Innovation in Construction – Good for the Environment, the Community and for Productivity

The construction industry is often seen as being stuck in its ways. But things are changing. Innovative thinking on construction projects brings benefits to surrounding communities, the environment, and to project costs and timing.
The new £36m, 23 storey high student accommodation building in the centre of Portsmouth is a good example. It will stand 73 metres tall and offer 576 beds to University of Portsmouth students with social spaces and a gym.

Number One Portsmouth has a 92 week programme ending in August 2018. The city centre location offers a very tight construction site.

Designed to achieve BREEAM Excellent, the project’s design includes a reinforced concrete frame with 30m deep continuous flight auger piling, metsec infill with a Gebrick tile and Petrarch cladding, curtain walling system, off-site prefabricated Pod bathrooms and a combined heating and power system (CHP).

The original plan was to use a saddleback crane during construction. By rethinking this and using a smaller luffer crane we reduced oversailing licence costs and the impact on local residents and businesses. Although luffer cranes require more operations for each lift we will improve productivity by installing pre-cast concrete columns at double height. This will reduce crane lifts by 50% and allow faster construction.

Our revised crane strategy will also provide a better lift capacity and reduce the risks of working adjacent to Network Rail. Additionally, the luffer crane will climb as the building grows, allowing for each floor to be closed off when completed.

To ensure a safe working environment at height we will be protecting our operatives and reducing the risk of failing materials by having a fully enclosed hydraulic climbing protection screen to the working floors of the concrete frame installation. This screen will also save on crane use and offer cost effective protection as the building grows.

Environment and Community

Construction sites are traditionally ugly, surrounded by unsightly hoardings. With Number One Portsmouth we are using living hoardings. These support ivy and plants that attract wildlife and meet the requirements of the local biodiversity strategy. Living hoardings are also effective at reducing noise, dust and air pollution. We are also recycling water from our site cabins and water butts.

The local community will clearly be affected during construction and it’s essential that they feel involved. We will be engaging with local residents and stakeholders through regular newsletters and our dedicated twitter account, @N1Portsmouth.

The project is a good example of how a bit of innovative thinking delivers benefits all round.

Jim McCormick.

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