Chapter 003, Green Design and the Construction Process

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To achieve this, the demonstrations have utilised innovative materials, new building technologies, new forms of contract and set up more communicative integrated teams. Reductions in defects and improvement of client satisfaction have an economic impact, but also improve social and environmental performance.

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The construction industry currently has a major skills shortage which will only worsen without more recruitment into the industry. Communities have traditionally grown around areas of commerce and local companies service these cities, towns and settlements. National companies have regional sections and whilst a network of subcontractors can travel to service various areas of the country, the majority of employees prefer to work relatively locally. It is with this in mind that employers are recruiting local people to be trained on long-term refurbishment and regeneration projects. At the end of the programme they can move onto another project or perhaps stay on the programme in a maintenance capacity.

On a national scale the industry gets much-needed recruits and on a local scale employment increases and money is ploughed back into the local economy. Portsmouth County Council Gas Central Heating Partnership provided United House Limited with the opportunity of a long-term refurbishment contract on which to train members of the local community. The four year programme included the installation of gas central heating systems for Portsmouth City Council in approximately homes.

Because the strategic partnership provides continuity of work, United House has set up an alliance with a local training provider, to help draw people from the local community. They gain the skills and qualifications that provide not just temporary work but a life-long career. All parties involved contributed to a win-win situation: Portsmouth County Council made an empty property available for the training, United House supported the training and the training approach was recognised as eligible for government support. To date, United House has given employment to two trainees. Management of the finished product can have a significant economic impact — a poorly maintained building will, in the long run, cost a great deal more than one that is well-maintained.

Similarly, careful management of energy and water can substantially reduce operational costs. Good environmental design can in fact lead to much lower figures. This type of economic impact is well-documented and easily demonstrated; what is generally less tangible is the impact of buildings on staff costs. Absence from work can be reduced and productivity increased by improving the environment in which people work. Staff motivation and well-being can also be affected by introducing feedback systems, people generally feel more valued when their opinions are asked about the buildings in which they live or work.

Many show lower operational costs with no increased construction costs, but the majority can at least demonstrate that extra construction costs are recovered during the first five to eight years through reduced running costs. Tenants are restricted to ICT-based companies.

The building is energy-efficient and provides high comfort levels, with heating and cooling by way of heat pumps allied to the largest geothermal system in the UK. The planning system is fundamental in delivering sustainable development by setting a vision, then controlling how developments fit the vision. Prevailing social attitudes influence that vision.

The current trend sees regional assemblies preparing social and cultural strategies, whilst local authorities are investigating social inclusion and producing community safety strategies. It is often the element of social success that is most difficult to predict and measure when planning developments.

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The central government guidance explained in the introduction to this section attempts to address the social arena. For example, Planning Policy Guidance note 3 is a key guidance on affordable housing. Community strategies and other actions from Local Strategic Partnerships often have a strong social focus. The recent Sustainable Communities Plan from the ODPM lists the key requirements for a sustainable community, some of which are social:. It is when regeneration is required, generally due to social breakdown in an area, that decision makers realise that economic and environmental measures are insufficient to improve an area.

Developers are now needing to assess the social capital they are dealing with, and acting to increase it. There are still problems in agreeing a long-term vision that satisfies all levels of the development process. Local government regulation has sought to encourage authorities to enter into partnerships with other interested bodies to deliver long-term sustainable benefits to the community.

Though classified as a public sector project, the project involved significant input from elements of the private sector and the Lowry Trust Development Company. The bridge has Development Company. The bridge has formed a fundamental part of the regeneration of the area into a social asset for Greater Manchester. Progress in covering social sustainability through the planning system has involved the use of public consultations. Local authorities, LSPs, developers and designers are using community involvement to help their decision-making.

Community participation has been formalised through the development of schemes such as Enquire by Design and Planning for Real. Such schemes ensure members of the local community are treated with respect, and provide methodologies to gain useful outputs from consultation. While the public generally does not engage with regional and local plans, there is greater concern for the potential impact of individual developments. In formal public consultation processes, the public can often be the source of design ideas, as well as current and potential uses of the project.

From the developers perspective this can also help minimise trouble and maximise support, during construction and use, by fostering a good relationship with the local community. School Works sought to explore how improvement in secondary school buildings might enhance academic achievement. Questions were asked about how the fabric of the school could be changed to create a sense of pride and pleasure amongst pupils and staff, within existing budgetary constraints.

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School Works was funded by DfES to investigate these issues, effect practical change within a partner secondary school, and inform government policy. The aims of School Works were to revolutionise the process of designing and procuring a school building, and to draw out the connections between the school building and the social, emotional and educational development of young people. School Works helped to redesign Kingsdale School in Southwark as a test case. The most important aspect of the project was the full participation of pupils and teachers in the plan and design.

Increasing the proportion of affordable housing in new developments has sometimes proven both controversial with the professional development community, yet beneficial from the perspective of the local community. Changes in demographics and the family unit have exerted pressures for change in provision of housing throughout communities. In areas where the population is increasing, such as south east England, local authorities and developers are trying to respond to housing demand.

Where population is decreasing, large-scale housing regeneration and renewal is underway. Authorities throughout the UK are also considering the need for affordable housing in relation to social regeneration and key worker housing. Partnerships between private developers and housing associations, through Section agreements, are becoming a common way of delivering mixed tenure developments.

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The new village has a mix of homes ranging from large detached properties and luxury apartments to retirement homes and affordable housing. When density is increased, high quality transport and leisure facilities are vital for the cohesiveness and functionality of the community. The ODPM has highlighted the importance of green spaces and many local authorities are preparing green-space strategies. Transport infrastructure, particularly provision of amenities to encourage use of public transport are often part of planning agreements.

In addition to the affordable housing aspect, Netherne also sought to address issues of public amenity, public transport access and public open spaces.

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The Section agreement called for Gleeson Homes to sponsor a mini-bus service for residents over the first three years of the life of the development. After three years a commercial service should be viable. Existing public green spaces a bowling green, cricket pitch and nearby football pitch were all maintained or enhanced by the developer, and a village green will be created at the heart of the development.

As with the economic impact, high quality design can lead to improvements in the performance of the building in social terms. These impacts are difficult to quantify, but are generally synonymous with the economic issues, such as improved satisfaction, productivity, health and safety. Constructing Excellence is a trailblazer organisation in facilitating the uptake of the DQI.


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The Design Quality Indicator DQI has been developed to help all stakeholders in the built environment to gain more value from the design of buildings, and to assist in improving the quality of buildings. Much value can be gained by involving end users closely in the design stage, and the DQI provides a template for doing so. Basketball hall at Jesse Boot. The design development took 12 months and flooring was a key issue.

It was agreed with users that high quality flooring would provide a better sporting experience, which in turn would create better performance. The results of this investment are two fold: the dance studio has tripled its business and the sports hall is now the recognised location for all major sporting events in the region. The DQI score shows the build quality gained maximum marks and social integration scored very highly.

There are other ways to involve users in design. Residents from the Estate Development Committee contributed to the design and layout of the homes, working closely with the developer and the design team. A group of residents, together with other representatives from the project team visited construction sites as well as completed homes that were built using these technologies before they gave their approval for the Nightingale scheme. The key quality improvements of the scheme which have a significant impact on the long-term sustainability of the scheme are in the areas of space provision and sound and thermal insulation standards.

The wall and ceiling construction exceed the new Building Regulations Part E for airborne and impact sound insulation quite significantly. Good thermal insulation levels, combined with the provision of efficient heating systems led to an average SAP level of 97, thus keeping the running cost for residents to a minimum.

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The construction process is a vital stage at which the construction industry can prove its commitment to its workforce, and also interact well with the general public. Health and safety has the potential to be the most significant social and economic impact during construction.

The Health and Safety Executive provides specialist resources for construction, and a partnership approach has been taken to form Working Well Together. Improved communication is an important ingredient for success, both with the workforce and the surrounding community. Members of the workforce will be safer and more productive if they know what is going on, and know they can approach management with any concerns.

Sometimes disturbance cannot be avoided, but informing local residents and businesses can lessen negative impact. Recruiting and retaining talented people is the most urgent business challenge facing the construction industry. Change and improvements can only happen through people, and their efforts in the workplace. Through providing respect and the right conditions for its workforce, the construction industry will reap the benefits.

Arising from this work, the Respect for People Indicators allow organisations and projects to measure and compare their performance and identify and prioritise actions.

Once the priority areas have been identified, the supporting toolkits facilitate more detailed evaluation and focus on actions for improvement. The project demonstrated that quality of worker facilities is important. Contractor Interior has all but abandoned the use of portacabins for fit-out team offices. At Woolgate Exchange, the construction managers, consultants and contractors shared a modern open-plan office with IT and CAD systems, meeting and reception rooms. A high quality restaurant was provided for the construction workforce.

Creating the right environment is one thing, building good relationships is another.