had previously been habituated to? Maybe. On the other hand, working from home for many hasn’t been silent bliss. More people at home, means more people walking around blocks of flats, playing music and undertaking DIY tasks they finally got round to doing. While noise and vibration in London hasn’t completely been obliterated, its shift in form has resulted in increased pressure to manage its effects in both office and residential environments. Changing buildings Buildings that are no longer the packed offices they once were, are likely to become mixed use to rebuild occupancy levels. This will result in office blocks having a mixture of residential and commercial inhabitants. Picture this. While one person is sleeping in their bedroom at night, someone is putting in a late-night overtime shift on the floor above using the photo copier. Similarly, while a business is holding its annual review meeting the next day, a resident above could be playing loud music and exercising. This is a complex challenge for developers. This medley of building applications puts significant onus on noise and vibration control to keep all building users happy. This control could be in the form of floating floors to break vibration transmission, or isolating commercial equipment, such as an industrial photocopier. As we begin to see more of these mixed-used buildings in the post-Covid world, we’ll no doubt begin to see some other challenges emerge too. For example, it is highly likely that both the residents and workers will want a communal gym facility. Gyms are becoming commonplace, but so too are the noise complaints that follow if vibration control isn’t implemented. To make sure weight drops don’t result in nuisance thuds and shudders, vibration breaks will need to be implemented. For gyms, a spring-loaded floating floor is normally the best option for free weight areas but there is not a ‘one fits all’ design as each structure responds differently to impact. The new face of London Property developers need to acknowledge the rising trend in mixed-use buildings and thoroughly consider the increased dynamism of these buildings, the array of people using them and the large range of activities taking place in them. Any acoustic consultants brought onto projects like these are welcome to reach out to Mason UK, to discuss how we can solve your vibration problems. For more information, email info@masonuk.co.uk or visit mason-uk.co.uk.

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Considerations for Finding a Happy Family Home

Considerations for Finding a Happy Family Home

Homebuyers searching for the perfect family abode can look to ten top considerations from property experts when choosing a happy family home. Whether you are looking for somewhere to settle down and start a family or need to accommodate a growing one, there are many factors that need to be considered to ensure your new home works for you and your household. As many of us are spending more time at home than ever due to working remotely or looking after loved ones, it’s important that your home enriches and complements your lifestyle, routines and habits, rather than restricting you due to a lack of space and flexibility. With so much to consider, searching for the ideal home can be daunting, but with proper planning and careful thought, finding the dream home for you and your family need not feel like an impossible task. Michael Taggart, CEO of Taggart Homes, says: “Finding your ideal family home can be a challenge, but it’s also an exciting prospect if you’ve chosen to move to improve you and your family’s lifestyle and environment. “There is a lot to take into consideration, from the space and location that a home provides, to the potential and resale value it has in the future. During the pandemic, the importance of our homes has become even more significant – and many people are deciding to move because their current property is no longer working for their new routines. “At Taggart Homes, we are proud of the care we take in considering who our homes are designed for and always put ourselves in the customers’ shoes. Quality, practicality, energy efficiency and value for money are at the top of our aims when designing new homes and neighbourhoods – that’s why we’ve compiled this list of our top ten considerations for finding a happy family home, to help buyers make the right choice for both the short and long term.” Here are the top ten considerations for finding a happy family home: Space One of the most important aspects of any home is the space it affords you and your family – and that does not just mean the amount of space there is, but how it is used too. Smaller, compact houses still offer plenty of room if laid out and utilised in the best possible way, giving you plenty of options when creating rooms for working, dining and relaxing. When looking for your family home, try to envisage how each room would work for you and your loved ones – what it would be used for, how you can make the most of the natural light and layout, and what you might like to alter when it comes to décor and style. Consider your future plans – whether it’s to grow your family, downsize, or move out in the years to come, so any home you choose needs to be flexible to meet your changing needs, or have resale value in a desirable or up and coming area. Location It’s the classic property cliché, but location really is everything when it comes to house-hunting. Proximity to local amenities such as shops, restaurants and bars, as well as schools, health and leisure facilities and places of interest, all add to the value and quality of life that a home can offer. Do your research around the area and surrounding neighbourhoods to get a good feel for the location. Remember to consider the proximity of the property to beauty spots and places of interest too – if you enjoy a short break to the seaside or nearby nature reserve for example, choosing a home with easy links to main roads and motorways within an hour’s drive from these attractions might be the right choice for you. Quality The quality of a home – from the materials used to build it down to the finishing touches – will determine how enjoyable the space is to live in. Practicality, aesthetics and energy efficiency are key aspects of an ideal home, with durability and value for money of materials and products used being equally important, to ensure several lifetimes of wear. The ideal family home is one that you can create memories in, and when planning for the long term, it is important to consider the quality of a property, so it will last and will not cause you problems in the long run. New build vs traditional When choosing a new family home, one of the first decisions you will need to make is whether you would like to purchase a traditional or new-build house. There are benefits and advantages to choosing either, and it really comes down to your personal preference and taste. If you are planning to buy a new-build home, you have the added luxury of getting a ‘blank canvas’ that you can truly stamp your personality on. Many high-standard new-build homes will come with tasteful décor and quality fixtures and fittings already installed, so you can move in seamlessly and quickly. If you are choosing a new-build property, research the housebuilder thoroughly to get a feel for the price range, style of homes, and areas that they are active in – this will help you to determine whether you are getting a quality home that will last. Fixtures and fittings To ensure a richer quality of living, choosing a property that offers convenient and efficient fixtures and fittings will keep your family home running smoothly. Spending a little extra on a home that comes with quality appliances or has the potential to install new fittings over time, will be worth it for a more enjoyable living experience. From high spec kitchen appliances and fibre broadband, to smart technology such as lighting, heating and speakers – there is so much you can add to your home that is going to provide practical and useful features you’ll love. The neighbourhood Researching the neighbourhood you would like to live in will help you to decide on your next home

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Design for Innovative Rail Project Revealed

Design for Innovative Rail Project Revealed

UK-based bridge design experts, Knight Architects, alongside a world-leading team of experts, reveal their innovative rail design for Network Rail’s ‘Flow’ Bridge; an innovative modular bridge which will have a wide range of applications across the network, including as a replacement to level-crossings. The new design builds upon Network Rail’s expanding catalogue of signature footbridges and follows their ‘Principles of Good Design’. The ‘Flow’ Bridge is designed in high-strength composite materials, providing freedom in design and cost effectiveness, amongst numerous other benefits. Knight Architects were appointed to develop a concept design in Spring 2020, and have developed the design almost entirely remotely with Network Rail, Jacobs, Flo Flo, KS Composites, Sui Generis, Q-Railing, Rapid Root, Epsilon Optics, Sentry Systems and Mabey Bridge. Using Composite Materials Knight Architects’ ‘Flow’ Bridge design uses modern composite materials which have numerous benefits – they are light weight, cost-effective, and strong. They also offer a great deal of freedom in design – a wide-range of forms are achievable. Given this flexibility, the team wanted to develop a solution which significantly enhanced the user experience of crossing the railway, starting first by thinking about people using the bridges, rather than the objects themselves. This approach is echoed in Network Rail’s ‘Principles of Good Design’ which set out the ambitions for new structures across the network. People First Design Network Rail’s bridges play a vital role as part of a holistic end-to-end passenger journey. They have to provide a safe crossing of the tracks, yet often the safety and security requirements of the railway can lead to bridges which are unwelcoming, and are seen as a negative part of the journey. Knight Architects subsequently developed the ‘Flow’ Bridge concept, alongside the rest of the team, to focus on greatly improved user experience. It is designed to meet the required standards, whilst also creating a welcoming, enjoyable, and safe crossing for all. Key Aspects of the Innovative Rail Design The Corner – Traditionally, ramps and stairs are positioned at 90 degrees to the main span which when combined with high-containment parapets creates a ‘blind corner’ to turn around. This creates an uncomfortable moment for users, unable to see who or what is around the corner. Smoothing this corner out is important, as it creates a much safer, more welcoming user experience. However, doing so can lengthen the bridge, pushing the stairs/ramps away from the rail fence line and clearance envelope. This increases the cost, material use, and the land required for crossings. The ‘Flow’ Bridge resolves this with the addition of a structural ‘spine’. Whilst the deck turns smoothly around the corner, the supporting spine remains orthogonally aligned to the railway. This ‘disconnect’ between spine and deck allows the deck to ‘flow’ around the corner, whilst maintaining a minimalistic structural footprint. The addition of a spine also unlocks other benefits. On site, it allows deck modules to be lifted in incrementally, allowing for smaller, more manageable components to be transported and installed, or even replaced if necessary. It provides rigidity between deck modules, resulting in more refined connections, and allows precise connection to the concrete-free ‘Rapid-Root’ foundation system. The Parapet – The containment requirements of the railway often lead to solid, tall parapets, which create an oppressive, tunnel-like experience. The view from the structure is restricted, and the resulting enclosed space being poorly overlooked can even feel unsafe. In response to this, the team wanted to return bridges to being enjoyable ‘moments’ within a walk, opportunities to take in a new view, a vantage point from which to experience the surrounding environment. But this is also about safety – the view of the bridge is also opened up, and with more visibility of who is on the bridge, people can see their entire route before they embark upon it. Knowing that they can be seen on the bridge will make people feel safer when using it. Opening up these views requires transparency, and so a glazed parapet system has been developed. At low level the composite material extends up above the deck, but only as far as is necessary from a structural standpoint. Beyond this, the containment is achieved through laminated frameless glazing, held by an aluminium channel; a system designed by Q-Railing. The glazed element is one of the ‘variables’ of the scheme, with a multitude of options available to suit all site conditions. For example, a layered glass/composite solution has been developed to improve the glazing durability in sites particularly prone to vandalism. Modular Aesthetics of the Innovative Rail It is essential that any modular solution carefully considers the identity of the railway and also the identity of the specific sites in which the bridges will sit. Local stakeholders often view standardised solutions as insufficient, utilitarian and inward-looking – focusing only on the requirements of the rail, often at the expense of local objectives. The ‘Flow’ Bridges are inherently outward-looking. The crossings are designed to be assets within their communities, with each design taken as an opportunity to provide a beneficial, tangible link between the railway and the people which surround it. One of the key challenges for any ‘standard’ bridge solution is how one design can ‘fit’ a variety of sites. Standardisation is driven by consistency and repetition, yet good design traditionally seen as a specific response to context. The ‘Flow’ Bridge addresses this with contemporary, refined forms paired with careful detailing and a ‘human-scale’, all driven through enhancing the user experience. The aim is to ensure that even the ‘base’ design offers an attractive, fitting and welcomed addition to new sites. To respond to the specific characteristics of a site, the system offers a wide-variety of configurations. These extend from geometric adaptability such as altering the span or width of the deck, through to texture, pattern and colour modifications all of which are readily achievable with composites. Whilst the current prototype has been built as a stair-only version, the completed system will be capable of offering accessible crossing with the addition of ramps

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6 Reasons To Switch To Natural Gas

There are several different ways of powering your home, and each method has its advantages and disadvantages. If you’re more progressive, you most likely are considering more efficient ways of powering your home instead of sticking to oil and coal. If you’re in such a situation, the ideal decision would be to switch to natural gas, as this is quickly being seen among many homeowners as a perfect alternative. But if you’re unsure on whether natural gas is an ideal choice to use in your home, look no further. Without wasting any more of your precious time, here’s a guide taking you through why opting for natural gas is a wise move to make: 1. Reliability Among the main reasons why switching to Florida natural gas is great is its reliability if you’re residing in the area. This is very advantageous as you never have to worry about your home being heated, thereby warm and comfortable enough for you and your family. This reliability is because natural gas is delivered straight to your home, even when there’s an electrical outage or during winter storms. Therefore, you can still go ahead and enjoy using your hot water heater, air conditioning unit, and lights even during a power outage.  2. Eco-Friendly As its name suggests, natural gas is 100% natural. With global warming becoming a worldwide concern, making the switch to natural gas is a great way to cut down your carbon emissions, unlike when using other fossil fuels such as oil and coal. This is because natural gas produces less than half of carbon dioxide levels when burnt, unlike oil and a third less than coal. In addition, it doesn’t produce as much sulfur. All this helps in making the fight to achieve environmental sustainability more plausible for each individual or household. 3. Affordable If you’re thinking of more affordable ways to heat your home, you shouldn’t wait any longer to make the switch to natural gas. The price of natural gas has always been lower compared to heating oil and electricity. In addition, the use of natural gas helps you cut down on your spending if you switch to using efficient gas-powered appliances. This affordability is brought about by natural gas being a deregulated utility. Therefore, there aren’t as many restrictions, and this gives you the freedom to control the sum of money to spend paying for gas. 4. Versatile The use of natural gas provides you with a broader range of purposes apart from quickly heating your home. Other possible uses include tumble dryers, outdoor lighting, stoves, fireplaces, warming hot tubs, pools, and grills. This versatility and practicality of natural gas make it an awesome home upgrade that can save you when doing different tasks in the house. As a result, it makes your life a lot simpler. In addition to natural gas being versatile, it runs appliances a lot quicker than those powered by other energy sources. Additionally, when using kitchen equipment such as ovens, cooktops, or gas stoves, you enjoy greater temperature control. 5. Less Maintenance Needed You don’t have to worry about frequent clean-ups when using the natural gas supply as it doesn’t leave behind any ash. This isn’t a privilege you get to enjoy when using other energy sources, particularly coal. The same is evident when heating using oil as the furnaces need to regularly be cleaned to remain in proper working condition and be safe to use. With natural gas, you don’t have to deal with such worries as it takes less effort to maintain, which makes it stand out as a suitable pick. 6. Improved Safety When picking an appropriate heating solution, you must always be a responsible homeowner by factoring in your safety and everyone inside your home. And when you do this, natural gas stands out as among the safest choice to use. One reason for this is the huge regulatory oversight put in place by governments to ensure exceptional standards are observed in the inspection, construction, and maintenance of the underground pipelines transporting natural gas. The safety appeal of natural gas is because it doesn’t produce as many toxic products, for instance, dissolved solids, airborne particulates, and sulfur dioxide that harms your health. Takeaway When searching for the best fuel to heat your home’s heating system, you most likely are prioritizing reliability, safety, and affordability. If this is the case, this article has gone into detail to show why natural gas ticks all these boxes. Therefore, making the switch to natural gas looks more sensible, reasonable and is a decision you won’t regret.

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The Ideal Location for Solar Panels

Installing rooftop solar panels can provide home and property owners with the ability to power their homes using clean, renewable electricity generated on-site. Selecting the optimal location for panels to be installed can help to ensure superior output and performance. Home-Solar Installations Solar panels are devices which are used to convert the sun’s rays into useful electricity. The amount of sunlight exposure that panels receive can be a limiting factor in their ability to provide adequate performance. Installing panels on too sharply pitched or poorly angled roofs or locations where they may not face the sun could negatively impact performance. Optimal Position and Placement Ideally, solar panels should be installed in such a way as to maximize the volume of surface area that will be exposed to sunlight. Sunlight that hits the panels at too shallow of an angle can inhibit power output, so it is important to choose installation options that can help to offset the pitch or angle of a roof. Shade can also cause power output to drop, so the best locations for panel installation are those that offer full, unobstructed sunlight. Position is important, however protection is also and Solar Panels Pigeon Proofing is a must when installing. Seasonal Track The angle of the sun changes throughout the year, which is even more pronounced at higher latitudes. Positioning panels to face in either an easterly or westerly direction can help to maximize sunlight exposure during the early or later portions of the day. Having multiple banks of panels can help to minimize the impact that seasonal changes are likely to have on performance. Positioning panels to catch both the morning and evening rays while also utilizing panels positioned to capture sunlight during peak afternoon hours is often the most efficient approach. Roof Shape and Structure There are equipment and installation options that can allow homeowners to work around a roof with a steep pitch or that may not offer ideal mounting points. The best equipment and solar panel installation options can make it easy to adjust the pitch, angle, or even panels’ position once installed. Dynamic positioning ensures that a home-solar system or setup will be able to function even when installed in less than optimal locations. The ability to quickly and easily adjust solar panels can also allow them to be repositioned from one season to the next in order to track the changing angle of the sun better. Identifying the Best Location The best location for solar panel installation is the one that will afford them the most sunlight. While positions that may be less ideal could cause problems, investing in panels with higher output or increasing the number of panels to be installed can help to improve performance. Mounting equipment can also be a factor when selecting a location. Options that allow for dynamic positioning can enable panels to function more effectively even when installed in a sub-optimal location. Proper installation and placement are essential for ensuring that solar panels can provide superior performance. Positioning solar panels to optimize the angle of the sun and ensure maximum surface exposure can help to increase power output.

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