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Growing a greener construction industry

As many of our readers are linked to the construction industry in some way, then the last couple of weeks has brought a number of good new stories for you, as well as for Plastic Surgeon.

As regular readers will know a lot of our work focuses on helping developers finish their properties prior to handover, and the NHBC has just announced a record number of registrations for new plots. So we should expect to see house building making a recovery over the course of the year; though obviously from a very low starting point.

And then last week your blogger was touring Ecobuild incognito, in order to get a feel for the state of the industry generally, and all the new products coming along that we might be asked to repair. What was most immediately evident, however, was the sheer size of the show, which has grown massively in floor area since making the break with Earls Court last year.

While many people had interpreted the implosion in scale of Interbuild/BEST as a sign of ill health for the industry, the extravaganza at ExCel has demonstrated just how many overseas as well as home based manufacturers believe building here is set to boom again. Eight halls on the south side of the centre were mirrored by a similar number to the north, packed with punters as well as stands showing new products.

Most of them, though, were coming at the issues of sustainability or energy saving from similar directions, and one theme that stood out for me was focused on the use of recycled raw materials. Being able to claim low ‘embodied energy’ seemed to come a close second.

Whether they were offering wall tiles, vinyl flooring, kitchen units, or PVC windows, then somewhere between 40 and 60 per cent recycled content seemed to be the benchmark for proving the sustainability of a product or range. Many companies, meanwhile, were trumpeting accreditations for having cut their carbon footprint by reducing power or water consumption.

This started me thinking about whether Plastic Surgeon should have been represented at the show – because our services actually exceed the green credentials of virtually everyone exhibiting.

Think about it. Not only have we been reducing our van miles by using hand-held computers to work smarter; aside from the very small amounts of filler and paint typically used in a repair, everything we do is about recycling.

Every day our finishers are out there around the country saving baths, basins, work-surfaces, doors, partitions and other fixtures from being replaced. And where they are called in to remove scratches from items like PVC profiles or glass balustrades – which simply involves careful polishing – then the outcome is 100 per cent recycled and even recyclable.

Clients also have to remember that when it comes to areas like kitchens and bathrooms, going down the replacement route very rarely ends with just the damaged item: tradesmen are likely to be involved in replacing tiling or patching plaster and paintwork as well as installing a new shower tray or sink unit.

Apparently Ecobuild is going to take up even more of the ExCel centre next year, so there should be room for Plastic Surgeon. And if you’re wondering how I got all the way to East London’s Docklands from our Devon headquarters, it wasn’t in a car burning fuel, it was by train and the Thames Clipper river boat. How green is that?

Plastic Surgeon is the UK’s market leading expert in fine finishing and repair services, and the only nationwide provider. Established for over 20 years, the company was one of the founders of the fine finishing sector, now employing over 100 staff based at its headquarters in Devon and operating from seven regional centres throughout the UK.

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