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August 23, 2021

New report maps out necessities for healthier hotel design in UK

As the hotel sector thrives amid the UK ‘staycation’ boom, a report has revealed opportunities for hotel design to include further wellbeing and comfort measures to meet changing expectations from prospective guests. This comes as research from a survey of 130 M&E contractors and architects working in hotel construction revealed

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BESA backs unions’ demand for ventilation in schools

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has put its weight behind a call from six trade unions to take urgent action over ventilation in schools. In a letter to the Education Secretary, the unions have warned that there will be a steep rise in Covid-19 cases when children return to

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Central register launched for building safety managers

A new central register and a certification scheme have been launched for building safety managers following the final report and proposals for Working Group 8 – part of the industry response group tasked with developing a new framework of competence for the new Building Safety Manager role (part of the

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Scottish design project makes AJ Architecture Awards shortlist

Calton Hill City Observatory in Scotland’s capital has been nominated for an AJ Architecture Award this week.  The design by HarrisonStevens, the Edinburgh-based Landscape Architects and Urban Designers, Calton Hill City Observatory has been nominated in the Landscape and Public Realm category in the annual awards.  Situated within a World

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Solar Energy Scotland welcomes the inclusion of solar into the Scottish Governments and Scottish Green parties’ draft policy programme

Solar Energy Scotland welcomes the inclusion of solar into the Scottish Governments and Scottish Green parties’ draft policy programme, as announced earlier today. The document outlines the joint commitment from both parties to confront some of the greatest challenges faced in Scotland to date, responding to the climate emergency, supporting

Read More »

Engie Rebrands FM Arm to Equans

Engie’s facilities management and technical services will fall under the new Equans brand. Equans will operate as an autonomous subsidiary of Engie, with 74,000 employees across 17 countries,managed by Jérôme Stubler and his management team. With annual revenue of over €12 billion, electrical, HVAC, cooling, mechanical, digital & IT and facilities management will

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Latest Issue

BDC 317 : Jun 2024

August 23, 2021

New report maps out necessities for healthier hotel design in UK

As the hotel sector thrives amid the UK ‘staycation’ boom, a report has revealed opportunities for hotel design to include further wellbeing and comfort measures to meet changing expectations from prospective guests. This comes as research from a survey of 130 M&E contractors and architects working in hotel construction revealed that over half (52%) of respondents believe wellbeing is ‘value engineered’ out of projects later on in the build. As research suggests occupant wellbeing may have to be compromised for cost saving during the project, Designing Healthy Hotels, the latest report from REHAU, has been released to demonstrate the role of designing guest wellbeing and comfort in attracting more custom. Steve Richmond, Head of Marketing and Technical – Building Solutions at REHAU, explains: “Guest expectations of comfort, silence and premium finish arguably exceed that of their own home, so pressure falls on consultants and contractors to deliver building services meeting these requirements. Juggling the competing design priorities to deliver suitable hotels is a challenge that we aim to unpack with this report, while demonstrating the opportunities that healthy design can provide during the hospitality recovery.” With around 700 hotel projects currently in planning and bookings being up 300% this summer compared with 2019, it is clear there is high demand from consumers in the UK for hotels. However, according to hotel technology provider Avvio, inner city hotel books are down 30-40%, underlining the gaps where hospitality recovery in urban areas is still in progress. Therefore, attracting guests with high quality design represents an opportunity for professionals in the sector to harness this boom as tourism returns to cities. “Hotels being soundproofed and sealed to drown out the city noise while increasing energy efficiency makes acoustic performance of building services more of a priority than ever,” says Steve. “Hotel rooms being so close together in this environment means there is more potential for noise to travel and disturb guests, particularly from running water and flushing toilets. “Increasingly eco-conscious guests expect hotels to become more sustainable in line with society’s shifting attitudes on environmental issues, while tech-savvy customers will come to expect the latest smart technology for controlling temperature in their rooms. Hotel guests will also not appreciate the sound of running water, lack of adequate temperature control ability nor the lack of action when it comes to improving sustainability. With the risk of negative reviews worsening the already precarious situation hotels find themselves in, consultants and contractors could support in the delivery of positive guest experience right from the design stage. “To help hotels contractors and consultants meet these design challenges, our guide outlines potential solutions for new build and renovations hotel developments in all applications. As a supplier to many sectors, it is our responsibility to make sure we understand pain points in each one and demonstrate ways in which we can support construction professionals to overcome them.” For more information on designing wellbeing into hotels and to download the report, Designing Healthy Hotels, visit: www.rehau.uk/designinghealthy

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London Home Buyers Are Heading for the Suburbs in Record Numbers

Record swathes of London home buyers are fleeing for the suburbs, even as the capital reopens and attempts to shrug off the pandemic. The city’s residents snapped up more than 60,000 homes elsewhere in the U.K. in the first six months of this year, according to Hamptons, the most since the broker started tracking the data 15 years ago. Deals by Londoners accounted for 8.6% of all purchases outside the capital, even higher than the share last year when the Covid-driven wave of outward migration began. City dwellers’ small and expensive homes became less appealing last year as governments enforced lockdowns. Coupled with what looks increasingly likely to be a long-term shift to more flexible working, that’s seen many home owners leaving town for bigger and greener homes in the suburbs. “Pandemic-fueled city outmigration shows no sign of slowing,” said Hamptons Head of Research Aneisha Beveridge. “Despite lockdowns easing and offices and restaurants reopening, Londoners have continued to reevaluate where they want to live, with many bringing future-planned moves forward.” The average distance from London of homes bought by former residents was 34.6 miles (55.7 kilometers), also the longest since Hamptons’ records began. Top destinations include Tandridge in Surrey to the city’s south and the Three Rivers and Hertsmere districts in Hertfordshire on the northern border.

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BESA backs unions’ demand for ventilation in schools

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has put its weight behind a call from six trade unions to take urgent action over ventilation in schools. In a letter to the Education Secretary, the unions have warned that there will be a steep rise in Covid-19 cases when children return to school next month without improvements to airflows and filtration in classrooms and communal areas. They say there should be government funding for carbon dioxide monitors to measure the effectiveness of ventilation, and filtration to remove harmful airborne particles. “The benefits of ventilation in the control of airborne diseases are already well understood and accepted,” their letter said. The National Education Union (NEU), NASUWT, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), GMB, Unison and Unite have joined forces to push for a more strategic approach to school ventilation. “Government action on ventilation in schools and colleges amounts to little more than recommending that windows are kept open,” said ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton. “This is not sustainable in providing a comfortable learning environment in the depths of a British winter. “If the government is serious about bringing to an end the educational disruption of the past 18 months, then it must provide funding for high-quality ventilation systems as a matter of urgency.” The unions also pointed out that many school windows were painted shut and could not be opened. Threats BESA has produced two pieces of guidance this year to help building managers set up indoor air quality (IAQ) strategies and identify the main threats to health and well-being from airborne pollutants. Using mechanical ventilation systems and targeted filtration is recognised as the most effective way to reduce the risk of disease transmission, but no specific government funding has been allocated to help schools address this issue. The CEO of a primary school trust told a recent BESA webinar that lack of funding prevented schools from addressing the problem. Garry Ratcliffe said that despite greater awareness of the risk of transmitting airborne infections during the pandemic, mechanical ventilation remained a low priority for most headteachers. Ratcliffe, who is CEO of Kent-based Galaxy Trust, said current Department for Education (DfE) guidance was inadequate. “Would it be acceptable advice to tell people in a workplace to open their windows and wear warmer clothes?” he asked. He also said he was concerned that opening windows could be “doing more harm than good” because many schools were close to busy roads, so the children were being exposed to high levels of traffic pollution and noise. He said his three schools had already spent over £325,000 on Covid mitigation measures but had only been able to reclaim £57,000 from the government.  Each has an annual capital budget of just £7,000, which is primarily to ensure buildings remain safe and to fix leaking roofs and heating. “If we wanted to free up money to spend on a new ventilation system, we would have to make cuts elsewhere. However, we are judged on the quality of the education we provide…not on the quality of the air.” The BESA guides highlight the fact that opening windows does not provide controlled ventilation. It is not an effective method of managing the direction of airflows to provide the air change rates needed to dilute airborne contaminants and viruses in every part of a room. NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “It is shocking that, rather than taking concrete steps now to improve the situation, the Department for Education has only just announced a pilot scheme, involving 30 schools in Bradford, to trial the use of air purifiers, with results not due until the end of the year. “18 months into the pandemic, and given the accumulated knowledge about ventilation, kicking the issue into the long grass in this way is simply not good enough.” BESA’s guidance calls for a mixed approach to ventilation using both mechanical and ‘natural’ systems that can minimise costs for schools, but greatly improve airflows and give teaching staff more control over their indoor environments. “The ventilation industry has a wide range of solutions – many of which can be tailored to schools,” said the Association’s head of technical Graeme Fox. “They are relatively low cost, but they are not free. The government does need to put some level of investment into this and not just to deal with the immediate Covid issue, but to improve indoor conditions for the long-term health and well-being of pupils and staff.” He said BESA members had been flagging up the problems caused by air pollution inside school buildings for many years. “There is a powerful body of evidence linking poor IAQ to rising numbers of children suffering from asthma and other respiratory conditions that have serious long-term implications. BESA applauds the stance taken by the education unions and our industry is standing ready with the solutions they demand,” added Fox.www.theBESA.com/iaq

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Central register launched for building safety managers

A new central register and a certification scheme have been launched for building safety managers following the final report and proposals for Working Group 8 – part of the industry response group tasked with developing a new framework of competence for the new Building Safety Manager role (part of the Building Safety Bill).  The Building Safety Alliance, an independent industry-led ‘not for profit’ organisation, has been formed by representatives of both the public and private sectors. It aims to implement certification of people wishing to deliver the role of building safety manager (BSM) and produce a publicly accessible register of those certified by the scheme. In due course, it will also work with others to evaluate how organisations that wish to deliver the function of the BSM can be assessed as having the organisational capability to do so. It will also look at how to assist contractors and suppliers involved in higher-risk buildings in delivering a competent workforce that understands how to ensure that residential buildings are safe. The role of the Building Safety Manager, which the accountable person will have to ensure is in place, will be to comply with a number of tasks including: Ensuring the conditions in the Building Registration Certificate are complied with to the satisfaction of the Accountable Person and the Building Safety Regulator Ensuring those employed in the maintenance and management of the building’s fire and structural safety have the necessary competence to carry out their roles Engaging with residents in the safe management of their building by producing and implementing a resident engagement strategy Reporting to a mandatory occurrence reporting regime. Building Safety Managers – the future for compliance? Simon Ince, Project Engineer at UL, explores why defining the future role of Building Safety Managers is imperative to improve the standards of building management to protect people from fire and other risks. This is the first of two articles, the second of which can be found here: Competence – A fundamental part of building safety Keeping people safe inside buildings is vital for those responsible for a building’s management, particularly in a multi-occupied residential or a high-risk setting. To keep people safe, those with the duty of care must have a robust management system in place. They must take safety seriously and plan and resource accordingly. Astonishingly, however, many buildings are still managed haphazardly and without structure or control. Sometimes building managers have questionable competence, caused by management teams imposing safety duties on employees without providing sufficient training or support. One new development that will undoubtedly improve the standard of management within buildings is the acceptance of a standard definition of the role of Building Safety Manager (BSM). As part of the work following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy and the recommendations of Dame Judith Hackitt, this key position has been subject to much discussion. A position which was undoubtedly insufficiently defined, vague and open to interpretation as to what responsibilities and duties were required. More importantly, there was little consensus on which key life safety critical roles BSMs must undertake. How must this position be defined? Currently the British Standards Institution (BSI) is rapidly developing, via its Flex project, a Publicly Available Standard (PAS) document that will provide clear guidance on the role of the BSM. This PAS will draw influence from the recommendations made by the Competence Steering Groups Working Group 8, who published “Safer People, Safer Homes: Building Safety Management.” This document sets out the competences required for any person or an organisation holding the role of BSM. What will a PAS for the BSM facilitate? With good management of a building being so important for safety, having an accountable person with defined responsibilities and duties will help with the routine management of the property. The existence of well trained and qualified professionals overseeing vital maintenance, inspections, procurement and repairs should reduce risk and help ensure that issues are dealt with promptly. In addition to the physical fire protection measures, BSMs will help with engaging with residents, keeping structured records and reducing risk to as low a level as is reasonably practical through a safety case approach. This will help improve safety within those buildings in scope and for those owners’ operators who use the PAS as a guide to compliance. Why is this role innovative? The work around the BSM is part of a wider movement to increase accountability, competence and traceability in the housing and construction sectors, and having a BSM taking control of occupied buildings is a smart and obvious thing to do. Can smart and obvious be innovative? Absolutely, as the role of a professional building safety manager is much needed! UL continues to support the drive in the UK for improved standards by offering independent testing, inspection, training and certification services.

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Scottish design project makes AJ Architecture Awards shortlist

Calton Hill City Observatory in Scotland’s capital has been nominated for an AJ Architecture Award this week.  The design by HarrisonStevens, the Edinburgh-based Landscape Architects and Urban Designers, Calton Hill City Observatory has been nominated in the Landscape and Public Realm category in the annual awards.  Situated within a World Heritage Site, The Calton Hill Project design integrates the existing listed buildings into a collective, external environment to create a unique user experience.   Martin Stevens, Co-Founder and Managing Director, HarrisonStevens, said, “We are delighted that Calton Hill has been shortlisted.  It recognises the work on this challenging project to create a sense of place that encompasses both city views and microclimatic and ecological factors within the physical and historic context of Edinburgh and Scotland.   “The planting palette is designed to be extremely low maintenance and has a high biodiversity value and utilises species which are native and that one might readily find on adjacent Arthur’s Seat or within a similar Scottish landscape.  Careful consideration was given to providing unity from the inside to the outside spaces, highlighting an opportunity for outdoor exhibition and performance space and drawing visitors through the heritage and contemporary spaces of the site.” The AJ Architecture Awards recognise excellence in UK architecture across a range of categories, from School & Housing Projects to Landscape and Public Realm, and the winners will be revealed during a celebratory event on 17 November 2021.

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Solar Energy Scotland welcomes the inclusion of solar into the Scottish Governments and Scottish Green parties’ draft policy programme

Solar Energy Scotland welcomes the inclusion of solar into the Scottish Governments and Scottish Green parties’ draft policy programme, as announced earlier today. The document outlines the joint commitment from both parties to confront some of the greatest challenges faced in Scotland to date, responding to the climate emergency, supporting economic recovery and strengthening a green and fair recovery from the global pandemic. Solar Energy UK Chief Executive Chris Hewett said: “Scotland has a more ambitious target on net-zero than the rest of the UK, so we are looking forward to working closely with the new government to ensure solar energy can play a full part in the race to cut carbon emissions. The opportunities are huge, from a new generation of solar parks, to co-location with wind farms, large rooftop schemes and using onsite solar to decarbonise heat and transport.” Solar Energy Scotland Chair Thomas McMillan said: “The solar energy industry in Scotland welcomes the clear recognition in the cooperation agreement of the important role solar can play in Scotland’s drive to meet our 2030 climate obligations. As the cheapest, most readily deployable renewable technology, with substantial benefits for the economy and helping to tackle fuel poverty, it is time for the sector to be allowed to grow and flourish. Scotland’s solar opportunities could see deployment increase 15-fold by 2030, and this would deliver a solar sector in Scotland proportional to what is being achieved elsewhere in the UK.” Solar Energy Scotland is calling on Government to set a minimum solar deployment target of 4GW by 2030, with an ambitious Government delivering as much as 6GW over the next decade.

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Engie Rebrands FM Arm to Equans

Engie’s facilities management and technical services will fall under the new Equans brand. Equans will operate as an autonomous subsidiary of Engie, with 74,000 employees across 17 countries,managed by Jérôme Stubler and his management team. With annual revenue of over €12 billion, electrical, HVAC, cooling, mechanical, digital & IT and facilities management will all fall under the Equans brand. Catherine MacGregor, Engie CEO, said: “Today marks an important step forward in the implementation of our strategic roadmap. We are very proud to announce the creation of Equans, an autonomous entity within Engie, known in recent months under the project name “Bright”. We are on track to deliver on our simplification plan through the positioning of Equans as a leader in multi-technical services and reaffirming Engie as a leader in the energy transition, refocused on its growth markets and with a more industrial approach.” Jérôme Stubler, Equans CEO, added: “I would like to acknowledge the incredible work which has been accomplished during the last 6 months to create Equans. “Equans is made of state-of-the-art expertise which totally responds to the needs of our clients in delivering the Energy, Industrial and Digital transitions. This is a great moment for the 74,000 employees all over the world. I am very honoured and pleased to lead this fantastic team.”

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