Author Archives: Pat Lehane

SEAI Online Training Academy

With the increasingly societal focus on climate change, and the launch of the Government’s 2019 Climate Action Plan, many businesses are seeking to play their part in reducing their climate impact. The SEAI Energy Academy is an ideal starting point and allows employees to up-skill on energy efficiency and avail of tailored online training that can lead to important business cost savings.

Commenting on the launch of the SEAI Energy Academy, William Walsh, CEO of SEAI said: “We realise that businesses are facing very significant challenges right now with many looking for opportunities to reduce their cost base. Reducing energy use can be a great place to start. SEAI is here to help businesses on their energy efficiency journey, helping them identify energy saving opportunities and to implement those changes.

“We planned the SEAI Energy Academy as an online resource so it is available to all businesses when be additionally beneficial for those working from home, or who are planning for the resumption of normal activities, hopefully in the not too distant future.”

See the full story at buildingservicesnews.com/wp-content/uploads/SEAI-Online-edit-3.pdf

Humidity & Respiratory Wellbeing in wake of Covid-19

Dr Stephanie Taylor, MD, Infection Control Consultant at Harvard Medical School, ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer and Member of the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Group.

As Covid-19 continues to put pressure on health systems and the economy globally, the group calls on WHO to review the extensive research that shows an indoor humidity level of between the 40% to 60% relative humidity (RH) is the optimum threshold for inhibiting the spread of respiratory viruses such as influenza. This is a threshold that many public buildings drop significantly below every winter. Health care workers have a biggest issue to have PPE, Mask, and Sanitizer, glasses, isolation kit and other PPE. The production is the biggest issue, each country needs them, the demand is very high against the productivity, most of the countries, flight operations are also halt to minimize the spread, this PPE issue also a fear for Doctors, Nurses, and other paramedics to work in the health system, as this deadly disease already affect healthcare workers and eaten many life’s of the healthcare heroes. We need to keep supply the PPE to our health care heroes so they can fight against this pandemic disease.

Professor Dr Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, The Waldemar Von Zedtwitz, professor of immunobiology and professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at Yale, and an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute said: “Ninety percent of our lives in the developed world are spent indoors in close proximity to each other. When cold outdoor air with little moisture is heated indoors, the air’s relative humidity drops to about 20%. This dry air provides a clear pathway for airborne viruses, such as Covid-19. It will be important for anyone who is dealing with any laboratory or industrial tasks to use proper face shields for a job. A good shield will help to keep a person’s face protected from many different things in a workplace. It is smart to see how this can work when getting a shield ready. Here are three important factors that should be reviewed when trying to get one of these face shields ready for different jobs. You can check here discount bulk face shields.

Any workplace that involves working with hazardous materials should involve its employees working with proper protective materials. Face shields are some of the most useful of these protective materials for people to use. Here is a look at how these can work. Minor setbacks, trials, and even major problems come into every life. Yet nothing of this magnitude could have been anticipated mere months ago. Who would have ever thought that the economy would be basically shut down except for some essential services. No one expected that people would be told to stay at home and shelter in place to avoid being exposed to the coronavirus or unknowingly spreading it to others. Millions of people have lost their means of income, and millions of others are working from home. These are unprecedented times, but this too shall pass. Covid19 will not take over our lives forever. Eventually, things will get back to some semblance of normalcy. It might be a “new normal” which occurs, but normal life will resume at some point. Many of the Hospitals and Health care system are not trained nor built to handle sick and coronoid patients, due to fear of spread into their system and affect others, those who can accommodate sick patients they have less resources because they need isolation area to separate one from another which require huge place, temporary hospitals built, town halls and other areas convert into hospital setup, which is not enough to cater the big numbers.

That’s why I recommend humidifiers during the winter, and why I feel the world would be a healthier place if all our public buildings kept their indoor air at 40% to 60% RH.” Covid-19 Pandemic is showing its aggression on daily basis, more victims more casualties more death and more fear globally. Spread rate is multiply every single day, even death tolls are increased but some of the nations have to hide the actual figures of deceased persons, the purpose of this writing is to identify why that tool as a major indicator is not very correctly mentioned around the globe.

See full article at Humidity & Respiratory Health in wake of Covid-19

Bob Gilbert — An Appreciation

Bob Gilbert

While there has always been a strong team at Manotherm, it is recognised across the entire industry that Bob was at its core. He was “Mr Instruments & Controls” in Ireland and his recent passing leaves a void that cannot be filled.

Apart from his in-depth knowledge and vast reservoir of experience, he was equally renowned as a very honourable man who, despite his strength as a tough negotiator, was also very fair. Indeed, there were many instances over the years where customers and individuals within the industry fell on hard times and he very quietly and discretely helped them out.

However, his somewhat serious and reserved business persona belied his sense of fun and adventure, his lust for life and new experiences, especially when it came to food. He had a unique personality and it was that, as much as his knowledge of the industry, that helped him accumulate an enviable portfolio of world-leading brands.

Bob was a devoted family man, he and his wife Amy being inseparable. Right from the outset they worked in the business together and today, 62 years later, Amy is still working in the business. That “family” ethos was extended to all employees with Bob spending a great deal of time mentoring individual staff members, no matter what their role.

He also encouraged them to go on training workshops and educationals with the various brands represented, so many got to enjoy travel to all corners of the globe, some at a very tender age. On such trips they were also encouraged to sample the culture, sights and culinary delights of whatever destination they found themselves in. He was a very generous host to them on such occasions, whether he was actually present or not.

See the full article at Bob Gilbert

BIM – Automate the boring stuff with AutoM8

AutoM8 developer Paul Flanagan

In order to meet tight project deadlines, while also allowing adequate time for necessary document reviews and checks, it is paramount to leverage modern technology to work efficiently. Automation is key to meeting this challenge and Paul has been working to develop tools to leverage data which model. AutoCT, the first add-in available in the AutoM8 suite, is designed to route circuits along check electrical cable tray and ladder sizes to ensure there are no undersized, oversized or unused routes.

Traditionally, carrying out checks for containment size is a time-consuming, manual task. To do the calculation circuit routes need to be identified and assigned to each run of containment. Then the cable characteristics, including size, type, number of cores, supports and installation methods, all need to be accounted for. While a single calculation by itself is simple, large projects having thousands of cables easily become very complex.

As a project progresses through detailed design stage, multiple recalculations can be required if the cable configuration or routes change. Very often the minor circuit routes are never accounted for due to the quantity of calculations required.

See full story at AutoM8

CIF Tackling skills shortages

Speaking at the official introduction of the programme recently Liz Carroll, Network Manager, CPSkillnet said: “The current skills shortage is a major challenge for the sector and the objective with CPSkillnet over the next 12 monthsis to develop a cohesive programme that addresses the problem.

“Our intention is to deliver much- needed training via tailored – and subsidised – courses that, in addition to upskilling across all aspects of a business, also provide networking and business development opportunities.”

Tom Parlon, Director General, CIF said: “Construction companies are now operating in a high-pressure environment with contradictory forces. On one hand we are in a cyclical industry that is currently under huge pressure to deliver up to 45,000 houses per year, 115 billion in infrastructure projects, and to retrofit 500,000 homes. “On the other hand we are under pressure to be more productive and deliver all of this activity more efficiently. It’s essential, therefore, that our companies invest in upskilling and training their employees and management so we can deliver on these incredible societal challenges.”

Dave Flynn, Executive Director at Skillnet Ireland, said: ”We are delighted to partner with the CIF to support professionals in the construction sector through our new Construction Professionals Skillnet. There are over 45,000 SMEs and micro-enterprise operating in the construction industry and uptake by even a fraction of those will result in an uplift in productivity and competitiveness. This will have a huge impact on housing, retrofit and infrastructure delivery, and provide multiple benefits for individuals, communities and the Irish economy overall.”

To learn more about CPSkillnet – or to suggest courses or topics to be included in the programme – contact Liz Carroll, Network Manager, Construction Professionals Skillnet. Tel: 087 – 932 3749; email: cpskillnet@cif.ie 

Grant — ‘Holistic approach more essential than ever’

Representing an investment of €14 million, the new facilities include an R&D innovation centre, a customer services centre, a dedicated training academy featuring an auditorium and training suite, and an extension to the existing manufacturing facilities which has also seen further investment in robotics and automation.

The official opening was performed by An Taoiseach, Mr Leo Varadkar, TD, who said: “My vision for the future of the Midlands begins with companies like Grant Engineering. They have developed a state-of-the-art facility to develop and manufacture environmentally-efficient heating products for the 21st century. With this type of vision and investment, the future for the Midlands is bright.”

Grant Engineering’s expansion plans were first announced in 2016 in response to increased demand for the company’s heating products on a local and international level. In recent years Grant has enjoyed considerable success in Ireland, the UK and further afield including France, Greece and New Zealand. It has

also diversified its product portfolio to meet the changing needs of its customers around the globe.

Grant Engineering founder Stephen Grant told Building Services News: “This investment demonstrates our commitment to innovation, growth and to the local economy. In recent years we have expanded into new markets and developed new products to meet the needs of our customer base. Our focus on sustainability continues to grow and to help achieve decarbonisation. Home heating fuel needs to follow in the footsteps of transport and transition to electric or 100% biofuel heating.

“This is impossible to do in the short to medium term in an affordable way. However, the introduction of a ‘Biofuel Obligation’ for home heating could enable homes to become sustainable. We have future-proofed our products over the last five years so that they can operate using biofuel but, to aid transition and further reduce emissions, we need the support of fuel suppliers and government.

“Accelerating the electrification of heat is another way to aid transition and this is helped by current building regulations with new houses being predominately fitted with a heat pump. We have been supplying air to water heat pumps for nearly 10 years and these appliances are ideal for new-build homes where the house design is specifically matched to the heat pump.

“However, there is a huge issue for deployment of heat pumps to the retrofit market which is based on the affordability of deep retrofitting which can cost up to €70k. Together with my R&D team, I am excited to announce that we have developed new hybrid technology called EVOLINK which will be available later this year”.

BPMA CE Marking Guidance Course  

Non-compliant pumping equipment remains a major problem and the British Pump Manufacturers Association (BPMA) is keen to ensure that all assembled equipment, with liquid pumps associated within the build, are placed on the market and put into service correctly. Companies that build pumping equipment, such as pressurisation units, booster sets, rainwater harvesting tanks, sewage stations or bespoke equipment must be able to demonstrate that the products meet applicable EU requirements, are correctly CE marked, and are placed on the market with the correct Declaration of Conformity.

Concerned that many companies still do not meet these obligations under current legislation, the BPMA configured this training course to specifically address this key issue. This course seeks to provide the information and skills required to understand Self Cert CE Marking Essentials and enable compliance with a range of Directives, Regulations and EN Standards. It will also cover other related product certification and documentation issues.

The Course will be held at the BPMA offices in West Bromwich in the UK on Tuesday, February next, and will run from 10:30am to 4pm. Attendance is open to both BPMA Members and Non-Members.

To find out more about the course, or to book a place, call Steve Smith on +44 (0)121 601 6691 or email him on s.smith@bpma.org.uk.

 

Into the West … with Ryan Loney

 

Ryan Loney living the dream as he wholeheartedly embraces the spirit of the west.

When working in Dublin my perception was that everywhere the far side of the Shannon was some sort of wet, green wasteland. I pictured it as littered with Supermac’s where people spat on their hands to signify closing a deal (I’m sure my friends and colleagues in Galway will love me saying that!).

As the workload in Dublin got ever-higher in recent years, when the alarm went each morning I thought to myself, how long could I sustain myself financially if I didn’t go in to work at all. People often use the term “firefighting” when describing the modern workday grind but I don’t feel this does it justice … it’s more akin to stepping inside the reactor at Chernoybl every Monday and firing it up each week!

I used to think that unsuccessful people are unsuccessful because they sit around doing nothing. However, my experiences so far have taught me that it’s often more likely caused by taking on far too much, and never quite bringing any tasks or projects to fruition. That said, I can’t deny that I very much enjoyed my time in Dublin but I always felt that, in order to grow and develop into a more well-rounded engineer, I needed an opportunity to work outside of the capital.

So, when the opportunity presented itself – by opportunity I mean my partner telling me we’re moving to Galway next year – it gave me a unique chance to reinvigorate my passion for the industry while also maintaining a healthy work/life balance which was becoming increasingly difficult to do in Dublin.

I’ve been working with O’Connor Sutton Cronin and based in their Galway office since June of this year, although my role does involve the occasional trip to Dublin. To date I’ve found that projects in Galway don’t move at quite the same pace as in Dublin. Even more important still is that project management programmes operate in an environment where contractors, clients and designers work closely and form a reasonably-happy union. By contrast, some projects in Dublin were like a marriage gone wrong, even before the project arrived on site!

In my current role I’m split between our Dublin and Galway bases, the brief being to work with my colleagues to secure more projects in Galway by providing a quality level of service to our clients and design team partners

But so much for the work environment. What about the environment full stop? It has been an adjustment acclimatising to Galway weather. If Bob Dylan was right and the answer is indeed blowing in the wind, then someone from Galway must have heard it by now! I’m told the August we just experienced was “exceptionally bad” and that it’s not normally as wet. As wet? According to Met Eireann it rained 20 out of the 22 working days in August and, if I’m to be honest, I can’t recall either of the dry days.

Despite the perpetual wind and rain though, Galway is a city with an electrifying atmosphere and enchanting streetscape and scenery, not to mention the vibrant and friendly locals. It is an inclusive place bursting with art, music, culture and craic. It’s easy to see why visitors from all around the globe – including this one particular visitor from the east – have such an affection for it.

PS: I’m still Chairman of CIBSE Ireland YEN (Young Engineers Network) and continue to spread the CIBSE Gospel in the Galway region. Drop me a line at ryan.loney@ocsc.ie to get involved.

Expect another letter in the new year.

No place for ‘cut and paste’ design specification

 

David Fitzpatrick, Chair, CIBSE Patrons

The bad habit of using “cut and paste” specifications is leaving some clients with poorly-performing and, in some cases, unsafe buildings. More and more we are seeing a different technical solution from the one agreed by the design team being included in the written specification because it has simply been copied across from a previous working document. This is a particular concern where the building services are crucial to health and safety – such as in fire and smoke control – but is a common problem right across the sector.

If the specification does not reflect what was agreed during design meetings, clients are well within their rights to take legal action because they will not receive the building they were promised. Also, if the specification is poorly-written or unclear, it is open to “interpretation” by the contractor. He/she can justifiably argue that what they have been presented with cannot be applied to the project in hand. They will argue that it cannot be built unless it is radically revised.

While there are many issues currently surrounding building services that are outside of the consultant’s control, this is one problem the industry can solve for itself by insisting on a better standard of specification writing. However, the status of the specification writer has been relegated in importance over the years, partly because of time and fee constraints.

Disputes                                                                                                                                                                        This is causing confusion, pricing errors and contractual disputes, in addition to undermining the industry’s and the Government’s aim of reducing the cost of construction, speeding up delivery and improving quality. Embracing digital processes would help enormously, but many of the specification templates used in the building services sector are so out-of-date that they cannot be easily translated into the formats required to support modern construction methods, and for integrating into Building Information Modelling (BIM).

No matter how much technology changes, specification will remain at the heart of mechanical and electrical engineering. How we communicate is vital if we are going to get the details right from the outset, and remove the ambiguity of interpretation that leads to compromised designs. That is why we need to adopt a consistent approach and use a format that is intelligible to all.

The lack of consistency in the way our supply chains exchange information is also increasing contractual risk, and will come under greater scrutiny in this post-Grenfell period. The current approach also encourages people to dump information at different stages of the project and then start again. This builds waste, delay and extra cost into the project process.

Contractors are often confronted by hundreds of pages of information that is not relevant to their specific role. This adds to the confusion. If we are being charitable, we could put the problem down to people not having enough time to spec the work properly, or not fully understanding the brief, but there is also an element of laziness – and in the worst cases dishonesty – involved.

The importance of a clear specification does not end at handover. In fact, the need for clearer detail becomes even more apparent during the building’s operational life. Unless the art of specification writing is given the status it deserves, the original design intent will be lost and the building will fail to meet performance targets.

The specification also needs to be simple and straightforward, and not full of onerous conditions and “weasley” protect the specifier’s back. In the end, this is simply writing a blank cheque for lawyers.

Variations                                                                                                                                                                        Specifications need to be clearer and free of ambiguity because the risk of disputes and project “variations” is far too high. Late changes to the design are the enemy of good engineering and we need clear and concise writing. The variable quality of specifications also makes it hard for estimating teams to understand what they are being asked to price. This leads them to either overprice work or to make mistakes that create problems further down the chain.

Many specifications also fail to reflect current industry standards and best practice because sections have been copied from out-of-date documents. This also leads to conflict between the contracting parties, further delaying the project and pushing up the cost.

If the Hackitt Review following the Grenfell tragedy has taught us anything, it is the importance of having a culture of collaboration in place from the outset – and before the specification is even written – so the necessary information exchange can take place and there can be technical clarity and rigour from day one. That must be the goal we all strive for … to make buildings safe and efficient. It will also cut waste from the process, which will lead to greater financial profit for everyone involved, including the end client.

It is crucial that fire safety designs in particular are precise and specific about the measures required for the building in question. Fire and smoke protection systems need to be considered as a complete package. That must be reflected in the specification to avoid the unhappy situation of contractors breaking up the component parts of the system and letting them out as separate tender packages in a bid to drive down the cost.

Active and passive fire protection measures have a symbiotic relationship and depend heavily on how they are installed in relation to each other. However, if the specification allows contractors to re-interpret the original design intent while looking for capital savings, they may not work as intended in the event of a fire. In the wake of Grenfell, the industry has a responsibility to put an end to that sort of behaviour.

Writing a specification is not something to be regarded as a bit of an inconvenience that can be delegated to someone with less experience, but more time. The art of specification is fundamental to the original design intent. Undervaluing it will undermine a building’s performance and safety.