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September 2008

Free guide to topsoil for the construction industry
Topsoil is an important aspect of many civil engineering, public and private landscaping projects where it provides support for the growth of vegetation. The TOPSOIL business of British Sugar plc, in conjunction with Tim O’Hare Associates and GeoDyne, has produced a free, 12-page booklet entitled “Soil Structure - The Essential Guide” covering all aspects on how to get the best from topsoil... more
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See the latest in timber structures
An exhibition running in Bristol until the beginning of November showcases a selection of cutting edge timber structures. Following on from last year’s successful Inspiring Futures exhibition on wooden buildings, The Architecture Centre is presenting a second exhibition from The Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World... more  back to top

Less red tape will benefit builders and householders
Householders wanting to extend and improve their homes will benefit from the relaxation of planning rules which come into force on 1st October 2008, say the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). Changes to permitted development rights for householders will mean that many home extensions will no longer require planning... more  back to top



Tests show that most new builds
are not airtight

Air tightness testing specialist Chiltern Dynamics says almost all new buildings are failing to reach current levels of required airtightness and cited lack of attention to detail in key areas as one of the main causes in both domestic and commercial buildings.

In-house test statistics show that more than 90% of buildings are achieving less than 10m3/h/m2 @ 50Pa, the regulatory requirement under Part L, but only 24% are achieving less than 5m3/h/m2 @ 50Pa. ‘This is of concern, as all the indicators suggest that the bar will be raised much higher when Part L is revised in 2010, ’ said Energy Section Head Tom Gregory.

Overlooking important details is one of the principal causes of failure and will also prevent buildings achieving an enhanced performance. ‘A prime culprit is dot and dab plasterboard, a particular problem behind kitchen units where boarding may not meet the floor. There needs to be a continuous seal between wall and floor, for example a continuous ribbon of plaster on the bottom edge of boarding, or appropriate sealing around the skirting. Also, a large coat of the block work behind plasterboarding should reduce leakage in this area.’ Mr Gregory suggested.

‘Another common problem is leakage around service voids and risers opening into unventilated spaces, for example, soil vent pipes into loft spaces and services into plant rooms. Duct work, cabling or pipe work could be sealed at every point it enters the riser or void, alternatively the riser or void could be sealed where it exits the ventilated space.’

He added, ‘Passing the air tightness test is not onerous, but it does demand close attention to detail in these and other areas.’

Keith Hall, editor of Green Building magazine, commented "The construction industry will need to pull its socks up if new buildings are to reach the higher levels of the Code for Sustainable Homes. With Wales promising zero carbon or CSH level six for all new homes by 2011 and England aiming for the same standard by 2016, airtightness levels will have to improve".

For further information on air tightness testing, thermal simulation and thermographic inspections contact Technical Adviser Graham Tomic on 01494 569830 or email

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Manchester plans exterior insulation project Manchester City Council has unveiled plans to bid for funds designed to help those living in Victorian properties save on fuel bills. Almost half of all Manchester's housing stock was built before 1919 meaning that it is of solid wall construction - cavity wall insulation cannot be used... more  back to top

Zero carbon house planned for Penrith
A locally based Cumbrian building company has submitted plans for a 'zero carbon' house in the village of Greystoke, near Penrith. Nielsens Limited say their proposed dwelling will be traditional in appearance, with cladding of local sandstone and recycled slate roof... more   back to top

Friends of the Earth teams up with green energy supplier
Environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth is so impressed with the green credentials of electricity supplier Good Energy that they have formed a partnership with the company to fight climate change. Good Energy is the first and only 100 per cent renewable electricity supplier in the UK... more  back to top

Welsh Assembly 'should not hurry for zero carbon'
Manufacturers are telling the Welsh Assembly Government not rush to bring in new regulations aimed at tackling climate change but which could also inadvertently make some companies in North Wales uncompetitive compared to counterparts in England... more  back to top 

New green school will have huge underground heat exchanger
A new school in Dorset is to install a massive ground to air heat exchanger, which makes use of the constant temperature of the earth to warm air in the winter, and cool it in the summer. The technology can add as much as nine degrees centigrade to cold winter air, and cool the heat of summer by up to fourteen degrees... more   back to top

That roundhouse finally gets planning permission
The now renowned turf roofed roundhouse built at Brithdir Mawr, near Newport, Pembrokeshire by Tony Wrench and Jane Faith has at last received retrospective planning permission. A ten year long planning battle has been resolved... more  back to top



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Forthcoming Events

From Sept. 9 to 9 Nov.
Timber Talent South West: Architecture for the 21st Century - Bristol

Sixteen of the most inspiring examples of the use of timber in contemporary UK architecture, which are located in or designed in the South West.

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