Internet review

Structural Survey

ISSN: 0263-080X

Article publication date: 8 November 2011



(2011), "Internet review", Structural Survey, Vol. 29 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Internet review

Internet review

Article Type: Editorial From: Structural Survey, Volume 29, Issue 5.

Stephen Todd 19/07/2011

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 establishment

The current “Homepage” includes links to:

  • About us.

  • What we do.

  • Sectors.

  • Contact us.

  • News and information.

  • Services A-Z.

  • Login.

The sub menu comprises:

  • Approvals and listings.

  • Certification.

  • Consultancy.

  • Testing.

  • Innovation and research.

  • Events.

  • Sustainability.

  • Training and accreditation.

The “Spotlight” section includes information on BRE's presentations from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Conference held at Harrogate in June 2011. A snapshot of the BRE's activities in the housing sector were presented. These included:

  • National Refurbishment Centre. This partnership includes suppliers, contractors, retailers and stakeholder organisations seeking ways to create a step-change in the delivery of sustainable refurbishment. The BRE's partners (Energy Saving Trust, British Gas, B&Q, BASF, Gentoo Green, Saint-Gobain, DuPont, Kier, RIBA, LABC and others) have collected hard data from over 500 exemplar projects and are now utilising this evidence to inform the 80 per cent carbon reduction challenge.

  • Victorian Terraces Project. The Victorian Terrace is sited at the BRE in Watford and is a living refurbishment lab demonstrating current and emerging products, materials, design solutions and installation techniques that make solid-wall homes more energy-efficient, sustainable and affordable to heat.

  • BREEAM. BREEAM is a world leading design and assessment method for sustainable buildings. A new BREEAM scheme for housing refurbishment is being developed and piloted on over 200 properties around the UK. A BREEAM scheme for communities also helps planners and developers to improve, measure and independently certify the sustainability of project proposals at the planning stage of the development process.

  • AIMC4. This consortium, including BRE, Barratt, Crest Nicholson, Stewart Milne, H+H Celcon and Oxford Brooks, are developing and applying innovative materials, products and process to meet the Government's Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 energy standard, through innovative fabric-first solutions.

  • BRHG. The Building Research Housing Group (BRHG) is a social housing providers’ network in partnership with BRE. Through events, a helpline, documents and special projects, members share information, knowledge and experience for improved value and best practice solutions.

The “News headlines” section includes:

  • Building our links with India. BRE Global has appointed Kamil Hamid as Country Manager for India. Based in Chennai. Kamil will act as the liaison between Indian clients, regulators and specifiers and BRE Global experts in the UK.

  • Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) Approval of Sprinkler Heads. The approval of products awarded by LPCB, means that a sample of the product has, amongst other things, complied with a series of tests/assessments against defined, publicly available standards that were compiled by experts from the industry along with other interested parties. For consistency of manufacture, the processes are audited to ensure that all products manufactured should comply with the Standard. It follows therefore that approval of any single product is actually only valid at the point that this single product exits the production process. Once the product is outside of the control of the client of LPCB, it is also outside of the control of LPCB. Approval of a new product is not a guarantee of life expectancy. Approval is awarded because the products and process meet the required standards at the time of testing and approval. For all sprinkler heads listed by LPCB there is a general advice note that after 25 years of installation, samples of heads should be retested, and thereafter every five years. This is an advisory note relevant to the ongoing maintenance of the system and does not form part of the approval of the product. A number of LPCB listed sprinkler heads also contain an additional technical advice note suggesting the removal and testing of samples every five years after installation. This five-year period is suggested because of the relatively novel nature of the products and as such they have limited or no historical database of life expectancy. It is important that all stakeholders understand that the testing of products that may arise from the advisory notes is outside of the approvals process and does not involve LPCB. The testing is subject to a contract between the test sponsor (e.g. building owner or maintenance company, etc.) and the testing organisation and is therefore bound by commercial confidentiality.

  • New guidance on designing “assisted living” homes. New guidance on designing new and refurbished homes that will allow those living with long-term conditions to remain at home and lead independent lives has been produced. The new guidance publication, “A Guide for Assisted Living, Towards LifeHome 21”, has been prepared by the BRE, 3DReid Research and RIBA, as part of the Technology Strategy Board’s Assisted Living Innovation Platform. Information is presented on housing standards, ergonomics, access, space requirements, digital connectivity and other issues, it provides practical guidance to those deciding on the appropriate design, specification, construction and adaptation of assisted living enabled buildings. The aim is to create flexible and adaptable homes equipped with the digital services that will provide safe and comfortable internal environments, and will support the occupants’ health and wellbeing and their contacts with friends, family, carers and the wider community.

  • BRE Health. “BRE Health” is a new initiative that builds on the advice given in the guide by providing a simple rating system for assisted living facilities such as care homes, retirement villages and individual homes. BRE Health uses a range of disciplines and evidence to assess whether a building meets the requirements of its occupants. It addresses set criteria, such as access to amenities, healthcare services, green space and public transport, etc., connectivity to broadband, availability of communal facilities, the location and ease of use of controls, the standards of security, medical and social support, and the provision of telecare and telehealth.

The royal institution of chartered surveyors

The structure of the main menu has not changed since the last review.

The “Related News” section includes:

  1. 1.

    New RICS Pan-European survey on Sustainable Building Certification. RICS Germany Sustainability Professional Group recently carried out a statistical pan-European survey between four different certificate issuing organisations: The German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB), BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and High Quality Environmental standard (HQE). The survey explored both currently certified commercial buildings as well as buildings registered for certification. The aim of the survey and of its subsequent publication, launched in Germany in May 2011, was to provide market participants with an objective overview of the state-of-play in the growing market for sustainability certificates. The survey showed that:

    • Sustainability certificates as measurable indicators of performance are firmly rooted in the real estate market and, as such, enjoy a growing market acceptance.

    • There are regional preferences for individual systems that may have the potential to develop into standards before long.

    • There is a strong preference for local certification systems in countries with national systems.

    • Decisions for specific systems are often determined by investors looking for cross-border comparability of their real estate assets.

    • However, although the figures for 2009/2010 may be impressive, one should not forget that in comparison with the total building stock these still only represent a small percentage of new construction projects. But this could soon change in view of new options to have also existing buildings included in certification (i.e. those not subject to new construction works).

    • Looking at the ever-growing number of certification systems, RICS feels that from an investor's and property professional's point of view, it will be crucial to create greater comparability, transparency, coordination and consistency between these individual certification systems.

  2. 2.

    Housing policy. On 21 June 2011, Professor Ian Cole from Sheffield Hallam University provided the second out of four European Housing Forum (EHF) lectures. He discussed whether public policy can shape housing market outcomes to achieve social and economic goals, or whether policy merely shadows the process of change and responds belatedly. The theme of this year's lecture series of the EHF, of which RICS is co-chair, is “Affordable housing for all – policy implications of shrinking budgets”. Ian Cole, professor of housing studies, provided the audience with an update to a paper he had written in 2007. Four years in which little has stayed the same. Professor Cole's paper has suggested that the “shaping” mode of state interactions with the housing market tends to be provisional, time limited and partial. In considering the balance between “shadowing” and “shaping”, three developments seemed especially relevant in recent British housing policy: the shift from tenure-centred to market-centred policy approaches; the use of new forms of market intelligence to guide policy measures, and the assembly of more flexible forms of intervention, steering a course between direct provision, on one hand, and light-touch strategic steer, on the other. The shift from tenure-centred policies to a more holistic market-centred focus in the UK meant that the essence of any public policy that sought to “shape” rather than “shadow” market processes would require the development of interventions to produce a dynamic housing system, responding pro-actively to emerging social and economic changes, rather than lagging behind them. The debate that followed focused on the various housing policies across the EU, the many differences, and whether there are any best practices that could be transferred.

  3. 3.

    New rules for recognising RICS qualifications in Europe. The Professional Qualifications Directive is essential for RICS members who seek new opportunities in, or intend expanding their service activities to another Member State. On 22 June, the European Commission published a Green Paper with a view to modernise the Directive. RICS and members are invited to comment on new approaches to improve cross-border mobility and provision of services. The update of the current legislation is motivated by the need to remove the remaining legal and practical obstacles. The Green Paper explores ways to build on achievements under the existing Directive but also sets out options for modernising system of recognising professional qualifications. Among the new approaches, probably the most important is the introduction of a professional card which could make the recognition considerably easier. The card issued by a competent authority of the home Member State where the qualification is acquired could then allow the professional to demonstrate his/her credentials (having the necessary qualifications and experience, being authorised to practice) to consumers, employers and relevant authorities in another EU country. Other principles under review are the common platforms to reduce differences in training requirements, partial access to regulated professions and the automatic recognition. RICS is working with other professional bodies on the simplifications of the rules as well as for maintaining standards of public protection, especially in areas where knowledge of local legislation and regulation is important (e.g. the construction sector). RICS believes that strengthening the recognition of professional qualifications and increasing the mobility of professionals are vital for ensuring higher skills, standards and consumer confidence.

  4. 4.

    Modus. The July/August issue of Modus, the magazine of RICS, looks at reasons for optimism for the profession after a tough few years for the property and construction sectors. Ten industry figures, including new RICS President See Lian Ong FRICS, RIBA President Ruth Reed, Knight Frank's Andrew Shirley and Gleeds’ Stuart Senior, share their causes for optimism for the profession. They also asked five members with very different specialisms why they are passionate about work and how they have found happiness in their chosen careers. Meanwhile they look at how we can build for happiness and show how Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres are transforming patients’ lives, and there is also an infographic exploring the different ways happiness and satisfaction is measured throughout the world. The legal advice column looks at the removal of immunity for expert witnesses, the business advice column provides tips on how to stay healthy and happy at work, and Stephen Hill MRICS provides a localism update.

The information under “North West” includes:

  1. 1.

    2011 RICS Awards North West.

  2. 2.

    Northern CPD events:

    • RICS Northern CPD Programme.

  3. 3.

    Press releases:

    • North West housing market remains subdued.

    • Rents increase rapidly in North West.

    • Farmland prices in the North West reach record high.

  4. 4.

    Assoc RICS.

  5. 5.

    RICS matrics.

  6. 6.


  7. 7.

    Practice areas:

    • About professional groups.

    • Journals.

    • Construction market survey.

    • Housing market survey.

    • Energy fact sheets.

    • Surveying safely guide.

  8. 8.


    • Information on the RICS Valuer Registration Scheme.

  9. 9.

    RICS sustainability.

At global, national and local level RICS and its members are committed to creating and maintaining a healthy environment not only for today but also for future generations by adhering to the following principles:

  • Protection of the environment through the preservation of natural capital.

  • Promotion of social equity by ensuring access to services for the benefit of all.

  • Support of a healthy local economy, including high levels of employment.

The property care association

Formerly part of the BWPDA, the PCA is a trade body for the structural waterproofing, wood preservation, damp proofing, flood remediation and structural maintenance industries in the UK. PCA members offer professional advice and help in their area of expertise – approved members include damp proofing companies, structural waterproofing, structural maintenance and timber preservation experts, specialising in rising damp, flood remediation, basement conversions, structural damage, dry rot and wet rot. The PCA has launched a free online information centre dedicated to the subject of rising damp. The video includes an interview with rising damp expert Graham Coleman, who has also produced a paper available to view at the online centre, entitled “Rising Damp – The Truth Not The Myth”. There are also fact sheets, technical documents and a research paper from Dr Zhongyi Zhang of the department of Mechanical and Design Engineers at The University of Portsmouth. In the paper, entitled “A Review Of Rising Damp In Masonry Buildings” Dr Zhang writes that: “rising damp is an age-old and ubiquitous problem. It has been causing many problems to masonry buildings with health, environmental, social and economic implications”.

Engineering Nature's Way

“Engineering Nature's Way”, a new resource for people working with Sustainable Drainage and flood management in the UK. Engineering Nature's Way is using the most appropriate techniques to mimic the natural paths and processes of surface water, from source to sea. It's a best practice approach which favours “at source” solutions and a catchment philosophy to controlling flow, volume and quality. This site provides an opportunity to share news, opinion, information and best practice for people working in local and central Government; developers, consulting engineers and contractors. This is effectively a knowledge sharing website and is the initiative of Hydro International. It brings together information with respect to Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) as this is probably due to become compulsory in England and Wales.


The idea of Bimstore came out of a general lack of good quality Building Information Modelling (BIM) components available from UK manufacturers. The content on Bimstore is free and is constructed by Space Group Designers in cooperation with manufacturers. The BIM components are virtual models of the actual manufactured product and contain all the data for design, analysis, scheduling and specification. They can be used in the design process through to construction and facilities management.

Timber Decking and Cladding Association (TDCA)

This site describes itself as “the complete guide to choosing, specifying, sourcing and using quality timber cladding materials”. The Timber Decking and Cladding Association is an independent technical and advisory organisation. It is focused on the promotion of quality materials, installation best practices and aftercare of timber decks, associated landscape structures and timber cladding. It was established as the Timber Decking Association in 1999, the Association has been the source of the information and guidance that has helped to grow the market for outdoor wood significantly. In 2009, the Association was encouraged by the supply chain to play a similar role for timber cladding. The Association became the Timber Decking and Cladding Association. This web site is part of our campaign to improve knowledge and understanding of the timber cladding choices now available. Providing up to date generic technical information and guidance about all aspects of cladding design is a core aim. This will be reflected in new a new Code of Practice which is under development and CPD learning tools.

Metropol parasol

The Metropol Parasol (also known as “Las Setas” or “mushrooms”) comprises six large timber parasols shading the Plaza de Encarnacion in Seville, Spain. It comprises six 21.5?m high timber trunks and a network of timber beams thought to be one of the largest timber structures ever built with a surface area of more than 11,000m2 and protects an archaeological site. There are more than 3000 connection nodes at the intersections of timber elements. The award-winning design for Metropol Parasol was developed by architect Jürgen Mayer H and Arup. The timber structure is around 150?m long, 75?m wide and 28?m high. Arup carried out experimental investigations to reach the best solution and decided to develop the structure in a micro-laminated wood (Kerto). The timber is protected from the elements with a concept developed by the architects based on a waterproof polyurethane coating. The project´s success was a result of an integrated design team of architects, structural engineers, building services, fire prevention specialists and timber contractors with the courage to embark on an engineering adventure and to face new challenges.

The structure has four intertwined permeable levels. The basement level has a viewing platform over the archaeological artefacts found at the site. The first level is a 2,155?m2 marketplace, and on the second is a square elevated 5?m above the market to be used for performances and shows. On the third floor is a restaurant, and on the fourth level is a public panoramic balcony with stunning views of Seville's old quarter. The parasols, constructed in a mushroom-shaped timber lattice, frame the structure. The layout and shape of the parasols create shadows which move continuously throughout the day. The project is a new landmark for the city of Seville.

Crucial for the behaviour of the Metropol Parasol are the 3,000 connection nodes at the intersections of the timber elements. Engineers at Arup and FFM developed an innovative connection detail based on glued-in steel bars, which at the same time are optimized for rapid erection on site. A thermal analysis revealed that the hot climate of southern Spain would be a particular challenge for the connection detail, engineers had to develop a new bonding process, specifically for use in this climate. Any detail adjustments and pre-assembly of the connection elements were carried out in Germany before the 3,000 elements were sent by truck to southern Spain. The elements were polyurethane coated on-site by a local company before final assembly.

There was a desire to minimise the points at which the loads are transferred to the ground and the final design solution resulted in only two of the six mushrooms transfer their loads directly to the Roman remains via their 6?m diameter, 400?mm thick concrete cores. The project cost €90 m and opened in April this year.

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