Net Zero by 2050 is set in UK law, and for UK industry this means halving its greenhouse emissions by 2030. We know that a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions linked to the construction industry is required, as these account for around 40% of the UK’s total. This will require a major transformation of the industry, adapting and changing their ways of working, the products and materials they use or produce, and equip their workforce with new technologies and skills to achieve this aim.
Composites offer huge benefits to construction, not least in their ability to be built using modern methods, as well as the cost-effective nature of their construction and installation. Many of their key properties, such as long-term durability, low maintenance, and light weight to high-strength ratio can make many construction projects more sustainable. They are intrinsically safer and can offer a more aesthetically pleasing option. On the flip side, the construction industry offers huge opportunities for growth within the composites sector.
The construction sector group (CSG) within Composites UK, chaired by Allan Curtis of Design and Display Structures, is working to promote good practice in the use of composites across a huge range of applications, to support more sustainable projects and ensure the industry is enable to make informed decisions on material choice and design. Tasked with delivery against some of the key outcomes from the CLF Composites for Construction Roadmap published in 2019, the CSG has recently joined the Construction Products Association (CPA) and has formed three working groups to focus critical work streams.
In the coming year, Composites UK’s construction activity will be focused as follows:
Demonstrating the effective application of composites
One of the key barriers to the confident and effective use of composites in the construction sector is lack of awareness of their potential. The CSG marketing working group, chaired by Aaron McConkey of Fibrelite Composites, is tasked with increasing end user confidence through key activities including a ‘Lunch and Learn’ series of webinars, a member stand at UK Construction Week and a series of new application case studies, which are held on the website.
Fire smoke and toxicity
With the appropriate choice of resin, additive and fillers, composites can be used to make structures with clear fire performance benefits over many other materials. However, following high-profile disasters such as Grenfell, it is an area that asset owners, specifiers and architects require reassurance that composites offer a safe option. The CSG Fire, Smoke and Toxicity working group, chaired by Trevor Fielding of Finnester Coatings, aims to understand the changing regulations and support the composites industry to prepare and educate the construction sector around performance of composites in fire.
Demonstrating the sustainability credentials of composites across a range of construction applications will be critical to their uptake across the sector to help address the challenges posed by climate change targets. The CSG Sustainability group, is working to provide the evidence to support composites as a sustainable material option.
The Construction Products Association (CPA) acts as an ‘umbrella’ trade body for dozens of product-specific trade association members. It is the largest and most influential trade body representing construction products. Composites UK CSG has joined CPA to support our focused work streams in three key areas; Economic, technical, regulatory, sustainability and policy information; Representation on technical and sustainability committees; Networking and business opportunities with major UK clients.
CSG member companies are entitled to full access to the CPA’s resources as part of their Composites UK membership.
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