Internet review

Structural Survey

ISSN: 0263-080X

Article publication date: 17 July 2007



Todd, S. (2007), "Internet review", Structural Survey, Vol. 25 No. 3/4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, 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

The Building Research Establishment(

The BRE’s web site main menu includes:

  • home;

  • about BRE;

  • BRE by sector;

  • a to z of services;

  • key services;

  • news;

  • latest news;

  • press archive;

  • constructing the future;

  • training & events;

  • job opportunities;

  • e-newsletter;

  • search site;

  • contact us; and

  • how to find us.

The Latest News section includes information on:

  • OFFSITE2007. Companies from the UK and abroad are building the first houses designed to demonstrate compliance to the new Code for Sustainable Homes. The Code, launched in April 2007, has been developed by Communities and Local Government (CLG) based on BRE’s EcoHomes method to enable a step change in sustainable building practice for new homes. It provides a means of assessing the sustainability credentials of new homes for energy, water, materials, waste, pollution and other issues.Companies such as Kingspan and Stewart Milne are ambitiously aiming to demonstrate how they would conform to the two top levels of the Code, Level 6 and Level 5 respectively. This means that both houses will have to be as near to “zero carbon” as possible.Kingspan Off-site’s two-bedroom “LightHouse” will have impressive levels of efficiency in terms of construction methods, energy use, CO2 emissions and carbon footprint and is being designed in line with Lifetime Homes and Scheme Development Standards (SDS). Every building material and component used in the design has been specified to optimise the building’s overall sustainability credentials. A highly insulating, airtight building fabric has been developed to provide generous daylight levels. This includes effective solar control and integrated building services based around a platform of sustainable technologies covering water efficiency, renewable energy technology, passive cooling and ventilation, as well as mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR).The Stewart Milne Group is aiming to show that sustainability is commercially viable in mass produced housing. They are building demonstration houses to exhibit these attributes.

  • M&S and BRE’s five-year sustainable retail partnership. Marks & Spencer has announced that it is to enter into a unique five-year partnership with the BRE. The partnership, which is the first of its kind in retail, will see M&S and the BRE team work together on ways of helping M&S achieve its Plan A* targets to become carbon neutral, send no waste to landfill and extend the use of sustainable raw materials by 2012. M&S is increasing its store space by up to 20 per cent over the next five years and, in the biggest programme in the UK, is continuing to refurbish all of its stores. BRE will provide advice on ensuring these programmes are as sustainable as possible and will develop a set of “Sustainable Retail Construction” guidelines for new and existing M&S stores. These guidelines will cover everything from the analysis of initial store designs and the selection of construction materials, to auditing and working with key suppliers to deliver sustainable construction methods.

  • BRE’s FIREGRID project features in BBC “Horizon” programme. FireGrid is a three-year £2.3 million project supported by the DTI-led Technology Programme and due for completion in April 2009. The project is led by BRE and includes the University of Edinburgh; Arup; ABAQUS UK Ltd; ANSYS Europe Ltd.; Vision Fire & Security Ltd.; the London Fire and Security Planning Authority and the Institute of High Performance Computing, A*STAR (Singapore). FireGrid aims to develop a prototype emergency response system that, in the event of a fire, will provide fire fighters with information concerning the likely sequence of events before they unfold.

  • RDA to fund ambitious refurbishment project. The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) will be providing substantial funding for a high profile project that will move refurbishment up the housing agenda and help bring thousands more homes back on to the market. The £2.7m project will apply the latest techniques in energy efficient and intelligent design to a Victorian stable block to demonstrate the important role that refurbishment can play in delivering low carbon housing for the twenty-first century. The stable block which BRE has made available for renovation poses all of the problems associated with pre-1919 housing including solid brick walls, sash windows, a clay tile roof, dampness, disrepair and poor thermal performance. As well as pushing the boundaries of environmental good practice, the refurbishment specification will focus on meeting modern needs. The building will incorporate intelligent products and digital communication infrastructure to monitor building performance and enable the provision of tele-care, workstations, education and home entertainment. The aim is to kick-start a step change in refurbishment standards nationally and demonstrate the art of the possible. The stable block will be refurbished as an exemplar housing project with an education facility to showcase the latest refurbishment technologies and techniques, and a training centre for top-up courses and knowledge promotion in construction skills and crafts.

  • BRE Trust publishes guide to Internet Protocol in buildings. New research has indicated how vulnerable UK businesses and homes are to the ever growing reliance on Internet Protocol (IP), the language that computers use to communicate with each other over networks. Two out of three home wireless local area networks (WLAN) have been found to be open to attack, and this year data security breaches are set to increase, raising serious risk management concerns for businesses. In response to this, the BRE Trust has published Internet Protocol: an introductory guide. This informative guide explains the challenges faced in anticipation of the increased use of IP and its application to building services, such as: CCTV/security; Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP); Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC); and lighting and entertainment systems.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors(

The main menu of the RICS web site includes:

  • About RICS;

  • Built Environment;

  • Property;

  • Environment;

  • Management;

  • Training; and

  • RICS Services.

There are Quicklinks to:

  • About RICS;

  • What is Surveying;

  • Find a Surveyor;

  • RICS Library;

  • RICS Books; and

  • Contact Us.

Helpful Guides include:

  • Buying a home;

  • Selling your home;

  • Letting a property;

  • Understanding property surveys; and

  • Order RICS Guides online.

Regulating RICS members:

  • RICS Rules of Conduct;

  • Regulatory Reform;

  • Complaints Procedures; and

  • Disciplinary Cases.

RICS News section includes:

  • Construction of new leaning tower announced. It has been announced that construction work to build a new leaning tower in Pisa, Italy will begin in June just three miles from the original monument. The modern glass and steel building, designed by architect Dante Oscar Benini, will be home to a number of apartments and offices, the Associated Press reports. Unlike the original landmark this new tower will not really be leaning. Instead it will simulate a tilt through a clever optical effect, making it look like the real thing. It will also be exactly the same height as the original, standing some 189 feet tall. Also unlike the real tower, construction work on Benini’s creation is expected to be completed within a relatively short space of time. It is believed the contemporary version will be ready within the next two and a half years, while construction on Pisa’s great monument began in 1173 and continued, with two long breaks, for the next 200 years.

  • Climate change education pack for schools. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has dispatched an education resource pack to schools throughout England. Available to every secondary school in the country, Defra’s new resource pack includes a number of educational tools, including An Inconvenient Truth, a film presented by Al Gore. Other items in the resource pack include a selection of films commissioned by Defra, in addition to links for online support and further information. The pack was developed by Defra, in partnership with the Department for Education and Skills.

  • Review of the Permitted Development Order 1992 – Final Report. Heriot-Watt University, Brodies LLP and Scott Wilson Scotland Ltd have published their joint research findings on the Review of the General Permitted Development Order 1992 and the Review of the General Permitted Development Order 1992. Recommendations are founded on improving the clarity, simplicity and ease of understanding, consistency and currency of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992.

  • Construction begins on NW China’s largest mine. Work has begun to construct the largest coal mine in Northwest China, helping the country to increase its annual output and meet the growing demands of its rapidly expanding economy. The $336m mine is being built in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region of China and is expected to take around 42 months to complete. According to state media it will be the first mine in Xinjiang to have a yearly output capacity of 10m tonnes and, it is hoped, will generate profits of $188m per year. According to the BBC some 80 per cent of China’s electricity comes from coal and as a result of this huge demand the country plans to build around 544 new coal-fired power stations. This means that more mines will be needed to bring up the coal from the ground and since Xinjiang is estimated to be home to 40 per cent of China’s total coal reserves it could see more mine construction in the near future.

RICS Opinion section includes:

  1. 1.

    Transforming Existing Buildings: The Green Challenge. If we are serious about combating climate change then we must address the 40 per cent of carbon emissions that come from our buildings. The steps that can be taken in people’s homes are becoming clearer and more widely accepted but action still needs to be taken in offices, retail units, hotels and industrial buildings. The report, Transforming Existing Buildings: The Green Challenge sets out practical steps needed to encourage the refurbishment of commercial buildings to ensure they meet the best energy efficiency standards. It was commissioned by RICS and carried out by Cyril Sweett to address the need for more information on how to make existing commercial buildings more energy efficient. The report also contains a set of 15 key recommendations from RICS for the government and the property and construction industries to ensure these measures are put in place. From painting walls lighter colours to installing insulation, a range of measures can have an impact on energy use in buildings and ultimately the environment. In response to the report RICS is calling on the government to:

  2. 2.
    • Ensure all the buildings it owns and uses are brought up to high energy efficiency standards. Newly built government offices such as the new Home Office building have energy efficiency measures and retrofitting other buildings would encourage others to do the same.

    • Reduce VAT from 17.5 per cent to 5 per cent on retrofit and refurbishment as this would make it cheaper to make changes to buildings. The government has already signalled its intention to lower VAT to encourage the uptake of energy efficient products including light bulbs and should extend this include the refurbishment of buildings.

    • Consider other tax breaks as an incentive to introduce energy efficiency measures.

    • Introduce a compulsory code for sustainable buildings, developed in association with the industry, which would set out minimum environmental standards that have to be met when refurbishment takes place. This creates a level playing field that all those carrying out refurbishment work have to meet.

    • Ensure the planning system and the Building Regulations help energy efficiency rather than hindering it. The government must ensure these systems are weighted in favour of energy efficiency measures. One important change would be the introduction of a presumption in favour of micro generation equipment in Planning Policy Statement 22.

  3. 3.

    RICS view: Lyons Inquiry into Local Government. Sir Michael Lyons has revealed the findings of his inquiry into local government and has called for a full revaluation of all domestic properties. In addition, Sir Michael has called for the introduction of regular revaluations at intervals of no more than five years and new bands for council tax. On business rates he has asked the government to retain the national structure at present but called on them to look at long term reforms including localisation.

  4. 4.

    RICS view: Household Taxation and Local Charges. The Lyons final report supports RICS’s recommendation relating to the revaluation of all domestic properties for council tax. RICS is of the opinion that revaluation is well over due and that this should be one of the government’s priorities. For council tax to be fair and transparent it is essential that the information used is up to date. Further deferment of revaluation will only make its introduction more difficult as the changes in value resulting from any revaluation will be greater as the time between revaluation increases. The report also supports our recommendation for regular and consistent revaluations of no more than five years and this reinforces the necessity for revaluation to take place as soon as possible and the priority it should be given by the government. RICS supports the introduction of additional bands at the top and bottom of the current structure as this would enable fairer redistribution of the council tax burden and we also support the introduction of separate bands for Inner London to reflect the unique shape of the property market. The recommendation to abolish the saving limits in council tax benefits for pensioners is also supported. RICS are in favour of investigating further taxes for domestic waste collection and also recommend possible taxes for parking and landfill. The RICS supports the retention of the RPI cap on the national level of business rates as this is an important safeguard, ensuring stability and predictability for businesses.The RICS also supports the introduction of supplementary local rates, we recommend that businesses have a say in the matter and that the revenue is hypothecated to purposes likely to benefit businesses in the locality. However the RICS does not support the localisation of business rates and strongly recommend that business rates remain on a national basis as this ensures stability and predictability which is desirable for all businesses. They strongly recommend that the Non-Domestic Business Rate (NDR) is not relocalised and we are also against local income and sales taxes as we see these as unworkable.

Office of Public Sector Information(

The main menu of the RICS web site includes:

  • About OPSI;

  • Contact Us;

  • FAQs;

  • Site Map;

  • A-Z Index;

  • Glossary; and

  • Viewing Advice.

Operating from within the National Archives, the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) is at the heart of information policy, setting standards, delivering access and encouraging the re-use of public sector information. OPSI provides a wide range of services to the public, information industry, government and the wider public sector relating to finding, using, sharing and trading information. The merger of OPSI with the National Archives in October 2006 enables the combined organisation to provide strong and coherent leadership for the development of information policy across government and the wider public sector. OPSI has an important role as a regulator of public sector information holders for their information trading activities. The Information Fair Trader Scheme (IFTS) founded on the principles of openness, transparency, fairness, compliance and challenge helps re-users of public sector information to know that they will be treated reasonably and fairly. OPSI also investigates complaints against public sector information holders made under the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations. OPSI provides the Click-Use system for obtaining a licence to re-use Crown copyright and public sector material through an online licensing process and is responsible for the Information Asset Register (IAR) that lists information assets held by the UK Government with a focus on unpublished material. OPSI also provides a secretariat to the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI), which advises Ministers on how best to encourage the re-use of public sector information. Operating from within OPSI, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO) continues to exist and fulfil its core activities including responsibility for the publication of legislation and the management of Crown copyright.

This site also includes details about The Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/991), which implement Articles 7, 9 and 10 of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) which have come into effect.

United Nations Environment programme Environment for Development (UNEP)(

UNEP’s mission is “to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations”. The web site is structured as:

  • About UNEP;

  • Publications;

  • Events and Meetings;

  • Awards;

  • Employment;

  • UNEP Store; and

  • The Billion Tree campaign.

The current News section includes:

  • IPCC confirms that cost-effective policies and technologies could greatly reduce global warming.

  • A new assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that the world community could slow and then reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases.

  • UNEP Wins Prestigious USEPA Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award for the Second Time.

  • UNEP Champions of the Earth Awards Make Big Splash at Gala Ceremony in Singapore.

  • UN Engages Banks to Light Up Rural India.

There are also details of the United Nation’s study “The Buildings and Climate Change Report” on potential energy savings of Europe’s energy consumption. It states that there is a potential saving of up to 20 per cent. The report also states that the main challenge to achieve emission reductions primarily in existing buildings by cutting energy waste.

Westenhanger Castle(

Westenhanger is the site of a fourteenth century Quadrangular castle. The web site gives details of the ten-year conservation programme to the castle and the proposed work to the sixteenth-century barn, which has a hammer beam roof.


This website details the company’s modular buildings. The site includes video and interactive photography.


This site provides information on DEHN UK guides including lightning and surge protection. Information on National and International standards is also presented.

Sustainable Development Research Network (SDRN)(

The Sustainable Development Research Network (SDRN) aims to contribute to sustainable development in the UK by encouraging the better use of evidence and research in policy-making. Membership of SDRN is free and open to all. The main menu includes:

  • Home;

  • News;

  • Events;

  • Publications;

  • Research Reviews;

  • Sustainable Transport;

  • Engineering;

  • Spatial Planning and Development;

  • Business Resource Efficiency;

  • Collaborate;

  • Jobs and Training;

  • Links; and

  • About.

Health and Safety(

IOSH is Europe’s leading body for health and safety professionals. There are over 30,000 members worldwide, including almost 10,000 Chartered Safety and Health Practitioners. The Institution was founded in 1945 and is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that sets professional standards, supports and develops members and provides authoritative advice and guidance on health and safety issues.

The site also gives details of the “occupational health kit” to help non-medics recognise early signs of work-related ill health. The kit also suggests actions for managers.

Ordnance Survey(

This site gives information on the new network of mapping and data centres. OS Sitemap is the new large scale mapping product which replaces Superplan and Siteplan.


This web site gives practical specific guidance to small businesses (including construction) on their environmental obligations. There is a guide to explain the current and future environmental legislation which includes Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs) which are set to become a legal requirement in 2008.

The Passive Fire Protection Federation(

This site includes details of passive fire protection. The Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) was introduced in October 2006. This places the responsibility for fire safety on building owners and employers. The designated responsible person must complete a Fire Risk Assessment to be compliant with the law.


This site details the responsibilities for Health and Safety following the CDM Regulations 2007. Responsibility for Health and Safety will also be on those who commission and pay for developments as well as designers. The definition of construction also includes demolition and dismantling. The main menu for this section of the web site includes:

  • What do I need to do?;

  • What’s in it for me?;

  • How do I find out more?;

  • Legal requirements;

  • How do I notify projects (F10)?; and

  • CDM 2007 launch and events.

Asbestos Regulations(

This consultancy web site details “the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006”. It also includes a podcast which discusses:

  • Changes to Regulation 4 (duty to manage);

  • Changes to exposure levels;

  • Facilities Manager’s duty to outside contractors;

  • Employer’s responsibility to train staff;

  • Textured coatings such as Artex; and

  • The meaning of sporadic low intensity work.


This company supplies roofing membranes, tapes and ancillaries. The site is structured as:

  • Home;

  • Products;

  • FAQs;

  • Accreditation; and

  • Info.

The information section includes:

  • Specifier’s Guide;

  • Comparison Chart;

  • Installation Guide;

  • COSHH;

  • Types of roof;

  • Why should I use Permavent?;

  • Distribution;

  • Energy Efficiency; and

  • Links.

Google 3D Warehouse™(

This additional capability of Google allows users to explore the virtual world. It is possible to download 3D models from Google 3D warehouse for use in CAD drawings. It is also possible to publish designs to the Warehouse as well as enabling the model to be displayed in Google Earth™.

Stephen Todd

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