Construction Site Prank

As its April the only month with a day dedicated to fooling people and pulling pranks we have scoured Youtube looking for a funny construction prank to brighten up your afternoon, we hope you enjoy it:

(Please don’t try this at home; it’s very messy and such a waste of materials!)

Concerns grow over resource consumption sustainability in the EU

Growing concerns are being voiced that the EU is failing in its efforts to create more sustainable levels of resource consumption. This in turn is leading to warnings of future resource security threats.

The European Commission DG Environment Deputy Director-General Dr Alan Seatter described this pattern of consumption yesterday speaking at the House of Lords. He stated that that the volume of raw materials used in Europe is estimated to be the equivalent to approximately 16 tonnes per person each year. In addition he went on to explore this figure by stating that 6 tonnes of this goes to waste each year, with approximately half of this (3 tonnes) going to Landfill.

Whilst this position is clearly unsustainable the vulnerability of the EU resource security is also made more fragile through its heavy importing of these resources; it currently imports six times more materials than it exports.

Waste is fast becoming the greatest concern on environmental public opinion across Europe according to Dr Seatter.

When looking to the future he claimed that greater legislation was not necessary, but the implementation of existing policy which has the potential to generate up to half a million additional job opportunities in the waste and recycling sector over the next few years.

He also described the need for economic incentives, pointing to evidence from countries with greater success than the UK in waste diversion from landfill which have considerably greater landfill taxes.

Recipro sourced this article from Edie.

Design of product crucial to lower environmental impact

According to a leading cradle-to-cradle academic the designing of a product is absolutely vital in helping to create more sustainable business practice.

Architect and Author William McDonough believes that business’s should focus less on reducing their carbon emissions and more on optimizing materials use to ensure that money and resources are not wasted.

He believes that eco-designers have an important role to play in stimulating a more ethical business environment, he said companies needed to offer products that pose no risk to society and that become nourishment for something new at the end of their useful life.

Emphasising that “less bad is still bad”, McDonough questioned: “Why don’t we start designing things so we understand what’s going to happen next?”

Designers and engineers consciously or unconsciously determine 80% of a product’s environmental impact through the decisions they make and people are becoming more and more aware that for materials to be efficient and sustainable there needs to be a shift of emphasis from end-of-life to start-of-life.

Recipro sourced this article from Edie.net

New report says UK must concentrate on resource efficiency

According to a recent report the UK must concentrate more on recycling and recovering materials, and it must also improve resource efficiency and the durability of consumer products.

The report Reinventing the wheel: a circular economy for resource security published last week (October 5) by the Green Alliance. The study examined the advantages and disadvantages of using pricing to improve the circulation of three crucial major resources – metals, phosphorous and water.

The Green Alliance says there needs to be a more circular use of these resources in the economy, which it claims would avoid some of the damaging, environmental impacts of extracting them as well as avoid the negative impacts of generating waste.

Using information provided by the Designing out Waste consortium, the report makes a number of key policy recommendations. This include improving collection rates and incentives for recovery of materials and introducing recycling rates that focus on specific materials and their quality, rather than simply on tonnages.

It also says that the product must be designed to make recover and reuse easier to prolong its life span. Measures to avoid leakage of valuable materials through exports should also be taken.

The Green Alliance argues that a multi-pronged approach is needed to improve product design, drive up the capture of products at end of life, and ensure that good substitutes are available for materials that will become more difficult to access in the future.

It is calling on the Government to promote economic incentives that encourage the waste and recycling industry to adopt a ‘whole life’ approach to products and materials.

Recipro certainly supports this new report and sees the construction industry playing a huge part in making this happen, with 13% of all construction materials been disposed of before ever being used there is certainly room for improvement.

Recipro sourced this article from Edie.

Calls grow for Government to cut tax by 15%

Pressure on the Government to cut VAT on all Green Deal work by 15% has increased with Construction trade bodies and environmental groups joining forces. Both groups have called for the current rate of 20% to be lowered to 5%.

There is already a lower VAT rate applied when installing certain types of energy saving materials and micro generation systems.

However the campaigners don’t feel this is enough and want to see the 5% rate applied to all Green Deal measures which would improve the performance of existing buildings.

A letter to Ministers states: “The Green Deal has the potential to play a central role in the transition to a green economy by cutting carbon, protecting households from increasing energy costs and creating new jobs.”

“The Government must prepare for the Green Deal by stimulating further demand in the energy saving market.”

“Without an additional package of incentives few owners and occupiers are likely to take action to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings, even if the upfront costs are met by Green Deal finance.”

“Therefore, we urge MPs from all parties to ask the Government to levy VAT at a rate of 5% for all Green Deal approved measures.”

Recipro sourced this article from Construction Enquirer.

Double Blow to Contractors

Contractors will have the displeasure of paying increased prices for construction materials as well as having to deal with falling workloads that’s according to the latest Construction Trade Survey.

Noble Francis, Economics Director at the Construction Products Association said: “The Construction Trade Survey for 2010 Q4 highlights sharp rises in costs such as the 46% price increase in copper and 80% in iron ore.”

“With 70% of light side manufacturers and 56% of heavy side manufacturers experiencing a fall in sales in Q4 compared to a year ago along with 22% of building contractors also reporting a fall, there is great uncertainty regarding economic activity during the coming year.”

Julia Evans, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Builders added: “The combination of less work, rising material prices, lower margins, continued lending restrictions and a rise in VAT could not have come at a worse time.”

“Companies can only battle these conditions for so long. With the rate of construction insolvencies exceeding that of other industries, the impact on our skills base will be devastating.”

Key Findings of the Survey;

  • Fewer than 10% of building contractors reported problems recruiting on-site labour in 2010 Q4
  • 90% of light side firms and 53% of heavy side firms stated that employment fell in the fourth quarter of 2010
  • Only 46% of building contractors reported that they were operating at between 90% and full capacity in 2010 Q4
  • 47% of light side manufacturers and 61% of heavy side manufacturers reported that rising raw materials costs had led to a rise in manufacturing costs in the fourth quarter of 2010
  • Only 4% of specialist contractors reported being paid within 30 days but 3% of specialists paid in over 90 days during 2010 Q4
  • 81% of light side manufacturers reported a rise in investment in product improvement and 64% reported a rise in investment in plant and equipment in the fourth quarter of 2010

This article was sourced from Construction Enquirer.

Green Building

I recently came across this interesting article on the sustainablebuild website. I enjoyed reading it and thought it was worth sharing with the Recipro readers.

The concept of a green building was developed in the 1970s in response to the energy crisis and people’s growing concerns about the environment. The need to save energy and mitigate environmental problems fostered a wave of green building innovation that has continued to this day.

Green buildings and green building products are not easily defined. Often known as sustainable buildings or eco-homes, there is a range of opinion on what can be classed as a green home. It is generally agreed that green buildings are structures that are sited, designed, built, renovated and operated to energy-efficient guidelines, and that they will have a positive environmental, economic and social impact over their life cycle. Green specifications provide a good set of guidelines for the building industry, but these are still in the process of being formalised into UK regulation and many are open to interpretation.

Elements of Eco Building

Four main areas need to be considered in green building: materials, energy, water and health.

Construction Materials

These are obtained from natural, renewable sources that have been managed and harvested in a sustainable way; or they are obtained locally to reduce the embedded energy costs of transportation; or used building supplies or surplus building materials at nearby sites. Materials are assessed using green specifications that look at their Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) in terms of their embodied energy, durability, recycled materials content, waste minimisation, and their ability to be reused or recycled.

Energy

Passive solar design will dramatically reduce the heating and cooling costs of a building, as will high levels of insulation and energy-efficient windows. Natural daylight design reduces a building’s electricity needs, and improves people’s health and productivity. Green buildings also incorporate energy-efficient lighting, low energy appliances, and renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels.

Water

Minimising water use is achieved by installing greywater and rainwater catchment systems that recycle water for irrigation or toilet flushing; water-efficient appliances, such as low flow showerheads, self-closing or spray taps; low-flush toilets, or waterless composting toilets. Installing point of use hot water systems and lagging pipes saves on water heating.

Health

Using non-toxic materials and products will improve indoor air quality, and reduce the rate of asthma, allergy and sick building syndrome. These materials are emission-free, have low or no VOC content, and are moisture resistant to deter moulds, spores and other microbes. Indoor air quality is also addressed through ventilation systems and materials that control humidity and allow a building to breathe.

In addition to addressing the above areas, a green building should provide cost savings to the builder and occupants, and meet the broader needs of the community, by using local labour, providing affordable housing, and ensuring the building is sited appropriately for community needs.

A Holistic Approach

Green building requires a holistic approach that considers each component of a building, in relationship to the context of the whole building, whilst considering the impact on the wider environment and community around it. This is a highly complex approach that requires builders, architects and designers to think creatively, using systems integration throughout their work. There are several technology tools and assessment methodologies that can help builders with this process including BREEAM (Building and Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) and EcoHomes.

Building Hope for the Future

Although still in its infancy, building green is a rapidly growing trade. UK regulations now demand that green specifications are met in all new building design and development, as part of their wider sustainable development strategy, and this means that green buildings are emerging throughout the country. In an age threatened by climate change, energy shortages and ever-increasing health problems it makes sense to build homes that are durable, save energy, reduce waste and pollution, and promote health and well-being. A green building is more than a model for sustainable living; it can build hope for the future.

SMEs face uncertain future.

SMEs will be bracing themselves as Tax may rise from 17.5% to 20% under the new Conservative Government which could lead to 7,500 jobs being lost in the housing sector. Economists have predicted that the new Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and his new Coalition Government will have to raise VAT in its upcoming budget.

The possible increase has caused worry amongst small to medium builders who depend on the domestic repair and maintenance sector.

Richard Diment, director general of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “The industry needs a decision like this like it needs a hole in the head. We commissioned some research by Experion in February and it showed that if VAT rose by 2.5 percentage points it would decrease demand by 2% in the housing repair and maintenance sector and cost around 7,500 jobs.

The caveat is that our industry needs sound public finances, so what we believe is that the tool the government should use is varying rates of VAT for different areas. We would argue that with the fragility of the construction industry it would benefit from a special reduced rate.”

Michael Ankers, chief executive of the Construction Products Association, said: “We would like to see a reduced rate for housing repair and maintenance, but in the current climate it seems unlikely.

We have discussed it with the Treasury in the past and they said, ‘So your want is to give people a lower rate of VAT for building a swimming pool? That’s how it would be seen.” Instead we’re focusing on sustainable products. There is already a list of those with a 5% rate of VAT and we want to update that list.”

The NFB which represents 1,300 small and medium sized contractors said increasing VAT will give “cash in hand cowboys” a much easier time of things and simply make the respectable taxpaying contractors suffer.

NFB Chief Executive Julia Evans said: “We have campaigned for many years to lower the VAT rate on domestic construction work to five per cent in order to close the cost gap that is exploited by cash-in-hand cowboy builders at the expense of reputable taxpaying businesses.

Increasing VAT will simply exacerbate the problem and inevitably drive more homeowners into the arms of rogue traders.”

So in the financial uncertainty using Recipro is more crucial than ever. We can obviously help to save you costs with free or cheap materials or by the reduction of disposable costs. By using us you show your commitment to help both the community and the environment.

Funny Accidents on a Construction Site

Recipro found this funny compelation of accidents on a variety of building sites, leave your comments.

What is a Green building?

The recipro team have been out and about in recent weeks. We’ve been having conversions around the nature of the building industry and what is ‘green’. The Definition of a Green Building etc. Having researched, searched the web and trade papers… this seems to give the most complete list, with factors we consider to be instrumental and appropriate.

Green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Green building is also known as a sustainable or high performance building.

Impacts of the built environment:

* Siting
* Design
* Construction
* Operation
* Maintenance
* Renovation
* Deconstruction

Consumption:

* Energy
* Water
* Materials
* Natural Resources

Environmental Effects:

* Waste
* Air pollution
* Water pollution
* Indoor pollution
* Heat islands
* Stormwater runoff
* Noise

Ultimate Effects:

* Harm to Human Health
* Environment Degradation
* Loss of Resources

Green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment by:

* Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources
* Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity
* Reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation

For example, green buildings may incorporate sustainable materials in their construction (e.g., reused, recycled-content, or made from renewable resources); create healthy indoor environments with minimal pollutants (e.g., reduced product emissions); and/or feature landscaping that reduces water usage (e.g., by using native plants that survive without extra watering).

We agree… but let us know your thoughts!