Tag Archives: #buildingservices

Monitoring and maintaining swimming pool water quality

As we dive into Water Quality Month, what better topic to discuss than swimming pools?

Summer is starting to wind down, and many of us will be using these next few weeks to enjoy the comfort of our private swimming pools and spas.

Water Quality Month is here to remind us all that any pool or spa, big or small, should always be kept clean and regularly tested. Proper maintenance standards will ensure your pool remains clean, safe, and free of any potential maintenance hazards.

Water quality management is key

Swimming pool water management is often regarded as an art and science of its very own.

Achieving the perfect level of cleanliness while simultaneously balancing the right backwash and water replacement techniques has a steep learning curve, but will pay off in the end.

A consistent testing regime will provide any pool owner with the necessary data to make effective adjustments and ensure water quality meets the highest standards.

Test, test, test!

As any pool owner knows, active pool hygiene management helps prevent dirty buildups and kills hazardous bacteria. But regular testing can also help you optimise your pool cleaning techniques to ensure you’re engaging in the most cost-effective and safe pool management.

Regular monitoring can help address maintenance problems that may lead to bigger issues such as filter damage, failing systems, and chemical overdosing.

Some of the problems and concerns that a good water testing regime can address and improve include:

If your disinfection levels are up to scratch

Adequate dosing and balance of chemicals are critical for controlling bacterial growth and maintaining excellent water quality.

Whether or not backwashing and water replacement are being done correctly

The cost of water is on the rise, and you’ll want to know if you’re spacing out your water replacement at decent intervals. Efficient backwashing must be calibrated to keep your filtration system running properly.

If chemical dosing is well balanced

Improper chemical treatment can damage your pool equipment and be harmful to swimmers. Regular monitoring will ensure your pool and your guests remain safe.

Water treatment plant monitoring

Regular water testing will help assess the status of your water treatment plant and help catch any possible issues early on. Some plants may be under strain, and you’ll want to address any potential repairs before it’s too late.

Filter bed condition

You’ll want to monitor your pool’s filter bed and make the necessary replacements as often as necessary.

As we’ve previously discussed, pools can be a great luxury, but with great luxury also comes great responsibility. The consequences of poor pool maintenance can be dangerous and can lead to water-borne illnesses like E. coli and  Legionnaires’ disease.

Water quality and pool safety go hand-in-hand

The correct use of chemicals, a well-fitted filtration system, adequate circulation, and regular monitoring of pH levels are the best-combined methods for maintaining a safe and healthy swimming environment.

By engaging in these practices, we can guarantee our pools and spas will remain safe and enjoyable for all.

If you’re a pool or spa owner, you can always reference the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group (PWTAG) code of practice to address any issues or concerns regarding water quality treatment methods.

August is water quality month!

Every August, we celebrate National Water Quality Month!

As we come off the tail end of the global pandemic, cleanliness and hygiene have never felt more important. In the UK, we often take for granted that our homes have access to one of the safest supplies of clean running water in the world.

However, when the first domestic water supply was developed in 17th century London, clean drinking water was a commodity reserved for only the wealthy elite. The need for clean water supplies was born out of centuries of disease. Widespread access to safe water supplies didn’t happen by accident.

We’ve come a long way in combining engineering and creative design to establish the modern water systems we enjoy today.

A brief history of clean water systems

Centuries ago, acquiring potable water was a long and arduous process. Most people had to travel to wells, collect rainwater, or visit faraway conduits to bring back water to their homes.

In 1613, the first major water engineering feat was completed in the opening of the New River, whose function was to bring clean and potable water to London. Unfortunately, in those early days, domestic water was reserved for the city’s elite who implemented a rudimentary system of wooden pipes to get water delivered to their homes.

As more people began to recognise the safety and convenience of domestic water, companies capitalised on the growing demand and brought drinking water to homes across the social strata. By the mid-18th century, most houses in London were connected to the New River.

Finally, the industrial revolution of the 19th century brought about major engineering innovations, including those to improve water distribution. The development of low-pressure steam pumps and basic filtration meant that water could be moved at greater distances, making clean access easier and safer than ever. Iron pipes replaced the wooden ones of the past, and by the early 20th century, water became a nationalised utility across the UK.

Though it took centuries for water to become a basic commodity, ongoing technical innovations laid the foundations for what we mostly take for granted today – a safe cup of water from the tap.

Clean water and clean air – two fundamental needs

Although concerns about water safety might be a thing of the past, a new problem that seems to be gaining traction is access to clean air.

Air quality has declined due to industrial emissions, energy production, and greenhouse gasses. When it comes to poor indoor air quality, the main culprits are a combination of biological and industrial pollutants that proliferate in our homes and workspaces.

Just as we now assume water in our homes to be clean and safe, we should hold those same standards for the air we breathe.

Fortunately, advances in technology are helping us maintain healthy air quality with the assistance of air purifiers that reduce pollutants like dust, mildew, and mould. Rejuvenair provides filtration systems that help eliminate 99.9% of airborne pathogens.

As we celebrate Water Quality Month, we hope that the same standards we’ve applied to water will one day be applied to the air we breathe.

 

 

The future is robotic

Across every industry, advancements in automation and robotics have led to significant changes in the workforce. A report by the World Economic Forum estimates that by 2025, upwards of 85 million jobs will be displaced by robotic technology.

Regarding MEP and construction, the trends are pointing to robots as the new frontier. Imagine walking on a job site to find a team of robots laying bricks, assembling scaffolding, or aiding in demolition. While the idea may sound straight out of a sci-fi film, robotic applications in construction are gaining traction.

While there’s debate over whether robots could someday take over construction, a more realistic scenario is one where robots and people will work side by side. Current robotic applications across construction seek to offer safety and increased productivity rather than worker replacement.

How are robots changing construction?

The construction industry has been slow to adapt to newer technologies. This slow modernisation has led to challenges such as a declining workforce, unsafe conditions, and inefficiency.

In addressing these problems, robotics could play a major role in changing construction by::

  1. Increasing worker safety
  2. Improving productivity
  3. Reducing labor shortages

How quickly contractors and builders will adopt robotic technologies will depend on how accessible these systems become.

Bricklaying

Bricklaying is a strenuous physical activity. Masons spend hours bent over, applying mortar, and placing bricks one-by-one.

Robotic bricklaying systems seek to improve productivity and reduce human injury.

The Semi-Automated Mason (SAM) is designed to be operated by a single worker, who oversees the robot’s bricklaying functions. This robot makes the bricklaying process up to five times faster and reduces the potential for human injury.

The Hadrian X robot can place up to 1,000 bricks in an hour using a fully automated system that implements cameras, laser tracking, and computers to quickly and accurately perform its bricklaying duties.

Rebar

In a similar fashion, the TyBot robot is designed to tie steel rebar autonomously.

This robot eradicates the physically-demanding work of bending over and tying hundreds of rebar intersections which often leads to strain and injury.

According to usage statistics, the TyBot can perform the work of six to eight workers on its own.

Job site Monitoring

Doxel’s robotic rovers and drones use artificial intelligence to monitor job sites in real time.

These robots are equipped with cameras and LiDAR that scan construction sites and compare the results against 3D drawings, BIM models, and other user inputs.

Deep learning allows the robot’s data to identify construction errors, detect deviations, and monitor worker safety, among other applications. Through tracking and maintaining data around the clock, these robots are helping job sites become more efficient.

Bottom line for robots in construction

Though some speculate that robots will one day take over the industry, construction is still too reliant on the human element to become fully automated.

Instead, engineers are looking to use robotics to assist builders across the industry and make their work more efficient. Skilled trades aren’t going anywhere. If you work in the construction sector, expect some unlikely automated friends in the near future.

 

How to keep team spirits up during times of uncertainty

How to keep team spirits up during times of uncertainty

With the pandemic finally easing up after more than two years, hope on the horizon looked closer than ever before.

Unfortunately, it seems we may be still in the eye of the storm. The ongoing crisis in Eastern Europe has affected the global economy across every industry, including the MEP sector

Now, with an economic recession around the corner, teams and businesses are reeling in the effects.

Team health is important so that a business can weather a crisis and overcome uncertainties. Here are a few ways to help keep your team spirits up and boost morale during unstable times. 

Transparency is key

As an efficient leader, you should encourage increased transparency and communication during any crisis.

Ensuring your team is always up-to-date on your company’s health will allow everyone to feel more at ease, even if this means disclosing poor results. Though your company may be facing difficulties like meeting payroll or submitting invoices, it’s important to adopt more transparent practices so that your team knows what’s going on. 

Transparency goes a long way. Not only will it increase your credibility as a leader, but open communication amongst employees will help your company work more efficiently. This can translate into better team-building and encourage others to find solutions in times of adversity.

Remind your team that despite any setbacks, things will be ok. 

Celebrate small wins

Instability can quickly translate into low morale across a company. As a leader, you can boost your team’s spirits by celebrating small achievements.

By showing increased gratitude towards your team, you can foster better optimism, enthusiasm, and motivation.

This may also mean taking some time away from the office or job site to decompress together. We all need a break sometimes. 

Stepping away to celebrate small wins is healthy and can encourage your team to meet future achievements and long-term goals – especially when faced with the shortcomings of a global crisis.

Empathy and team communication 

Now more than ever, it’s crucial to focus on what your team members need the most and remind them that you’re available to listen to their needs. Empathy means asking more questions and showing your team you care.

Depending on your work arrangements, you could schedule one-on-one meetings to build more trust and find out about what your team may be lacking. Increased communication is just one tool that can help show that you empathise with your employees.

Be available for your team when they need it the most.

Empower your team

During any difficult time, you should empower your team and get them more involved. Encouraging teams to engage in proactive work projects can lead to more positive mindsets and boost morale across a business.

Oftentimes, this empowerment can be as simple as giving people more responsibilities that allow them to contribute to the greater goals of your company. 

However you choose to do it, encouraging proactive habits can benefit everyone and increase team health. 

Teams should embrace these ongoing changes together, motivate each other, and adapt accordingly.

 

Stop! Birds.

If you’re involved in the building trades, you know there are planning permissions and regulations that come with the job. From zoning laws to noise levels, job sites generally have strict guidelines that must be met.

Some building laws that might surprise you are designed to protect something a little more feathery.

In the UK, certain wildlife is legally protected. Because wildlife laws make it illegal to capture, disturb, or otherwise harm certain animals, engineers and building professionals must proceed with caution if they’re going to work in or around a natural habitat.

Taking the right precautions will ensure protected species are safe and your building project goes smoothly.

Safe habitats = secure job sites

The protection of natural habitats is taken seriously by Natural England.

It’s your responsibility to survey the land where you plan to build and ensure your project will not interrupt any protected areas or habitats.

Contacting your local planning authority will be the best course of action before you proceed with any building project. Ecologists and other wildlife authorities can advise you on any potential hazards or legally protected areas.

Unfortunately though, despite a site complying with regulations, wildlife can always find its way into the most curious of places.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, some protected species include:

  • Bats
  • Wild birds
  • Badgers
  • Newts
  • Common dormice
  • Otters

Any of the following violations can be grounds for sanctions:

  • Injure, capture, disturb, or kill any protected species
  • Destroy or damage a breeding area
  • Obstruct access to an animal resting place
  • Remove or transport animals from their natural habitat

Offences against protected wildlife face heavy fines of up to £5,000 and can even land you a six-month prison stay!

Uninvited guests during construction

Sometimes, even if precautions are taken, animals may still end up on your project. Just recently, a project we were working on at Export & Midas House, was put on hold as peregrine falcons were nesting. As the Falcons are a protected species work wasn’t allowed to continue until the babies had hatched and fled the nest.

Small crevices or nooks can resemble nesting areas. Some of the most attractive features are attics, chimneys, and beneath roof tiles.

Machinery, scaffolding, and other construction elements can also attract critters. If a protected species decides to lay eggs on your job site, the consequences can be costly.

When building sites come to a halt, this affects everyone, and you could face serious financial losses.

Preventing building delays due to wildlife

We recommend you take the necessary precautions if you plan to build in natural areas.

The easiest solution is to obtain a full environmental report of the area. A qualified ecologist will survey the area and check for any potential hazards. These days, you might even opt for a drone survey.

Assessing the impacts of your development will ensure no species goes harmed.

Green construction practices keep ecosystems safe

DJHC is committed to environmental and sustainable practices across the industry. When it comes to keeping our species and ecosystems safe, we want to encourage responsible practices.

If you think your next project could prove invasive to protected wildlife, we recommend you take the right course of action to ensure prevent any harm. Building responsibly and obtaining the right permits will ensure your project gets done without any halts or delays.

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DJHC Ltd
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If you’re involved in the building trades, you know there are planning permissions and regulations that come with the job. From zoning laws to noise levels, job sites generally have strict guidelines that must be met. Some building laws that might surprise you are designed to protect something a little more feathery.

MEP engineers building for tomorrow

Just as designers are looking ahead to speculate on the needs of buildings for the future, MEP engineers are adapting to new advancements in building and management.

Technologies are evolving faster than ever, and the widespread availability of new tools and resources in the MEP sector will surely affect the way engineers approach their craft in the years to come.

As new standards enter the mainstream, MEP engineers will implement these resources in future projects. We can expect the following technologies to see a bright future in the MEP industry.

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a protocol used for managing information during the construction phase of a building.

This digital, model-based method allows teams to manage information more efficiently as they collaborate on a project. BIM helps integrate all the data utilised by architects, designers, engineers, and contractors by providing a centralised hub for project management. The visualisation element of BIM is particularly important, and cloud integration ensures projects are always up to date.

We can expect the MEP industry to continue using BIM as it evolves to allow for more efficient workflows. Cloud-based technologies across the industry will help engineering teams collaborate and design the built environment of the future.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Although virtual reality (VR) is more often associated with gaming and entertainment, we can expect to see this powerful tool more prominently across the MEP sector.

New developments in VR technology are being adopted by engineers and contractors.  MEP teams can now look at virtual building components overlaid onto physical job sites, making it easier to visualise processes and make decisions on the cuff.

VR can also be integrated into BIM applications and help teams around the globe to virtually engage with projects without the need to travel. As remote work becomes more prevalent, VR will be integral for teams to work closely, regardless of where they are in the world.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

We’ve previously discussed how IoT applications are now a major player in building for the future. Just as IoT has taken over home applications, internet connectivity is now expanding to industrial MEP services like lighting systems, heating, ventilation, and public utilities.

It’s no secret that buildings of the future will have full integration using IoT devices. MEP engineers are preparing projects for future generations by considering how these technologies will advance and evolve over the years.

IoT is even aiding in the construction phase, as cameras and sensors can track building progress and provide updated models in real-time that can be reviewed by engineering teams using BIM systems.

MEP and the future of building design

Data and technology are transforming the MEP industry faster than ever. Engineers have new tools at their disposal. Tasks that were once time-consuming are now becoming automated, and logistical headaches are now simplified through data systems, cloud storage and real-time connectivity.

Building for the future is becoming more streamlined and allowing MEP professionals to focus more on technical innovations and less on the processes themselves. There are no limits to what the future holds in store for the MEP sector, and we’re excited to see what’s to come as engineering technology continues to evolve for the generations of tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

How life-size projections are bringing plans to life

For clients, it’s often difficult to visualise what a finished project will look like. Architects and engineers are always looking for new solutions to see off potential problems at the pass. Computer-generated designs are getting progressively more complex, but nothing really compares to really putting yourself in the space.

This can lead to issues later down the line, where once the bricks and mortar are laid, clients change their minds about layouts or dimensions. Of course, it creates extra costs, time delays, and in the worst cases, tension between stakeholders. However, new technologies are emerging thick and fast to help engineers breathe life into their projects before they even break ground. 

One such idea, which we shared on our LinkedIn recently, is lifesize projections of floor plans. These “walkable plans” allow clients to see the layout of the project at a 1:1 scale at the design stage. Proponents of this technology say that it creates a more life-like experience than a 3D model.

Beaming plans into the real world

Many people struggle with designs on paper or even on a computer. Space is naturally about your body, so a collection of lines on a page or a screen can rarely communicate what it will feel like to be in a building. Floor plan projections make an architectural drawing lifesize. By beaming the layout onto a floor, at life-size scale, the architect or contractor can walk the client through it and give them a feel for the dimensions.

The designers of these high-tech visualisations claim it’s the missing step in the design process. But it’s not just a gimmick staged for discerning clients; it can also generate significant time and cost changes later down the line. As we know all too well, changes to a floor plan during the build cause substantial delays at great expense. 

It also compresses months of calls and emails into a single design review, where you can make changes instantly. Although hiring the space and equipment for the projection is pricey, it could represent value for money.

What might the next generation of planning tools hold?

With tools like 3D printing, real-time renders and drones changing the way that we plan, construct and maintain buildings, it’s clear that the industry is evolving at a rapid pace. But what might the future hold? With the arrival of these life-size floor plans, the demand for next-generation visualisation will undoubtedly rise. 

Perhaps what we’ll see next is even more ambitious projections, where we can visualise height and depth with 3D holograms. The big question will be how to make these tools accessible so that more people can take advantage of them. Right now, floorplan projections cost thousands to organise, which will be a major barrier to small firms. 

That said, many thought that 3D printing would always be prohibitively expensive and now is comparatively affordable. As we progress, we could start seeing more affordable formats so firms can start maximising their savings. 

 

 

Three key tips for updating legacy systems

Undoubtedly, the pandemic sped up digital transformation. But coming out of the other side, are we losing momentum? These solutions still offer enormous opportunities for businesses, especially as inflation piles on the pressure for businesses to be more productive.

This is why they shouldn’t let new systems fall by the wayside as we move into a new moment. Prioritising digital strategy will be essential to weathering the current economic climate, as it will enable us to adapt to the next challenge. The time is now to update legacy systems, but often, this is easier said than done; you need a solid approach. Here, we share three key things to keep in mind.

Choose tech with mileage

Technology is foundational to business success, now and into the future. If you’re considering implementing a new system, you need to make sure that it’s not just about choosing a solution that works now, it’s about selecting something with longevity. But at the pace technology is evolving, how can you be confident?

A good place to start is outlining your short, medium and long-term strategy. This will create space to reflect and plan, and assess whether or not the system will support your goals across every timescale. Ask yourself: Is it scalable? Does the system align with industry best practices? What’s the risk factor of the transition?

Take the entire team on the journey

Getting everyone on board with change is far easier said than done. Change management is a delicate process, and when modernising legacy systems, you need to make decisions with the team at the forefront of your mind. This means not just planning around the technology itself, but also planning how people will interact with it.

Therefore, you should plan an in-depth training session after implementation. Without a dedicated training programme, employees will adopt their own workflows, which will reduce consistency and efficiency. Training also gives employees the chance to ask questions, which makes them feel more seen and secure.

Facilitate a smooth transition

Although keeping up with the times is important, an abrupt change can do more harm than good. Legacy systems might be antiquated, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely redundant. They contain important information about company and customer history, which will undoubtedly be useful for identifying patterns and trends.

Often, the most effective transitions will be where the legacy technology is integrated into the new, ensuring the team can access relevant information without too much trouble. Digital transformation is a marathon, not a sprint and the decision-makers should keep this in mind.

Create a plan for the future

New technologies are key to efficiency and competitiveness. They create new opportunities and support decision-making by offering previously unseen insights. However, digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight; companies need to create a long-term plan. They also need to remember that tools are nothing without the people using them, so it should be a people-centred transition. Only then can they reap the true benefits of transitioning from a legacy system to cutting-edge technologies.

 

 

What is sick building syndrome?

The notion of “sick building syndrome” was first heard of in the 1970s. There are a number of theories as to why the notion was popularised around then. One is that the energy crisis meant buildings were sealed tightly to prevent heat loss, which in turn, made ventilation poor. Another is that the increased use of chemicals in paints and carpets released harmful fumes. Some even suggest that the minuscule volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from office equipment could be responsible.

The theories abound exactly because sick building syndrome is so nondescript. The symptoms include nausea, respiratory irritation, fatigue, headaches and dizziness. Some people may also experience eye and skin irritation. However, the key characteristic is that the symptoms are related to being inside the building and normally resolve once the person leaves.

What causes sick building syndrome?

Despite the range of symptoms and theories around how the term came about, we can now be fairly confident what causes sick building syndrome. Primarily, it’s caused by poor ventilation that allows chemical contaminants to build up. These are commonly found in paint (even when it’s dry), adhesives, carpets, cleaning products, and as mentioned, office equipment like computers and copiers.

If your building users are experiencing symptoms, you can assess it for sick building syndrome with a simple walk around. Checking the condition of the HVAC system is an essential step, as this will be key to ensuring proper ventilation, especially in winter months when windows are shut. Identifying sources of contamination are also important to getting to the root of the problem. Indeed, it could also help you identify whether or not it is sick building syndrome you have on your hands, not a more serious health and safety issue like black mould.

How do you treat sick building syndrome?

The treatment of sick building syndrome will hinge on eliminating the underlying cause. Avoiding harsh cleaning products and chemicals will be crucial to the comfort of building users, while ensuring the HVAC system is properly maintained will reduce the buildup of any toxic fumes. Equally, filters should be replaced regularly.

There are additional steps you can take to ensure the building’s air quality is as good as possible. Installing air purifiers have numerous benefits beyond the dissipating of harmless vapours. For example, models that use UVC purification can eliminate biological pathogens as well. A model we recommend is by Rejuvenair, which eliminates 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and other harmful airborne substances, including COVID-19.

Keep your building and its users healthy

Sick building syndrome might at first seem like a mysterious ailment, but its causes are not. Ensuring your premises are well-ventilated and free of harmful fumes is an essential responsibility as a building owner or manager. Stay on the lookout for any symptoms among users, or better still, make sure regular walkarounds are part of your management schedule. It could make a big difference to those that live or work inside your building.

 

 

What the new Building Safety Act means for construction

What the new Building Safety Act means for construction

Passed as law at the end of April, the Building Safety Act was intended to usher in a new set of rules to overhaul safety in residential buildings over 18 metres tall. Since its inception, it’s gone through several significant changes. Although it first centred only on design and construction, now it takes in operation, occupation, and facilities management. 

Under the new act, legislation shall be overseen by the Building Safety Regulator, who will oversee the new system with powers of enforcement and sanctions. Despite the Building Safety Act becoming law, much of the secondary legislation will not come into force for another 12 to 18 months, however, once in force, will spell changes for the construction industry. Here’s how.

What does the Building Safety Act cover?

This new law focuses on the entire lifecycle of a built asset, with particular emphasis on changing the way higher-risk buildings are designed, planned, and built by requiring designers, builders, and operators to capture information relating to fire risk and structural integrity. It also gives property owners, leaseholders and tenants more power to bring claims for poor or dangerous work. 

This will shift the responsibility for paying remediation costs away from residents to designers and builders, along with measures to shield leaseholders from all costs related to the remediation of unsafe cladding. This, in turn, will widen the liability for building owners, developers of high-risk buildings and product manufacturers and suppliers.

What does it mean for the UK construction industry?

Perhaps the important point of this new act is that it has introduced a new role: the Accountable Person. This is the owner or managing agent that is responsible for maintaining building safety. They’ll be responsible for reporting on the structure’s fitness for occupation. Making this case can be understood as a key goal of the building and fire safety information collated throughout the design and construction phase. 

While high-rise buildings are the focus of this legislation, it has implications for all projects. For example, the responsibilities of Construction Design and Management (CDM) duty-holders have shifted. Whereas the role used to take a more subjective perspective on foreseeable risks, now, they need to ensure the design is compliant with the relevant standards. This makes the role more far-reaching, requiring a fundamental knowledge of all disciplines covered by building regulations and health and safety guidance.

A positive development in a post-Grenfell moment

Of course, this legislation relates to the 2017 catastrophe in Grenfell Tower, London, in 2017. The fire in Grenfell Tower was an avoidable tragedy, and hopefully, with new legislation, we can avoid something as terrible as this ever happening again. 

Although this legislation will require a re-orientation of how architects and contractors design and build high-rise buildings, it’s ultimately for the better. Construction companies will have to take more rigorous measures to ensure they choose the safest and sturdiest materials, and that can only be a good thing. Moreover, the extension of building safety regulations into building management is a positive signal.