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Meeting the changing demands of sector growth

Following the long and deep recession in construction, the recovering sectors are responding to evolving client demands and the latest standards and regulations, says Concrete Centre executive director Andrew Minson.

Housing

The long-term context is that concrete and masonry solutions remain the market-leading solution for housing.

Concrete and masonry remain dominant because they deliver high performance cost-effectively for the housebuilder and local production is more flexible with respect to procurement.

For occupants, they have a home with leading thermal and acoustic performance that is robust, flood-resilient and cost-effective to heat, cool and insure.

The last decade has seen the rise and fall of modern methods of construction and the speculation regarding masonry’s ability to deliver the highest energy performances has been proven as unfounded. 

The new Part L1A of Building Regulations comes into force in April 2014 and The Concrete Centre will soon publish guidance on how concrete and masonry walling and floor solutions can be designed to meet the new exacting requirements. 

The most energy-efficient housing stock can be and is being delivered using concrete and masonry. 

Roads

As investment in road infrastructure is set to increase and the Highways Agency moves to become a different corporate entity, rigid concrete pavement solutions will become more common in our road network.

As was seen with the M6 toll road, the rigid concrete road construction will be topped with an asphalt wearing surface – addressing any historic concerns on noise.

“Reducing the likelihood of local flooding can be achieved with products such as porous and permeable paving”

A rigid concrete pavement has recognised whole-life cost advantages and the relevance of these benefits will only increase. Recent work by Britpave has shown that, even on initial cost, there is a strong case for concrete pavement solutions.

But it is not only about cost: whole-life safety is growing in prominence and the fewer repairs and interventions required over a lifetime will help deliver this improved whole-life safety.

Furthermore, there is evidence from MIT and European studies that a rigid pavement reduces rolling resistance and hence reduces vehicle emissions.

Flood defence

Flooding has been dominating the headlines and investment in flood prevention, mitigation, resistance and resilience measures is high on the political agenda.

Reducing the likelihood of local flooding can be achieved with products such as porous and permeable paving.

SUDS using concrete solutions can direct water from roofs and pavements into the ground and not offsite. However, clarity on implementation of the 2010 Flood Act is still awaited with respect to SUDS. 

The concrete industry is committed to continuous improvement; the development of industry Resource Efficiency Action Plans with WRAP is one such initiative that enables us to get ahead and develop innovative solutions to meet the needs of an evolving and growing construction sector.

Andrew Minson is executive director for The Concrete Centre

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