Internet review

Structural Survey

ISSN: 0263-080X

Publication date: 1 August 2006


Todd, S. (2006), "Internet review", Structural Survey, Vol. 24 No. 4.

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Internet review

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

Building Research

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

BREEAM is the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method for buildings. It assesses buildings against a range of environmental issues and gives a score (on a scale of Pass, Good, Very good and Excellent) depending on performance. The building receives a BREEAM Certificate that can be used by an organisation to promote its environmental credentials. BREEAM assessments are carried out by independent, licensed assessors who can be contacted via the website at ( by anyone wanting to register their building for assessment.

There are schemes for a number of different types of commercial and public buildings and for housing:

  • BREEAM offices;

  • BREEAM schools;

  • BREEAM retail;

  • BREEAM industrial;

  • BREEAM bespoke; and

  • EcoHomes (BREEAM for housing).

BREEAM Awards. The four developments highlighted this year for their outstanding achievements in environmental design and management are:

  1. 1.

    Bespoke BREEAM Winner. The Mills Building, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Weybridge.

  2. 2.
    • Developer. DEFRA & the Veterinary Laboratories Agency.

    • Architect. Architon LLP.

  3. 3.

    BREEAM Industrial Winner. Allerton Bywater Networkcentre, Leeds

  4. 4.
    • Developer. Network Space, Langtree Group Plc and English Partnerships

  5. 5.

    EcoHomes Winner. Debut at Willans Green, Rugby, Warwickshire

  6. 6.
    • Developer. Redrow Homes

  7. 7.

    BREEAM Offices Winner. Scottish Natural Heritage Headquarters, Westercraig, Inverness

  8. 8.
    • Architect. Keppie Design

    • Lead Contractor. Robertson Property Ltd

Tougher energy requirements for EcoHomes. A new, revised version of EcoHomes has recently been launched. EcoHomes 2006 includes tougher energy requirements to encourage carbon dioxide reductions and bring the scheme into line with the latest Part L of the Building Regulations. The Government recently announced that all homes with English Partnerships or Housing Corporation funding must meet the new EcoHomes 2006 “Very good” standard, as an interim measure until a strengthened Code for Sustainable Housing comes into effect later this year.

In addition to raising energy credit thresholds to further encourage and reward CO2 reductions, energy savings will result from the new stipulation of A+ energy labels for refrigerators, freezers and cooling systems, and from rewards for low-energy lighting systems that exceed Building Regulation requirements.

Other changes designed to cut down carbon emissions include three new credits for renewable energy systems, and a regraded NOx credit that is easier for developments using small scale renewables to achieve.

Among the revisions involving other issues are:

  • a new credit for minimising flood risk;

  • recognition of responsible sourcing of non-timber materials (timber sourcing is already included, but has been modified to take account of the increased use of modern methods or construction); and

  • credits for providing a Home User Guide (where construction site impacts are monitored), for signing up to the Considerate Constructors Scheme, and where the “Secured by besign” award has been achieved.

Innovative housing standard. Manufacturers of innovative systems, elements and components for constructing residential buildings can now sign up to a new certification standard – LPS 2020. The arrival of LPS 2020 should spur the growth of a market previously hampered by the lack of a widely recognised formal certification standard. “The new standard will increase the confidence of insurers, mortgage lenders and regulators in innovative systems,” says Peter Bonfield of BRE. “It will help the UK house building industry to adopt innovative systems, and so contribute towards accelerated delivery in the UK’s house building sector.” The LPS 2020 standard has been developed by BRE Certification, with support from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), to enable the assessment of innovative systems that have yet to gain a performance track record in the UK. The standard covers all innovative systems regardless of type, material or form of construction As well as requiring the manufacturer to demonstrate that the system meets Building Regulations, the standard addresses some additional performance characteristics including durability, resilience, ease of repair and some aspects of whole life performance and adaptability.

There is a growing demand for innovative building systems. The Housing Corporation and ODPM spend £1.1 billion a year on building affordable housing using modern methods of construction (according to Housing Corporation statistics), including £0.5 billion using off-site manufacturing approaches. Yet growth in the market has been hampered by the fact that many innovative systems are unproven, simply because they have not been used over any substantial length of time.

Victorian and Edwardian homes – renovate or demolish? BRE is carrying out an extensive survey into the technical, economic, environmental and social implications of retaining homes built in the UK between 1840 and 1914. The project is being funded by the BRE Trust as part of its research programmes.

The outcome could have far-reaching effects on the UK housing market. The survey will inform developers’ decisions on whether and how to renovate Victorian and Edwardian houses. It will also enable comparison between the costs and benefits of renovating homes and demolishing them to build afresh. The main focus of the BRE survey will be on “sustainability” both in terms of the materials and technologies used for renovation and refurbishment and the on-going economic and environmental effects of living in the houses after refurbishment. Heating, lighting and sanitation, for example, will have to meet or exceed the best modern standards.

The Royal Institution of Chartered

The Latest News section of this site includes information on:

  • Grand Designs Live 2006 which details events on: “The Built Environment” – focussed on building to time, cost and quality; “General” – residential development, planning, party walls, building control, development rights, easements etc.

  • Conservation techniques and demonstrations.

  • RICS to guide intangible business asset valuation. The RICS has published new guidance to enable the accurate valuation of intangible assets such as reputation and databases.

  • London aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 15 per cent by 2010 and will foster more “decentralised” renewable energy, the capital’s mayor Ken Livingstone has pledged. The “challenging new targets” in the London plan envisage the cutting of carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2015 and by 60 per cent by 2050. Developers will be asked to find one-fifth of their energy from local and renewable sources such as wind power rather than from central power systems.

  • Construction of the world’s longest tunnel in North East China. This is progressing smoothly and is due to be completed by 2008. The 85.3 km long tunnel will be used to transport some 1.8 billion cubic metres of water annually for the inhabitants of China’s Liaoning Province, at a cost of 5.2 billion yuan (£343 million). Although only eight metres in diameter, the tunnel will run through 50 mountains and under 50 rivers before reaching the central area of Liaoning, which is the traditional industrial base of China, reports the People’s Daily newspaper. The water diversion tunnel is being dug by three huge boring machines, which will create the hole needed to divert water away from mountainous areas and into the dryer central regions, where water per captia is less than 700 cubic metres. Official world standards state that an area with less than 1 000 cubic metres of water per capita is classed as an area with a “serious” water shortage.


This site has been running for some 6 months and has more than 350 recruiters registered. It is being used by recruitment consultancies, recruitment agencies and surveying and property firms.

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

Defra’s core purpose is to improve the current and future quality of life. One department has brought together the interests of farmers and the countryside; the environment and the rural economy; the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Defra’s aim is sustainable development – defined as: “development which enables all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life without compromising the quality of life of future generations.” Under the overarching aim of sustainable development, Defra has five strategic priorities:

  1. 1.

    climate change and energy;

  2. 2.

    sustainable consumption and production;

  3. 3.

    protecting the countryside and natural resource protection;

  4. 4.

    sustainable rural communities; and

  5. 5.

    a sustainable farming and food sector including animal health and welfare.

Defra also announces the Business Resource Efficiency and Waste Programme (BREW). This programme will use revenue generated from increases in landfill taxes to provide services to business. Business can receive advice and support on improving resource efficiency measures, minimising waste production.

Energy Saving

The Energy Saving Trust is a non-profit making organisation, funded by government and the private sector. It was set up after the 1992 Earth Summit and has two main goals:

  1. 1.

    to achieve the sustainable use of energy; and

  2. 2.

    to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

They encourage energy efficiency and the integration of renewable energy sources into the economic fabric of society. To achieve this they promote the use of cleaner fuels for transport and better insulation and heating efficiency for buildings and homes and champion small-scale renewable energy, such as solar and wind power. Through their programmes they provide expert advice as well as grants to encourage the more efficient use of energy in homes and vehicles across the UK.

EST also provide free best practice guides, technical advice, tools and training to help building professionals go beyond the Building Regulations.

CMS Acoustic

CMS Acoustics offers advice to specifying, supplying and installing acoustic products. They provide solutions that meet the requirements of Part E, BB93 and other noise regulations, whether in the construction or industrial sector.

The site gives details of the Regupol® range of floor products BSW; Vertiface wallcoverings and the first acoustically approved ceramic tiling system. The site is effectively a specifiers guide which allows users to define the areas of acoustics and to search for products more easily. The site details product information, datasheets, news and case studies.

Building Cost Information Service (BCIS)

BCIS is the UK’s leading provider of cost and price information for construction and property occupancy. BCIS provides knowledge through:

  • online services;

  • publications, bulletins and price books; and

  • consultancy and research.

The BCIS cost guides are the basis for insurance reinstatement and rebuilding cost assessments for residential property. The on-line service allows users to:

  • calculate relevant costs for a particular house or flat;

  • print out a table adjusted to the current date, and property location;

  • make all the adjustments that are available; and

  • produce a report.

This information will also be particularly useful to those involved with the production of Home Condition Reports (HCR).

Stephen Todd