Hello and welcome to today webinar. My names Keira Proctor, managing director of the A. Proctor Group, and this
is the 17th Webinar in our series that's been running since April. You can go back and review the whole series
right here on our YouTube channel or by visiting our learning hub at www.proctorgroup.com.
You can also use our learning hub to request CPD certification, book follow-up virtual meetings with our team
of local advisors around the UK, or to order sample packs for the products and systems covered in each webinar.
Today we're going to discuss the future of housing and construction, and look at some of the concepts and
technologies that will shape these developments. We're going to begin with a special guest presentation
from Professor Sean Smith, Director of the Centre for Future Infrastructure at the University of Edinburgh who
will cover some of the key concepts and insights driving developments across the industry.
We'll follow Sean's presentation up with a rundown of some the key technologies of systems that will play
a critical role delivering fabric performance changes, and finally we'll have our usual Q&A session
where Professor Smith will be joining our team of technical experts to take your questions.
So we'll now hand over to Sean to begin todays webinar.
Hello everybody. And thanks very much to the Proctor group for the opportunity to come and present today on
some thoughts. It's a short period, 20-odd minutes. So it's a short period to cover many things.
So I won't cover everything, but I hope you'll find it useful in terms of some of the thoughts around the
future construction insights. Today I'm going to cover a number of things from the future housing requirements
from local to global.
We're going to talk briefly about the green hydrogen revolution, which is currently underway, the spectrum
crunch, which some of you may have heard of, and some of the new technologies to come such as Li-Fi and how are
we incorporating this into buildings and assets and our homes for the future?
Building asset monitoring and the role of digital twinning and future sensors, which are becoming really
interesting and really starting to take off the scale of energy efficient measures, which are en route. And
these are definitely coming. They're definitely going to happen. So it's useful to plan and look at that route
map of what's coming.
The mixing of terms, net zero carbon neutral and zero carbon. We'll briefly touch on that. And then finally,
some of the areas that we currently do just now in the construction sector, our operations, our delivery, our
products, which action, that wouldn't be included in some of the net zero requirements of procurement by local
authorities just now, and as a result, do we need to make sure that we, instead of just focusing entirely net
zero, which then might get rid of some of the fantastic or dissuade people from undertaking some fantastic work
that they're doing and materials and other areas to make sure we still keep that momentum going, then we include
it under horizon net zero type approach.
New Housing Required
Well, first of all, the world's population, and the next 80 years, it seems a long way away, but literally it
starts as of tomorrow. So to speak to the next 80 years is not 80 years time. It's actually from now. Population
over the period will increase by three and a half billion. A huge, huge population rise roughly about 40 to 38%
of the population growth that we currently have.
And in addition to that, because people are also living longer, there isn't that same cycle ability of homes
coming back onto the market. So when you take the population growth to come over the next 80 years, plus people
living longer, and that lack of recycle that have housing coming back onto the market. So collectively it's
roughly 2.1 billion new homes will have to be built in the next 80 years.
To give you a sense of scale that's equivalent to building the whole of Europe seven times in the next 18
years. In England and Wales, we look at that and then by 2030, that's just the next 10 years, roughly about 2.3
million homes will require it to be built. And that's equivalent to building the whole of Yorkshire and the
Humber regions all over again.
And in terms of Scotland, Scotland's new housing need roughly will be about 260,000 new homes in 10 years, time
by 2030, equivalent to building the whole of the city of Edinburgh again.
Buildings and Future
Moving on, hydrogen is really starting to take off and we've seen significant investments coming in, to this
area just now both from utility companies and also oil and gas companies with major global companies, switching
investment, particularly into green hydrogen.
It's also useful to know your hydrogens.
So quite a bit of the hydrogen we see today is grey hydrogen, which splits natural gas into CO2 and hydrogen,
but unfortunately still emits the CO2.
Blue hydrogen, which has been also gathering some piece recently where the residual gases are then stored or
But green hydrogen is the one that most people are favouring because in green hydrogen, we split the water into
hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis, and that's the electrolysis or that electricity is powered by wind and sun.
So it's using renewable energy.
Goldman Sachs projected that $20 trillion future global market will be the value of the hydrogen sector with
the predominance of that being green hydrogen, and for the UK economy by 2050, it'll be worth £320
I think we've all noticed with COVID era and we're all working from home and various other changes is that
we're all utilizing the internet and Wi-Fi and various other things far more. And it's amazing how far it's
come. You know, the Wi-Fi actual development has been over a period of about 30 years of which the vast majority
of the infrastructure and other things was in the last 10 to 15 years.
It's amazing to look at internet users, in 1995 or 60 million. Now, 24 years later, there's 4.8 billion. In
2009 0.7% of all tablet use was by sort of internet use was by tablets or mobile files and that's 53%
today in 2020.
So year on year, it's grown. And, of course this year, it's likely to be even more. These are forecasts of
exabytes on that blue graph, you see there for the coming year, the red bar assumes where it could be by the end
of this year.
The problem is there is only so much effective bandwidth or spectrum frequency which we can use, and that's
getting pretty full and it's known as the spectrum crisis, or the spectrum crunch. With the onset of COVID and
our adaption and changes, that's also then led to us using a lot more of the wifi and internet far earlier in
earlier time periods than in the coming years.
So in which case the spectrum crunch or spectrum crisis has come forward a number of years. In addition to
that, sadly, some people utilize the bandwidth for less positive purposes. The Cyber hackers and others, they've
utilized the down turn in corporate to also maximize the number of attacks. And in sort of the first half of
2020, there were 4.83 million attacks in terms of cyber areas and the groups that the tackled were e-commerce
and healthcare, educational services.
It's important because part of that great utilization or absorption of our bandwidth is coming from these
hackers and people who are actually utilizing and setting up these emails that create scatter gun and other
things to then absorb more internet use. So it is really quite considerable.
And there's a 47% increase in average broadband use in Q1 of 2020 versus 2019, and in May, 2020, in some
areas it was up 70%.
So the good news is, we shouldn't panic too much about wifi because right around the corner. and I mean, round
the corner, cause it's been 16 years in the making is Li-Fi, which is short for light fidelity.
This is wireless communication technology, which utilizes led lighting to transmit data and position between
devices effectively wireless as a result of that, the speeds that can be achieved, it has attracted a lot of
attention and you can use it in all sorts of settings.
So Pure Li-Fi based in Edinburgh, for example, has been involved in over 200 project trials in over 20
countries. It's seen also not just as a compliment to wifi, but it could also replace it in some circumstances.
It's more of a compliment to provide super fast speeds, reduce some of that spectrum crunch that's coming. It's
not limited by the spectrum crunch, which is good.
It improves security, it doesn't pass through walls. So we can see in the future, more people in their homes
where they have a home office probably wishing to introduce, Li-Fi into the room via the led lights, for
It also uses less energy, and it's actually less costly and it's more easy to deploy. And the reason I raise
this is because in 2021, the Li-Fi global standard will then be ready and published. And that will allow all the
major companies who are working with this life by global standards, then move together as one. And when you have
that common language approach and sync synchronicity, or synchronicity between the different companies that
helps accelerate this use and adoption.
On to digital twinning, which is really gathering pace, particularly for the future of building asset
monitoring. It's interlinked with building information monitoring and the future potential of sensors is really
quite exciting, both in energy building occupant use and various other features within our buildings and also
A digital building twin needs to be able to associate and connect to buildings design, and also its utilization
preferably in a single model and that mimics and also predicts the building's operation and performance.
The one thing I would say is that we use entirely prediction models. We know that part of the current energy
performance gap is because some of the existing prediction models and assumptions we've made and the energy
performance of buildings were not correct, or the assumptions then increased.
And the variation of our assumptions and our energy performance gap analysis then increase the uncertainty. So
the good news is because of the reduction in the cost of sensors and the real time information, which we can now
provide, what we will see in future is housing associations, local authorities, commercial building operators,
people who run estates, for various buildings, university building and estates, NHS, are going to integrate the
full digital models of their buildings.
They'll have real-time energy utilization monitoring, and in addition to that, the potential is with the
increased use of in-situ sensors, because costs are rapidly coming down, you can now create an accelerated
action plan, plus the optimization of your decision-making in the buildings or infrastructures operation. And
this is where digital twinning could take us in the future, which is very exciting.
Changing City Centres
& Urban Areas Post-Covid
With COVID, there's been lots of changes as you will be aware. And of course the lack of people going in to
work because they're working from home, it's creating an adaption and also a requirement for city authorities to
think about how they adapt and renew their city centres.
In addition to that, we have what is the growth and the potential of 20 minute neighbourhoods, which are in
suburban or other parts of the cities where people feel that they have access to and can live fairly sustainably
within their own neighbourhood. Within a 20 minute walk or cycle, and that all of the facilities and services
are there and particularly more so if people can do also homeworking.
So one of the things I just would like to raise is the idea that we're going to be looking at in Edinburgh is a
potential utilization of gap sites within future 20 minute neighbourhoods. When we're looking at a 20 minute
neighbourhood plan, what are the potential gaps? If there are gap infill fill sites or regeneration sites, how
do you align the 20 minute neighbourhood aspirations with the future utilizations of those gaps sites? And also
the integration with transport needs and also the amenities.
And it's all sorts of things that could be changing. For example, nursery provision locally, because people are
no longer going to their office as much than actually working from home. And in fact, they would rather use the
nurseries, which are close to the home as opposed to the one that was near the city centre near their office. So
in terms of that, we've also got changes to the night-time economy and city centre hospitality and cultural
factors to come to with our future buildings, where there are changes of uses coming.
Future Buildings -
Change Of Use
And we know from the banking sector between 2003 - 2008, the huge number of banks that then ran, built new
buildings, moved into different or brand new category buildings. And that left a huge number of office buildings
and other things that came up through refurbishment or change of use. And we see the same going forward again.
So in all likelihood, if this is the case, then be aware, it's very useful to look out for the opportunities for
refurbishment, towards net zero.
Before you even touch the building that you're going to convert or for change of use, do a sound installation
test. First, before you put any holes in walls, wood floors, do the sound insulation test. This will avoid over
specification, allows you to assess the existing sound insulation requirements, whether it be for domestic or
And there we've seen entrepreneurs Xu Weiping, uh, putting forward their plans for the East of London to turn
20 offices for 2000 individual pods. So it really quite exciting different changes to come.
Future EE Measures and
Net Zero Policies
I'd like to spend a few minutes if I may on the future and timeline of energy efficiency measures. There
is a lot of activity come over the next 30 years, but specifically in the next 15 years. And so I've put
together here a small timeline of some of the changes, which are occurring across the UK, uh, where it's an
England or Scotland or Wales, and some of the features that are on the targets around net zero.
The top half of the line is referring to domestic properties, and the lower half below the timeline
refers to general policies or non domestic buildings. Also, whatever happens there is a huge amount of positive
work to come in terms of conversions, change of use energy, retrofit measures and energy efficiency measures,
and the utilization of low carbon and renewable technologies on the existing stock.
And one of the earliest targets that's been set by anywhere in the UK by a local authority is Edinburgh
and Glasgow, which have set a 2030 net zero target, which is a tough ask, lot of activity to be done there. And
it's suspected that many other local authorities may pull forward their targets also to move towards the 2030,
as opposed to a later period
Mixing Terms: Net
Zero, Carbon Neutral, Zero
fixing of terms net zero carbon neutral zero carbon net zero is not the same as carbon neutral in the full
sense of net zero part of net zero is similar to carbon neutral, but not all. So just be careful. Carbon neutral
has an accepted international PAS2060 document guidance, which is really useful, very helpful to everybody.
However, net zero does not.
So of course, many governments and others have given the policy of aiming for net zero, but actually the
definition of net zero and how we measure and calculate and assess any standardized format for net zero is not
yet in place.
So in the interim, quite a few people will adopt the carbon neutral approach until such time as the net zero is
fully ready. But with the ambitions to moving into net zero, there are six or seven different areas of net zero
to consider and different types of net zero targets.
You might consider your client that you consider just net zero operational. They might look at construction and
operational. They might look at a science-based target or SBTi, which is slightly, or certainly more onerous
than, than net zero operational, just construction. It goes into the full embodied pathway and also the third
sector and the third Avenue of where you're sourcing materials and your supply chains are sourcing materials.
Then there's advanced net zero. And also beyond the net zero, where you become net zero negative.
Perhaps you'll offset your greenhouse gases. This isn't always accepted in all of the schemes. So just be
careful and some very positive news in the sense that because the governments have not moved quick enough and
the international standards committees, haven't really been moving as fast as industry with light and give them
that net zero and climate emergency is so important.
The good news is that the former governor of the bank of England, Mark Carney working with over 50 major
companies around the world is looking to establish a succinct and standardized uniform and trusted, robust
approach towards carbon offsetting and also the calculations of carbon. And this is incredibly important when
carbon offsetting comes into play and how this is assessed.
Finally, just to mention that, be careful if you claim net zero. The advertising standards authority in 2011
ruled that a company which has actually advertised their products to be net zero was incorrect and misleading
because in actual fact, whilst the company said the product was net zero, it had in fact utilized carbon
processes, during the manufacturing and also its transport, and therefore could not advertise itself as being
Maintaining Net Zero
We need to maintain the net zero momentum and that's important, but we have a bit of a problem whilst we're
waiting for others to agree carbon calculations, definitions, and wants to be included or not with the numerical
assessment, we might lose the opportunity to crack on with the existing good practice.
For example, I've said to a few organizations that the work they're doing in offsite construction and waste
reduction, isn't actually included in some of the net zero requirements. So in some cases, one or two
organizations, might say why are we doing all these great sustainability, environmentally friendly things if
it's actually not going to be included properly within net zero? So my suggestion is that we maintain kind of
net zero momentum. We would like to get to that. Could we introduce an interim framework now that allows us to
capture all of the great things the industry is doing, which I call horizon factors.
They're offsite construction, they are designed for manufacturing, the design for future disassembly that will
support our future generations in the material assets of buildings and infrastructure they will inherit from us
in a hundred or 200 years time.
These horizon factors are circular economy approaches and also sustainability. So in essence, by involving
these in horizon net zero, there are a number of benefits towards a future carbon legacy as outlined here on the
slide, the various bullet points.
And now taking this forward into a calculation, we could currently, for example, look at net zero factors for
calculation of our carbon emissions equivalent for net zero construction and our upfront carbon, leading up to
that both for new build, refurb and operation.
So we can actually produce now the potential reporting outputs for a numeric carbon value, but there are many
other things that we do in the state strategies are building another operational strategies, which also support
legacy factors, which may not currently be.
Environment Net Zero Strategy
As I mentioned before, including in net zero, our sustainable sourcing of materials, designing for future, just
assembly utilization of off site utilization of digital twinning and various other features, incorporation of
These are all playing a key part that may not yet be included in carbon calculations as yet for net zero.
Hopefully they will be fully and be standardized in the future. So my suggestion is that we still continue in
net zero where we can, and we try and keep the momentum going and all of these horizon factors we're
And then when it's time in the future, we can then calculate all of this more effectively than we could then
almost back date and look at how, what were the carbon savings of that time? Now we know the calculation
assessment process for all these great things we've done over the coming years.
So finally, just embedding this approach, we can calculate net zero carbon operations within the net zero
carbon construction. We embed a horizon factors in our procurement and our design approach and in our build and
operational approach that builds up that gives us horizon net zero.
It gives us some time whilst those around the world and international standards are readying and standardizing,
what will be the zero embodied carbon approach. And when that's ready, then we move into that net zero/embodied
carbon approach without fear of legal complications, because of definitions that weren't set or calculations
that weren't set.
We, first of all, go after it are carbon negative and new build beyond that. And then our carbon negative and
existing buildings, all of this helps in that timeline to reduce by 2040, 2045 and 2050, our carbon
So we've covered a lot in a short space of time, but I hope that's been useful and that may spark some
thoughts and interest.
Thank you very much.
Many thanks to Sean for putting his thoughts together for us, and to follow on from that we'll now take a
quick look at how upcoming changes to the building regulations will help move housing towards a lower carbon
In 2019 the UK government in its spring statement outline a commitment to introduce a specific "Future
Homes" standard before 2025 to futureproof housing practice and provide for a structured roadmap towards
decarbonizing the UK housing sector, which currently accounts for around 20% of CO2 emissions.
The intention was that these changes would get underway this year with the introduction of the 2020 edition of
Part L in England & Wales, which acts as an intermediate "stepping stone" towards the
introduction of the 2025 standards. As with many things this year however, it looks likely that the timescales
might slip a little.
Future Homes Standard,
Part L Revisions
There are a number of aims driving these changes.
The first is to move the build environment away from fossil fuels and towards a more grid-electric based
approach which is more easily moved towards decarbonisation without directly impacting homeowners.
The second is to move the skill base, common practice and supply chains of the construction industry towards
this. For example currently over a million gas boilers are installed per year, compared to 20,000 heat pump
systems so immediately swapping these systems would not be practical in production-capacity terms never mind
when we factor in the availability of qualified installers.
Finally the consultation proposes specific measure to address the performance gap between "as designed
and tested" or ADT performance, and "as built in service" performance or ABIS.
Regular viewers of our webinars will remember that these concepts already appeared in the 2020 revisions of
BS5250, and the future home consultation expands this further by considering verification and test methodologies
to ensure the specified products and system are used correctly and the perform as intended by designers.
So might the specification of a "future home" look like, the 2020:Part L consultation outlines two
approaches under consideration as an interim step, with aspects of both likely to form the basis of the 2025
Option 1, referred to as "Future Homes Fabric" proposes a 20% improvement over current Part L
standards for CO2 emission achieved through a fabric first approach, with insulation, glazing and airtightness
specs brought to the fore. This spec may still use gas boilers, but supplements by technology such as waste
water heat recovery.
Option 2 "Fabric + Technology" is less onerous regarding fabric standards, but places considerably
more emphasis on low-carbon heating such as heat pumps, renewable energy systems like PV and even systems such
as distributed district heating networks in higher density areas. This would deliver a 31% reduction in
emissions over Part L:2016.
At an estimate £4847 per home, the Fabric + Technology approach increases the build cost by almost double
the increase of Option 1, but delivers substantially greater savings on energy bills at £257/year compared
Its also proposed to remove fuel factors from assessments, reflecting that grid-electric heating now has lower
carbon emissions than gas heating. Shifting housing to more electric heating, both via heat pumps and less
efficient direct heating, also allows the continuing efforts to decarbonise grid generation to reduce the carbon
emissions of housing without affecting homeowners directly.
While the u-values and airtightness levels in the Part L:2020 consultation do not advance far beyond the
current backstop levels, these more subtle changes show the intention is not so much to push the existing
methods further as to alter the range of approaches used towards decarbonising housing.
Combining these approaches gives us an idea of where the 2025 spec my be heading, with near-passive standard
fabric insulation and advanced low carbon systems, however the standard is not expected to be overly
prescriptive beyond setting backstop levels, leaving the way clear for innovative approaches to meeting the
We've covered the design and technology used in passive and low energy homes in a previous webinar, so if
it's of particular interest you can can go back and check that out here on our youtube channel.
Upskilling & ABIS
These specification improvements only go so far though, and ensuring the as built performance both meets the
design spec and can be accurately assessed is increasingly important. As performance levels increase the
tolerances of materials and installation become tighter, meaning any installation problems can have a
The proposal therefore includes measures to ensure not only that minimum build quality standards are achieved,
but that the specified products and systems are used correctly. Any changes to the specified systems would
therefore require re-assessment to ensure the effect of the changes on the design are accounted for.
By paying closer attention to achieving these standards, the draft documents aim to increase cross disciplinary
understanding, ensuring everyone involved in a project both on and off-site are aware of the implication of
their design and workmanship.
The principal build quality issues identified are insulation gaps, thermal bridging and several aspects of
airtightness, and steps are outlined to mitigate each through a combination of: installer training and
awareness; good design and detailing; and finally appropriate usage of products and materials.
Insulation gaps occur where poorly fitting insulation boards allow a significant degree of convective airflow
through gaps between adjacent board, and between boards and surrounding structure. This airflow effectively
bypasses the thermal insulation, leading to a shortfall in energy performance when the is-situ energy use
compared to design values.
While its tempting to think of this as purely an installation issue, steps can be taken at design stage to
reduce the potential for installation problems to arise. Using continuous layers of insulation, and sizing areas
such that cutting of boarding is minimised can dial out problems before they arise. Ensuring materials are
specified appropriately can also avoid situations where a contractor must work out how to fit a square peg in a
round hole, often with little guidance as the implications.
Thermal bridging by contrast is largely a design problem, where ensuring insulation layers are continuous and
no parts of the heated envelope are left uninsulated happens mostly on the drawing board.
In this case the primary issue is ensuring the other parts of the structure are able to accommodate a layer of
insulation. While features like foundation and floor zones are typically fairly straightforward to adequately
insulate, door and window openings can present more challenging scenarios.
Good material choice is often the key to achieving an effective thermal bridge design, where balancing
thickness, thermal conductivity, structural and hygrothermal properties is critical. Systems such as our
spacetherm aerogel range can allow thermal performance to be boosted at any point of the building envelope with
minimal thickness, and without trapping moisture. Its also available as a Euroclass A2 rated variant for use in
The effects of material choices can also be less obvious. For example, using a non-ventilate roof construction
with an underlay such as our Roofshield allows insulation to be packed fully into the eaves of a roof, extending
over the wall head without any concerns regarding compromised airflow.
The consultation proposals around airtightness cover four areas: Incoming Services, Airtightness of Structure,
Airtightness Around openings, and internal service runs.
This is a topic we've covered frequently in our webinar series so far, and a lot of the build quality
issues identified are very familiar, and as fabric insulation levels increase, minimising this air leakage
become a bigger influencing factor on the overall energy performance.
Already homes contain a huge variety of services and other penetrations, and smart controls, systems
monitoring, automation, AV and networking systems will only increase this, making robust solutions for
integrating building services without compromising airtightness critical going forward. This is particular true
in high density development where simply using wi-fi for everything may not be ideal due to interference
As with a lot of these build quality issues, the solution of sealing the services is deceptively simple, but in
practice it requires careful design to minimise air barrier penetrations, and well trained installers afforded
the time and space in tight schedules to do the job right.
Here again though there exist some technical solutions that can design out a lot of these problems if correctly
executed and integrated into the design at the correct stages.
Moving the airtight layer well away form the service zones by using a membrane such as our vapour permeable
Wraptite air barrier provides a durable and robust solution to ensuring design airtightness target are
Solutions like wraptite can be applied to most types of base construction from traditional timber frame to high
rise modular developments, but not all construction type are created equal when it comes to airtightness and low
Between the drive to reduce carbon emissions associated with the built environment and the necessity to adapt
construction sites to accommodate social distancing and covid-secure requirements, moving processes offsite is
Although manufacturing timber frames or structural insulated panels in factories is nothing new, these systems
along with cross laminated timber open up important advantages as regards quality control and fine tolerance
manufacturing that are key to closing the performance gap between ADT and ABIS.
The use of sustainably sourced timber also reduces the carbon intensity of the project, giving a double benefit
alongside the simpler process to achieving low energy use.
Alongside these panel based systems, volumetric systems are increasing finding use, across both high and low
rise sectors. In these systems fully complete modules with services, membranes and insulation already
incorporated are assembled offsite then delivered and connected into whatever configuration the project
What all these systems have in common is the use of offsite assembly, where the more tightly controlled factory
environment facilitates closer tolerances and reduces unexpected problems. Particularly when aligned with the
principles of design for manufacturing and assembly which focus on ensuring designs minimise different
components and facilitate the simplest assembly process possible.
A factory environment makes it far more straightforward to integrate systems and services on a schedule which
minimises the impact of one process on another.
The foundation of all the factors we've discussed today is a well considered and fully integrated design
process with designers, contractors and suppliers all working together to ensure high performance specifications
are successfully executed to produce high quality buildings.
Making sure information is available to everyone seamlessly, and good communication is maintained throughout
the project is key, and with that in mind we'll now move onto the Q&A session.