New research from Uponor, the total solutions provider of systems for the safe transportation of water around a building, found that the creation of truly healthy buildings is not possible without significant compromise, due to the challenges currently faced by the construction sector.
In a survey of over 200 construction industry professionals, 95% of respondents said that the M&E sector is unable to deliver healthy high-rise buildings without overcoming significant challenges. The research, which is detailed in the new whitepaper ‘High-Rise and Net-Zero Buildings of Tomorrow: Is the Construction Industry Ready?’, shows that these challenges include compromises to reduce costs and speed up construction often leading to a lower standard of end user wellbeing.
Citing temperature control
The impact the building one lives and works in has on their health is more relevant than ever, with many people spending prolonged periods of time indoors coupled with an increased awareness of how intelligent building design can help minimize the spread of germs.
The research supports this, with 90% of those surveyed agreeing that the built environment plays an important role in our everyday wellbeing. M&E systems were recognized as especially crucial, with the most important systems identified as being:
- Ventilation (77.5%)
- Water supply (47.5%)
- Temperature (43.5%)
However, despite almost half of those questioned citing temperature control as an important factor in creating a healthy building, 20% admitted that they would compromise on this if cost was an issue.
Ventilation air filters
In addition, it was revealed that square footage of rentable/sellable areas are sometimes increased to the detriment of M&E systems. Examples of this include ventilation air filters being blocked due to limited space, meaning that they cannot be properly maintained or replaced. Similarly, radiant heating systems are often side-lined for fan-coil units and radiator systems, despite the fact that studies show radiant heating provides better thermal comfort, takes up less space and is more efficient.
In support of Uponor’s research, the issue of building standards affecting health and wellbeing was also raised by a recent report into today’s housing which revealed that current regulations risk creating lower quality homes.
High-Rise residential facilities
Uponor has a lot of experience supplying water systems for high-rise residential facilities"
This is an issue which could be exacerbated by the UK government’s recent building planning reforms, which are designed to speed up the pace of construction, a decision which has been criticized by professional bodies including the Royal Institute of British Architects.
James Griffiths, Project Development Director at Uponor, said: “Uponor has a lot of experience supplying water systems for high-rise residential facilities, where the scale and complexity of the structure means there are a lot of factors which need to be considered to ensure that the water network will optimize the health and wellbeing of residents.”
Lowering building quality
“Making compromises to M&E systems such as the heating and water delivery might lower initial costs, but we need to think about the long-term suitability of the buildings we’re creating, particularly in the current climate. Cutting corners in order to build quicker or cheaper risks significantly lowering building quality and making it even harder for construction industry professionals to design, build and maintain homes that properly support our health and wellbeing.”
As part of its research, Uponor spoke to a number of construction industry experts. Project Architect at AWG Architects, Marjon Van Elk, said: “The M&E aspects of a building are the most important parts to making it healthy, especially by providing the comfort, heating and ventilation, so it is important that it’s done well.”