New Innovation Centre Aims to Make UK an Industry Leader in Green Building Design
Scottish Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing MSP, has officially opened a new innovation hub aimed at becoming a world leader in boosting green efficiencies within construction.
One of the UK’s largest PVCu manufacturers, CMS, is behind the new centre which is located at its headquarters and manufacturing facility in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire.
It will showcase a range of products from windows and doors to wall insulation and heat pumps which deliver on reducing energy consumption, providing security and offering creative green solutions for builders.
The 10,000 square feet hub will also offer a range of services from design, manufacturing, installation and aftercare, and is in itself a model of energy efficiency.
A former disused warehouse the hub has been retrofitted with external stone wool insulation blocks, highly thermal efficient windows and an air source heat pump with VRV Intelligent Heat Recovery System, which recovers heat from one area of the building and transfers it to another and now has an A-rating for energy efficiency.
The centre will allow builders, architects, buyers and contractors as well as homeowners to meet with manufacturers and have access to some of the most innovative products around.
CMS Managing Director Andy Kerr said at the opening: “The Innovation Hub is showcasing an extensive range of energy efficient products, which taken, together have helped turn a dilapidated G-rated structure, fit for demolition, into an A-rated building.
“We are far from finished and our aim is to achieve an A Plus rating, which means it will be carbon neutral.”
He added that the new centre was aimed at allowing the UK construction industry to take advantage of the some of the most advanced products and services around, saving money in the long run.
Kerr added: “We partner only with the very best product manufacturers, like Saint-Gobain, and it is only right that our customers should have easy access to the components that make up their windows, doors and facades in a truly transparent supply chain.”
Why engineers must always consider human-induced vibration
Human induced vibration, or more accurately vibrations caused by human footfall, often conjures images of Millennium Bridge-style swaying or collapsing buildings.
But in reality, the ‘damage’ caused by human-induced vibrations is less likely to ruin a structure and more likely to cause discomfort in people. Though not as dramatic as a structural failure, any good engineer wants to make sure the people using their structures, be it bridges or buildings or anything in between, can do so safely and comfortably. This is why human-induced vibration must be considered within the design process.
Resonance v Impulse
There are two ways that human-induced vibrations affect structures: resonant, and impulse or transient response. Put simply, resonance occurs when Object A vibrates at the same natural frequency as Object B.
Object B resonates and begins to vibrate too. Think singing to break a wine glass! Although the person singing isn’t touching the glass, the vibrations of their voice are resonating with the glass’s natural frequency, causing this vibration to get stronger and stronger and eventually, break the glass. In the case of a structure, resonance occurs when the pedestrian’s feet land in time with the vibration.
On the other hand, impulse or transient vibration responses can be a problem on structures where its natural frequencies are too high for resonance to occur, such as where the structure is light or stiff. Here the discomfort is caused by the initial “bounce” of the structure caused by the footstep and is a concern on light or stiff structures.
Engineers must, of course, design to reduce the vibration effects caused by either impulse or resonance.
Potential impacts from human induced vibration
Human induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users. These include:
- Interfering with sensitive equipment Depending on the building’s purpose, what it houses can be affected by the vibrations of people using the building. Universities and laboratories, for example, may have sensitive equipment whose accuracy and performance could be damaged by vibrations. Even in ordinary offices the footfall vibration can wobble computer screens, upsetting the workers.
- Swaying bridges One of the most famous examples of human-induced resonance impacting a structure occurred with the Millennium Bridge. As people walked across the bridge, the footsteps caused the bridge to sway, and everybody had to walk in time with the sway because it was difficult not to. Thankfully, this feedback can only occur with horizontal vibrations so building floors are safe from it, but footbridges need careful checking to prevent it.
- Human discomfort According to research, vibrations in buildings and structures can cause depression and even motion sickness in inhabitants. Tall buildings sway in the wind and footsteps can be felt, even subconsciously by the occupants. It has been argued that modern efficient designs featuring thinner floor slabs and wider spacing in column design mean that these new builds are not as effective at dampening vibrations as older buildings are.
- Jeopardising structural integrity The build-up of constant vibrations on a structure can, eventually, lead to structural integrity being compromised. A worse-case scenario would be the complete collapse of the structure and is the reason some bridges insist that marching troops break step before crossing. Crowds jumping in time to music or in response to a goal in a stadium are also dynamic loads that might damage an under-designed structure.
How to avoid it
As mentioned, modern designs that favour thinner slabs and wider column spacing are particularly susceptible to all forms of vibration, human-induced or otherwise, but short spans can also suffer due to their low mass. Using sophisticated structural engineering software is an effective method for engineers to test for and mitigate footfall and other vibrations at the design stage.