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Q3.13 // THE PASS LIST New RICS members share their journeys p14 TALKING TECH Winning ways in the TMT property sector p30 GROWTH MARKET Surveyors working in timber and forestry p34

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CBRE is proud to have been recognized as the number one commercial real estate services firm in Hong Kong at the RICS Awards 2013. • • • • • •

Office Agency Team of the Year Retail Agency Team of the Year Industrial Agency Team of the Year Project Management Team of the Year Best Deal of the Year Contribution to the Community Team of the Year

Our leadership in real estate is based on bringing the best team of people together. | +852 2820 2800 | Follow us on Twitter @CBREHongKong

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N O 10 Q3.13 //

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX Land supply in Hong Kong is an issue that the government is spending much time and effort on. Reclamation outside Victoria Harbour and rock caverns development are workable options under the existing regulatory environment – but can we think outside the box? I remember the days when there was a land exchange system that catalysed the development of new towns in the New Territories. Perhaps, under a different ratio, this could be replicated to release more land – but it would take strong commitment and leadership to do so. Even Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung recently conveyed a message to RICS HQ that Hong Kong needs a lot more built environment professionals. With more major infrastructural developments planned, there are endless opportunities for chartered surveyors to exercise their expertise. SIR DAVID AKER-JONES HONRICS PRESIDENT, BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONALS FEDERATION OF HONG KONG

Regulars 05_FEEDBACK Your views on Modus and the surveying profession 06_INTELLIGENCE Global news, plus opinions, reviews and reactions 39_BUSINESS ADVICE A plan of action to help you take control of your email inbox

30_THE SILICON REVOLUTION The unconventional workspace demands of London’s burgeoning technology, media and telecommunications sector 34_TALES FROM THE WOOD Three RICS members discuss the ins and outs of working in the timber and forestry sectors

44_LAW ADVICE Contractual points to consider when dealing with construction materials stored off-site

40_WAR ON WASTE How surveyor’s are taking the lead in minimising construction and demolition waste, with some best practice case studies



14_NEW RECRUITS Professionals in the Asia region share their unique paths to becoming RICS members

45_RICS NEWS News and updates, plus a message from the RICS President

18_TOMORROW’S MATERIALS Fascinating new and upcoming construction materials, plus some innovative uses for a few more familiar products


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48_EVENTS The latest updates and events 50_THE MEASURE Interesting facts on concrete usage in the built environment


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Feedback //


ON A SHU-STRING As a member of the Sheffield Hallam Built Environment Student Society (SHUBESS), my peers and I were delighted to receive the March ‘Learning’ issue (global version). Being a part of the society involves the promotion of networking and the addition of new skills for built environment students. The ‘Learning’ issue provides fascinating and relevant insight into the APC (Assessment of Professional Competence) process, the importance of networking and the value of additional training. By reading Modus, students achieve a real understanding, and ‘get under the skin’, of being a surveyor across all specialisms and levels of expertise. We feel the mentoring initiative discussed in the issue is a good example of how to bridge the gap between education and profession – which is why many of us have benefited from a placement year in industry. One problem the committee faces is making best use of the (limited) time we spend at university to bring together the advantages of learning alongside friends and fellow students. In an increasingly complicated industry, sharing ideas and branching out will greatly add to our experience and move away from learning on a student shoestring. After reading Modus, we hope that SHUBESS can continue to grow and contribute to the creation of wellrounded young professionals. Matthew Wackett, Sheffield, UK LEAD BY EXAMPLE I would like to respond to one of the points that Charles Fifield made in his letter published in the May issue of Modus Asia

(page 4). He commented that ‘if climate change theory is correct, then it doesn’t really matter what we do in the UK - it’s the US, China and the emerging economies that are the issue.’ Assuming that he is referring to anthropogenic climate change theory, I would respond that it does matter what we do in this country. Surely if we in the UK, by advances in technology and by adopting appropriate changes to how we do things, were able to demonstrate a way by which it is possible to live in a more sustainable way without detriment to our standard of living, then the developing countries would follow our lead. As things stand, however, with our wasteful use of resources and energy, and our grotesque overpopulation, I don’t think we set a good example to anyone. Eric Carter MRICS, West Yorkshire, UK BACK TO BASICS In response to your request for a project using new or unusual materials, I hope the following will be of interest to surveyors. I’m a surveyor operating in the Lac Léman Région (Geneva-Lausanne) of Switzerland. I was approached by a client in the nearby Jura Mountains to advise on a long-standing problem connected with a developer having ‘shoe-horned’ in an extra three-storey house on a steep, narrow site 20 years ago. The buyers had lived there from new, and were now wondering how to restrain the unstable hillside. We quickly identified that conventional approaches, such as stone-filled gabion baskets and reinforced concrete retaining walls, had to be ruled out, as they are quite stark, engineering solutions. Instead, we deployed a traditional system used in mountainous terrain, where trees are logged to produce a giant ‘cradlework’, which is filled with stone and soil, dressed with a matting mulch and planted up. Respecting the naturalness of the setting, we’ve effectively re-engineered the slopes by terracing, doubled the useful surface

area of the garden, and provided an exciting opportunity for habitat regeneration. We’ve also given the client peace of mind and a new hobby – designing hanging gardens to clothe the fortress! This system has lots of applications, such as revetments, retaining walls, river-bank erosion etc, and the results here are quite spectacular, and likely to be permanent and sustainable. It also promotes traditional skills from Haute-Savoie, France, which are not widely seen, and show that engineers need not rely just on concrete and steel. Alan Bird MRICS, Switzerland SHOW AND TELL As a long-time Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) Chair, Assessor and Doctor, I always try to spot relevant issues in Modus and other publications. In the May issue (global version), three surveyors proffer sage and helpful advice to candidates. Further to this advice, could I suggest to all candidates undergoing their APC that, while record-keeping, regular liaison with councillors and supervisors, and a knowledge of ethics, bribery, core values and the RICS rules are all very important ingredients in the process, the most important is to be a competent, able surveyor or valuer at a newly qualified level of ability. Candidates sometimes forget that they need to be able to demonstrate that competence within a 60-minute session, while explaining their critical analysis and answering questions on it! That takes hard work and planning. John R Fullerlove FRICS, Bedford, UK

We regret we are unable to print, or make individual responses to, all letters that we receive. If your letter relates directly to RICS, please email


Modus Asia edition is the official publication of the Royal


Editor Oliver Parsons // Art Director Christie Ferdinando

Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Asia: Room 3707-09,

Editorial board Jaclyn Dunstan and Mark Goodwin (UK)

// Contributing Editor Brendon Hooper // Deputy Editor

Hopewell Centre, 183 Queen’s Road East, Hong Kong

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Views expressed in Modus are those of the named author and are not necessarily those of RICS or the publisher. The contents of this magazine are fully protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in any form without the prior permission of the publisher. All information correct at time of going to press. All rights reserved. The publisher cannot accept liability for errors or omissions. RICS does not accept responsibility for loss, injury or damage or costs that result from, or are connected in any way to, the use of products or services advertised. All editions of Modus are printed on paper sourced from sustainable, properly managed forests. This magazine can be recycled for use in newspapers and packaging. Please dispose of it at your local collection point. The polywrap is made from biodegradable material and can be recycled.

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:QUEEN ALIA AIRPORT AMMAN, JORDAN Don’t be alarmed – the alien spaceship has come in peace. Foster+Partners’ spectacular new airport terminal in Amman certainly looks like it’s arrived from outer space, but the architecture firm isn’t designing spacecraft just yet (though it has designed a spaceport under construction in New Mexico). Inspired by Bedouin tents, the ‘domes’ of the terminal have been constructed to a modular, flexible template that will allow the airport to expand, as the owner AIG Group aims to triple its capacity to handle 12m passengers per year by 2030. Concrete has been used throughout to help ‘passively’ cool the environment – the material’s high thermal mass absorbs heat during the day and slowly releases it during cooler periods at night. Furthermore, horizontal louvres have been installed to shade the surrounding glass façades. The louvres help reduce the heating effect of direct sunlight, and lessen the impact of discomforting glare that reflects towards the runway.

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Intelligence //


HONG KONG IS FACING A FOOD WASTE CRISIS Maureen Fung MRICS Sun Hung Kai Properties Group


In 2009, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), together with the C&I sector, launched the Food Waste Recycling Partnership Scheme to promote good food waste management practice, such as sourceseparation and recycling, while Greeners Action’s No Leftover campaign aims to reduce food waste in shopping centres. In addition to these and other important waste reduction and recycling initiatives, the government has announced the development of two new modern Organic Waste Treatment Facilities (OWTF), where source-separated C&I food waste will be recycled and converted into biogas and compost for local use. When the two phases of the OWTF are completed in 2017, it’s estimated that around 28m kWh of surplus electricity will be generated for the power grid every year – enough to power up to 6,000 households. We hope that RICS members will encourage local companies to join the EPD’s Food Waste Recycling Partnership Scheme, and also help to promote food waste recycling and support events that highlight the importance of food waste reduction in Hong Kong. MAUREEN FUNG MRICS is general manager (leasing) of the Sun Hung Kai Properties Group.

Property STRONG GROWTH PREDICTED IN SOUTHEAST ASIAN MARKETS The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economies are outpacing those of the rest of the world, according to a new report by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). As growth in the region increases liquidity and reduces debt, real estate assets are increasingly becoming attractive to global investors. JLL notes


TOO MUCH TRASH At South East New Territories Landfill (SENT,) one of three key disposal sites in Hong Kong, around 4,800 tonnes of waste is processed every day

that while Singapore remains the commercial and financial hub, emerging markets are making headway across Southeast Asia. Despite a slight slowdown during the first quarter of 2013 in some markets, such as Indonesia and Thailand, economies across Southeast Asia anticipate growth for the remainder of the year.

‘This growth translates to robust domestic investment into commercial property, driving demand for office and logistics space,’ said RICS Vice President Chris Fossick FRICS, managing director of JLL Singapore and Southeast Asia. ‘Increased consumer spending will boost demand for expanded retail

formats, which in turn will support the developments of retail malls and accompanying infrastructure in emerging markets. We’re now starting to see increased transparency in the real estate markets of these economies, which will ultimately spur regional growth encouraging investment.’

Image Creative Commons

eople in Hong Kong love to spend money on food. In total, around HK$350bn is spent every year on dining out – however, almost a third of food ordered is left uneaten, leading to more than 3,500 tonnes of food waste generated every day. Among the developed regions in Asia, Hong Kong’s citizens produce on average 20-30% more food waste than people in countries such as South Korea or Taiwan. A third of this food waste originates from the commercial and industrial (C&I) sector, and the rest from households. Over the past decade, the volume of domestic food waste has declined, whereas C&I food waste has tripled from 10% in 1999 to 30% in 2009. Furthermore, the traditional method of disposing organic food waste in landfill rapidly depletes the limited amount of landfill space available, and its decomposition produces greenhouse gases, such as methane, which contributes to overall carbon emissions. To help reduce this alarming growth in food waste, the Hong Kong Blueprint for Sustainable Use of Resources 2013-2022 has been unveiled. The blueprint maps out comprehensive strategies, policies and action plans to achieve the key target for waste management of reducing the per capita municipal solid waste disposal rate 40% by 2022. The plan includes policy and legislation (such as municipal solid waste charges), territory-wide campaigns (such as the Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign) and waste-related infrastructure (such as organic waste treatment facilities, waste-to-energy integrated waste management facilities, landfill extensions and wasteto-energy incineration facilities).

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The world’s first ‘bioreactor’ façade has been displayed at the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg, Germany. Using 200m2 of integrated photo-bioreactors, the façade – installed on a pilot test ‘BIQ‘ House (above) – generates biomass and heat from the cultivation of microalgae to heat water in a closed-loop system. The idea is the result of three years of development by Colt International, based on a bioreactor concept developed by SSC Ltd, and with design work by Arup. The BIQ house will continue to be used as a testing hub for future ‘living’ buildings.


China and Hong Kong North Americas Europe and Scandinavia Asia Pacific and Australasia CSI Central and South America Middle East and Africa Indian sub-continent

46.5% 22.2% 11.3% 6.5% 5.3% 3.3% 2.6% 2.4%

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esides Hong Kong, will Shanghai, Binhai and Qianhai emerge as the tripartite financial centre for China’s currency liberalisation by 2020? With Qianhai’s latest development, the likelihood increases. Qianhai is a place-making project by the Shenzhen government and architect James Corner Field Operations, which became well known after China’s State Council approved the Overall Development Plan for Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Area in 2010. Designated as an‘experimental zone’ dedicated to developing modern service industries to aid China’s financial reform, Qianhai will attract around US$48.4bn in investments, with a land value of around US$225bn. It will also act as a‘renminbi centre’for the onshore/offshore clearing system – assisting Shanghai and Hong Kong. Qianhai has the last piece of waterfront land in western Shenzhen, which, if bridges are built, will be accessible by the cluster of industrial cities in the Pearl River Delta. The majority of Qianhai’s total 15km2 land is reclaimed, and its use is limited to commercial, office and logistics; no residential projects are allowed. To control land prices, the Qianhai Development Authority will sign the primary lease with the government, and will sub-lease land to interested enterprises and property developers.

By 2020, when construction and infrastructure is due to complete, Qianhai’s position as a global renminbi hub will be more obvious. It’s anticipated that, by this time, the volume of renminbi transactions will increase in Qianhai and Hong Kong, and considering Hong Kong’s experience in creating economic value for reclaimed land, Qianhai’s land value may increase significantly. The financial reform of the renminbi as a global functional currency mandates a platform, and Qianhai’s built environment design can serve this purpose by facilitating the circular flow of the renminbi from Hong Kong. Qianhai is an economic intervention with economic motives to spur economic growth. China’s biggest challenge will be to open the capital markets before a safety net is in place.

BOOM TOWN The masterplan for Qianhai Water City, a vibrant new urban centre that’s expected to become an major centre for productionrelated services

FRANCIS CHIU FRICS is executive director of asset management for Regal REIT.



A collaborative proposal between architecture firm Broadway Malyan and planners Arah Rancang Malaysia has been chosen as the masterplan for the Bandar Malaysia project – the redevelopment of the old Sungai Besi Airport in Kuala Lumpur. Developers 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad) plan to combine mixed-use developments with a commercial district to transform the 196-hectare site – which was formerly Malaysia’s first international airport – into one of the country’s most desirable locations to live and work. The appointment is the culmination of an international multistage competition organised by the Malaysian Institute of Planners (MIP).

Asian cities have risen rapidly up the rankings for global office rents in the past five years, according to research by Knight Frank. For example, Hong Kong now has the most expensive office rents in the world – ahead of London’s West End – while Beijing has shown the strongest rise in the past five years, moving from 25th place in 2007 to 12th in 2012. It’s likely the Chinese capital will enter the top 10 this year. Meanwhile, Singapore has risen from 10th position among the leading global office markets in 2007 to 6th in 2012.


10 08


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Demand for high-quality commercial and residential property is growing in Africa as the continent sustains strong economic growth, according to Knight Frank’s Africa Report 2013. Africa as a whole has averaged a 5% GDP growth per year over the past 10 years, with mega-cities such as Lagos, Nairobi (pictured), Accra, Lusaka and Dar es Salaam driving growth and attracting greater interest from occupiers, developers and investors. In the office sector, many key African cities have severe shortages of highquality space at the specifications expected by international companies, which has led to extremely high rents in some cities. Meanwhile, the demand from offshore buyers for high-quality residential accommodation continues to increase in countries such as Morocco, Kenya and South Africa. ‘Many African countries remain challenging places in which to do business, but for those able to steer their way through African property markets, there is the promise of high returns and significant growth potential,’ said Peter Welborn, head of Africa at Knight Frank. View the report at

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A VND30tn (US$1.4bn) bailout to revive Vietnam’s real estate market has been released by the State Bank of Vietnam through the five state-owned banks. From this amount, real estate developers listed by the Ministry of Construction that are building housing projects for low-income earners are able to borrow 30%, or VND9tn, to start projects and complete existing ones. Half-finished projects that are expected to complete in 2013-2015 are to be prioritised to get bank loans, or projects that have completed the legal procedures for the investment, and have 50% of apartments sold.

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Q3.1301.11 // MODUS // MODUS ASIA

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Expansion plans

Katie Livesey Building Research Establishment


ver the past couple of decades, the Latham and Egan Reports have held sway over the construction industry, bringing quality and the customer centre stage. Now, buildings are seen as assets that must perform to meet the strategic and business needs of an organisation just as much as its people and equipment do. However, in all of this, users – and we are all users – are rarely considered. Building users don’t necessarily select or specify buildings, but they do work in them, or visit them to obtain services, such as patients in hospitals and pupils in schools. They are, therefore, a great source of information about how an organisation can get more out of its built assets, in terms of both worker performance and business results. When we consider users, it makes sense to think about building outcomes. For example, the purpose of a school is to be a place where children learn, and its design and operation can affect how well it achieves that purpose. Leaking ceilings contribute to a poor building outcome, but there are also more subtle effects

at play: good acoustics in a classroom, and a wise use of textures, light and colours, can all improve the attention span of pupils. So how well do we currently take account of the wellbeing of users? Post-occupancy evaluations, and similar techniques, are a step in the right direction – but we need to do more from the very beginning of the construction process, to systematically cover the factors that affect users’ physical and psychological wellbeing, and their perceptions of the buildings they occupy. There has been no effort to synthesise the specialist knowledge that exists on this subject into practical guidance. If we pay closer attention to users, buildings can be more efficient and effective, and their workers and clients happier and more productive. What we need is a cohesive body of knowledge to guide us, and a willingness to listen to and learn from users. And, given the likely impact on organisations’ bottom lines, can we really afford not to? KATIE LIVESEY is a senior consultant in BRE’s Building Technology Group.


One thing I know...

THERE ARE NO SHORT CUTS TO SUCCESS Vincent Clancy MRICS CEO, Turner & Townsend ‘When it comes to expanding your business overseas, it’s important to think long term. There are no short cuts to success. Negotiating the global industry map, working out how to differentiate your business from others, and building your winning team and capability takes time and resources. It’s a real commitment with highs and lows along the way.’

12 08

Turner & Townsend has increased its presence in Asia with the acquisition of Hong Kong-based cost consultant HA Brechin. Meanwhile, Savills has expanded its global network by forming a new association in the Philippines with KMC MAG Group in Bonifacio Global City, Manila’s prime business district.

Flood expertise

Mott MacDonald is to provide consultancy services for a project to improve flood defences and drainage in coastal areas of Bangladesh. Funded by the Dutch government, the Blue Gold programme will cover an area of around 160,000 ha, and help rural communities sustainably manage their flood infrastructure.

Sport services

Atkins has been appointed to design and deliver construction supervision services for the Sultan Qaboos Sports Academy in Muscat, Oman. The complex will include a sports science laboratory, an aquatic training centre, a tennis stadium and indoor running tracks.

Future growth 2012

Asia-Pacific North America Europe Middle East Latin America Rest of the world


2012 44% 24% 21% 5% 3% 3%

2009 39% 30% 23% 4% 1% 3%

Source: Ledbury research in Knight Frank’s The wealth report 2013

By 2025, 60% of all global construction growth will come from just three countries – China, India and the US, says Global Construction 2025, a new report by Global Construction Perspectives and Oxford Economics. China is also expected to represent over a quarter of all construction output by the end of 2020-2025.

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MRT Corp Malaysia


fter completing a bachelor diploma at the University of Technology in Malaysia, and then graduating from the University of Greenwich with a degree in quantity surveying, I joined a local QS consultancy in Malaysia in 2001. I worked there for over three years, then moved to a contractor firm and, after that, a developer firm. Currently, I’m attached to MRT Corp, an urban rail transit provider, where I manage the contractual and commercial for system works aspects for the Klang Valley mass rapid transit (MRT) project. ‘As my university course was RICS accredited, I was aware of the significance of becoming chartered early on. But it was only after working for 10 years in various surveying roles that I finally decided it was time to join RICS. I took the Graduate Route 3, and successfully became a professional member in March last year. ‘I think RICS’ involvement in our region is very important. The organisation requires its members to comply with strict ethical guidelines, and also to participate in CPD (continuing professional development) programmes every year, which ensures that RICS members maintain a high professional standard of service and are always aware of the latest changes in the industry. There are now around a thousand qualified RICS members in Malaysia, and many of us meet regularly at seminars. Recently, we had a chance to meet the former RICS President See Lian Ong during an event to discuss the challenges for new surveyors in Malaysia. ‘In terms of growth in the construction and property sectors, Asia is peaking and there’s a need for qualified professionals to drive international standards forward. RICS Malaysia has signed a memorandum of cooperation with other prestigious property organisations in Malaysia and its neighbouring countries, such as China, Japan and Singapore, to help promote and develop property professionals. It’s these joint efforts that are helping to augment Asia’s growth as a powerful region for the global construction and property industry.’



‘In terms of growth in the construction and property sectors, Asia is peaking and there is a need for highly qualified professionals’

Photography Richard Humphries

PREMALA NAIDU HARIDASS MRICS, contracts manager for


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De e



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‘The challenge in Singapore is to standardise technical practices among QS firms but, importantly, not to see this as eliminating the competition’

CHERLYN HUI SIEW LEE MRICS, managing surveyor at Faithful+Gould Singapore


graduated with a diploma in building management, but chose not to follow my peers in entering that field. Instead, I chose quantity surveying, as I’ve had a passion for numbers ever since I was young, so it seemed a good fit career-wise. ‘I first heard about RICS during my degree studies, as the lecturer advised us that, if we intended to pursue surveying as a career, it would be a privilege to have RICS accreditation. So it became my goal in life to become a member – but it wasn’t easy. After my degree, I worked for a contracting company to repay my student loan and get some real-life experience of construction costs. During this time, I tried several times to complete the logbooks, but due to work commitments, I was always unable to do so. ‘Despite years of work, this unfulfilled dream bothered me, so I didn’t give up. In 2008, I joined Faithful+Gould, and found the firm to be very supporting of its staff in helping to achieve RICS accreditation. Eventually, I passed the APC (Assessment of Professional Competence) interview, and was proud to finally achieve my goal. ‘RICS’ competency requirements for members are more onerous than some of the local associations and institutions, which helps improve the quality of surveyors in the region. In Singapore, there is a local body to collect and update construction cost data – the Building and Construction Authority – but it seems their data is more relevant for public projects, and the private sector, in general, is still lagging behind in this respect, and in updating the schedule of rates for the industry to use as a guideline. Perhaps RICS could help QS members more in consolidating and circulating cost data. ‘In terms of fees, the industry here is a very competitive market, and when bidding for projects, success is still highly dependent on price alone. The challenge is to standardise technical practices among QS firms but, importantly, not to see this as eliminating the competition. Through standardisation, we are improving the quality of services in the industry as a whole.’


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Photography Zakaria Zainal

ROBERT TORRANCE MRICS, managing director

KWAN KIT WONG MRICS, executive manager


transport planning manager at Sun Hung Kai Properties Group Hong Kong

of Asia corporate real estate at Manulife Financial Hong Kong

of the Building and Construction Authority Singapore

‘I started as a property manager in the Toronto area in the late 1980s, taking care of leasing and asset management for a mixed portfolio of buildings. After investing in my own residential property and renting it out, I was curious about who owned and managed larger properties and developments, and came across the relatively unknown property management profession. ‘I’ve been aware of RICS since I moved to Hong Kong in the mid-90s, but always thought it was a UK-centric organisation. After reading an RICS publication and researching the process, I gained membership through the Senior Professional Route. The application was straightforward – a comprehensive review of my background, education and experience – but the assessment interviews were a challenge. However, I’m very pleased that I went through with it. ‘Standards vary widely in the Asian markets, so it’s important for professionals here to be able to understand the differences. Even in a mature market such as Hong Kong, there is a variety of conventions for rentable and saleable area that can be confusing to the investor or occupier. An RICS professional has the ability to identify these differences and the risks and impacts that are associated with them. ‘RICS is also active in advising the government on land supply, and the subsequent supply of office and residential space. There are other property and corporate real estate organisations in Hong Kong, but none have the same reach or depth as RICS.’

‘I became chartered in March last ‘I originally trained as an urban year, but I began my surveying planner, graduating in 1986 from career after I graduated from the Newcastle University in the UK. National University of Singapore I first moved to London to work in 2006, working for Rider Levett as a planning officer, and then Bucknall, a consultant quantity returned to Hong Kong in 1989 surveyor firm. In 2009, I decided to join the Housing Authority to take the RICS Graduate Route 1 and work on public housing to membership. My recollection projects. In the late-90s, I began of the two-year trainee period is working in Mainland China, and full of bitter and sweet memories, spent a lot of time focused on as I had to resolve numerous railway and metro development challenges along the way under projects. Last year, I joined Sun the guidance of my supervisor, Hung Kai Properties Group. Chye Shing Lam FRICS. In fact, ‘Having been in the industry my first few years as a surveyor for nearly 30 years, I was familiar was a steep learning curve, but with RICS and its work, and was my supervisor gave me invaluable extremely pleased to be made an advice, and also encouraged me eminent fellow member. Using to read proactively to make sure my experience, I can contribute I’m always equipped to look after to RICS’ position papers, and the interest of my client. provide land use and planning ‘With the push towards higher advice to RICS and its members. productivity here in Singapore, ‘China is undergoing a major buildings will need to be urbanisation process, with some constructed more efficiently 70% of the country’s population through the wider adoption expected to be city dwellers by of standard components, and 2040. However, as a profession, contractors will have to improve development is still at a relatively their work processes. But it’s an young stage, so it’s important exciting place for a surveyor to that professional codes and standards are established. RICS be as opportunities abound, and can bring tremendous value to the future of the construction China, not only in cementing industry is bright. good professional practices, but ‘Other than the local Singapore also in helping create important Institute of Surveyors and Valuers links with international markets. (SISV), RICS is the only leading ‘Continuous learning is key to professional body for the land, keeping up with professional property and construction standards and achieving industry here. Working job satisfaction. As together with SISV, RICS a member of RICS, can help raise the levels FOR MORE I can now widen of professionalism, INFORMATION my professional which will improve ABOUT THE VARIOUS ROUTES TO RICS network, which will productivity and MEMBERSHIP inevitably expose strengthen capability visit me to many new in Singapore’s everideas and trends.’ changing environment.


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The ability to ‘print’ a building is undeniably very exciting. A 3D-printing system is a large, mobile machine with multiple nozzles that spray a binding solution onto layers of sand (or a sand-like material). The machine is connected to a computer, so the designer draws a shape digitally,

clicks print, and then the machine creates the shape by spraying layer upon layer. But what can it realistically be used for? UK-headquartered 3D printing pioneer D-Shape lists multiple applications on its website, such as bus stops, swimming pool furnishings, kids’ playground equipment and recreating missing

parts of columns. However, one project D-Shape is involved in shows how the technique could really come into its own. Working with the European Space Agency, D-Shape is exploring the possibility of 3D printing a lunar base. JF Brandon, a representative from D-Shape Canada, says: ‘3D printing is ideal for the project because it


would use lunar soil, which would drastically reduce the material and equipment needed to be transported to the moon from Earth.’ Applications: Ideal for construction in remote sites, such as deserts – and other planets. Availability: At the moment, 3D printing at scale is still in the very early stages of development.


Compiled by Roxane McMeeken

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Materials //

‘Materials should perform in terms of aesthetics, too’ IAN HUNTER former materials researcher and co-founder of Materials Council


hen we advise on materials selection, we usually take a performance-based approach, but materials should perform in terms of aesthetics, too. Often, the most important innovation is when changes are made to a material we already use – for instance, the current trend of enhancing traditional and natural materials. With natural materials, one problem has always been that they don’t provide the level of aesthetic consistency the architects want. But now, there’s a new wave of activity aimed at controlling nature: a supplier of traditional Italian marble, for example, has developed computer software that allows them to scan the marble and classify it in terms of its aesthetic qualities. The system sorts marble into eight categories, resulting is less wastage and a material that architects are more likely to use. ‘With traditional products, there’s a huge amount of innovation happening in concrete – from carbonnegative concrete to decorative products. One product I particularly like can produce a pattern or message when it gets wet. It’s not widely used yet, but it could have a range of applications for aesthetic or safety purposes. ‘In contrast, I think some new materials are being over-hyped. Graphene, for example, is a high-tech, lightweight super-conductor, but I don’t see a need for it in construction. It’s very expensive, and is much more appropriate for replacing silicon chips.’




Probably as close to a miracle product for the construction industry as it gets, this new type of cement actually absorbs more carbon dioxide than it emits. With traditional cement considered to be the largest CO2 emitter of all the mainstream construction materials, this new product could make the biggest dent in the industry’s carbon footprint. Making traditional cement entails a carbon-intensive process of heating limestone to 1,450oC. However, an alternative has been pioneered by UK firm Novacem that’s based on magnesium oxide, which means more CO2 is absorbed than emitted during its production. Further benefits are a lower heating temperature – 700oC is the maximum – and the fact that magnesium oxide, used to produce magnesium silicate, is a resource found in abundance worldwide. Founded in 2007 as a spin-off from Imperial College London, Novacem unfortunately went into liquidation last year. Australian manufacturer Calix has bought the enterprise, allowing investment to continue in this important product. Killer benefit: Absorbs carbon. Availability: Still at prototype stage.




Counter-intuitive as it may seem, lead is emerging as a ‘new’ sustainable material, and can now even be found in the Building Research Establishment’s Green Guide. One of its main green features is its low melting point of 327oC, which is below that of any other metal used in construction, giving lead a smaller carbon footprint than other materials used to do the same jobs. Another benefit is that lead is completely recyclable, and can be used repeatedly without any loss of performance. It also has low replacement and maintenance requirements – as thousands of churches around the UK can prove. ‘In terms of life-cycle quality, over 65 years, lead is almost 100% cheaper than conventional roofing materials,’ explains Doug Weston from the Lead Sheet Association. But what about the risk of theft? It’s hoped the recently introduced ban on cash transactions for scrap metal in England and Wales will make lead a less attractive target. And as for its toxicity, Weston says it just needs to be handled safely and correctly, and that the impact from run-off is minimal. Killer benefit: 100% recyclable. Cost: Significantly cheaper than conventional alternatives.




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If proof is required of the durability of rammed earth, its most successful application is in the Great Wall of China. But more recently, it was used to build the Sheppard Lecture Theatre at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales, completed in 2010. Here, beautiful curved rammed earth walls reach up to 7.2m in height: ‘The building is a great advert for rammed earth – it’s big, bold and three storeys high,’ says Rowland Keable, director of Rammed Earth Consulting, which worked on the theatre. Formed by packing 320 tonnes of loose subsoil into layers 150mm thick between shuttering, the walls are load-bearing, but here they don’t provide the external façade – instead, they are surrounded by timberframed glazing on one side, and hemp and lime on the other. The material’s comeback over the past couple of years is not only down to its durability and aesthetic quality. As the approach typically involves earth found on site, or very close by, rammed earth has the lowest carbon emissions of any mainstream masonry material, explains Keable. There’s no need to transport it, or heat or chemically process it, and it doesn’t involve sending waste to landfill. What’s more, rammed earth buildings have an insulation value similar to that of conventional bricks or blocks, but as the walls are thicker than standard masonry, they store more heat or cold than a conventional building. As a result, rammed earth has been classified an A+ material under the BREAAM sustainability assessment methodology. But, realistically, how widespread could rammed earth become? ‘At the moment, people are building one- or two-storey buildings with cement – a material strong enough to build skyscrapers. This is clearly not the best approach,’ says Keable. ‘We need replacements, and rammed earth will undoubtedly be part of the picture.’ Killer benefit: The lowest embodied carbon of any building material. Cost: Similar to a conventional approach.


Image Timothy Soar &


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Materials //

Pilkington’s self-cleaning glass uses daylight and rain to break down and wash away organic dirt

Set up in 2007, Ecovactive has yet to put ‘mushroom insulation’ up for sale, but the process could well be the shape of things to come. ‘As well as a viable alternative insulation, it may well have other uses as a construction material,’ says Ian Hunter, from Materials Council. ‘The challenge with some biodegradable products is that the binder isn’t always biodegradable, too, so the products cannot degrade. But here, the mushroom itself is the binder.’ Killer benefit: A low-CO2 insulation. Availability: Still in development.






SELF-CLEANING GLASS Based on nanotechnology, selfcleaning glass is among a growing list of super-charged construction products. Andy Parkman, director for building engineering at AECOM, is currently working in this field: ‘Nanotechnology is about modifying particles at the subatomic level, which changes the characteristics of the material,’ he explains. In construction, this is mainly leading to coatings and additives for existing materials to enhance their performance. So far, self-cleaning glass is probably the nanomaterial product used most widely. A version of the

Low-carbon glass offered by the Japanese manufacturer Toto currently uses the photocatalyst titanium dioxide, which, when painted on a surface in nanoparticle form, reacts to daylight by releasing oxygen. This disintegrates organic substances on the surface. Also, when exposed to both sunlight and water, the titanium dioxide reacts to produce a hydrophilic layer that washes the surface clean in the rain. Killer benefit: Eliminates major cleaning and maintenance needs. Availability: Self-cleaning glass is already widely available from mainstream glass manufacturers such as Pilkington.

‘We need a more openminded approach’ RICHARD QUARTERMAINE MRICS project director, Sweett Group


s materials become increasingly scarce, buildings will become more expensive – so the standards we set now need to accommodate the development of new and innovative products. Designs and construction programmes shouldn’t be restricted to specific materials, for example, and aesthetics may need to change. Generally, we need a more open-minded approach.


MUSHROOM INSULATION In the future, materials may be grown rather than manufactured. Ecovactive, a small company based in New York, has developed a form of insulation made of fungus. By inoculating agricultural waste products with mycelium (fungus), a ‘mushroom’ grows without any need for light, watering or petrochemicals. This results in a material that can be used for various types of insulation, and can even be grown in a mould to take the shape required. What’s more, the process involves minimal carbon emissions, and the product is 100% biodegradeable.

New York architectural practice The Living has created glass that ‘breathes’ like human skin. Reactive architecture is a growing trend, and mechanical louvres that open and close based on light and temperature sensors have been around for some years – but Living Glass is a whole new level of innovation. The glass is pierced with gill-like slits controlled by tiny embedded wires that contract in reaction to the electrical stimulus of various ‘inputs’ – such as CO2 levels, warmth and human touch – opening the slits and allowing air to flow through. With no motors or mechanical parts, it reacts without making a sound, and can be used for windows or entire façades. Availability: Currently only bespoke. Cost: Very expensive for now.

‘At the moment, we’re not seeing many products made from new materials, but we are seeing variants of existing materials used in a more resource-efficient way, which is helping to address raw material scarcity issues for now. A common theme is increasing recycled content. Clients are very interested in recycling, and many are now setting targets for recycled content in their projects. Using recycled materials is a great way to reduce embodied carbon, as less energy is needed to make them – for example, a good deal of the steel and plasterboard used in construction now contains a high percentage of recycled content. ‘In the future, products that can deliver buildings at lower costs and with reduced risk, as well as environmental benefits, are going to be the most in demand.’


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Using the soil-binding polymer AggreBind, roads can be constructed in situ, without using any cement



INTEGRATED SOLAR PV Traditionally, clients seeking to harness the sun’s energy have had to suffer the indignity of attaching chunky photovoltaic (PV) panels to their buildings. Now, however, a growing number of manufacturers are developing PV systems that are far less incongruous. US-based Onyx Solar is among those offering a range of building-integrated PV materials for use on roofs and façades, including transparent PV products for use in skylights and windows. ‘Building-integrated PV is now becoming widely available and, therefore, cheaper,’ says Ian Hunter, from Materials Council. ‘It’s also becoming more flexible, and research is even being done into making it suitable for curved surfaces,’ he adds. Unfortunately, some new products don’t produce as much energy as the more robust panels, but the volume of research and development underway in this sector means that improved performance shouldn’t be far off. Killer benefit: Solar power without compromising on aesthetics. Need to know: Generally delivers less energy than conventional PV panels – for now.




Although invented in the 1930s, aerogel was little used until the 1990s, when NASA began insulating spaceships with it. Here on Earth, aerogels are now being used in a growing number of ultra-light, super-efficient insulation products, including Thermablok and Kalwall. The most common type, aerogel silica, is created by removing liquid from a silica gel, which increases its density, and results in a product that is translucent, shatterproof and maintains a good level of thermal performance. Kalwall’s product, for example, has the

appearance of glass, and can be curved or flat, making it suitable for roofs, walls and conservatory-like atriums. It’s highly insulating, with an impressive U-factor (rate of heat loss) performance. As availability improves, aerogel products are becoming more reasonably priced and, therefore, more widely used in everyday projects, such as schools and other public buildings. Killer benefit: Insulates, while also being ultra-light and transparent. Applications: A neat solution for the light-starved colder climates of Northern Europe.

Image NASA/JPL-Caltech

When added to most types of soil and sand, AggreBind transforms them into robust building materials. Developed in 2000, by the eponymous company based in both the UK and US, the soil-binding polymer allows roads and building blocks to be created in situ, using whatever material is available. This makes it a great solution for construction projects in places where trucking-in materials would be difficult. ‘You just take the concentrated AggreBind to the site, dilute it and mix it with the material in place,’ explains Robert Friedman, partner at AggreBind. ‘You end up with a construction that is waterproof, solid and non-dusty.’ Applications: Roads and simple buildings, particularly in remote places and developing countries. Cost: AggreBind says its product cuts costs by 50% through saving time, materials and equipment.

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Materials //

‘By asking the supply chain for help, you will unlock innovation’ DR PETER BONFIELD OBE chief executive, Building Research Establishment


uring my secondment to the Olympic Delivery Authority from 2006 to 2012, we discovered something really important about materials. There, we had a whole bunch of challenges to meet, such as sustainability, the responsible sourcing of materials and delivering everything on time. But, rather than assuming we knew which materials would be best, we went out to the different sectors, showed them the challenges we had, and asked them what they would suggest. ‘The materials producers came back with various solutions that met our criteria, and were often best in terms of cost, too. As a result, all our wood was responsibly sourced, and we used concrete that contained waste resources, and therefore had 30% lower embodied carbon. ‘This enabled us to set unprecedented standards, and shows that if you stop kicking the supply chain, and ask it for help instead, you will unlock innovation. For cost consultants, simply talking to manufacturers can make them more able to deliver what clients want. ‘Materials producers do need to learn more, though. When you ask them about how something is transported, or what plant it contains, they can answer precisely but they are often less knowledgeable about social impacts. That said, producers are getting better all the time.’




Cracks in concrete could become a problem of the past, thanks to a number of innovative projects to create the magical-sounding ‘self-healing’ concrete. Perhaps the most interesting initiative is Bio-concrete, which is currently being developed at Delft University in the Netherlands. The material contains spores of bacteria, which react with water when it enters through a crack, and grow to

produce limestone, which then fills up the crack. Dr Henk Jonkers, who is leading the project, says the product was tested on a concrete roof, where it stopped all leakage problems. Several years of further testing are planned, and Jonkers expects Bio-concrete to be available to buy in around four years’ time: ‘Our challenge now is to produce the healing agent at acceptable costs: we’re aiming for about €30-€45




As well as glass engineered to ‘breathe’, metal mesh is currently being developed at the University of South California, in the US, to expand and contract to let in heat or air. The principle is actually ingeniously simple, says Ian Hunter, from Materials Council: ‘If you have steel on one side of a strip, and copper on the other, one heats up, and therefore expands,

faster than the other, causing the strip to curl.’ These alloys, known as thermo-bimetals, could be used to make intelligent sunshades that close automatically in sunlight. Killer benefit: Thermo-bimetals can be used to create products that self-regulate temperature. Applications: Still in development at the moment, but eventually the products could be used in windows, walls and roofs.

(£25.50-£38) per cubic metre of concrete mixture,’ he says. Although this may still sound costly, Jonkers explains that the higher initial costs compensate for the costs that would otherwise be incurred for leakage repair and sealing cracks manually. In this way, the product should pay back the client within the first five years. Meanwhile, the University of Michigan, in the US, is developing concrete that can actually bend.

Known as Engineered Cement Composite (ECC), the product contains polyvinyl alcohol fibres and is based on the principle that, whereas one large fracture threatens a structure, multiple hairline cracks allow the concrete to move without breaking. It’s also 40% lighter than normal concrete. Killer benefit: Eliminates repair and maintenance needs. Applications: Particularly useful for structures in earthquake zones.


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Materials //



A number of interesting and sustainable products based on bamboo are currently emerging. Leading bamboo manufacturer MOSO, based in the Netherlands, offers a comprehensive range – from indoor flooring tiles to outdoor decking panels – made by shredding down the hollow bamboo stems and gluing the fibres together under compression. Bamboo products are extremely strong and sustainable: MOSO says that bamboo stems can be harvested every five years in a mature plantation without decreasing the size of forest, and the harvesting process also encourages growth. Applications: A sustainable and fast-growing alternative to MDF, which contains timber on a much longer growth cycle. Need to know: The bamboo stems may need to travel a long way first, which significantly adds to the product’s carbon footprint.

‘Material development is being driven by the retrofit market’ ANDREW WYLIE associate director, Buro Happold


t the moment, there are three categories of innovation in materials: existing materials that are being used in new ways, existing materials that are currently unfamiliar to designers, and new, high-tech materials. ‘Key existing materials being treated in innovative ways are concrete and steel. There’s no big breakthrough here, but both are seeing more recycled content, which is greatly reducing costs and carbon emissions. Designs using these materials are also becoming more efficient, and more thought is being given to end-of-use processes, such as demolition and disposal. ‘Existing materials that might be unfamiliar to some designers include plant and earth-based materials, which tend to have low embodied carbon, such as rammed earth or chalk, bamboo and hemp. We will see increasing use of cross-laminated timber, in particular.





Passivhaus sounds fantastic but it has a fatal flaw: to achieve the standard of insulation and airtightness required for certification, each trade working on the building has to reach a level of precision so extreme that many projects miss the mark. However, former carpenter Ron Beattie has created a prefabricated building system that could revolutionise our ability to meet the standards. Launched in 2009, Beattie’s system is simple, with no more than 16 parts for any type of building, which, he says, ‘a 16-year-old trainee will have no problem assembling’. The buildings achieve air-tightness levels as low as 0.50m3/hm2, which cuts heating costs by up to 90%. His company, Beattie Passive, has completed several houses, including four in Scotland that were indeed built by 16- to 18- year-olds. Killer benefit: Makes Passivhaus standards more easily achievable. Cost: Cheaper than a bespoke Passivhaus, because the labour costs are 50% lower and the components are mass-produced.

We used this for the flooring in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford six years ago. Back then, no one had heard of the material, and we had to do a detailed study of the risks of importing it. But, over the past few years, there has been a quiet revolution in the use of timber. ‘Another plant-based approach on the rise is straw-bale construction. Its advantages are that it stores carbon within the building, it has thermal insulation benefits and it’s often produced locally. It was once the preserve of the hairy jumper brigade, but now companies are componentising straw bale, and it’s moving into the conventional market. ‘High-tech material development is being driven by the retrofit market. In particular, we are seeing growing use of phase-change materials, which act as a thermal sink and even out temperature fluctuations. Coatings that can be applied to existing elements of the building to improve performance will become increasingly important as we intensify efforts to improve the existing stock. ‘The key challenge will be assessing which of these materials are most appropriate for a building. Before, you only thought about what would support the building’s loads as effectively and cost-efficiently as possible. But now, we’re also looking at how sustainable materials are, in terms of their embodied carbon and social implications.’

Image MOSO International


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Resilience // Timber industry //



s a tangible asset surveyor at Deloitte’s Vancouver office, Tim Howard works with the Business Valuation and Real Estate teams, covering a number of industrial sectors. Howard is originally from the UK, and has been involved in valuations of timberland, saw mills and paper mills right across Canada. ‘Forestry is a very challenging and rewarding sector to work in,’ he says.‘I’m involved in a wide range of cases and clients, of different sizes and in various locations, and I really enjoy the travelling side.’ The forest products industry is a foundation of the Canadian economy, and Deloitte works with the largest, most profitable forest products companies in the world, as well as small, local operations. ‘It’s an interesting time to be working in this sector because there are so many fluctuating global demands,’ Howard explains. ‘Today’s industry operates in a dynamic landscape of political, environmental and economic interaction on a global scale. Successful companies must not only react to changes, but also anticipate them. Cost reduction, product differentiation, fibre-supply security, forest policy administration, certification and globalisation are all issues at the forefront of the industry.’ The economic conditions of the past few years have had a significant impact on forestry in North America, but indicators of recovery are now strong.‘There was a drop-off in demand for timber in the North American construction industry because of a lack of new homes being built between 2007 and 2011, with the result that lumber prices plummeted,’ says Howard. But, he adds, the housing sector began to recover in 2012, with growth expected to ramp up by late 2014, and the North American forest


products industry forecast to return to growth during the period 2011-2016. According to Howard, there is also demand due to the growth in exports to China: ‘The building industry in China imports most of its lumber from Russia and North America. A 25% tariff on log exports in Russia [implemented in 2008] has shifted log imports to North America – and with Chinese housing volume expected to continue to grow, demand is set to increase over the coming years. ‘Because wood product suppliers had been steadily reducing output, the temporary and permanent closures of facilities created demand pressure, boosting lumber prices, which should now remain high until the capacity catches up with demand. Then, the increased construction activity should ensure that demand remains buoyant.’ As a result, forestry is being viewed as a more popular investment sector, says Howard. And industry figures back this up: MarketLine Industry Profile figures from the Forest products in Canada February 2013 report indicate that the Canadian forest products market grew by 3.7% in 2011 to reach a value of US$18.2bn. It’s forecast that, by 2016, the Canadian forest products market will be valued at US$27.7bn – an increase of 51.7% since 2011. Howard confirms that both demand and reforestation in many countries is being boosted by regulations that focus on green certification and sustainability: ‘Many market players aspire to be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to promote their forest management practices, which provides an aid to a sustainable future for timber,’ he explains. ‘Country-specific building regulations are also boosting demand for “ecological” materials to be used in construction, resulting in the increasing popularity of forest products – provided costs can be kept economically viable.’ >>

Sabiha Gökçen International Airport terminal, Istanbul, Turkey The largest seismically isolated building in the world, the airport terminal, which opened in 2009, is able to withstand a magnitude 8.0 earthquake and remain completely operational afterwards – which is handy considering Istanbul straddles three tectonic plates. The terminal sits on 300 triple-friction pendulum isolators, which lift the whole building off the ground and absorb shockwaves to significantly slow down movement during an earthquake. The isolators were installed according to advanced computer simulation and modelling technology that can predict how a building will react.


Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan Currently the world’s third-tallest skyscraper, Taipei 101 in Taiwan contains a giant 660-tonne Tuned Mass Damper (TMD) suspended like a pendulum inside the 508m tower. It’s the largest TMD in the world and, together with two smaller 4.5-tonne spheres in the tip of the 60m spire, it helps to counteract any swaying. There are also 36 vertical columns and 380 concrete piles sunk 80m into the ground to provide further stability. The strength of the design became evident during construction when a 6.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Taipei in March 2002, toppling two construction cranes but causing no structural damage to the tower.


The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge, California, US Following the 7.1-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, the Bay Bridge has undergone a major seismic retrofit, including the complete replacement of the East Span. Additions include viscous dampers to isolate, absorb and diffuse seismic energy; hinge pipe beams, designed to move within their sleeves during expansion or contraction of the decks; steel plates and lateral braces to increase stability; and replacing original rivets with high-strength bolts.


LifeGuard Available in a range of sizes and designs, each LifeGuard table comprises a steel skeleton, top, floor and heavily padded sides to keep the person safe from building collapse, bullets and blasts, even if the whole unit rolls. Also, a ‘Crumple Zone’ on top absorbs energy from falling objects like a car bumper. The inside, where there is enough room to lie down, usually contains food, water, medical supplies, and emergency lighting and signalling devices.


US Bank Tower, Los Angeles, California, US The tallest building in California, the US Bank Tower was constructed to withstand an 8.3-magnitude earthquake, which scientists believe is stronger than the San Andreas fault can produce. The 310m building’s resilience is due to a free-span chevron-braced steel core working with perimeter moment-resisting frames.


Toyota Home, Japan Bringing the knowledge and technology of the Toyota Group to the housing market, Toyota Home provides customers in Japan with earthquake-resistant prefabricated houses. Based on the ‘skeleton and infill’ approach, common in Japanese architecture, the design features a durable steel structure combined with a flexible infill designed to withstand even a major earthquake.



ShelterBox When an earthquake does strike, ShelterBox provides an emergency refuge and the essentials a family needs to survive. Each ShelterBox is tailored to a specific disaster but typically contains a large tent, blankets, water storage and purification equipment, cooking utensils, a basic tool kit, mosquito nets, solar lamps and a children’s activity pack. Even the large, green box itself can be useful as a baby’s cot or food container.


Earthquakes and Megacities Initiative (EMI) An international, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the resilience of cities to disasters, EMI promotes tested disaster riskreduction policy and practices. Founded in 1998, in response to the urgent need to stimulate urban earthquake-damage mitigation in developing countries, EMI’s approach is to empower local-level institutions and organisations by developing informed leaders and practitioners through training and knowledge-sharing programmes.


Yokohama Landmark Tower, Yokohama, Japan A combination of modern engineering and ancient design, the Yokohama Landmark Tower was built with the same theoretical structure as Japanese pagoda temples – which, amazingly, have endured multiple earthquakes. The entire 296m-tall skyscraper sits on rollers, which allow the earth to undulate beneath the structure without shaking it. It’s also weighed down by an active mass damper system, and is made from flexible materials that can bend with the earthquake instead of crumbling.


Transamerica Pyramid, San Francisco, California, US While the Transamerica Pyramid Building was designed as such to allow maximum light to filter down to the streets below, the bottom-heavy structure is much more stable, and moves less in strong wind, than most other skyscrapers. It also rests on a block constructed from more than 300 miles of steel rods encased in concrete sunk 16m into the ground, which is designed to move with earth tremors.


Monolithic Domes The compound curve of Monolithic Domes makes them stronger than virtually any other structure. To create the shape, an Airform balloon is fully inflated and then covered by a rebar (reinforcing bar) cage and sprayed with concrete. When the concrete sets, the Airform is deflated and removed, and the interior is hand-plastered. With proper care, the Airform balloon can be reused more than 100 times. Rated by FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) as providing ‘near-absolute protection’, the Domes are able to withstand tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, fire, termites and rot, and can be designed to fit almost any architectural need, from sheds and cabins to homes, schools, churches and even stadiums. Built in exactly the same way, only without the insulation, EcoShells provide affordable, permanent disaster-proof housing in hot and temperate climates, and are also ideal for disaster recovery – for example, Domes for the World constructed 100 EcoShells in Indonesia after the Yogyakarta earthquake in May 2006.

Words by Cherry Maslen

Tim Howard is confident that the forest products market in Canada will see a strong recovery over the next few years


Photography Grant Harder




Words by Samantha Whitaker

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NICK HAYES head of sustainability, EC Harris


aterials are becoming much more prominent in the industry – driven, primarily, by enlightened clients (particularly retailers) who are looking at them from a sustainability perspective. The most important thing is that materials must be viewed in “cradle-to-cradle” terms. This means we need to start by looking at the extraction, the transportation and installation; and then, how it’s eventually uninstalled and what happens next – is it sent to landfill or recycled?





‘Using just light, water and a few nutrients, a tree can produce a pinecone – a complex 3D object. This suggests that, with synthetic biology, we might be able to manufacture new materials in an equally efficient way,’ says David Benjamin, from architectural practice The Living. We could, he adds, potentially ‘programme’ biological systems to genetically engineer completely new materials with high-performance properties, controlled by designers via a computer. For example, imagine if you could engineer a panel that was firm in some areas and softer in others, or a beam that was light in some places and heavier in others. Far-out as this might sound, it’s already on the way. The Living is working with the universities of Cambridge and Bristol in the UK to develop a bio-computationbased process to harness natural systems of creation. A bacteriabased system is currently being developed, and the team has already created the software. However, the project is still at an early stage, and Benjamin says it could be a decade before the technique is used commercially. Killer benefit: The potential to create completely new materials with bespoke properties. Availability: Commercial use could be at least 10 years away.


‘Refurbishment is so much of the market at the moment, particularly in retail, where there tends to be a high turnaround of refreshments. With our retail clients, we’ve found that reducing the number of changes made to fixtures has a positive impact on embodied carbon, and also reduces costs. They can keep the existing frame and change only the fascias, which results in a refreshed look without removing so much material, while also reducing workload and increasing recycled content. ‘Another smart approach is to target the elements that are the worst offenders in terms of embodied energy. This way, we can make a big difference by changing just one thing. And it’s not just the materials themselves, but also how they’re packaged. Ordering less automatically results in less packaging, but we can also choose materials with less packaging to start with. In general, we need to take a more holistic approach to assessing materials.’



Designed by Arquitectos Anónimos and manufactured by CARPAV, this family home in Esposende, Portugal, is clad almost entirely in cork bricks

The beauty of cork is that it’s bark – which means it can be shaved off the cork oak while the tree continues to grow. ‘Cork bark is gaining attention because it has a fast regrowth cycle – around 10 years – so it’s rapidly renewable, whereas most hardwoods take a long time to grow,’ explains Ian Hunter, from Materials Council. Moreover, the cork oak actually stores carbon when it’s generating bark, leading to greater levels of carbon sequestration.

The sustainability of cork means that it’s becoming an increasingly mainstream material, and is often used for floor and wall tiles, as well as insulation. However, in order to be truly sustainable, the adhesive used to fix it must be equally eco-friendly. Availability: It’s widely available, but mainly produced in Portugal (just over 50% of the world’s supply). Surprising fact: Harvesting the cork bark triggers the tree to sequester more carbon.

Image CARPAV (UNDA’s workshop)

‘We need to take a holistic approach to assessing materials’

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Materials //





Images Will Pryce; waugh thistleton


A growing range of anti-bacterial construction materials is making hospitals a safer place to be. In a major endorsement, hygienic coatings have been specified for the ongoing £1bn redevelopment of St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London Hospitals, where Wallflex Hygienic Coating, manufactured by Construction Specialties UK, was specified for the operating theatres and anaesthetic rooms.

At nine storeys, Stadthaus in London is one of the world’s tallest timber structures

The hygienic coatings contain non-leaching anti-microbial agents that provide protection against dangerous fungi and bacteria, including MRSA and E. coli. Applications: Healthcare, laboratories, swimming pools, schools, food and pharmaceutical process areas, and bathrooms. Need to know: When applied and maintained correctly, Construction Specialties’ products shouldn’t need recoating for at least 10 years.

Timber is hardly a novel ingredient for the building industry, but it’s one of several traditional materials that are being used in intriguing new ways. Completed in 2009, Stadthaus, a nine-storey apartment building in Shoreditch, London, is a fascinating example of the load-bearing capabilities of wood in a cross-laminated form. Although the building sits on concrete foundations, its core and walls are made solely of timber, which is lower in both cost and carbon emissions than concrete. Created by KLH UK, the cross-laminated timber system used in Stadthaus comprises panels that are made of solid spruce strips stacked in perpendicular layers and glued under high pressure. This limits the effect of water on the wood, and makes the panels much stronger than unmodified timber. Andrew Wylie, associate director and materials expert at engineer Buro Happold, says: ‘Currently, clients are not keen on timber because they think it burns, rots and bends – but now engineered timber, such as cross-laminated panels and LVL (laminated veneer lumber), is increasingly addressing these concerns, and I think we’re going to see wood being used a lot more in the future.’ Killer benefit: Wood beats concrete in terms of cost and sustainability. Need to know: Flammability is currently being engineered out.


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Materials //

At London’s Somerset House, phase-change materials increased the roof insulation while preserving the building’s heritage






GLITTERING CONCRETE It’s a useful material, but only the most austere modernists tend to appreciate the stark aesthetics of concrete. However, several new types of concrete now incorporate light, which is transforming the grey stuff into something that can literally brighten up a property. Products made by Berlin-based BlingCrete, for example, contain tiny glass beads, making the material retroreflective – like cat’s eyes on a road at night. What’s

more, the concretes also come in a range of colours and textures. There is also a glow-in-thedark concrete from Ambient Glow Technology, developed by Universal One Corporation in the US, and Hungary’s Litracon offers a semitranslucent, patterned concrete. Killer benefit: Makes boring concrete beautiful. Applications: Mainly leisure interiors, but it could also be used for safety purposes, such as highlighting steps. BlingCrete combines the strength of concrete with attractive, lightreflecting materials


The £16.7m refurbishment of the east wing of Somerset House in London, completed last year, shows just how useful phasechange materials can be. Architect BDP’s brief was to fully refurbish the Grade I-listed property, while simultaneously bringing it up to a sustainability standard of BREEAM Excellent. But, early on, BDP made an alarming discovery: the timber and slate roof of the building was a flimsy, lightweight structure, and not insulated at all, which was a major barrier to achieving a high level of sustainability. ‘We needed to add mass to the roof to minimise temperature oscillations,’ explains Ilic Testoni, an associate architect at BDP. ‘Normally, we would add concrete, but with Somerset House being a true architectural treasure, both the outside roof and ceiling inside had to be protected, so concrete was not an option.’ The solution was to line the roof with phase-change material boards, by Eco Building Boards (ebb), which combine BASF’s Micronal Phase Change Material with ebb’s unfired clay building boards. The boards store and release heat, without taking up much space or adding too much weight. The 14mm-thick boards contain droplets of wax, so when the temperature rises above 23oC, the wax melts, absorbing heat. When the temperature falls, the wax solidifies and then heat is released. ‘The boards act like concrete, but without increasing the thickness of the roof,’ explains Testoni. ‘It was a brilliant use of an ultra-modern material in a historic building.’ Killer benefit: Thermal mass without the bulk and weight (ebb PCM boards are 12kg per m2, but a concrete slab with the same thermal mass is more than 120kg per m2). Cost: Only slightly more expensive than equivalent conventional products.

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uilt as a bacon factory in the 1930s, and later used to store tea, the Tea Building is an imposing eight-storey beehive of creativity in Shoreditch, East London. After a redevelopment in 2003, by property developers Derwent London and AHMM architects, it now epitomises the kind of trendy office space and, perhaps more importantly, location that is increasingly sought-after by new technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) companies. It’s one of the iconic buildings of London’s ‘Tech City’ – the government’s name for the nebulous area around Shoreditch and Old Street roundabout where successful TMTs have been clustering over the past decade. Not that the government should be claiming much credit for this success, though. ‘It’s totally organic what’s happened in Shoreditch, and it’s not because of the government’s intervention, or any “Tech City” or “Silicon Roundabout” branding,’ says Michael Raibin, director at Hatton Real Estate, an East London-based commercial property agency. In the past year, the government has been keen to boast about the up-and-coming area – or ‘jumped on bandwagon’ as Raibin argues – by branding it Tech City and announcing a package of measures to help TMT business start-ups. These include tax relief, deregulation and funding of around £500m to help small and medium-sized businesses access loans. While these measures are welcomed, some, like Raibin, believe too much branding might hinder the independent, organic growth of the area – a growth that won’t be easy to replicate to fit other parts of London.


And it’s not just Shoreditch where this is occurring – Raibin has witnessed the ‘City fringe’ areas of Clerkenwell, Farringdon and Islington buzz with demand from TMT companies in the past few years, more so than at any other time in his 14-year career in the capital. ‘These areas are now becoming more acceptable for TMT tenants, not just because occupational costs are more competitive than the West End or the City, but because they are where the best talent is. We’ve made a number of transactions for key TMT players, and many have told us they want to be in an area with other like-minded people. It is unlikely that the creative tech talent will want to hang out with the hedge fund contingent at Canary Wharf – and they don’t want to be told where’s “cool” by the government.’ Redeveloped former warehouses such as the Tea Building offer attractive and unique large-volume workspaces for TMT tenants. The building has certainly come a long way since the mid- to late-1990s, when the surrounding streets were seen as crimeridden and dilapidated. Its open-plan, flexible, characterful spaces – where it wouldn’t be unusual to find company CEOs having lunchtime ping pong tournaments with staff – have become a magnet for many young

advertising agencies, clothing designers, trendy internet retailers and social media marketing firms. And, while the owners now ask for relatively high rents in what may seem like a basic building, demand is high, so those able to afford the increasing rents are no longer emerging start-ups, but more mature, second-stage private businesses. As a wide-ranging term for the sector, TMT encompasses broadcasting, publishing, new media, advertising, marketing, public relations, information technology, telecoms and media. A BNP Paribas survey last year found that 54% of TMT firms expect to grow their London headcount by a third, on average, over the next three years. Therefore, with workspace needed for more than 14,000 new employees, the firm predicts this growth will translate into around 111,000m2 of additional office demand – the equivalent of two Shard-sized skyscrapers.

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Tech City //


‘The “broad church” that is TMT is the most active sector in London right now, in terms of demand,’ says Dan Bayley MRICS, head of central London offices at BNP Paribas. Bayley has spent around 20 years providing development and leasing advice to funds, landowners, developers and occupiers in the capital. More recently, he has become something of an expert on the needs of clients in the TMT sector. Last year, his team transacted an eight-floor, 4,300m2 letting for Amazon at Glasshouse Yard on the edge of the City.‘However, it’s very difficult to classify what type of workspace TMT clients want – the technical requirements and their ideal location,’ says Bayley. ‘It’s almost easier to say what they don’t want, which generally means bland “vanilla” space, or to be in traditionally

corporate areas, such as the City or Docklands. And at the same time, it’s become increasingly tough to find buildings of the right size or rent price in traditional media areas, such as Soho or Covent Garden.’ This challenge is reflected in how the TMT sector cannot simply be defined as a homogenous group. For example, BNP Paribas’ survey found the telecoms side is smaller by activity, with these types of firms generally more happy to lease traditionally corporate workspaces. Meanwhile bigger, longestablished media advertising companies, whose margins remain relatively tight, are more concerned with finding more efficient building spaces, rather than venturing out into ‘unchartered’ territories away from the West End. Though relatively lower rents are one reason why the ‘emerging’ locations of King’s Cross, Clerkenwell, Shoreditch, Hammersmith and the South Bank are high on the wish list for many TMT tenants, money is, of course, no barrier for some of the big players. Google recently bought a hectare of land to develop a 90,000m2 office at King’s Cross Central for a reported total cost of £1bn, while Twitter, Salesforce, Facebook and Microsoft are all rumoured to be looking for significant properties in central London. BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS From cash-tight start-ups to multi-millionpound giants, what’s becoming more apparent is how the type of office and its location reflects more about how a TMT company’s brand is perceived for recruiting and keeping talent. In addition to the location and cost, a Jones Lang LaSalle report on the TMT property sector earlier this year noted that,

Following the success of the Tea Building, Derwent London is launching The White Collar Factory office concept at Old Street roundabout this year. Partnering again with AHMM architects, the development team says they are taking a ‘less is more’ approach, focusing on the kind of building qualities attractive to creative tenants, including spacious floor-to-ceiling heights, flexible floorplates, and low-energy heating and cooling systems. With this design, Derwent believes tenants’ operational energy and running costs will be reduced by around 25%, while effective management of the space by tenants could lead to additional cost savings of 5-10%. As a sign of confidence in demand, the firm will begin building without a pre-let agreement.

‘two important considerations influencing property strategies are the retention and attraction of a talented workforce, and the flexibility within a building that provides for the rapid expansion many of these firms are witnessing.’ BNP Paribas’ findings back this up: when surveyed on the look and feel of their ideal office space, 59% of start-up tenants preferred a warehouse-style space, 63% agreed the right office space is crucial for building a successful brand, and 77% of those in marketing agreed on the importance of real estate in attracting the right talent. Nick Katz FRICS is a commercial property agent marketing and developing the property start-up, a LinkedIn-style online network for property professionals, owners, managers and occupiers to share information on buildings around the world. Katz is a tenant at the Open Data Institute (ODI) in Shoreditch, >>


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Tech City //

Advertising agency Mother London is a tenant in the Tea Building, in London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’

one of a network of start-up ‘incubators’. Co-founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the non-profit ODI secured around £10m from the government to support TMT start-ups in its modern and highly connected office space. ‘I pretty much operate with my laptop, iPad and the bag on my shoulder, so there’s a big difference between a start-up, like us, and a “grown-up” company that has more serious office needs in terms of energy and server space,’ says Katz. ‘I mostly work in the cloud – that is, storing data online. Flexibility is key when you’re a growing company.’ Katz believes this confluence of big anchor firms and tech and media start-ups in East London has a vibrancy that is unrivalled almost anywhere else. This is noted by BNP

Paribas, too: London is only really challenged by New York as an in-demand base for TMT companies, while there is also no major shift to other UK cities. ‘Every day, I look forward to coming to work here,’ says Katz. ‘The flexibly planned office means you can get distracted chatting to other tenants, but many of these chats have developed into potential partnerships and new ideas. I’m 29, and people my age don’t want to work in silent cubicles – we need colour and atmosphere. These kinds of offices are an experience that enables the workforce because they’re happy.’ Everyone agrees that, while help from the government to develop and nurture TMTs and the office space they require is appreciated, too much Tech City branding is unnecessary, and may be to its detriment. There’s a feeling that it’s only a matter of time before larger, more corporate advertising agencies or multinational mobile phone firms set up and ‘spoil the vibe’:‘Is this really a problem? I’m not so sure,’ says Bayley. ‘I’ve advised one or two owners around there not to worry too

much about who the office tenants are, but to make sure the mix of retailers and restaurants remains a bit “boutiquey” and independent, as this is a major draw for the people who work at these types of companies.’ There’s certainly nothing new in worrying that too much gentrification of a perceived ‘cool’ zone will lead to bigger corporates coming in and dominating, dampening the area’s initial appeal. ‘It’s a tough balance to keep for Shoreditch and places like it,’ says Katz.‘But I’d say the challenge is for corporates to react and respond to our changing working environment as the typical old-model office space is beginning to fall by the wayside. The “Facebook generation” is here to stay.’ View a digital map of more than 1,300 East London TMT businesses and how they are connected at, and find out more about Tech City at

:HONG KONG’S CYBERPORT HOW THE TMT HUB SUPPORTS START-UPS Initiated in 1999 by the Hong Kong SAR government on a 240,000m2 site at Telegraph Bay, Cyberport was developed to help local businesses capitalise on the burgeoning growth of the internet. Now, it’s a thriving cluster of technology and digital-content tenants, many of which have been nurtured by a dedicated ‘incubation’ facility for technology start-ups called the IncuTrain Centre. ‘There are more than 120 companies operating out of Cyberport, mainly focused on IT, information services, multimedia content


creation and other related sectors,’ says Mark Clift FRICS, chief operating officer at Cyberport. But while prominent tenants include Microsoft, IBM, PCCW and Centro Digital, the IncuTrain Centre provides office space, financial assistance, training, networking facilities and high-powered broadband for young start-ups – all just 15 minutes from central Hong Kong. In addition, the Cyberport Creative Micro Fund (CCMF) has made HK$100,000 available for talented individuals and companies who can develop

a prototype or demonstrate proof of concept. The CCMF is targeted at recent graduates and university-level start-ups, with the aim of developing longstanding partnerships and pushing Hong Kong’s role as an ICT hub in the Asia-Pacific region. As a growing TMT hotspot, Cyberport offers tenants the opportunity to rent ready-built facilities in one of four grade-A intelligent office buildings. The site is also home to a five-star hotel and a retail entertainment complex: ‘Cyberport has created an ecosystem for its community

that helps to create business opportunities and drives collaboration to pool resources,’ explains Clift. What’s more, Cyberport has repeatedly been recognised for its state-of-theart IT infrastructure, as well as its architecture and interior design. Among its many awards, Cyberport received the Intelligent Building of the Year 2004 award from the Intelligent Community Forum in New York City, and in 2006, its commercial portion won the same award again, but this time from the Asian Institute of Intelligent Buildings.

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Timber industry //



s a tangible asset surveyor at Deloitte’s Vancouver office, Tim Howard works with the Business Valuation and Real Estate teams, covering a number of industrial sectors. Howard is originally from the UK, and has been involved in valuations of timberland, saw mills and paper mills right across Canada. ‘Forestry is a very challenging and rewarding sector to work in,’ he says. ‘I’m involved in a wide range of cases and clients, of different sizes and in various locations, and I really enjoy the travelling side.’ The forest products industry is a foundation of the Canadian economy, and Deloitte works with the largest, most profitable forest products companies in the world, as well as small, local operations. ‘It’s an interesting time to be working in this sector because there are so many fluctuating global demands,’ Howard explains. ‘Today’s industry operates in a dynamic landscape of political, environmental and economic interaction on a global scale. Successful companies must not only react to changes, but also anticipate them. Cost reduction, product differentiation, fibre-supply security, forest policy administration, certification and globalisation are all issues at the forefront of the industry.’ The economic conditions of the past few years have had a significant impact on forestry in North America, but indicators of recovery are now strong. ‘There was a drop-off in demand for timber in the North American construction industry because of a lack of new homes being built between 2007 and 2011, with the result that lumber prices plummeted,’ says Howard. But, he adds, the housing sector began to recover in 2012, with growth expected to ramp up by late 2014, and the North American forest


products industry forecast to return to growth during the period 2011-2016. According to Howard, there is also demand due to the growth in exports to China: ‘The building industry in China imports most of its lumber from Russia and North America. A 25% tariff on log exports in Russia [implemented in 2008] has shifted log imports to North America – and with Chinese housing volume expected to continue to grow, demand is set to increase over the coming years. ‘Because wood product suppliers had been steadily reducing output, the temporary and permanent closures of facilities created demand pressure, boosting lumber prices, which should now remain high until the capacity catches up with demand. Then, the increased construction activity should ensure that demand remains buoyant.’ As a result, forestry is being viewed as a more popular investment sector, says Howard. And industry figures back this up: MarketLine Industry Profile figures from the Forest products in Canada February 2013 report indicate that the Canadian forest products market grew by 3.7% in 2011 to reach a value of US$18.2bn. It’s forecast that, by 2016, the Canadian forest products market will be valued at US$27.7bn – an increase of 51.7% since 2011. Howard confirms that both demand and reforestation in many countries is being boosted by regulations that focus on green certification and sustainability: ‘Many market players aspire to be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to promote their forest management practices, which provides an aid to a sustainable future for timber,’ he explains. ‘Country-specific building regulations are also boosting demand for “ecological” materials to be used in construction, resulting in the increasing popularity of forest products – provided costs can be kept economically viable.’ >>

Tim Howard is confident that the forest products market in Canada will see a strong recovery over the next few years

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Photography Grant Harder

Words by Cherry Maslen


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Timber industry //



imon Corbey MRICS is an associate at the Alliance for Sustainable Building Products (ASBP), a notfor-profit membership organisation committed to promoting a low-impact and healthy built environment. Based in London, ASBP conducts and commissions research, organises seminars and lobbies government to introduce policies to push forward the green building agenda. ‘Using timber in buildings is a “win-win” on so many counts, from the sustainability angle, but also when you consider issues such as speed of construction, reduced tolerances, waste minimisation and the ability to build in any weather,’ says Corbey. ‘We believe structural timber should be considered as equal to steel and concrete, although we do also want to see more reused steel and low-impact concrete used.’ For the potential benefits to be realised, though, Corbey and ASBP believe the current Building Research Establishment (BRE) Green Guide to Specification for building products, sometimes used as a planning instrument, as well as a means of gaining credits under the Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM, might be considerably improved. ‘Our first point is that there is nowhere near enough focus on embodied carbon in building materials [the energy used in manufacturing materials],’ says Corbey. The emphasis, as speakers at recent ASBP seminars have testified, has tended to be on energy in use, both in commercial and residential buildings. The Code for Sustainable Homes allocates less than 1% of available credits to embodied carbon, yet research by the National House Building Council and BRE suggests the split is 35/65, embodied/operational. ‘An important benefit of using timber is sequestered carbon,’ adds Corbey. ‘Trees absorb large amounts of carbon, around 50% by mass, so using timber, and other biogenic materials, locks up carbon within a building.


‘Using timber in buildings is a “win-win” on so many counts. It should be seen as equal to steel and concrete’ We would like to see this natural carbon capture and storage number quoted separately from embodied energy. The potential effects of policies designed to increase the use of biogenic materials in UK buildings suggests that the net carbon

sequestration could be as high as 10 MtCO2 in 2020, and 22 MtCO2 by 2050. To put this into context, the total embodied carbon emissions from all UK construction activity in 2010 are calculated to be 33 MtCO2e. ‘One of the issues is that assumptions are made on current rates of wood going to landfill at the end of a building’s life, with that subsequent carbon release. But, as we recommended in our paper submitted to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Excellence in the Built Environment, the reduction to zero wood to landfill would immediately resolve that issue. Wood can be down-cycled into timber board products or used for fuel: none of it should be chucked in a big hole in the ground and wasted.’

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Photography Olivier Hess

Stuart Goodall, chief executive of Confor

ASBP believes the government should support the speedy development of EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations), which adequately recognise the role of carbon sequestration. ‘We need the right tools for the job: accurate EPDs that can be fed into Building Information Modelling so that a calculation can be made on the effects of replacing a concrete frame with a timber one at the touch of a button,’ adds Corbey. ‘If it’s an issue that the majority of timber used in construction is not UK-sourced, then we should gear up to produce crosslaminated timber, like the Scandinavians do. Of course, it means investment, but the Forestry Commission should support the production of biogenic building materials.’

As Corbey points out, progressive local councils are asking for timber to be specified in building projects. In Hackney, for instance, the planning policy is ‘wood first’, and in Shoreditch, the innovative nine-storey Stadthaus apartment building was the first of its height to use timber load-bearing walls and floor slabs, as well as stair and lift cores. The building locks up an impressive 186 tonnes of carbon over its lifetime. ‘Engineered timber is more expensive than some equivalent building materials,’ admits Corbey. ‘But that pales into insignificance when you consider the speed of construction, thermal performance, and the sequestered and embodied carbon.’

‘The use of wood in construction is increasing because of a combination of factors: it’s versatile, attractive, renewable, thermally insulating, stores carbon and can be recycled into wood products or burnt for renewable energy at the end of useful life. Architects and specifiers are realising that wood is the solution to many modern challenges, and we’re seeing inspirational use of timber in both public and residential architecture. However, there is huge potential for wood to play an even more important role. At Confor – a membership organisation that supports the market for wood and forest products – the message we are trying to get across now is that wood can be used in almost any building situation. ‘Of course, if we want the demand to increase for UK timber, it’s vital that we manage existing woodland productively and plant more trees. There is huge scope to develop forestry nationally, as we currently import about 80% of the timber we use – mainly from Scandinavia, North America and Latvia. Now, the Grown in Britain campaign is bringing together major procurers and timber suppliers to make best use of domestic timber. ‘Timber prices and forest land values are increasing, so we are now seeing landowners and farmers looking at timber as a more viable use of their land than, for example, sheep farming, which has been uneconomical without large CAP subsidy in many areas for years. Grants are available for initial planting, and then annually for up to 15 years, when thinning starts to take place. And, income can be generated from the young wood, which can be used for MDF or as fuel. ‘The Wood for Good manifesto calls on the government to take measures to make it easier to choose wood – including a reduction of VAT to 10% on sustainable timber and timber products – and uphold the expansion of productive woodlands by providing a planning and support system that will promote commercial forestry.’


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athew Maguire MRICS is a land agent with the Forestry Commission (FC), which operates under Defra and manages the Public Forest Estate in England. He is involved in commercial forestry and woodland protection. The FC plants millions of trees a year and harvests some 4m tonnes of wood annually – more than a third of total domestic production – from public forests. The harvested timber is used in both the building industry and for fuel, with income helping to offset forest management, and enabling public access and recreation. The FC also acts as an information source for owners of private woodland, advising on sustainability and disease control, and protects wildlife habitats and historic woodland sites. The multiple facets of the FC make Maguire’s role an ever-changing one: ‘I could be looking at timber harvesting one day, and our recreation and tourism side the next,’ he says. ‘Commercial plantations used to be dark and dingy places but, where appropriate, we’ve developed areas where people can stay


in log cabins and appreciate the beauty of the forest around them. We have miles of cycle trails and paths, and people can learn about our woodlands at the visitor centres.’ Maguire is one of a two-man team covering the East of England, based at Thetford Forest on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. He worked in forestry for commercial firms, and qualified in Rural Estate Management in 2001, before joining the Forestry Commission in 2005. As a land agent, Maguire is also involved in sporting facilities, including shoots, outdoor concerts, deer management and even green burial sites. As he explains, recreation and commercial forestry are complementary when well managed, though balancing the FC’s various objectives is a constant challenge. ‘On the operational forestry side, we are experiencing strong demand for our

‘With rising energy prices, there’s increasing demand for low-grade timber to use as fuel’

timber, partly because we can demonstrate through certification that our woodlands are well managed and sustainable. With rising energy prices, there’s also increasing demand for low-grade timber to use as fuel for woodburners and biomass boilers, which means we’re now getting a return on some of our lower-value produce, and previously unmanaged woodland in private ownership is now being brought back into management. Our forestry land has increased in value, but that is less significant for us as we hold our forests for the nation: everything earned from the estates that we manage is reinvested.’ With increased demand for timber, the question of whether sufficient trees are being planted for the future has been addressed by the Independent Panel on Forestry, set up to advise government on the future direction of forestry and woodland policy in England. ‘A core message is that the FC should work more with third parties and stakeholders to increase planting and actively manage woodland,’ explains Maguire. ‘With the positive response from government, and wider opportunities for initiatives on the non-operational side of woodland management, I’d say it’s an exciting time to be working in forestry. The future is bright.’

Photography Olivier Hess

Timber industry //

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Business advice //

How to deal with

EMAIL OVERLOAD By productivity expert Graham Allcott

Let’s start with the uncomfortable truth about the way we use our email. We open our email inbox, check for what’s new, scroll up and down, check again for what’s new, scroll up and down, and then check for other new information on social media, the news or our smartphone. Generally, we have developed an addiction to being connected, and to the illusion of productivity. Your inbox is not your to-do list Your inbox is nothing more than a holding pen for where new inputs land. Often, we try to keep emails in our inbox because we don’t want to lose them, or we want to come back to them – but the really meaningful work goes on outside of the email inbox. Using your inbox as your primary to-do list reminder means that tasks from elsewhere can get missed. And you end up emailing yourself. A lot.


Don’t let it nag you Your inbox is packed full of potentially exciting information to distract you. But checking too often can become a deadly disease. Turn off the sounds and graphics so that you only visit your inbox when you’re ready to, not every time something new comes in.

Illustration Borja Bonaque

Process your emails This might sound straightforward, but it’s a subtle change that can have quite a profound effect. When you open your inbox, switch your mindset from simply checking what’s new to making decisions, and creating the momentum needed to move those emails to where they need to go. To get it out of your inbox, there needs to be an obvious next step – folders, in other words – otherwise you’ll give up too easily and leave it there to come back to later. Achieving inbox zero Anyone can clear out their email inbox with a bit of hard work and determination, using this three-stage approach: Create three processing folders in your inbox called: @Action, @Read and @Waiting. Using the ‘@’ symbol before each word ensures that these are at the top of your inbox folder structure. Then, tidy up your email folders so that they all fit onto one screen, which will mean that you won’t have to scroll up and down so much when you’re filing your emails.

To get your inbox to zero, you’ll need to be comfortable with using the delete button more regularly. Remember that at least 80% of your emails do not require any significant action, so you can be pretty ruthless, but not reckless. Start with your really old emails, where no action is required, and move them all into a reference folder called ‘Death Row’. Then, arrange them by ‘From’, to bunch together emails based on the sender, and then begin your cull. Alternatively, you can arrange them by ‘Subject’ and do the same. If you ground to a halt, keep re-sorting until you’ve deleted everything you can easily. When you’re left with just the emails in your inbox that need a bit more thought and organisation, a more considered and careful approach is needed to file each one into your process folders and reference folders. Apply the two-minute rule: anything that can be fired off in less than two minutes should be dealt with immediately, rather than storing it in the @Action folder. Some of what you read you’ll still want to file as reference or delete, but you should find that as you hit the ‘home straight’, you’ll be more engaged with the three processing folders. Moving forward With an empty inbox, you can manage future emails easily and free up your mind to focus on other tasks. It can also help to set up filters and rules to automatically file regular messages – such as mailshots and notifications from social media – to view later. And try to turn off your email when you need to concentrate so that you won’t be constantly distracted by new messages coming in. GRAHAM ALLCOTT is the author of How to be a Productivity Ninja, and founder of Think Productive, which runs emailtraining workshops.


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Construction waste //


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ince March 2012, Marks & Spencer hasn’t sent any waste from its construction projects to landfill at all. The retailer set a target to eliminate waste to landfill in 2007, as part of its Plan A sustainability strategy, and it has been working with its supply chain ever since to find ways to reuse and recycle surplus materials, old fit-out components, packaging and excavated soil. On its Cheshire Oaks store, completed last August and its greenest to date, 1,168 tonnes of construction waste was diverted from landfill, with pallets, cable drums and glulam beams finding new homes in the local community. Sheets of plywood were used to build a local scout hut, hoardings became bee hotels and two trees were donated to Chester Zoo as scratching posts for the lions. But the project still produced 1,168 tonnes of waste in the first place – which is where Plan A’s head of property Munish Datta is looking next, and he wants surveyors to help him: ‘My role is to get designers, cost consultants, constructors and project managers thinking right at the very start. So much more can be achieved by thinking differently and challenging specifications. Measurement is one of the key things. As soon as you put a monetary value on waste, it sharpens people’s minds and they realise that it’s money they’re throwing away, not plasterboard or timber.’ Great strides have been made across the construction industry on diverting waste from landfill over the past five years. In 2008, the government’s Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) set a target of halving construction waste sent to landfill by 2012 in England, which more than 800 companies signed up to. Final figures will not be published until the end of this year, but a report by the Strategic Forum for Construction last July found that the amount of construction and demolition waste sent to landfill had dropped from 6.15m tonnes in 2008 to 4.28m tonnes by 2010, an improvement of almost 30%. Some contractors went much further, and are now closing in on their own zero-waste-to-landfill targets. Willmott Dixon, for example, diverts around 98%, as does Simons Group, which built the Cheshire Oaks store. Meanwhile, attention has shifted to the wider issue of resource efficiency: preventing waste in the first place, and eliminating it at the design stage. The earlier waste is considered, the greater the potential for reduction – but waste that hasn’t been produced is much harder to measure. This is where surveyors come in. As waste reduction develops in complexity, they are perfectly placed to quantify hypothetical waste, calculate the savings and translate it into hard cash to spur on the rest of the project team. ‘You can measure the diversion of waste from landfill very easily,’ says Gilli Hobbs, director of resource efficiency at the Building Research Establishment (BRE). ‘You can measure the number of skips that were produced, you know where it’s going to, and you can establish how much was recycled or reused. With waste reduction, it’s more difficult because there isn’t that tangibility, and that’s where surveyors can play a really important role.’ BRE has been able to benchmark levels of waste production using data gathered by its online SMARTWaste tool, which is used by contractors to prepare site waste management plans. By analysing the performance of real projects, BRE has set targets for projects that are aiming for a BREEAM environmental rating. Under BREEAM 2011, projects can earn one credit if the waste produced >>


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Construction waste //

Timber is separated out for recycling as a terrace of condemned houses is demolished in Cumbria

DESIGNING OUT WASTE Surveyors are also key to raising commercial awareness of waste among the other members of the project team. M&S already asks its quantity surveyors to identify the top 10 materials used on a project, by volume and value: ‘That gives architects and M&E [mechanical and electrical] consultants a foothold on where they should be focusing to design-out as much waste as possible,’ says Datta. Going further, he’d like to focus consultants’ minds by linking their fees to waste reduction. But setting fee levels as a percentage of



the total contract sum provides a perverse incentive, he argues. Instead, he’d link them to the waste prevented and the money saved. ‘At the moment, there is no link. There needs to be a significant change there. Surveyors could help clients incentivise the consultant team by making sure people are rewarded for the waste they reduce.’ Jerry Percy FRICS, head of sustainability at Gleeds, suggests that quantity surveyors could play an even more active role: ‘We should be able to say: “Did you realise Mr Architect that, based on what you’ve specified, even if the contractor uses best practice, there will still be X tonnes of waste generated at a value of X pounds”. We could then work with the design team to quantify the savings from shifting to a different product, or using off-site manufacture. The starting point shouldn’t be measuring what’s already been wasted, it should be tracking waste upfront to prevent it.’ For example, the floor-to-ceiling height of a room might be 2.3m, while the standard height of a sheet of plasterboard is 2.4m – resulting in a 100mm offcut throughout. ‘You can’t refix 100mm of plasterboard anywhere, whereas if the

Providing a financial incentive to encourage waste reduction throughout the supply chain is at the heart of Willmott Dixon’s latest initiative. ‘Our diversion from landfill is now about as high as it can be, but we’re still producing a lot of waste and spending a lot of money on skips,’ says Jo Rock, senior environmental manager. ‘We’re now looking at why there’s so much waste, starting at the beginning, with preconstruction.’ Rock’s scheme, developed with assistant building manager Mark

Images Corbis

is under 13.3m3 (11.1 tonnes) per 100m2 gross internal floor area. Less than 7.5m3 (6.5 tonnes) earns two credits, and less than 3.4m3 (3.2 tonnes) earns three. The waste credits are some of the most popular among project teams, says Hobbs. ‘People are often looking for the most cost-effective credits, and construction waste is a good area to target, not because it’s easy, but because there isn’t an extra capital cost to the project apart from time – and the reduced cost of waste disposal can offset the extra time taken.’

Wolverson, brings a fresh approach to what happens on site. Normally, the main contractor installs six or seven skips, into which each trade segregates its rubbish. ‘In an ideal world, we’d make subcontractors pay for their own skips,’ says Rock. ‘I can guarantee that then they would probably produce less waste, and they would pack the skips better. But a site can’t accommodate skips for each subcontractor, and there would be less segregation.’ Instead, Willmott Dixon calculated a set

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required as part of BREEAM projects from 2014 or 2015, floor-to-ceiling height was raised to 2.4m, there wouldn’t and that they could be carried out by surveyors. need to be any cutting, so installation would be quicker, This is not to be confused with pre-refurbishment and there wouldn’t be any waste, therefore avoiding waste surveys, currently being developed by RICS and WRAP to disposal costs,’ explains Percy. A lot of the information is take advantage of the opportunity that building surveyors already out there, he adds, surveyors just need to ask for it. often have at a very early stage in a project. In some cases, However, most guidance on waste produced to date has clients may call on surveyors to assess an existing building been aimed at contractors, designers, the product supply when there is little more than a speculative design, and chain and clients, rather than surveyors. Hobbs notes that before sustainability has been considered. ‘That’s where there is simultaneously a glut of generic information and a opportunities may get missed,’ says Phil Birch, associate shortage of detail, especially aimed specifically at surveyors. director of sustainability at Sweett Group, who is working She recommends the Resource Efficiency Action Plans with WRAP and RICS on a pre-refurbishment survey toolkit. developed by the industry, with support from WRAP and ‘Once things have been ripped out, it’s much harder to put BRE, which focus on specific products such as plasterboard, them back. If a building surveyor thought about resource windows and joinery. ‘If a surveyor is doing a project where efficiency earlier, they could communicate opportunities there’s a lot of flooring, for example, they could go to the back to clients.’ For example, if a building surveyor is WRAP website and download the resource efficiency looking at a roof where 40% needs to be replaced, rather action plan specifically on that.’ than recommending a complete replacement, they might One of the toughest nuts to crack will be the fit-out emphasise the 60% that could be kept. Their role would be sector, partly because there are so many different elements especially significant on lower-value projects, where there lumped together within the ‘fit-out package’. A useful tool may not be an architect, leaving them responsible for the here is the Ska environmental rating system, developed and specification and tender documents. managed by RICS. Sam Pickering, head of sustainability Indeed, the earlier in the project, the more and energy EMEA at CBRE, helped to develop Ska Retail, important the surveyor becomes, which means and he believes its strength is the emphasis it places that their role in policing and eliminating waste on waste and the level of detail it demands. HOW DOES will become pivotal as the field develops. The ‘It separates out the various waste streams, CONSTRUCTION whereas other systems tend to lump WASTE AFFECT YOU? contractors and subcontractors may be the ones physically throwing materials into everything together,’ he explains. ‘That’s Share your views by skips, and the architects and designers where quantity surveyors need to focus emailing editor@ the ones virtually trimming surplus from – considering each waste stream and building models, but as the people counting measuring it, so that there is a more detailed or tweeting @ the costs on behalf of the client, it will arguably waste contract.’ A lot more could be salvaged modusmag. be the surveyors in the driving seat. where there’s a will to do it, Pickering adds. He was involved in a fit-out for Mexican food chain Wahaca, which also targets zero waste to landfill. The building was previously a nightclub, and the old wooden floors had seen much wear, tear and spilt beer, but the client chose to invest time in having them sanded and treated so they could be retained. Strip-out is the next frontier for waste reduction, which will involve moving the focus even earlier – to before the design stage. BRE is currently developing a methodology for pre-refurbishment audits, which would assess elements of an existing building that could potentially be retained or reused. Hobbs says that pre-refurbishment audits could be

‘As soon as you put a monetary value on waste, it sharpens people’s minds and they realise that it’s money they’re throwing away’

of rates for dumping materials in the skips – factoring in the cost of managing the scheme – and each subcontractor was asked to include the cost of waste disposal as a separate item in their tenders. ‘Say the total package is worth £100,000, they might include £2,000 on skips. They can then be directly compared to the competition, and we can use historic data from site waste management plans on each type of waste,’ explains Rock. ‘The surveyor may need to challenge

them: for example, “You’ve allowed £2,000 but, based on your package value, we think it should be more like £1,200”. We don’t want them pricing it as a risk.’ On site, the waste area is locked. Each subcontractor is provided with smaller wheelie bins to bring rubbish to the waste area, where it is weighed and recorded. At the end of the job, suppliers are billed for all the waste they’ve produced: if a subcontractor produces less waste than they priced for, they get to keep the difference from

their original contract sum; if they produce more, they are billed for the excess. Meanwhile, Willmott Dixon’s own preliminaries are reduced as less waste is produced overall, and the firm is building up a set of very accurate figures for the waste produced by each trade. The scheme is currently running on six live projects in the Wales and West region, and though it’s too early to quantify the results, Rock believes there will be a significant reduction in waste. ‘It’s an incentive for the subcontractor

to produce less waste, and if they’ve got to fit it into a wheelie bin, they’ll cut it into smaller pieces, which will take up less space in the skip. No subcontractor knowingly wastes materials, it’s usually down to poor management and storage.’ Rock hopes the new regime will lead to a cultural change throughout the supply chain: ‘Instead of accepting damaged deliveries from manufacturers and just skipping them, when they see there’s a £12 charge for that, they might send it back.’


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Law advice //

Managing payment for

MATERIALS OFF-SITE By professional contracts specialist Eugenie Lip



appropriately marked to identify the employer and their eventual destination at the project site The materials must be properly protected against loss and damage, and against the weather and other hazards Evidence must be provided of an insurance policy to cover loss or damage for the full value during the period of storage until the materials are delivered to the site An approved on-demand bond in favour of the employer for the value of the materials included in the payment certificate must be provided to safeguard the employer in the case of insolvency of the contractor or subcontractor The materials paid for by the employer should not be removed or moved from the place where they are stored without approval from the contract administrator, other than for delivery to the site for incorporation into the works. While standard forms may provide for the value of materials stored off-site to be included in payment certificates, where such payment is discretionary, clear directions from the employer should be obtained. In any event, by ensuring these conditions are fulfilled by the contractor before the value is certified for payment, the contract administrator will avoid unnecessary and costly arguments that can arise if materials already paid for by the employer are later found to be damaged, lost or stolen, or if the contractor or subcontractor becomes insolvent. EUGENIE LIP FRICS is a director with Davis Langdon KPK, an AECOM company, and heads the Contracts Support Group.

Illustration Borja Bonaque

In any construction project, it is the practice to make interim payments to the contractor and subcontractors for construction work carried out, and for materials and goods procured. This payment practice provides cash flow downstream for the contractor and subcontractors, without them having to rely on financing charges, which would otherwise have to be included in the contract sum. So that their value can be included in interim payments, materials and goods procured are usually brought to the construction site. However, there are some that have to be stored elsewhere – usually at the contractor’s own workshop, or that of a subcontractor or supplier. This is often due to safety reasons, or because there is insufficient space available on the construction site, or the materials are too large after manufacture or fabrication. Without special contract clauses, the contractor and subcontractor are not entitled to claim the value of such materials stored off-site in interim payments, which can have adverse financial consequences. Most standard forms, therefore, provide for the value of unfixed materials and goods procured for incorporation into a construction project to be included in the contractor’s and subcontractor’s interim payments whether they are stored off-site or on-site. For materials stored on-site, contractual provisions entitle the contractor to be paid for the value of materials delivered to the site usually at monthly intervals, or at completed milestone stages. However, any materials delivered too early should be excluded from the valuation, as should any materials that have deteriorated or been damaged because they have not been properly stored and protected. For materials stored off-site, before they can be included in a payment certificate, the contract administrator must ensure that certain conditions have been met: Invoices and official receipts must be provided to prove that payment has been made by the contractor The materials must be complete and ready for inclusion into the works, without anything further needing to be done to them Reasonable proof must be provided that ownership of the materials is vested with the contractor, so that it can then be passed on to the employer following payment The materials must be suitably stored and set apart from others at the place of manufacture or assembly, and

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$450$500bn Transactional activity expected in global capital markets in 2013


Ken Creighton, RICS Director of Professional Standards Washington DC, US

BRIDGE THE GAP In May, professional organisations from around the globe, including RICS, established the International Property Measurement Standards Coalition (IPMSC) at the World Bank in Washington DC. The coalition aims to resolve disparities by developing and implementing a set of international property measurement standards that are principles-based and internationally applicable, which will be adopted by all nations worldwide. IPMSC will now appoint an independent committee to lead wider industry consultation and the standards development process.

RICS ASIA +852 2537 7117 General enquiries APC guidance Subscriptions Events Training Bookshop REGULATION HELPLINE +44 (0)20 7695 1670 CONFIDENTIAL HELPLINE +44 (0)20 7334 3867 DISPUTE RESOLUTION SERVICES +44 (0)20 7334 3806 SWITCHBOARD +44 (0)20 7222 7000

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RICS news //

RICS and ARES collaborate past RICS President Alan Collett. At the meeting, the importance of professional standards and how these would benefit global financial markets was discussed. ARES is a key strategic partner for RICS in Japan, and this relationship is one of many

Hiromichi Iwasa, chair of ARES (Association for Real Estate Securitization) and chief executive of Mitsui Fudosan – the biggest Asian investor in European real estate – visited RICS HQ in London in July to meet the new RICS President Michael Newey and

that will help RICS to reinforce its position as a key collaborator in the development and enforcement of international standards. More than 40 property professionals from Japan also visited the UK as part of a joint conference and study tour with ARES.


RICS President Elect Louise Brooke-Smith FRICS gave the keynote presentation at the recent RICS conference, ‘What makes a building truly sustainable? Is energy efficiency enough?’. Setting out the findings from the World Green Building Council’s report, The business case for green building – which is the first to draw together evidence from around the world on the subject – BrookeSmith highlighted RICS’ contribution to valuation of sustainable features in property. RICS provides its members with guidance to ensure they have the knowledge and skills needed to meet the increasing demand for advice on the benefits of green buildings. Valuation professionals need to understand energy efficiency and renewable energy features, and collect better information, in order to assess their economic impact and better advise clients. Building on the forthcoming new global guidance note, RICS will develop dedicated training for valuers.



In China, occupier demand continues to pick up, with the net balance rising (from +20 in Q4 2012)

RICS Asia celebrated its 10th anniversary in May, with RICS Asia Chairman Chris Brooke hosting a gathering of renowned guests and property professionals at the new RICS Asia office in Wanchai. The guest of honour was the first Honorary RICS member in Hong Kong, the former chief secretary for administration Sir David Aker-Jones HonRICS. ‘The rapid development of RICS in Asia over the past 10 years has earned much recognition from the industry, and I’m proud to witness these achievements,’ said Chris Brooke. ‘RICS will strive to continuously enhance the level of professional standards within the industry, as well as take a proactive approach to sharing information and knowledge with government bodies and local professional organisations.’


Investment enquiries in China remained strongly positive

Illustrations Oscar Bolton Green, Bernd Schifferdecker



In Hong Kong, growth in occupier demand slowed (from +32 in Q4 2012)

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ecoming President of this unique organisation is a huge personal milestone, and I want to thank everyone who has supported me along the way. In the months leading up to my inauguration, I found myself pausing for reflection. I spent much of the 1980s striving to qualify as a chartered surveyor, graduating in 1986 and passing the APC (Assessment of Professional Competence) in 1989. The effort and commitment involved then reminds me of just how devoted I was to my dream. But had my original motivation stood the test of time? Looking back, I was certain that a career in real estate was the right choice for me. I was equally convinced that success depended on the professional credibility that comes with chartered status – something potential employers, and the wider community alike, recognised and valued. Passing my APC was much more than a validation of technical competence; it verified that I’d demonstrated professional and ethical conduct, too. I was seeking to join an organisation that derived its credibility and influence from the fact that it was not a trade body, but a selfregulating profession that helped members meet their obligations, and would ultimately hold them to account. Chartered status was


‘Our strength lies in the knowledge that RICS protects and enhances our collective status as true professionals’ Michael Newey FRICS RICS President

invaluable, and worth every minute of the training and qualification process. These original considerations are still valid 24 years later, but I also realise that, in the hurly burly of daily life, I so rarely stand back and acknowledge them. And I suspect I am not alone among members of my generation. Occasionally, we might wish for RICS to help us earn our living through protectionism and self-interest lobbying. Particularly in difficult economic times, the defence reflex is understandable – but our strength lies in the knowledge that RICS protects and enhances our collective status as true professionals. The world is full of examples of self-serving lobby groups, of which the public and wider business community are growing increasingly sceptical. We are fortunate that RICS is not one of them. As I begin my Presidential year, I ask you to reflect on the foundations of our RICS credentials: technical competence; ethical and professional behaviour; and compliance with regulated standards. Our individual status is based upon our collective adherence to these fundamentals. We are more than the sum of our parts – we are a global partnership in which each of us contributes to raising the reputation of all RICS members.

MALAYSIA ON THE RISE According to the RICS and Macdonald & Company’s Asia Rewards and Attitudes Survey 2013, there was a notable rise in the average regional salaries of Asian real estate professionals (10.6%) – but

the market that’s leading the way is Malaysia, rather than Mainland China. Despite this, professionals in Malaysia have the lowest average salary (around US$55,700) when compared to Singapore

Capital value expectations in Hong Kong fell slightly (from +52 in Q4 2012)


In Japan, occupier demand moved further into positive territory, with the net balance rising sharply

(around US$135,900), China (around US$106,600), and Hong Kong (around US$100,300). The average salary for the Asian region was around US$99,400. Overall, the fear of economic

and market uncertainty continues, but Malaysians were found to be the most optimistic respondents, with 45% anticipating an increase in economic activity compared to just 32% from Singapore.

$32,237 In Singapore, rental expectations continue to slip albeit at the most modest rate since mid-2011

Results taken from the RICS China, Hong Kong, Japan & Singapore Commercial Property Survey Q1 2013.

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RICS news //





RICS Cobra 2013 10-12 September, New Delhi RICS, the University of Ulster and the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, present the world’s leading annual construction and real estate research conference. For abstracts, visit

RICS 3rd Annual Asia Valuation Conference 6 November, Tokyo The conference will be co-organised by JAREA and supported by the IVSC (International Valuation Standards Council), as well as a number of professional institutions around the world. The theme is ‘Valuation as the life blood of financial markets.’

RICS Hong Kong Property Awards and Annual Dinner March 2014, Hong Kong Following the success from the previous years, RICS Hong Kong will be hosting this prestigious event once again, with top-quality award entries and world-class entertainment. Please watch out for the RICS Asia announcement.

RICS Hong Kong Annual Conference May 2014, Hong Kong For the sixth edition of this flagship conference, a powerful line up of speakers will focus on issues related to Hong Kong’s built environment. RICS HK will also be using this forum to produce a formal submission to the government on a range of public policies.

MALAYSIA FIG-RISM-RICS Summit June 2014, Kuala Lumpur This week-long summit will be held in conjunction with RISM (the Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia) and FIG (the International Federation of Surveyors) Undergraduates Conference, with an expected attendance of

around 2,000 surveyors. RICS President Michael Newey, PresidentElect Louise Brooke-Smith and Past President See Lian Ong will be keynote speakers. For more information, visit

COMMERCIAL: A MIXED PICTURE PROPERTY TAX CAN BE HELPFUL While the impact of the global recession has increased the importance of property tax, it has also created problems for individuals, corporate taxpayers and governments. The economic downturn has made it difficult for many people to pay their property taxes, and many businesses have seen a decline in revenue, making it more difficult to pay overheads, such as payroll and taxes. As a result, governments around the world have experienced increased pressure, as they are facing shortfalls in revenue but also increased demands for services.

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Nearly 170 countries have at least one tax on property and more than 100 have at least one recurrent tax on immovable property, according to Gerry Divaris FRICS, director of the International Property Tax Institute. ‘Although property tax is probably the most unpopular tax on the planet, it’s one of the more important taxes we have around,’ explains Divaris. ‘It has a bad name because it has such an “in your face” feel, but, if properly deployed and properly utilised, it can be really helpful.’ For more information, visit

The latest RICS Global Commercial Property Survey continues to show the uneven economic scene is holding back the occupier market in some parts of the world. This is particularly the case across most of the euro area, as well as the CEE region (Central and Eastern Europe). Significantly, it’s reflected in the fact that within this region, rent expectations are positive in only two countries: Germany and the Czech Republic. By way of contrast, the results for the occupier market remain more upbeat in North America, Russia and parts of Asia. Predictably, the results for China, Hong Kong and Malaysia continue to reflect the relatively solid macro data, as well as anecdotal evidence highlighting the ongoing appeal of real estate. Meanwhile, the turnaround in the fortunes of the UAE (United Arab Emirates) property market is gathering pace, with development starts rising, occupier demand showing a further increase and rent expectations continuing to edge upwards after four years of negative readings. Set against this, the softer results for Brazil reflect the sharp slowdown in the economy here.

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Governing Council in Delhi In April, the RICS Governing Council took place in Delhi – the first time the meeting has been held in South Asia. Widely predicted to be the world’s biggest economy by 2050, with US$1.2tn due to be invested in infrastructure and housing by 2030, and with an estimated cumulative skills gap in the land, property and construction sector of some 44m core professionals by 2020, India is a market that the surveying profession cannot afford to ignore. During the session, Michael Newey was confirmed as next RICS President; Louise Brooke-Smith as President-Elect, and Martin Bruehl was elected as RICS Senior-Vice President for the 2013/14 session. The Council also addressed various matters – such as key management issues and developing a strategy for Africa – and discussed what that RICS should look like in 2030. To find out more, visit

ARE GRADUATES REALLY READY? RICS has published new research that evaluates how, and to what extent, real estate courses equip graduates with commercial awareness. The research gathered the views of UK academics, practitioners and students on commercial awareness in order to develop the commercial awareness taxonomy. Key findings were: The most important skills for the development of commercial awareness are critical thinking and the ability to solve problems. The most important attributes for the development of commercial awareness are self-motivation and the ability and willingness to update professional knowledge. Students think their courses have not helped them develop commercial awareness enough. Largely, commercial awareness has been embedded into the RICS real estate curriculum as a whole, rather than as a standalone unit. The use of problem-based and work-based approaches is the suggested method to embed commercial awareness into the curriculum, in order to enhance ‘learner-led’ learning.

The other important aspect of enhancing ‘students’ commercial awareness is to maximise their practical experience, such as internships. Associate Director of RICS Valuation and Commercial Professional Groups Paul Bagust said: ‘This report highlights the fact that, rather than simply providing traditional technical skills, surveyors are becoming increasingly commercially aware and are looked at to provide leadership. A flexible and strategic approach to business and problem-solving, together with a detailed understanding of financial management, will be essential skills for those wishing to progress.’

CORPORATE PERFORMANCE RICS has published a summary of its worldwide performance against its goals and objectives for the third quarter of the 2012/2013 financial year (February to April 2013), which is available to members and other key stakeholders to download. During this year, RICS intends to continue the focus on gaining market and government recognition for RICS qualifications and standards across the world’s key economic and political centres. In doing so, we will raise the status of the profession and embed confidence in the markets where our members operate. We are also placing more emphasis on the clear and consistent communication of our vision, strategy and achievements in order to increase member and external stakeholder understanding of our direction, and drive up satisfaction in the value we provide. At the heart of our strategy is the development of international standards, and we are currently working collaboratively with markets, governments and other organisations worldwide to create consistent, sought-after standards for our sector. Feedback on the report is always welcome to

REMINDER All RICS members must undertake a minimum of 20 hours CPD (continuing professional development) each calendar year, of which at least 10 hours must be formal CPD. You should then record your activity online – it’s quick and simple. Start by logging today at

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Measure //



The diameter of the dome on the Pantheon in Rome – the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.

In 1756, UK engineer John Smeaton rediscovered hydraulic cement through repeated testing of mortar.

3.8bn m


The approximate amount of concrete produced annually around the world.

Illustration by Ian Dutnall



1 tonne of cement requires 2 tonnes of raw material (limestone and shale).

of the world’s population live in concrete structures.

7.38m 4.65m (1972) (2008)

of global CO2 emissions are attributed to the cement industry.

The amount of concrete used to build the Hoover Dam, Arizona, US.


The energy required to produce cement. (btus per tonne)


The length of the Tatara bridge in Japan, the world’s longest cable-stayed concrete bridge.


The total amount of concrete used to build the foundations of the twin Petronas Towers in Malaysia (452m).


The diameter of the world’s largest concrete tunnel segment ring, produced for the Alaskan Way project in Seattle, US.


The amount of concrete used in the foundations and tower of the Burj Khalifa. Its construction also holds the record for the highest vertical concrete pumping at 606m.


MODUS_Asia_Aug13_P50_Measure.indd 50

27,200,000 m3

The amount of concrete used to construct the Three Gorges Dam, in Hubei, China. Sources:, Cement Association of Canada,,, sustainableconcrete. org,,

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