AWMS comment: Q3 2015

Steve Durdant-Hollamby, Managing Director Alumasc Water Management Solutions (AWMS) is BMBI’s Expert for Civils, Metal Rainwater & Drainage.

With a broad range of water management products that collect and channel rainwater efficiently either from the roof or from the surface to below ground and away, Civils, Metal Rainwater & Drainage tends to follow overall Heavy Building Materials category trends. Q3 2015 is up around 2% compared with the third quarter of 2014.

Order books are healthy, and we expect Q4 2015 to be up on Q4 2014. But start dates have been dragged out with re-bidding of contracts and skills shortages.

August was disappointing for the industry with more people on holiday for longer periods. Many of the European workforce went home during August and early September.

The skills shortage is pushing up labour rates. Keeping staff is a problem for many businesses as competition for skilled staff increases.

But the biggest long term challenge is learning how to build for today’s climate and tomorrow’s, rather than yesterday’s climate. Climate change is a topic of intense debate, but we don’t need to go far to find the proof that Britain needs to find a solution quickly.

The Thames Barrier was built to protect London from flooding and North Sea surges, and was designed to close 2-3 times a year. It shut just 8 times in the 1980s, but 31 times in 1990s, 80 times in the 2000s, and 55 times from 2010 up to mid-2014.

Forty one of these recent closures were to protect against prolonged heavy rainfall in the Thames catchment area, not tidal surges from the east. And, heavy rains and more frequent storms are having other effects on London’s homes and businesses.

Britain has seen an increase in flooding and storms in recent years. We’ve paved over much of our urban landscape and reduced natural drainage where rain can drain in a controlled and sustainable way. An important part of the solution is more integrated drainage, at every stage to cope with more storms and increased rainfall.

We need to change how we build and manage water in new and existing buildings, and adopt joined up thinking and support for all levels of the supply chain – specifiers, engineers, property managers, merchants and builders – before we run out of time or options.

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