Structural Survey and the Internet

Structural Survey

ISSN: 0263-080X

Article publication date: 1 July 2004



Todd, S. (2004), "Structural Survey and the Internet", Structural Survey, Vol. 22 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Structural Survey and the Internet

The Web site information included below includes two key and other informative sites. If there are any other interesting sites or sources of information that you have found useful, please e-mail me at

Web sites

Building Research

The “Latest News” section of the BRE's Web site gives information on the following:

  • Designing roofs to mitigate climate change effects. Green roofs are vegetated roof covers, with growing media and plants taking the place of bare membrane, gravel ballast, shingles or tiles. The number and placement of layers vary, but all generally include a waterproofing layer, drainage, growing media and plants, covering the entire roof deck surface. A group of industry experts have concluded that green roofs are best able to cope with the expected impacts of climate change – higher wind speeds, heavier rainfall in winter and longer, hotter summers. A key feature of green roofs is the cover given to the waterproofing membrane, which prevents exposure to UV light and extremes of weather. Green roofs cope well with windy conditions, and release rainwater slowly thereby reducing the risks of flooding. The green roof can have other benefits when significant numbers are built in urban areas, such as improved air quality and the filtering of acid from rainwater. But as the initial construction costs are higher than other design options, some form of government incentive scheme may be needed to kick-start the use of green roofs in the UK urban areas.

  • Quality construction products from papermill sludge. A number of construction products incorporating the sludge waste by-product from papermills have recently been explored in a project funded by waste resources action programme (WRAP). The aim was to find alternative uses for the waste material that is currently disposed of in large volumes in landfill sites. The main products include sludge softboard, hybrid MDF, cement bonded sludge board while the secondary products include sludge tile, low-density cement blocks, sludge hardboard.

  • Fuel cells. Fuel cells transform energy stored in a fuel into electricity and heat. They are similar to batteries, which also convert energy stored in chemical form into electricity, except that they make use of externally supplied fuel and so do not need recharging. In the first trial of its kind in the UK, a fuel cell system developed by Scottish-based company, Smart Energy Ltd, will be trialled in a test house at BRE's Watford site. In this trial, an alkaline fuel cell combined with heat and power (CHP) system (with lead acid battery energy storage) will supply electricity to one of BRE's unique full-scale test houses, which mimics the requirements of a real home with a range of simulated occupancy patterns. Heat produced by the unit will augment the house's gas fired central heating system. Among the fuels that can be used is hydrogen, offering the prospect of an almost limitless supply of zero-emission fuel for “clean” energy generation from renewable power sources. Fuel cells can be produced in a wide range of sizes, so fuel cell CHP plants could be installed in individual homes, large office buildings or small industrial facilities, and run on hydrogen either pumped directly to the plants or converted from waste energy streams or biomass.

  • Web tool for selecting reinforced concrete repair. The increased size of the concrete repair industry has led to many cases of concrete repair being undertaken in an unstructured way. This has resulted in the cases of inappropriate repair, maintenance and refurbishment which have needed further work. The simplicity and flexibility of the Web tool allows less experienced engineers as well as experts to use a model that will predict the time to failure the repair of the structure, provide guidance on the most appropriate repair strategy, and identify the most cost- effective way to meet the client's service life requirements bearing in mind the nature of the structure.

The model is supported by a guidance document that

  • assesses the process by which concrete repairs are procured and highlights the pitfalls and benefits of typical contractual arrangements;

  • provides a framework of developments in the new European Standards which will influence the selection of repair techniques;

  • presents guidance on the appropriateness of repair techniques, including: patch repair,

    • –electrochemical processes,

    • –corrosion inhibitors, and

    • –surface treatments.

    The Web tool can be accessed at the Web site

  • Making use of small volume wastes. A BRE-led partners in innovation project has been investigating the potential for making greater use of the many and varied small volume waste materials available.

The Royal Institution of Chartered

The new information presented on this Web site includes the following

  • Building Regulations update – Part E sound – Robust Standard Details. The amendment to Part of the Building Regulations – robust standard details comes into effect on 1 July 2004. The information presented on this update from the ODPM includes the government's view on Robust Standard details (RSDs), the latest situation with schools, how the RSD process will work and implications of carrying out pre-completion testing. It is also possible to download the Building Regulations – update to Part E, Sound (PDF).

  • Housing market strength. The RICS housing market survey England and Wales for three months to March 2004 shows house prices were rising, in March, at the strongest pace since October 2002. Price rises remain strongest in Northern England and Wales. Although new buyer enquiries changed little in March, newly agreed sales continued increasing. This section also gives details on national house price inflation, stocks of unsold properties and expected sales and prices.

The “Press Release” section gives information on:

  • Egan Report: good ideas but where is the beef?;

  • market on the march again;

  • waste crisis looms says RICS;

  • RICS commercial property survey, Quarter 1, 2004; and

  • setting the standards across the world.

    The “Features and Research Reports” section gives information on:

  • “What's on after Kyoto”;

  • Part L2 Conservation of fuel and power and Thermography;

  • housing market renewal – making the Pathfinders succeed; and

  • can the waste planning system deliver.

The Carbon

The Carbon Trust works with UK business and the public sector to cut carbon emissions and capture the potential of low carbon technologies. An independent company set-up by Government to help the UK meet its climate change obligations, is the Carbon Trust that creates practical business-focused solutions to carbon emission reduction through energy efficiency, carbon management, and investment. The Carbon Trust's annual funding amounts to approximately £50 m per year due to grants from Defra, the Scottish Executive, the National Assembly for Wales and Invest NI. In addition, the Carbon Trust manages the Government's energy efficiency Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme.

The e-Journal of Nondestructive

This valuable resource provides information on nondestructive testing and includes civil engineering and building applications. The main menu includes the following.

  • index;

  • virtual library;

  • NDT by A-Z;

  • forum;

  • abstracts;

  • books and journals;

  • events; and

  • archive.

The US Agency for International Development's

GreenCOM's approach is to integrate several social disciplines that deal with how humans act towards their environment to foster environmentally sustainable behaviors and practices. The main menu includes:

  • ideas at Work;

  • about GreenCOM;

  • projects – GreenCOM works with developing country community groups, schools, and government agencies on strategies that can produce measurable behaviour change;

  • GreenCOM publications – GreenCOM publications include project reports, archives of GreenCOM update, human nature and books; and

  • resource centre – the GreenCOM Resource Centre is maintained for environmental educators and communicators around the world.


This Web site includes information about H+H Celcon products including:

  • new plus blocks;

  • thin joint system;

  • Jämerä concept;

  • product literature;

  • BBA certificates;

  • technical and health and safety datasheets;

  • technical section – gives information for the correct design of aircrete blocks for thermal, acoustic and structural criteria; NBS clauses, U-value tables and COSHH datasheets are also available;

  • CAD drawing page which includes dxf details;

  • news page showing the current press releases;

  • in Focus section, which gives information on key industry issues and publishes information on the Building regulations Parts E and L and “Modern Methods of Construction”.

English Heritage

English Heritage Buildings specialises in the design, manufacture and assembly of period-style oak-framed buildings.


This site gives details of Microplanner network analysis software. The disciplines which differentiate serious management from simple planning are those concerned with:

  • setting cost and time baselines;

  • monitoring progress against those baselines;

  • taking remedial action and rescheduling; and

  • reporting and communicating management intentions.

This Web site gives details of the Sarna green roofing system. It was originally developed in the early 1990s and has been tailored to suit UK climatic and construction conditions.

This site gives details of a method to pipe natural daylight down from the roof into building interiors. The sunlight is intensified and directed through a silverised aluminium tube.

British Board of Agrément

The BBA's new Web site contains fully downloadable versions of Agrément Certificates, with search facilities giving opinion on product performance, durability and compliance with the Building Regulations. Other information is given on the following.

  • Quality Management Systems Certification (ISO 9001).

  • Product Certification to European Standards.

  • Approved installers for injected cavity wall insulation and other materials.

This site gives details on the proposed Work at Height Regulations 2004 which replaces existing legislation and will apply to all buildings, building owners and building owners' agents.

This site gives information on the engineered timber floor I joist “Finnjoist”.

Arch Timber

This site includes information on arrange of timber protection products:

  • Tanalith E – pressure treated timber;

  • Tanatone – pressure treated timber with built in colour;

  • Tanalith Extra – pressure treated timber with built in water repellent;

  • Vacsol Azure – treated timber; and

  • Vacsol Aqua – treated timber.


This extensive site gives information on a wide range of insulation and membrane products including Kingspan “nilvent” which is a new breathable sarking membrane.

Polypipe building

This Web site includes information on:

  • recycling solutions – rainwater harvesting systems;

  • soakaway solutions – infiltration trenches and filter drains; and

  • attenuation solutions – attenuation structures.

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