Elliott Wood’s Andy Downey casts some pet hates into the bin
I am proud to be an engineer and often quote the following definition of structural engineering as “the science and art of designing with elegance and economy”. Engineering is intrinsically linked to best value – it’s what we do – so where did the calls come from for ‘value engineering’, or the dreaded VE, during the course of a project? I don’t recall Cameron and Osborne value engineering the Budget – they cut costs. So let’s have some cost cutting – CC, if an acronym helps.
Concrete is the second most consumed substance on earth after water – three tons a year are used for everyone on earth, 7.2 billion of us. It requires lots of fuel, 250kg of coal per ton in production, resulting in a ton of CO2 for a ton of concrete. We are filling our towns, cities and countryside with ever-increasing quantities and cement production is rising at 2.5% per annum. Although concrete can be broken down and reused, it can’t be truly recycled – you never get the cement back. What about alternatives such as lime?
Self-build projects are set to soar, and the government is backing the idea as a way to tackle the housing crisis. With actual built home numbers currently falling massively short of the 200,000 per annum target, the prospect of turning to DIY Britain to fill the gap is alarming. Perhaps political pressure on the big landbank holders and what about proper apprenticeship schemes to skill up the workforce… or will it fall to a dads’ (and mums’) army of self-builders, shoring up the home front?