Building a Sustainable Legacy with Modern Construction Methods - Ashfield Group

Building a Sustainable Legacy with Modern Construction Methods

Ashfield Building Group have made our name as a forward-thinking organisation. We remain at the forefront of Modern Construction Methods, supporting and driving emerging innovations that deliver improvements in quality, efficiency, sustainability and value.

A case in point is our Kit of Parts (KoP) solution which applies a set of design and construction principles, standardisation and rigorous discipline to enhance quality whilst delivering projects 30% more efficiently and 30% quicker. It focuses on object-oriented building techniques with components that are pre-designed, pre-engineered and pre-fabricated for use on site.

Standardised yet flexible

Component-based standardisation achieves significant efficiencies in design and construction yet KoP is a flexible methodology which can respond to user requirements and site contexts, without compromising design quality. Unlike modular solutions, there are no set-up costs and you don’t need to run a huge production line to gain added value. The offsite fabrication brings additional benefits: it reduces waste, improves site health and safety and also reduces both embodied and transport energy.  Ashfield have utilised KoP principles in a wide variety of settings for different clients and to different performance criteria. Most of our designs are individual, but they all share a common DNA formed through KoP.

An example of KoP methods

The contrast between KoP and traditional construction methods is exemplified by Ashfield’s use of Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs). SIPs comprise a thick layer of insulation sandwiched between two layers of OSB board, creating a composite structural element which can create walls, floors, ceilings and roofs.

SIPs are manufactured to a uniform, reliable standard through the exacting quality control of factory conditions. Completing the fabrication offsite means that a weatherproof building shell can be completed just a few days after the groundworks are ready to receive it. This is dramatically faster than the equivalent timeframe of traditional construction methods.

The high strength-to-weight ratio of SIP Panels allows large sections of a building to be fitted at once, speeding up the time required on site for erection. They remove the external façade from the critical path, allowing follow-on trades to work quickly once the SIPs are installed. A faster build programme lowers overall on-site costs through reduced project management and reduced use of plant and equipment.

SIP insulation exceeds the current Building Regulation requirements on its own. The foam insulation has an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) rating of zero and has a low Global Warming Potential (GWP). The air tightness of SIP panels improves the internal living environment for the occupant – with much better air quality, temperatures can be maintained without the need of vast heating and cooling, thereby reducing energy bills, CO2 emissions and noise pollution.

Design versatility

SIPs are also superior from a both a creative and functional perspective.  Through their strength and ease of connection, they offer designers more versatility than other construction materials.

This allows possibilities beyond the conventional, such as sloping roof panels creating an open space that, when utilised, maximises the space utilisation of a building plot.

Cost and time management

KoP enables improvements in cost management too. Once a building has been designed, you can establish a set cost for each property type. This lends itself very well to both small residential projects and larger scale residential projects that are completed in multiple phases. As a company that oversees developments of all sizes, Ashfield have detailed experience of the scalable benefits of KoP.

Programme time is equally predictable. Unlike traditional brick and block methods, where extremes of climate can severely impact build schedules, the KoP construction process is not hindered by wet or cold conditions. In a country prone to unpredictable and variable weather, the KoP solution eliminates this very costly risk factor. Once the foundations are completed, you can deliver construction on time with much greater ease and certainty.

The future of construction

It’s easy to appreciate why KoP methods are being seen as the future of construction methodology. KoP optimises quality control and efficiency to deliver high-performance buildings that are permanent, sustainable and eco-friendly whilst minimising capital, running and whole-life costs. This is a vital attribute in a sector that needs to recognise the long-term legacy of projects and the importance of robustness and lifecycle costs.

KoP is the latest formulation of a guiding principle which Ashfield have always sought to promote: integrated thinking. We believe that architecture, construction, structures, services, furniture and equipment, technology and landscape strategies should be developed in parallel. This is how a sustainable legacy can be achieved.