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FS38 - The Gap between Design and Build: Construction compliance towards 2020

Written by: CIC Start Online

"The Gap between Design and Build: Construction compliance towards 2020" by Edinburgh Napier University and The Morrison Partnership

SUMMARY

Zero or low carbon homes are principally defined by a set of design and construction standards and performance specifications. It is generally assumed that those standards will be implemented on site by contractors. In the main, where model or exemplar homes are constructed it is necessary that the detailed design and performance will be meticulously followed. While energy efficiency may be proven in these exemplars, it is not clear if the same standards can be achieved in volume house building or renovation work where greater reliance is placed on a wider and perhaps less informed workforce. Quite often, over ambitious product efficiency claims, design deficiencies, the implementation of poor detailing or specification, inappropriate workmanship on site, or just user mis-management may contribute to a sub standard achievement of the original design aims and reduced energy consumption aspirations. Whatever the route of the under-performance, compliance has failed.

While much emphasis has been placed on design tools to model energy usage, innovative materials to achieve greater energy efficiencies, specification and design development to provide low carbon houses, this is only the theoretical side of procurement. The practical delivery of low carbon homes is just as critical and dependent on good standards of workmanship on site as it is on the design aspirations of detailing, finishes and the materials in use. It simply takes under-performing systems, ill fitting materials, unsealed gaps, impossible detailing, poor construction standards and user mis-management to turn an energy efficient design into an energy wasteful building.

This scoping research project aims to identify the potential for further targeted research in the following areas:

  • Domestic and non-domestic buildings.
  • Refurbishment and new build projects.
  • Design, Building and Management factors.

A total of 12 distinct areas of co-ordinated research all feeding into a deeper understanding of achieving designed performance in the construction industry in the coming years.

There is increasing hearsay that many energy conservation techniques (passive and dynamic) are failing to live up to their theoretical expectations. Without valued assessment as will be reported following this research, such beliefs will continue to grow and devalue the case for such goals. The results of the proposed research may help to identify the fact from the fiction. That will help to reinforce the case for better understanding and a more committed application of the necessary techniques and standards.

The target areas below will be used as a background into points that will need more research and scope. This feasibility study will simply look at these areas and acquire the methodology required to achieve them, look at exemplar cases where they occur and be a means of guidance to branch out into more research. They are as follows:

  1. Particular specifications and materials (damage and robustness during fit).
  2. Off site and modular construction after site arrival.
  3. Damage and robustness of materials during delivery and storage. (Fit for use).
  4. Workability and site handling.
  5. Knowledge and understanding among the workforce.
  6. The short term cost reduction/profit maximising culture - what threat does it present?
  7. What is at greatest risk of failing if poorly applied on site - a) passive construction conservation methods or b) equipment based conservation methods.
  8. Fitting and fixing processes. (Is the work designed to standard material dimensions? Do fixings damage the integrity of the material and compromise its function?)
  9. Workmanship and standards culture on site.
  10. Construction sequences.
  11. Consequences between fitting and hand-over. (Unintended consequences.)
  12. Construction errors and re-working materials.
  13. Services voids and sealing generally.
  14. Recycled and reused materials (are standards compromised?)

Drivers

The key drivers for this project include:

  • The need for the construction industry and the supply chains associated to ensure that the design, specification, construction and use of energy systems and construction techniques matches original specification, design, construction and management aspirations;
  • The Scottish Government’s Sullivan Report 2007 especially Workstream 7a Compliance;
  • The Scottish Government’s 100% renewable energy target by 2020;
  • The growing threat of global warming and climate change, and the specific national target of reducing carbon emissions by 42% by 2020.


Key words: refurbishment, new buildings, construction

AUTHOR

Julio Bros Williamson, Edinburgh Napier University

For The Morrison Partnership

The outputs of this study will be disseminated in due course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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