A boom in regional construction is an opportunity for the glass and glazing sector

A boom in regional construction is an opportunity for the glass and glazing sector

Featured Article
11 Apr 2019

As Featured in GGP Magazine 03/19 

Construction in Manchester is outpacing that of Los Angeles according to the 2019 Deloitte Crane Survey. In this piece, Jason Eggerton, UK specification manager at Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, part of the NSG Group, outlines the opportunities to supply glass and glazing during this boom in regional development.

According to the Deloitte Crane Survey, more cranes are casting their shadow over the River Irwell than over Long Beach, with property development in Manchester outpacing that of US cities including Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago. 

Leeds, Birmingham and Belfast are also enjoying a rise in property development.

The report’s findings paint a rosier picture of the UK construction sector than one might have expected during a period of ongoing uncertainty. As glass and glazing continues to be heavily used in modern building design, the development boom should make for welcome reading in our sector too.

A sky-high opportunity

Manchester’s rapidly-evolving skyline demonstrates the current popularity of glass in building design. Deansgate Square, a new scheme with four entirely glazed towers, have been erected quickly in recent months, with two of the buildings now dwarfing Beetham Tower – Manchester’s original landmark glazed-skyscraper.

The city’s construction sector presents just one opportunity to supply glazing, but Manchester is not alone in hosting schemes where developers are keen to build upwards, requiring more glass. 

Over the Pennines, a new development in Leeds called the Hume House project is set to become Yorkshire and the North East’s tallest building – a 114-metre, 37-storey student housing scheme. Meanwhile, in the West Midlands, Birmingham will greet The Bank by the end of the year. This is a new 33-storey residential tower that will be the tallest residential scheme in the city. 

Unsurprisingly, London’s skyline continues to head upwards too, with a record 76 tall buildings due to be completed this year, a three-fold increase on 2018.

Requirement for advanced glass

It’s clear that an incredible volume of glass will be required over the next few years by developers completing new buildings. However, it’s not only a case of quantity, but one of quality too.

The glass specified for projects needs to provide the right balance of daylight, for enhancing occupant wellbeing, and energy-performance, to make workspaces and homes sustainable.

Many developers and local authorities are striving to decarbonise the building stock, which means that both solar-control and low-emissivity solutions will need to be specified for large, glazed buildings, to reduce the developments’ overall energy consumption from heating and cooling.

This is was recently specified at 6 St Andrew Square in Edinburgh, which was recognised at the G18 Awards as Commercial Project of the Year. Pilkington Suncool™ 66/33 T glass was specified across the whole of the building – an office scheme with commercial units on the ground floor. 

This solar-control and low-emissivity glass reduces transmission of heat from the sun to just 33 per cent, while allowing 66 per cent of visible light through. This ensures a comfortable climate for occupants all-year-round without compromising on bright interiors and spectacular views.

There’s an opportunity to supply other types of glazing - beyond products used to control the internal climate of a building. Supplying glazing with added functionality will be increasingly important as the regulatory landscape adapts to developers creating taller structures.

For example, BS 8560 – the code of practice for the design of buildings incorporating safe work at height – was updated in October 2018 to include reference to The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations. It contains specific reference to regulations that cover the ability to clean windows safely, such as Regulation 16.

Indeed, low-maintenance materials like self-cleaning glass such as Pilkington Activ™ are cited directly by the standard as a key work-at-height control measure to improve worker safety.

Looking ahead

As our cities get taller and cover larger footprints, there is a clear opportunity to supply advanced glass in much greater quantity.

At Pilkington, we’re working on a number of new innovations that will help create new market opportunities for the new-build sector too – including a ‘bird-safe’ glass that helps prevent birds from hitting glazed building envelopes.

It will be key for the glass and glazing industry to communicate the many benefits and functions technically advanced glazing can have to the building design community, to maximise the opportunity during the boom in UK construction.