Knowing in advance that an engineered solution will work by testing a mock-up is good news for everyone involved in a project. Mock-ups can also help identify performance problems, as WILLIAM BOOTH explains.
Engineered heating solutions can answer the challenges of installations that are not suitable for off-the-shelf products. They offer the flexibility required to meet the heating needs of ‘problem’ buildings, JOE KIERNAN explains
The scope of VRF air conditioning has been opened up enormously with the development of water-cooled condensing units.
A mock-up of the air-conditioning system for the £70 million office complex of business-software company Sage at Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, using almost a thousand chilled beams revealed that the design of the ceilings needed to be modified. The design was altered before work started on site, and the tests demonstrated that the beams would do what the manufacturer Trox said they would do.
The profile of prefabricated wiring solutions for electrical services was highlighted at a recent seminar launching the new guide to electricity in buildings by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers.
As the development of IT systems continues to match the demand for increased speeds and greater network capacity, high-tech structured wiring and cabling networks are becoming commonplace. Although providing new opportunities for contractors and installers, it is essential that the containment for these latest-technology installations can meet future as well as current requirements. STEVE DAVIS explains.
Quick to install and quick to respond to changes — that is how ALAN POTTERTON perceives the benefits of flexible prewired systems under raised floors.
The new guide to electricity in buildings published by the Chartered Institution of Building Services will be invaluable to design and construction professionals requiring easy access to information on electrical services.
Hager’s Klik LDS flexible connection system has provided the lighting-control solution in the new 15 000 m2 House of Fraser store in Croydon. The system helped electrical contractor DIS meet tight installation deadlines,with pressure for the store t open quickly and generate revenue.
Cablofil cable tray is being used to carry mains, data-communications and low-voltage electrical wiring and cabling in refurbishment work covering nine schools in England and Wales.
A range of equipment from Mita is used to carry provide power and data services in the £15 million Unity City Academyin Middlesbrough. Designed by Hickton Madeley, it has been designed as a centre of excellence and features a large amount of IT equipment.
The MLS Connect Digital quick-connection system is described as a quick and easy way of installing lighting-management systems in larger offices.
What you cannot see in indoor air is what you should be concerned about. GRAHAM BENTLEY explains the role of the wide variety of air filtration that is available.
Hot, dry air is not at all comfortable, which is why ALAN BERESFORD argues that evaporative cooling has an important role to play in increasing indoor air quality.
Good system hygiene increases efficiency, improves IAQ – and saves money. VERN KLEIN explains why – and offers essential advice on preventative maintenance.
An integrated unit for dwellings to provide heating, cooling and ventilation has been developed by Diffusion Air Treatment. The Lifebreath IVS (Integrated Vertical Stack) provides fresh-air ventilation with energy recovery. It uses heat from the DHW source and can recover up to 86% of heating energy that is normally lost to atmosphere.
The Air Exchanger series is described by Hitachi as a major step forward in its continued efforts to help improve indoor air quality. This 2-way ventilation system incorporates high-air-quality filters.
LG’s NanoPlasma system is said to help remove microscopic contaminants, dust, house mites, pollen and pet fur. It is installed in the company’s air-conditioning products and also helps eliminate bad odours such as cigarette smoke by trapping the odour particles.
A significant proportion of consultants in the building-services industry generally have a progressive view of the future, according to research commissioned by the organisers of the exhibition H&V 05 at the NEC from 1 to 3 March.
Apprentice recruitment and training in the building-services sector has been declared the top priority for 2005 of the Heating & Ventilating Contractors’ Association. There will be a renewed effort to convince employers that there are real commercial advantages to be gained from investing in training new entrants.
Construction work last year rose by 4% in volume, despite a decrease in infrastructure work, according to the latest figures from the Department of Trade & Industry.
Trox boosted its production rate to two-and-half times its average level to satisfy the delivery demand for fan boxes for two projects at Canary Wharf. Output swelled to £325 000 a week, so that in just three weeks, Trox supplied nearly £1 million-worth of fans boxes for buildings for BP International and Morgan Stanley.
Mitsubishi Electric has reminded customers not to miss out on a share of a £20 million tax rebate by forgetting to claim tax relief on new air-conditioning equipment installed in the past year.
Europe’s largest and further-education development dedicated to training and education in construction is now open in Birmingham. The South Birmingham College Centre for the Built Environment represents the biggest-ever investment in skill development for the region’s construction industry. The building covers 13 200 m2 on a brownfield site in Bordesley Green.
Jasun Filtration has been award ISO 14001 environmental-management standards for its two factories at Bridgwater in Somerset. The company makes air filters, and director Graham Bentley explains, ‘In creating these products, we cause an impact on the environment. By setting up new standards through ISO 14001, we aim to reduce these environmental effects as well as reducing our own costs.’
Southern Electric Contracting (SEC) has acquired BPS, the electrical-contracting business of what was previously Eastern Contracting, from Alfred McAlpine. As part of the deal, Scottish and Southern has acquired the Eastern Contracting name, which is no longer used by Alfred McAlpine.
Three of the main buildings in Manchester’s huge Spinningfields development have had their mechanical and electrical services commissioned by Commtech. Northern-region director Nigel Hersee says, ‘This development was a fast-track project, so keeping to the schedule was critical to the success of the undertaking. We were very proactive in our involvement and worked closely with other members of the construction team to complete the project on target.’
Stories about absenteeism from work abound in broadcast news bulletins and in newspapers. The cost to business of that absenteeism is apparently known right down to the last pound, but the reasons are less understood. News journalists love health issues that might be the cause of such absenteeism, but they generally seem much less concerned about the boring details of putting things right.
It is two years since Terry Wyatt as CIBSE president urged the building-services industry to ‘Adapt or die’ — or find itself out-of-date and unwanted. He was particularly concerned with the role of and future of consulting engineers, for which he saw much of their traditional workload disappearing.
Ductwork industry works to enhance its reputation
Recognising that ductwork is an important service in buildings, an industry association has been working to increase the expertise and reputation of this sector – as PAUL ADLAM and ALAN WEIR told us.
Of the wide range of services that are required in buildings today, both new-build and refurbishment, the ductwork that distributes air is growing in importance. With the latest Building Regulations requiring a high degree of air tightness, leakage can no longer be relied on to provide adequate ventilation, so ductwork is necessary.
Paul Adlam, president of the Association of Ductwork Contractors & Allied Services, asserts, ‘Ductwork is a necessary requirement in most buildings these days. When ductwork is required, the installation is a large part of the services package.’
Unfortunately, the adversarial approach adopted by many contractors during the 1980s and 1990s led to many people leaving the industry.
Adding to that loss of skills and experience is the steady and inevitable loss of older people. And as ADCAS secretary Alan Weir, explains, there was a long period when there was very little investment in youth and training in the ductwork sector.
Something clearly needed to be done, and as an association of a large proportion of installers, manufacturers and suppliers in the ductwork industry formed eight years ago, ADCAS, has seized the initiative. Paul Adlam says, ‘Ductwork installation is a specialist discipline within building services. As specialist companies, ADCAS members had to address training issues — both for the benefit of their own businesses and for the assurance of clients, consultants and contractors higher up the project chain that projects would be executed competently and professionally.’
The training programme by ADCAS was initiated a little over four years ago, and rapidly gathered momentum. Its success has prompted Paul Adlam to put on his presidential agenda the establishment of a skills academy for ductwork apprentices. ADCAS presidents hold the office for two years, and Paul Adlam is not yet halfway through his term, so he has hopes that the foundations for the Academy can be laid during his tenure.
At the last ADCAS annual general meeting, he said, ‘This industry faces a critical shortage of skilled labour. If we don’t do something about training and make ductwork an attractive proposition for school and college leavers we won’t get the young blood we need. I believe that the creation of a ductwork academy that would teach students everything from draughting/CAD and manufacture to installation, testing and balancing is a very practical solution to a very real problem.’
By taking the initiative and developing an implementing a comprehensive training programme, ADCAS is aiming to instil confidence that choosing a member company will contribute to the smooth running of a project and a problem-free installation.
Part of the ADCAS approach to addressing recruitment and training needs has been to raise the age for intakes from member companies from 16 to 17. Alan Weir tells us, ‘Recruits aged 16 dropped out very quickly. Raising the intake age to 17 has improved stability; that single year gives a remarkable difference in maturity.’
The approach to training is based on National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), which are based on ability to do the job, rather than purely on knowledge.
NVQ2 and NVQ3 qualifications have been developed; there is no NVQ1. Bexley College in Kent is the centre in the south of England, with Alliance Learning of Bolton covering the north. The courses are accredited by City & Guilds, with assessors from Bexley College and Alliance Learning.
Gaining an NVQ2 qualification for installing ductwork on site takes two years. NVQ3 is geared up to foremen and supervisors, and nearly half of people with an NVQ2 are progressing to the higher qualification. Long-standing staff receive appropriate accreditation for prior learning.
To develop and accredit a company’s management skills, a diploma course in project and management skills has been established There are six modules, each taking a day and spread over a period of about six months. This diploma is aimed at key people in a company. A 2-day site-supervision course complements the package.
‘The benefit of the ADCAS training programmes to the building-services industry at large and clients is,’ says Alan Weir, ‘that a trained workforce gives uniformity across the trade. Installation work is carried out in the same way — the correct way.’
He used to be with building-services contractor Barratt & Wright in Norwich and is thus experienced at the sharp end. He describes himself in his new role as ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’.
Both Paul Adlam and Alan Weir are pleased with progress, but their enthusiasm is not waning. Both want to see even more progress towards developing professionalism in the ductwork sector.
Paul Adlam in particular believes that the industry needs an all-encompassing qualification covering all elements of the skills needed by a modern ductwork company — estimating, manufacturing, CAD, management and working on site. He believes that the result will be more-rounded people who understand their part in an entire project — both for the benefit of the project and fully exploiting their own capabilities.
The ADCAS initiative followed 15 years of very little investment in youth and training in the ductwork industry. Its success can only be for the good of the building-services industry as a whole and lead to better buildings.
The Construction Manufacturers Partnering Association (COMPASS) is moving on with it pioneering programme to more efficiently integrate suppliers and sub-contractors into the construction process. ALAN KENNEDY reports on progress.
Five companies have teamed up to form the Steam Alliance — a one-stop shop for the complete range of steam systems for the NHS hospital-building programme.
George S. Hall recently joined forces with business school Ashridge to create a new team partnering initiative. Aimed at pushing back customer-service boundaries in the facilities-management market, the 3-day event was held with key clients at Amhuinnsuidhe Castle in the Western Isles.
Faced with controlling one of the most innovative ecological buildings in the UK, GB Innomech decided that industrial-grade equipment would give a far better performance at much lower cost than a standard environmental control system.
Using a Micronics ultrasonic non-invasive portable flow meter in a process application has led to a 75 kW pump being replaced with an 11 kW unit. Annual energy consumption has been reduced from £5698 to £926 for a capital cost of £1500 — a payback of just four months.
Faced with a 20% increase in fuel costs in a year, Anchor Trust has embarked on replacing and maintaining central-heating and hot-water systems across all its properties based on a partnering arrangement with ATAG Heating. Anchor’s fuel bill stood to rise by about £1 million across its 700 retirement properties and over a hundred care homes. 40 plants are scheduled to to be replaced each year.
As part of individually controlled heating systems served by seven centralised plant rooms, Oventrop valves have been used for isolation, regulation and commissioning.
By supplying four bespoke packaged rooftop air-handling units to match the footprints of the plant they replaced, Weatherite contributed to the installation of new air-conditioning equipment at Havering magistrates’ court in London being achieved two weeks ahead of schedule. The work was part of a major refurbishment, including a complete reroofing, that had to be completed without disrupting court business.
Comfort cooling for the staff in a busy kitchen at a holiday park near Weymouth is provided by air conditioning specially designed to cope with the demands of kitchens supplied by Mitsubishi Electric. Features of the unit include an external casing of stainless steel that is resistant to oil and smoke and easy to clean. Andrew Air Conditioning installed the unit, which was chosen because it includes a high-performance oil mist filter.
Fuel consumption has been halved in an RAF hangar on the island of Anglesey following the installation of radiant heating to replace an HTHW system dating from the 1960s.
A single Ferroli Tempra boiler de-rated from 24 kW to just 5 kW meets the total heating and hot-water requirements of a new eco-house near Stroud in Gloucestershire. It is claimed to be the most energy-efficient domestic building anywhere and looks just like a typical Cotswold stone house.
When the internal layout of Phase 2 of the Citygate project in Newcastle upon Tyne changed, Trox adapted the specification of its chilled beams and enabled them to be called off floor by floor, minimising redundant kit.
To meet contemporary performance and hygiene standards, Durapipe’s Friatherm pipework has been used in the refurbishment of Leeds Blood Transfusion Centre as part of the upgrading of all hot- and cold-water services.
Heating for one of the major attractions at Alnwick Gardens in Northumberland, the world’s largest tree house, is provided by an Even-Heat underfloor heating system.
EWS has launched a new service to undertake a wide range of refurbishment projects, replacements, repairing and installing. Work can include air conditioning (comfort and close control) public health, electrical, fire detection, ventilation, water treatment and controls — including building-management systems.
Optional extras for Daikin’s large screw chillers now include heat recovery, inverter fans and fans with high external static pressures. Daikin has also fitted standard filters for both water- and air-cooled chillers with plate heat exchangers.
A thermal-imaging camera that is a derivation of Flir’s proven E-Series provides a quick and easy non-invasive method of monitoring and diagnosing the condition of building structures. It allows the user to image entire rooms, inspect areas that are difficult to access with moisture meters and discover damp behind tiled walls and wallpaper that does not readily water-stain. Leaks can be tracked to their source and the drying process monitored.
Sontay’s latest range of plant thermostats covers a wide variety of typical HVAC applications and is competitively priced.