Archive for October, 2019

Climate change, business and housing

Monday, October 21st, 2019

This week, Councillors Mark Winnington and Conor Wileman hosted a Members’ Event, in the shape of a Climate Change Workshop. It was a fascinating event, where we discussed what we are already doing in terms of sustainability, and then went on to visualise what more we could do. The enthusiasm from Members and Officers in the room was palpable, and it was a great pleasure to be there. On the theme of “Think global, act local”, we have a pretty good record, and we will continue to focus on this moving forward.

On Thursday evening, I attended the Keele University “Breaking the Mould” Business Awards in their newly opened Business School. We contributed to the construction of the building, and sponsored one of the awards, the Future Enterprise Award presented by Councillor Mark Winnington. It was won by the hugely impressive ZenaMed Ltd, who have produced a detector which helps people with a chronic alcohol problem kick the habit by detecting a relapse before it happens. In the spirit of the “Keele Difference” which Professor Trevor McMillan has done so much to nurture, the awards ceremony was great fun, short in duration, and included some excellent entertainment from the Spark! LED Drummers – worth a watch on YouTube. 

Friday morning saw an early start for a long drive to Norwich to see how new steel frame technology is being used for housing. Housing has risen on the County Council’s agenda, and we are always looking at better ways of doing things. As a Mechanical Engineer, and having built our own modular house a couple of years ago, I was particularly interested in this project. We saw 2 sites, one a development of flats in central Norwich, which was hugely impressive, and a more standard housing estate, in which the houses had been traditionally finished in brick exteriors. The reduction in cost is relatively small, but it is in the reduction of build time and low waste, as well as the ability to insulate and seal the buildings to a much higher level than traditional build that is most impressive. I was slightly disappointed that the design of the houses was indistinguishable from traditional brick-built, but that is probably more a reflection of the UK housing market than anything else. Much of the cost of the house was spent in having bricklayers produce a completely cosmetic wall around the steel frame, which added nothing to strength or insulation. I suspect that tastes will change in the coming years, and we will adopt more advanced technologies for external surfaces.