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HEALTH & SAFETY


with new. Traditionally constructed buildings have fewer options available for improvement compared to modern buildings due to their intrinsic construction details and materials. For instance, the social housing sector has benefited from a multitude of guides and advice on the refurbishment of high-rise dwellings. The benefits associated with such projects are not only in energy efficiency but also aesthetic.


Another option available for façade improvement of high rise building is overcladding. This is particularly suited to high rise dwellings as the benefits from energy efficiency improvements are immediate. One downside is the high cost of this system, depending on design and materials, when compared to the more basic external wall insulation (EWI) systems.


The specific building usage is an important factor in the decision making process. It has been demonstrated that traditional and historic buildings can be used in a sustainable manner as long as certain criteria are fulfilled. Research carried out by Wallsgrove demonstrated that pre-1900 buildings in the Justice Department estate can be more energy efficient than the great majority of similar modern buildings. However, these results are dependent on the specific usage of these properties when compared to similar modern buildings. In fact, after reviewing the Display Energy Certificate information available for public buildings it is clear that the great majority of buildings do not have good ratings. Even new builds find it increasingly difficult to achieve a high rating with an acceptable budget.


NEW BUILD CONSTRUCTION PERFORMANCE IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR ESTATE


The latest changes to the Approved Document


Part L 2013 became official in April 2014 and introduce further constraints for new builds. Specifically, new build high rise dwellings will find it difficult to achieve the requirements of AD Part L 2013 when using curtain walls. As explained previously, unitised curtain walls are the most cost effective façade system for this type of construction. The public sector has had a number of successful new build projects in terms of energy efficiency ratings. For instance the Brent Civic Centre has a rating of BREEAM “Outstanding” and manages to bring under one roof different departments from 14 separate buildings. However, the main challenge is the long term performance of such complex buildings, both from an energy performance and financial perspective. Complex modern façades are extremely costly to maintain and require constant attention if they are to sustain the intended level of performance.


The public sector estate faces many challenges in the quest for improved energy efficiency and sustainability, and not least from modern façades. The key will be finding the right balance between preserving the quality of front-line services and effecting cost efficiency measures, while at the same time adapting to a shifting legislation context and improving the performance of the building fabric.


By Tudor Pop, Associate Director CBRE (Building Consultancy - Façade Engineering)


LEGIONELLA – BACK TO BASICS?


A


ndrew Steel, MD of Airmec reminds us that there are no magic wands when it comes to Legionella control – but just throwing money at the problem


is not the answer Avoiding Legionella outbreaks is a constant concern for any building or facilities manager and there is certainly no shortage of advice to be had; especially since the guidance and regulations were updated last year. The challenge is to find your way through the maze and understand what inspectors are looking for, and devise a regime that is both effective and affordable for your premises.


The guidance is written by experts with the cumulative benefit of massive amounts of experience: in other words it is good stuff. Take time to absorb it, act appropriately, make sure your staff training s up to date and you should have no problems. Of course, budget is not the main issue here, and the potential consequences of an outbreak far outweigh the matter of the hefty intervention charges HSE inspectors can levy if they don’t like what they see. Nevertheless, signing up for the latest big and probably expensive idea will rarely provide a panacea. Do take time to ponder how you can best balance the law and code of practice guidance with your real-world budget. The current bible for Legionella control, published by the Health and Safety Executive, is the 4th edition of what is known as “ACOP L8”, the Approved Code of Practice and Guidance on Regulations for the Control of Bacteria in Water Systems. To be clear, an ACOP is not actually a law, but it does enjoy special legal status. The fourth edition, published in 2013, aimed to simplify and clarify the advice. In practice the main changes it introduced centered on removing the technical guidance, which is now published separately as HSG274. It is only upon reading the fine print of HSG 274, Parts 1 to 3 dealing respectively with evaporative cooling systems, hot and cold water systems and other systems, that you may find that some of the intended clarity could be lost on you! However, the way to achieve certainty and clarity is probably not to throw money at what might not be a problem after all. It may be far better to take a holistic view of the systems in your premises, review your schematics and risk assessments; and then tailor preventive measures to what you can afford and have the resources to do properly.


There’s no point in fitting devices if you are unaware of their limitations. Look, for instance, at the trend towards UV sterilisation of taps and shower heads, which might seem, at first glance, to be a panacea – indeed they are a good innovation. Such devices are, however, only part of a potential solution when combined with a robust water management plan. There may be less capital intensive alternatives which will be just as effective. Can you afford to manage that risk as well as to service the capital cost and maintenance of the units? If so, all well and good, if not, perhaps a more pragmatic approach is called for?


There is, at the end of the day no magic wand: risk management always starts with a comprehensive risk assessment, which should be treated as a live working document and not something that can be filed away for two years. It might be thought that every responsible organisation already has such a live risk assessment…but surprisingly few do: there is a lot of work out there which is either outdated or just plain inaccurate. Yet the cost of dealing with a positive lab analysis or even an outbreak rises dramatically, as does the cost of business disruption, if there is not a good risk assessment to work from.


HSE inspectors rightly look for proof that you understand the risks in your premises and have a plan to deal with them – and they want to see documented proof that you carry out that plan. Whether that plan involves fitting brand new hardware or flushing old taps regularly or, more likely, a combination of both is up to you. Just be sure that you have enough knowledge of your own systems to make the right management choices and never, ever take your eye off the ball. There are no fit and forget solutions to be had.


www.airmec.co.uk


PUBLIC SECTOR ESTATES MANAGEMENT • JANUARY 2015


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