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Building a solution to urbanisation

Every week, 1.5 million people join the global urban population. With limited resources and a changing climate, how can we build a healthy and sustainable urban future? Here Nick Cowley, managing director of aluminium building product supplier, Endurawood, shares insight into creating cities that can effectively support a growing number

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Home sweet aluminum

The benefits of using aluminium in residential modular builds Equivalent to the height of the London Eye, 101 George Street is home to the world’s tallest modular towers. Located in Croydon, UK and scaling 135 meters, the towers house 546 ‘build to rent’ properties. Residential builds like these are leaving

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Incorporating aluminium into commercial modular construction

In June 2017, a 220-bed Holiday Inn Express opened in Manchester — just 38 weeks after construction began. Modular construction continues to reach new heights, but the industry must still consider ways to make commercial buildings stronger, safer and more environmentally friendly. Here, Nick Cowley managing director of aluminium building

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Rising to the challenge: sustainable commercial buildings

The Co-operative Group’s headquarters in Manchester exhibits world-class sustainability, with features such as exposed concrete that acts as a thermal sponge, a rainwater recycling system and a cogeneration combined heat and power (CHP) biofuel boiler. With sustainable commercial buildings on the rise, which eco-friendly features should designers invest in? Here

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The top three benefits of aluminium

~ Endurawood releases infographic on how aluminium supports the construction industry’s environmental footprint ~ UK building and outdoor living product supplier Endurawood has released an infographic outlining the benefits of aluminium as a construction material. The supplier, which specialises in wood-effect aluminium products for applications including cladding, decking and architectural

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Latest Issue

BDC 317 : Jun 2024

endurawood

Building a solution to urbanisation

Every week, 1.5 million people join the global urban population. With limited resources and a changing climate, how can we build a healthy and sustainable urban future? Here Nick Cowley, managing director of aluminium building product supplier, Endurawood, shares insight into creating cities that can effectively support a growing number of residents. The number of people across the globe that live in urban environments is expected to reach 68 per cent by 2050. It’s vital that these residents move into modern urban areas that promote environmental sustainability and resident wellbeing. Governing bodies must work with civil engineers to upgrade towns and cities now in order to effectively prepare for the influx of urban residents. Sustainable buildings According to the World Green Building Council, the construction and operation of buildings currently accounts for 39 per cent of global carbon emissions. A growing urban population isn’t the only change expected for 2050. In line with legislation passed by parliament in 2019, the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases must reduce by 100 per cent relative to 1990 levels by the same year. If we’re to continue to build while working to reach net zero targets, it’s vital that urban buildings are made to be more environmentally friendly. A number of sustainable features can be incorporated into new buildings, or retrofitted onto existing ones. Installing solar panels onto building roofs will incorporate more renewable energy into the building’s overall supply. As well as lowering reliance on fossil fuels, this can save the owner six to ten pence per kilowatt hour (kWh) in energy bills. Additionally, roofs can be adapted to form green roofs, which involves growing a layer of vegetation on top of the building. Green roofs remove carbon dioxide from the surrounding air and add an extra layer of insulation. They have also been shown to increase the efficiency of solar panels by keeping the area cool through evapotranspiration. Another beneficial feature that can be added to the exterior of buildings is cladding. Exterior cladding adds another insulating layer over walls that traps heat in and keeps cold out. Cladding also improves the durability of the building by forming a weatherproof coating that protects walls from damage. Spruced up streets What’s more, cladding serves as architectural enhancement, which can be used to create modernised city centres. This is especially important, as city dwellers are 39 per cent more likely to develop mood problems such as depression, and living in run down urban environments could play a contributing role. It’s important that urban areas are aesthetically pleasing and kept clean to benefit the wellbeing of residents. Naturally, a higher number of people living in an area means more waste is created. This waste must be correctly managed to promote good health and sustainability practices. More disposal areas must be implemented across the city to reduce littering and provide frequent opportunities for recycling. Large areas of commercial waste should be separated from the streets and concealed from view. Endurawood is an aluminium building product that looks like wood, and can be used to build enclosures that create an aesthetic cover for areas of waste. The material can also be used for external cladding to create a sleek and unique look to buildings with added insulation. Aluminium is highly durable as it’s weatherproof, insect proof and non-warping. When end of use does come, Endurawood is 100 per cent recyclable, making it an environmentally friendly building material. Endurawood comes in a range of finishes from solid grey, red and green to woodgrain colours of driftwood and western red cedar, providing a versatile and attractive appearance that can revamp urban areas. The world is becoming more urbanised, and we should adapt city planning to accommodate a growing number of residents. By adding environmentally friendly features to buildings and renovating streets to promote positive living, urban areas can become valuable metropolises, successfully housing future generations.

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Home sweet aluminum

The benefits of using aluminium in residential modular builds Equivalent to the height of the London Eye, 101 George Street is home to the world’s tallest modular towers. Located in Croydon, UK and scaling 135 meters, the towers house 546 ‘build to rent’ properties. Residential builds like these are leaving a significant impression on the UK cityscape, but the industry must assess how buildings can stand tall while delivering quality. Nick Cowley, managing director at aluminium building product supplier Endurawood, explains why architects should turn to aluminium. Standing at 38 and 44 stories, 101 George Street represents a future for modular builds, one that reaches heights far greater than the cabins and temporary constructions commonly associated with offsite construction. The onsite construction team consisted of around 150 workers, far less than the 450 builders and contractors you’d find on a traditional site for a building of this size. Yet, despite there being less men on the ground, 101 George Street’s completion averaged roughly 1.3 floors each week — with the entire project delivered in just 26 months. For modular projects of this scale to become an industry norm, material choice must play a key role in delivering attractive, safe and efficient buildings. Design capabilities High rise buildings can have an undeserved reputation for appearing run down and dated. A culprit for this assumption is often corrosion and surface damage that occurs in difficult to maintain areas, with material choice at the heart of the issue. Most of us will be familiar with corrosion in the form of rust, which specifically affects iron-based materials that can be used for cladding and balcony railings. This formation of oxide occurs when the iron reacts with oxygen or sulphates. Rust damages the physical and mechanical properties of the material and requires maintenance to restore it. When corrosion sets in, the surface of the metal begins to change colour, although the base metal remains unaffected. This rust can run and drip, leaving large and undesirable stains on a building’s cement. In later stages of corrosion, holes can begin to appear and pitting can cause large holes in the affected area, which will require a complete replacement. While maintenance can fix these issues, selecting a durable material like aluminium can prevent them from happening altogether. Aluminium resists corrosion from environmental factors such as pollution and harsh weather conditions because of the natural layer of aluminium oxide that forms on its surface. This means it requires less work to maintain its appearance, helping it to look newer for longer. In addition, aluminium is strong and ductile enough to be used for numerous design features including cladding, decorative facades and soffits. These features can be used to accentuate a specific part of the building, adding an eye-catching twist to the building’s design. As a result, architects can fulfil their modular design requirements with a material that’s built to last. Assuring safety Like all buildings, safety is a crucial feature that must be guaranteed when planning, designing and constructing a modular build. Particularly for residential buildings that could house hundreds of people, using safe materials is more important than ever. Aluminium is a non-combustible material and is classified by European regulations as Class A1, signifying “no contribution to fire”, the highest reaction to fire rating for construction products. Although it is not fireproof when exposed to extreme temperatures, aluminium acts as a flame retardant when it starts to melt. This reduces the potential of further damage to the building and to occupants in the event of a fire. Using aluminium can also increase safety on the modular build assembly site. As aluminium is lighter than traditional building materials such as timber and steel, it’s easier to install and manage on site. This helps to improve the safety of those working on the project, while ensuring the faster completion time that modular builds are renowned for. Greater thermal efficiency The quality-controlled environment that modular builds are manufactured in makes them more thermally efficient compared to traditionally built structures. This is because the modules are quality checked at each stage of the production line, eliminating inefficiencies before they’re sent to the assembly site. Modular builds are also bolted together, making them more airtight and reducing heat loss. The thermal efficiency of a modular build can be elevated with aluminium, which retains heat. Besides improving living conditions and energy efficiency for the occupant, it will also keep running costs down. Aluminium can be applied to the internal structure and exterior of a modular build to enhance its thermal efficiency. Endurawood is made from 100 per cent marine grade aluminium and can be used for multiple applications to improve the thermal efficiency of residential modular projects, from small scale refurbishments to new build developments. These include battens, railings and exterior cladding, which acts as a barrier to prevent cold air from entering. While 101 George Street demonstrates the rising potential of the modular construction industry, it’s important that all residential modular builds are optimised to consider safety, comfort and costs for the occupants. Using a multi-beneficial material such as aluminium can ensure builders go above and beyond for those living in the modular build. For more information about how Endurawood can be used in residential applications, visit www.endurawood.co.uk/residential-construction/.

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Incorporating aluminium into commercial modular construction

In June 2017, a 220-bed Holiday Inn Express opened in Manchester — just 38 weeks after construction began. Modular construction continues to reach new heights, but the industry must still consider ways to make commercial buildings stronger, safer and more environmentally friendly. Here, Nick Cowley managing director of aluminium building product supplier Endurawood, explains why modular builders should use aluminium to enhance their commercial construction projects. Considering the Census Bureau’s 2019 Survey of Construction states seven months as the average completion time for a single-family home, constructing an entire hotel in less than ten months is impressively rapid. As well as helping to produce more residential buildings, modular construction is aiding the production of many commercial buildings. School classrooms, restaurants, hotels and public offices are being constructed using modular methods of construction (MMC). MMC provide many advantages, such as quicker completion times and reduced waste, but considering the materials used in the project can optimise projects even further. Aluminium is lighter than many traditional construction metals, making it easier to manage on and offsite. This, alongside several other benefits, helps to support the quick completion times that modular builds are renowned for. Minimal maintenance Originally developed as a solution to quickly rebuild homes after the Second World War, modular builds face the misconception of being temporary structures. However, if the correct materials are considered at the start of a commercial project, the end result can be as durable as the modular build’s neighbouring shops and offices. While commonly used metals such as iron and steel must be treated with a substance containing a corrosion inhibitor, using a naturally corrosion resistant material will lengthen a modular build’s lifespan. Aluminium gains natural corrosion resistance from a layer of aluminium oxide that forms on its surface when it’s exposed to the atmosphere. This layer protects the material from further oxidation, enhancing its resistance against weather conditions and chemicals. Aluminium’s natural protection benefits commercial buildings for numerous reasons. Firstly, it increases the durability of the building, reducing maintenance and therefore keeping refurbishment costs down for the building owner. Secondly, using aluminium preserves the building’s design, making it appear newer for longer. In an increasingly competitive market, people are more conscious about appearance and design of the facilities they use. Rust can diminish the exterior of a building, making it less likely to appeal to customers than a building that looks brand new. Supporting sustainability Prefabricated buildings are far easier to disassemble and relocate to different sites, thanks to their pre-assembled parts. Therefore, if a building has become obsolete or disused, its modular parts can be repurposed so that they don’t go to waste. If modular construction techniques became the norm, the requirement for new raw materials would be substantially reduced.  This makes modular buildings inherently more sustainable, but project managers can further boost the sustainability of their commercial project by considering material choice. Sustainable materials are especially important when designing new modules, which have not been recycled from past projects. Aluminium is an infinitely recyclable building material, meaning it can be reused multiple times without diminishing its original qualities. In fact, nearly 75 per cent of all aluminium ever produced is still in use today. Replacing emission-heavy metals with aluminium can help to reduce the carbon footprint of a commercial modular project. Choosing aluminium can further boost the sustainability of a building by reducing its energy output. Aluminium absorbs heat and is freeze and frost resistant, making options such as external aluminium cladding a thermally efficient alternative that could help to lower a building’s heating bills. Securing safety Finally, aluminium can improve the safety of a commercial building. Regardless of a building’s purpose, safety must always be at the forefront of its design. We’re aware of the disasters that have occurred when material safety standards have not been met, and it’s vital that these inconceivable mistakes never occur. While aluminium is not fireproof, it acts as a flame retardant when it starts to melt. This means that aluminium provides additional protection against the flames, reducing the potential damage to the building and those inside it. All Endurawood products are manufactured to meet international fire safety standards and its decking systems are highly slip resistant. Endurawood can be applied to many areas of a commercial building, such as decorative external battens to improve building design, for outdoor decking areas and for privacy enclosures to conceal building waste. Endurawood delivers safety in all conditions, providing the peace of mind for those involved in the construction and use of the building. Modular construction brings many advantages to the construction industry, but using materials that can enhance the method’s advantages is key. Aluminium can create a commercial property that is more sustainable, safer and with less maintenance requirements — achieving a build that can match the dizzyingly fast heights of modular’s existing success stories.

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Rising to the challenge: sustainable commercial buildings

The Co-operative Group’s headquarters in Manchester exhibits world-class sustainability, with features such as exposed concrete that acts as a thermal sponge, a rainwater recycling system and a cogeneration combined heat and power (CHP) biofuel boiler. With sustainable commercial buildings on the rise, which eco-friendly features should designers invest in? Here Nick Cowley, managing director at aluminium building product supplier, Endurawood, explores the options. In 2018, the business sector accounted for 18 per cent of overall UK carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. With the race to combat climate change on, businesses are looking for ways to lower their environmental impact. With the building and construction industry accounting for almost 40 per cent of global emissions, building re-design is a good starting point. Fortunately, many sustainability changes also benefit a business’s bottom line. Renewable energy systems Large commercial buildings can hold thousands of workers, and therefore require a large amount of heating and power. It’s important to put systems in place to save these resources where possible, and source them in a more sustainable way. Building managers must ensure all equipment uses the most up to date technology, which can significantly increase efficiency. For example, air source heat pumps (ASHPs) can absorb heat from the outside air, which is renewable, and use it to heat the internal building. This heating method is highly efficient, with every one kilowatt (kW) of electricity supplied producing two to three kW of heat. The process can also provide air cooling and water heating depending on the model, and even work in minus temperatures. Another way to source your own renewable energy is to install solar panels. Solar panels emit no carbon emissions and use zero water in operation. Installing solar panels has the additional benefit of lowering energy costs, as you aren’t subject to energy supplier prices. Producing your own solar energy can save between six to ten pence per kilowatt hour (kWh). Extra insulation Energy usage by the UK commercial sector increased by 258 kilotonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe) between 2017 to 2018. An impactful way to reduce the figure is to increase building efficiency. Building managers should ensure all windows are rated A for efficiency. Strategic placement of the windows can confer other benefits, such as increased daylight, which naturally warms rooms and further lowers the use of electricity. An additional option is the installation of window films, which can add an extra layer of insulation and even reflect unwanted solar energy to reduce air cooling energy requirements. External cladding can provide further insulation, while protecting the building from weather damage. Cladding can also be used for architectural enhancement, giving the building a sleek and unique look. Green solutions Green roofs, also known as living roofs, involve covering flat or slightly-sloped roofs with a waterproof membrane and then cultivating a layer of vegetation on top. The systems deliver an environmental benefit by removing CO2 from the surrounding air and lowering energy usage by adding extra building insulation. Living roofs also present ecological benefits because they can provide a steppingstone habitat for wildlife. Business benefits include lower energy bills and increased soundproofing, with just twelve centimetres (cm) of substrate reducing sound by around 40 decibels (dB). Additionally, a rain harvesting system can be fitted to the top of the building. Rain harvesting systems collect rainwater that falls into the gutter and transport it to a storage tank. The stored rainwater can be pumped out when needed, and used for various, non-potable uses such as flushing toilets. By incorporating rainwater into the building’s water supply, reliance on mains water supply can be reduced by around 40 per cent. Eco building materials Embodied carbon is a significant concern in the construction industry, which is already renowned for its high levels of emissions. And it’s not just carbon we should worry about, building materials can use glues and solvents that contain volatile organic compounds (VOC), which can form ozone and particulates in the atmosphere, as well as being harmful to human and animal health. In addition, large volumes of building materials can go to waste, ending up in landfills. The UK Government’s most recent figures found that construction, demolition and excavation generated 62 per cent of waste in 2016. To combat this waste, sustainable buildings must be built using materials that have a lower environmental impact. Widely recyclable materials, for example, are an ideal starting place for designers that require durable materials that are better from a recyclability standpoint. Aluminium has one of the highest recycling rates of any metal, namely because its scrap still contains a high value. This means that used aluminium can be melted and reused, without diminishing its original qualities. Furthermore, recycling aluminium only requires five per cent of the energy consumed during its initial creation, and recycling one tonne of the material saves 15,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, making excellent environmental and financial sense. Endurawood is an aluminium building material that looks like wood, and can be used in a range of building applications, such as cladding, railings and enclosures. We believe that greener is better, and use VOC free coatings and lead-free finishes in all our products. Endurawood’s weather resistance and superior durability means it will remain flawless for years to come, but when end of life arrives, it’s 100 per cent recyclable. The Co-operative Group’s Manchester headquarters sets a shining example of sustainability, and with businesses becoming increasingly conscious of their environmental impact, many are following in their footsteps. By incorporating features such as green roofs and solar panels, and using environmentally friendly building materials, commercial buildings can become more sustainable and work towards a greener future.

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The top three benefits of aluminium

~ Endurawood releases infographic on how aluminium supports the construction industry’s environmental footprint ~ UK building and outdoor living product supplier Endurawood has released an infographic outlining the benefits of aluminium as a construction material. The supplier, which specialises in wood-effect aluminium products for applications including cladding, decking and architectural facades, understands the multiple advantages of using aluminium over traditional building materials. Currently, the construction, operation and maintenance of the built environment accounts for 45 per cent of the UK’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions — a figure that demonstrates the industry’s impact on the environment. Concrete, steel and timber are globally used building materials that have been trusted in the construction of buildings for years. These materials, however, can prove harmful to the environment — with concrete responsible for eight per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions, steel production claimed to be one of the most carbon emitting industrial processes in the world and the use of timber, which encourages deforestation. Aluminium is formed through chemical extraction of bauxite, an ore that is mined to create alumina, which is smelted to form pure aluminium. Although this process emits CO2 emissions,aluminium is highly recyclable. Apart from its environmental benefits, aluminium is also lightweight and naturally corrosion resistant. “The potential that aluminium has to improve the quality of a build, plus reduce overall emissions, is greatly underestimated,” said Endurawood’s managing director, Nick Cowley. “Aluminium’s inherent corrosion resistance can improve the durability and quality of a build and its lightweight means that it’s more manageable onsite. This requires less energy and transport to handle the material to and from site, helping to further reduce fuel consumption in the industry. “Its lightweight property also makes aluminium a suitable candidate in modular and offsite construction, as the easy installation and handling of aluminium supports quicker completion times that modular construction is renowned for. “While the production of any metal is not hazard free, the effects of aluminium production can be counteracted by its circularity potential — a quality that is not applicable to building materials such as concrete. Endurawood uses volatile organic compound (VOC) free coatings and lead-free finishes, making it more environmentally friendly to use,” added Cowley. “The UK’s population is expected to reach 70 million by 2031, increasing the demand for more buildings and homes. With almost half of emissions produced attributed to the built environment, it’s vital the industry makes changes to reduce this figure. Relying on a lightweight, eco-friendly building material such as aluminium, could certainly help to support this.” For more information about Endurawood’s products, applications and the advantages of aluminium, visit www.endurawood.co.uk and download the infographic.

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