What are sustainable drainage systems?

Sustainable drainage systems, or SuDS, are a way to prevent surface systems from becoming overwhelmed or polluted during heavy rainfall.

They work by reducing the amount of standing water on hard surfaces like roads and pavements, delaying surface run-off from entering drains and sewers, and preventing contaminated water from reaching natural waterways.

SuDS – which is sometimes used to refer to sustainable urban drainage systems – have become an important part of planning in more densely populated areas, where a significant percentage of land is covered by roads and buildings.

There isn’t just one SuDS technology. Rather, the term relates to a number of commonly used techniques which, together, help to prevent and spread out surface run-off and wastewater that would otherwise enter drains, sewers and rivers in large quantities.

Five common SuDS techniques

SuDS can work in several ways:

  • Catch rainwater so it can be directly reused.
  • Divert contaminated surface water away from natural waterways into storm drains.
  • Delay large quantities of run-off to prevent flash floods.

Five common SuDS techniques that help to achieve one or more of these main aims are:

1. Swales

Swales use soil and vegetation such as grass to provide a soakaway for surface run-off. They are popular in urban environment design where grass verges and other green areas along roadsides are already common.

2. Retention Basins

Another common feature of urban areas, retention basins provide a place for floodwater to accumulate before it is released in safe quantities. This can help to prevent downstream flooding during heavy rainfall.

3. Wetlands

Wetlands and nature reserves can serve as a place for surface water to collect. Artificial wetlands can help with urban SuDS efforts, and usually do not rely on using a pumping station, but instead use the ecology of the habitat to disperse the surface wastewater.

4. Green Roofs

Green roofs are a way to deal with excess rainfall on buildings, which would normally be sent directly into the sewers via gutters and drainpipes. They use vegetation to catch the falling rain – although it’s important to make sure older roofs can support the weight.

5. Permeable Paving

An increasingly common SuDS technique is permeable paving, such as Grasscrete which allows rainfall on hard surfaces to penetrate into the ground below, instead of staying as surface run-off. This can be achieved using a permeable membrane beneath the paving, and by using permeable paving materials or leaving small gaps between pavers.

Find out more

If you want to know more about sustainable urban drainage systems, or if you have problems with standing water during heavy rainfall, contact us today on 0151 2360707 and we’ll be happy to discuss suitable SuDS options with you.

Common electrical problems for commercial buildings in summer

The summertime might feel like a time of year when electrical problems in commercial buildings should be at their minimum – after all, there’s less heavy rain that can get into the wiring and cause havoc.

But that doesn’t mean it’s plain sailing all the way through to autumn. In fact, summer can put extra strain on commercial buildings’ electrical systems, creating some common problems we see year after year.

1. Air Conditioning

It’s one of the biggest headaches for commercial building electrical problems, but air conditioning has become an essential way to keep employees comfortable in the peak of summer.

Malfunctioning air conditioning can be the cause of your mains circuit breaker tripping. So, if your power keeps shutting off, get your air conditioner serviced – and be glad it hasn’t caused an electrical fire yet.

2. Overheating

Air conditioners, computer workstations, server stacks and data rooms can all generate massive amounts of heat, which is bad news when the ambient air temperature is already high.

Make sure you get your equipment’s cooling systems checked – including the ducts and vents that carry hot air from your air conditioning to the exterior of your building – as overheating equipment can be just as much of a problem as faulty electrical wiring.

3. PAT and Fixed Wire Testing

As you put more strain on your commercial building’s electrical system, you can come across wiring problems and faulty appliances that weren’t apparent during the winter months. That might be because some appliances are used more in summer, but it can also just be general wear and tear that could happen at any time of year.

Regular PAT and fixed wire testing can check your portable appliances and your mains wiring loop to identify any power quality problems – variations in the electricity supply that can lead to power surges and brownouts, and risk damaging the circuitry inside sensitive equipment like computers and servers.

4. Extension Cords

Employees plugging in individual desk fans can soon use up the available electrical sockets, but it doesn’t take many multiway trailing sockets to overload a circuit. If your staff have been plugging in extension cords to power their desk fans, this might be why you’re having electrical problems.

Again, make sure your air conditioning, natural ventilation and solar shielding are all working well, to reduce the reliance on fans at individual workstations. You might also want to invest in USB desk fans that can plug into employees’ computers, rather than using up a mains socket.

5. Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are not as common in the UK as in some other countries, but if you have them in your premises, it’s worth checking the wiring regularly to keep them in good working order.

You may also need to reverse the direction of your ceiling fans for summer. In hot weather, you need to feel a downward breeze from your fans for them to cool you down. On cold days, reversing the fan can actually help to circulate warm air from close to the ceiling, sending it around the room to raise the temperature by a few degrees.

Most modern ceiling fans have a simple switch to change their direction, but older models may depend on the polarity of their wiring – so if your fan is stuck spinning in the wrong direction for summer, call a commercial electrician to take a look.

 

If you would like to know more about our electrical maintenance services , call us on 0151 2360707 or email info@hebs-group.co.uk and a member of our team will be happy to help with your enquiry.

HVAC tips to allergen-proof your space

Allergic reactions like hay fever are an annoyance at the best of times, but the events of 2020 have shone a new spotlight on respiratory conditions and on minimising coughing and sneezing, especially in indoor shared spaces like workplaces and hospitality venues.

Your HVAC system can go a long way towards allergen-proofing your space, but it’s important to keep up with your HVAC maintenance to avoid simply circulating allergens and other irritants around your interiors.

So, here are some helpful HVAC tips to allergen-proof your space.

Reduce dust levels

Often, coughing and sneezing is caused not by allergens like pollen, but simply by dust circulating in the air.

HVAC maintenance should include deep cleaning to remove dust from your vents and ducts, as well as from parts of your air conditioning unit like the air intakes and filters.

Reducing dust levels is one of the easiest and most effective ways to make your HVAC system deal with allergens better – so don’t neglect it.

Clean filters

HVAC filters, which we have just mentioned, deserve extra attention. Another way to allergen-proof your space is to check them regularly, clean them if appropriate, and replace them when necessary.

Some HVAC systems support the use of HEPA filters. You may know of HEPA filters from their use in vacuum cleaners, where they prevent dust from getting out of the machine and into the air.

Likewise in HVAC systems, a HEPA filter can remove more dust, allergens and other irritants from the air output, so there’s less risk of occupants suffering from hay fever or other allergies.

Monitor moisture levels

HVAC systems can affect the humidity level of the air in your premises, either deliberately or as an unintended consequence of heating, cooling, and circulating the air.

It’s worth monitoring moisture levels in the air in your premises. Relative humidity should be around 40-50% when possible.

Higher humidity allows bacteria to live for longer, while very dry air can be irritating to the throat too – so keep it in the sweet spot to avoid coughs, sneezes, and infections.

Get help with HVAC maintenance

The best thing you can do is to call in the experts to examine your HVAC system and make suggestions on HVAC maintenance and cleaning, as well as replacing or updating any parts that are not pulling their weight.

At hebs Group our engineers have years of experience on preventative

expertise to your equipment too. Call us today on 0151 2360707 or email usinfo@hebs-group.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

Refurbishing your leisure and gym facilities for the future

A growing number of individuals and businesses are starting to recognise that there is no ‘miracle cure’ for COVID-19, and any vaccine could be over a year away from going into mass production.

For indoor hospitality venues like gyms and leisure facilities, this raises significant challenges. However, these venues are also ideally qualified to maintain high levels of hygiene so that they can operate safely over the long term.

UK government guidance for COVID-secure gyms

The government has published sector-specific guidelines for gyms and leisure facilities to open in a COVID-secure way, as well as further guidance if you provide close contact services like sports massage.

Some of this is quite obvious – cleaning surfaces and maintaining social distance, for example – while other aspects like effective ventilation of indoor areas have been less widely discussed in the public domain.

Here are some of the main steps you can take to maintain a COVID-secure gym or leisure centre, which you might want to factor into any future gym refurbishment projects.

1. Reducing contact

One way to create a COVID-secure gym is to reduce direct contact between customers in more ways than just encouraging them to keep their distance on your premises.

Gyms are being asked to minimise the use of changing rooms and showers. Customers should arrive wearing their gym clothes if possible, and should travel home to shower.

2. Reducing noise

Lower noise levels can allow people to talk to each other at a normal volume, instead of shouting – the louder the voice, the further any droplets and aerosol transmission are projected.

Keep background music to lower levels than you normally might, and consider acoustics in any refurbishment work, as some noise insulation and acoustic design could be a big help.

3. Improving ventilation

Outdoor areas are more COVID-secure because the virus disperses to safe levels more quickly in the open air.

Indoors, better ventilation can help. Consider investing in appropriate air conditioning systems as part of any refurbishment, or in smaller venues give some thought to air flow and the availability of exterior doors and windows you can open safely.

4. Cutting capacity

Unfortunately, you may have to cut the maximum capacity of your gym at any one time, in order to ensure people can keep the recommended distance apart.

To mitigate this, you can use one-way systems and physical barriers to prevent people coming close to one another, and place equipment such that people are not facing each other – and therefore breathing in each other’s direction – during their workout.

5. High-density areas

Certain areas are naturally more challenging than others. For example if you only have one main door for both in and out, you need to try to find a way to segregate arriving customers from those just leaving.

Even if you are not allowing use of your changing rooms, customers might want to put their valuables in a locker – so try to have lockers spaced well apart to avoid close contact in those areas too.

A COVID-free approach

No two venues are identical and the guidelines keep changing, but by applying the basic principles of distance and hygiene, you can make your gym or fitness centre as COVID-secure as possible.

If you need any help when planning a refurbishment in the current climate, just give us a call on 0151 236 0707 and we can bring our own expertise to your upcoming gym refit project.