Concrete products are essential to our standard of living and quality of life in Northern Ireland. Their use underpins the construction industry, which employs 80,000 people and is worth some £2.4billion to the local economy.
The concrete products’ industry is totally committed to reducing its environmental footprint by investing significantly in energy efficiency measures and new innovative sustainable products. Advances in concrete technology will help design and build an ‘A-Rated’ home where, in the future, as the energy and carbon efficiency of your home could affect your heating costs, rates, insurance and re-sale value.
Sustainability has become an increasingly wide-ranging term, as our understanding grows of the many impacts that a project and its materials may have over their lifetime.
Specifiers must consider a long list of factors – embodied impacts, in-use performance, longevity and upfront costs
against those of maintaining the building over its lifetime. Environmental impacts and benefits must be weighed with social and economic issues, all without losing sight of the essential functions that a project needs to perform – for example, providing a comfortable, safe, robust shelter. Here’s some reasons why I believe concrete is best:
– Local Products – Leading concrete products are available from local manufacturers. The energy used in transporting materials to site is, therefore, very low, helping both the environment and the local economy.
– Low Maintenance – The exceptional durability of concrete ensures it is a very low maintenance material. Most concrete building components are virtually maintenance free as they are difficult to damage and require very little regular maintenance to remain in pristine condition.
– Security – High strength and impact resistance allow concrete products to provide exceptional levels of safety and security. It is very difficult to penetrate a concrete product either accidentally or deliberately.
– Fire Protection – Concrete is not capable of igniting, burning or spreading fire and so is ideal for use in locations where fire protection is required. Concrete requires no additional fire protective coverings, chemical preservatives or paint systems that my release volatile organic compounds effecting internal air quality, and which can require ongoing maintenance.
– Product Life Cycle – Concrete structures have a very long life span. Concrete structures offer long-term construction solutions that do not need additional coverings or coatings for resistance, durability or sound insulation thereby reducing the embodied environment impact of a building still further.
– Thermal Mass – The unrivalled high thermal mass of concrete can be used as an integral part of passive sustainable design solutions which reduce the need for air-conditioning in the summer and the levels of heating required in the winter.
That is why we continue to work hard to promote the use of concrete. QPANI has established a new Concrete Development Group with the sole aim of raising the market share of concrete in the wider construction industry and making it the construction material of choice. We have a very close liaison with our colleagues in the Irish Concrete Federation and wish to ‘cement’ our relationship and partnership with the Concrete Centre.
We are currently preparing to launch our ‘Concrete Built IS Better Built’ Initiative in Northern Ireland. A number of our members will be carrying the new logo on their truck mixers and delivery lorries.
QPANI, RSUA and the Concrete Centre staged two very well attended Concrete and Masonry Seminars in March of 2016 and another successful event looking at resilient housing in February 2017. The feedback from what was an audience made up of architects and engineers, Housing Association Design teams and Construction Students from our two Universities was very positive.
In addition, the Concrete Development Group has built a strong partnership with the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations to discuss issues of concern from construction material suppliers.
Among these were the use of quality assured concrete and CE marked materials, promotion of responsible sourcing and the environmental, best practice use of competent and qualified concrete layers on housing association sites.
We have agreed to hold regular quarterly liaison meetings, direct liaison with key personnel within the Housing Association design teams and procurement teams to facilitate regular engagement between HAs and QPANI members at a local level.
We recently hosted a number of site visits to concrete manufacturing sites in Toomebridge were the Housing Association witnessed and learned about the manufacture and quality assurance testing of concrete products at Creagh Concrete, Acheson & Glover and Northstone.
QPANI has also met with Ulster Farmers Union members to discuss the new ‘Designated Concretes for Agriculture Guidance’ and the importance of using quality assured concrete and contractors who are competent in laying exterior concrete.
The QPANI Concrete Development Group was also consulted on the development of modern concrete specifications that will be applied to farm construction work funded by DAERA through the new Farm Improvement Scheme.
We would encourage all concrete manufacturers across Northern Ireland to come and join QPANI in our Concrete Built IS Better Built Strategy as we strive to increase market share for concrete products and make concrete the construction material of choice.
For further information contact Gordon Best, Regional Director QPANI on 07876136929 or 028 9082 4078 or e-mail [email protected]pani.org