Research from Grantham Scholar Charles Gillott reveals drivers and barriers to the adoption of vertical extension.
Charles’ paper – Drivers, barriers and enablers: construction sector views on vertical extensions – is published in Building Research & Information. In the paper Charles provides information into how the construction industry views vertical extension.
Below, Charles explains the paper’s key findings.
Reusing and vertically extending buildings – rather than demolishing and replacing them – reduces material consumption, waste generation, and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
This is particularly important, as the built environment is responsible for around 40% of global GHG emissions at present.
Despite these environmental benefits, and existing work suggesting many buildings may be extended without the need for strengthening, uptake of vertical extension remains limited in the UK.
This paper considers the views of construction sector professionals to identify key drivers and barriers influencing the adoption of vertical extension, as well as how this may be enabled and promoted in the future.
Through an initial survey and follow up interviews it is revealed that, although widely recognised, the environmental benefits of vertical extension are rarely a driver at present with potential economic benefits instead taking priority.
Barriers to adoption include economic factors such as an uncertain business case (in comparison with traditional new build projects); technical issues (such as the poor availability of design data and inexperience of engineers); and cultural aspects (such as resistance to change and corporate inertia).
The study also recommends that VAT tariffs (which currently favour demolition and reconstruction over reuse) be amended to promote vertical extensions going forward, with mandatory carbon assessments on all construction projects also working to achieve this.
A greater focus on the circular economy and building reuse in degree education is also recommended, including the appraisal of existing structures and storage and transfer of design data.
Two storey extensions could help housing crisis and reduce carbon emissions. A study led by Charles Gillott shows two storey extensions on buildings could provide an extra 175,000 homes in Sheffield.
Charles Gillott on Institution of Structural Engineers’ sustainability map. Charles‘s work on vertical extension included in the Institution of Structural Engineers’ Sustainability Resource Map.
COP26 observer interview: Charles Gillott. COP26 observer Charles explains why we need to both train engineers to reuse buildings. And create policy to enforce a circular economy for the construction industry.