Ar C.J. Walsh – Consultant Architect, Fire Engineer & Technical Controller – International Expert on : Sustainability Implementation + Accessibility (including Fire Safety) for All + Sustainable Fire Engineering
2010-06-07: People who visited this Post during the summer … some, many times … want more of an explanation. In this case … ‘Less was not More’ ! Apologies.
In the North of Kyoto City … Rokuon-Ji Temple – The Golden Pavilion … a very elegant three storey building, harmoniously integrated into the landscape … and clearly intended to be reflected in the water of Kyōko-chi (Mirror Pond).
Looking more closely at the Pavilion, each of the Three Floors has a different Architectural Style:
1.Hō-sui-in … the Name of the First/Ground Floor … built in the palace style, known as Shinden-zukuri.
2.Chō-on-dō … the Name of the Second Floor … built in the style of samurai houses, known as Buke-zukuri.
3.Kukkyō-chō … the Name of the Third Floor … built in the style of Karayō, or Zen Temple.
Both the 2nd and 3rd Floors are covered with gold leaf on Japanese lacquer. The roof covering, throughout, is cedar wood shingle. The Phoenix, at the top, promises good fortune.
2010-06-06: This post has been running around in the back of my mind for quite some time … and I know now, for far too long ! But recently, my patience with certain manufacturers and suppliers of evacuation chair devices has reached its limit.
In relation to Building Users … previous posts have examined the technical term: Place of Safety (see the post dated 2009-10-24) … and why this concept is an essential starting point in the development of any practical … and comprehensive … fire engineering strategy for a building.
Previous posts have also explored the complex issue of Areas of Rescue Assistance in a building (see posts dated 2009-03-10 & 2009-03-17).
For the purposes of this discussion, now, a clear statement of Fire Engineering Design Objectives is required …
Evacuation for All Building Users … with an assurance of health, safety and welfare protection during the course of that evacuation.
Sustain Building Serviceability during Evacuation … at the very least, while people are waiting in Areas of Rescue Assistance … and, until all of those people can be rescued by Firefighters and can reach a Place of Safety.
We are rapidly approaching the day when all lifts/elevators in a building must be capable of being used during the course of a fire incident. AND … these lifts/elevators must be situated so that … alternative, safe and intuitive means of evacuation … are effectively presented to all building users.
Greedy vested interests continue to impede the onset of that inevitable day.
Another surprising barrier to the implementation of this goal, however, is the sloppy and incompetent drafting of fire engineering design standards and codes of practice. Previous posts have discussed … and shown … some of the serious problems with British Standard BS 9999 – Code of Practice for Fire Safety in the Design, Management and Use of Buildings (2008).
A ‘Restricted’ Architectural Vocabulary is yet another barrier to implementation. High-Rise and/or Complex Buildings are still typically being designed for Access … not Evacuation ! This fault very definitely lies with the architectural and engineering schools throughout Europe.
Until all lifts/elevators in a building are capable of being used during the course of a fire incident … there is an obvious and pressing need for a fire engineering design solution which involves the installation, maintenance and proper use of Approved Fire Evacuation Chair Devices … which need to be powered or manual depending upon the particular circumstances in a building !
AND, even when all lifts/elevators are capable of being used during the course of a fire incident … because lifts/elevators must always undergo routine servicing and maintenance and they will not, therefore, be in operation for short periods of time … there will still be an obvious need for Approved Fire Evacuation Chair Devices. So, these fire-evacuation related products should never be regarded as a wasted investment !
I have repeated the word ‘Approved’ because, unfortunately, since these are also disability related products … insufficient attention, and emphasis, is given to Product Approval in this Market Sector, i.e. showing that the product is ‘fit for its intended use, in the location of use’.
At the most basic level imaginable … National Building Regulations in the European Union Member States, and E.U. Safety at Work and Product Liability Legislation … all demand Product Approval.
Performance Requirements for Fire Evacuation Chair Devices: Fire Evacuation Chair Devices, powered or manual, must be capable of …
being safely and easily operated ;
carrying people of large weight (150 Kg minimum) ;
going down staircases which, in existing buildings of historical, architectural and cultural importance, may be narrow and of unusual shape ;
travelling long distances horizontally … in a robust and stable manner … both within a building … and externally, perhaps over rough ground … in order to reach a Place of Safety.
When going up a staircase is necessary in order to reach a Place of Safety, a powered evacuation chair device must be provided !
Fire Evacuation Staircases: A vivid image, with a few accompanying words, are necessary …
Fire Evacuation Chair Devices & What To Avoid: Can you spot the Evacuation Chair Device in the first photograph below ?
Fire Evacuation Chair Devices & Issues To Carefully Consider: Modern wheelchairs come in all shapes, sizes and styles … are highly adapted by their owners … and can be very expensive. Why is it a surprise, therefore, to learn that most wheelchair users will not want to abandon their expensive personal property, i.e. the wheelchair, in the event of a real fire emergency.
The answer, of course, is PROPER CONSULTATION with All Building Users (where these are known !) during the preparation of a Fire Defence Plan for a Building.
The following photographs illustrate different aspects of the capability of Powered Fire Evacuation Chair Devices …
Product Approval in the European Union Single Market: Fire Evacuation Chair Devices must be permanently CE Marked … including the product itself, any cover (such as that shown in the Dublin Airport photograph above), all product literature, and any product packaging.
It is not acceptable to print the CE Mark on an adhesive label … and then stick the label to the product ! Correct informative text must always accompany a CE Mark !
Please note that the CE Mark is not a Safety Mark. A CE Mark denotes conformity with the Essential Requirements of a single, specific European Union Directive.
2010-06-01: Europe got its ass whipped at the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, last December 2009. Why aren’t all the Institutions of the European Union learning … really fast … from this hard lesson ???
Back on 10th January 2007 … the European Commission issued COM(2007) 2 final … a Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions … having the title: Limiting Global Climate Change to 2 Degrees Celsius – The Way Ahead for 2020 and Beyond. [ This document is freely available for download … at EUR-Lex (a link to the WebSite is provided at the right hand side of this Page). ]
On Page 3 of the Communication, you will read the following …
‘ The EU’s objective is to limit global average temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. This will limit the impacts of climate change and the likelihood of massive and irreversible disruptions of the global ecosystem. The Council has noted that this will require atmospheric concentrations of GHG (greenhouse gases) to remain well below 550 parts per million by volume (ppmv) CO2 equivalent (eq.). By stabilising long-term concentrations at around 450 ppmv CO2 eq., there is a 50% chance of doing so. This will require global GHG emissions to peak before 2025 and then fall by up to 50% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. The Council has agreed that developed countries will have to continue to take the lead to reduce their emissions between 15 to 30% by 2020. The European Parliament has proposed an EU CO2 reduction target of 30% for 2020 and 60-80% for 2050.’
What a really sloppy, imprecise expression … and explanation … to give to a criticalClimate Change Performance Indicator !! And … please note the overly optimistic ‘50% chance’.
On the evidence of Europe’s ‘real’ climate change mitigation performance to date … there is no chance, whatever, of hitting that target.
In Copenhagen, the Group of 77 & China and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), in particular, demanded that the planetary temperature rise be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius !
Outside Europe … irreversible climate change is already happening … and people must adapt in order to survive !!!
For example … climate change is seriously affecting the people of the Sundarbans. Located at the mouth of the Ganges River in Bangladesh and West Bengal in India, this area is part of the largest delta in the world. Sundarban means ‘beautiful forest’ in Bengali, as the region is covered in mangrove forests …
In the United States of America, there has been a long-running saga of Hazardous Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) Emitting Plasterboard/Drywall being installed in new housing. My U.S. cousin and his beautiful wife were crying their eyes out, here in Ireland last year, having discovered that their new home in Florida had been constructed using this plasterboard … or ‘drywall’, as it is known in the local language over there, i.e. American.
This sorry story graphically illustrates a number of important points …
The Construction Products & Materials Industry is completely and utterly global in nature. Europe is not immune from this phenomenon !
Within the European Single Market, proper and unqualified emphasis must be placed on the correct CE Marking of Construction Products. Unfortunately, too many European Manufacturers have not the remotest notion about what CE Marking means or involves. And … CE Marking Technical Control Systems & Procedures in European Countries are totally inadequate.
Just as many people think nothing about stealing the intellectual property of others … so many people think nothing about Fraudulently Applying the CE Mark to unapproved construction products.
In order to improve the situation concerning Consumer Ignorance about CE Marking … even when a manufacturer has his/her/their CE Marking in order … it is still necessary to clearly and simply demonstrate the Route of Conformity which has been taken in order to obtain the CE Mark. This is not a requirement of European Union Law … but merely a strong personal opinion based on the experience of being a technical controller for many years.
The problem of hazardous plasterboard in buildings could also happen in Ireland … or in any other European country. It might already have happened. Beware !
It is not acceptable that a well-established European Brand Name has engaged in this sort of ‘sharp’ practice outside Europe !! Across a large trans-national organization … it is essential that Product Quality Control is consistently at a uniformly high level.
In a CPSC (USA) Press Release #10-243, dated 25th May 2010 …
Of the samples tested, the top ten reactive sulphur-emitting plasterboard samples were all produced in China. Some of the Chinese plasterboard had emission rates of hydrogen sulphide 100 times greater than non-Chinese plasterboard samples.
Click the Link above to read and/or download the CPSC Chart
“Homeowners who have problem plasterboard in their homes are suffering greatly”, said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “I appeal to these Chinese plasterboard companies to carefully examine their responsibilities to U.S. families who have been harmed, and do what is fair and just”.
At the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue meetings in Beijing on 24th & 25th May 2010, U.S. officials pressed the Chinese government to facilitate a meeting between CPSC and the Chinese plasterboard companies whose products were used in U.S. homes, and which exhibit the emissions identified during the testing procedures. The Strategic and Economic Dialogue represents the highest-level bilateral forum to discuss a broad range of issues between the two nations.
The following list identifies the top 10 plasterboard samples tested which had the highest emissions of hydrogen sulphide, along with the identity of the manufacturer of the plasterboard and the year of manufacture, from highest to lowest.
Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co. Ltd.: (year of manufacture 2005) China ;
Taian Taishan Plasterboard Co. Ltd.: (2006) China ;
Shandong Taihe Dongxin Co.: (2005) China ;
Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co. Ltd.: (2006) China ;
Taian Taishan Plasterboard Co. Ltd.: (2006) China ;
Taian Taishan Plasterboard Co. Ltd.: (2006) China ;
Beijing New Building Materials (BNBM): (2009) China ;
Taian Taishan Plasterboard Co. Ltd.: (2009) China ;
Shandong Taihe Dongxin Co.: (2009) China.
Other Chinese plasterboard samples had low or no detectable emissions of hydrogen sulphide, as did the plasterboard samples tested which were manufactured domestically.
They include …
Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin: (2009) China ;
Tiger ***ShiGao JianCai***liangpianzhuang: (2006) China ;
USG Corporation: (2009) U.S. ;
Guangdong Knauf New Building Material Products Co. Ltd.: (2009) China ;
9 mm (3/8″) plasterboard manufacturer uncertain (date uncertain): China ;
Knauf Plasterboard (Wuhu) Co. Ltd.: (2009) China ;
CertainTeed Corp.: (2009) U.S. ;
Georgia Pacific Corp.: (2009) U.S. ;
Dragon Brand, Beijing New Building Materials Co. Ltd.: (2006) China ;
CertainTeed Corp.: (2009) U.S. ;
Pingyi Baier Building Materials Co. Ltd.: (2009) China ;
Sample purchased in China, manufacturer unknown: (2009) China ;
Panel Rey S.A.: (2009) Mexico ;
Lafarge North America: (2009) U.S. ;
National Gypsum Company: (2009) U.S. ;
National Gypsum Company: (2009) U.S. ;
Georgia Pacific Corp.: (2009) U.S. ;
Pabco Gypsum: (2009) U.S. ;
Temple-Inland Inc.: (2009) U.S. ; and
USG Corporation: (2009) U.S.
Last month, CPSC released the results of plasterboard emissions tests by LBNL. The studies showed a connection between certain Chinese plasterboard and corrosion in homes. In addition, the patterns of reactive sulphur compounds emitted from plasterboard samples show a clear distinction between certain Chinese plasterboard samples manufactured in 2005/2006 and other Chinese and non-Chinese plasterboard samples.
To date, CPSC has spent over $5 million to investigate the chemical nature and the chain of commerce of problem plasterboard. Earlier this year, CPSC and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) issued an Identification Protocol to help consumers identify problem plasterboard in their homes. Last month, CPSC and HUD issued Remediation Guidance to assist impacted homeowners.
This is very personal … family, friends and I myself … have all been caught, twisted and mangled by the current air travel havoc in Europe. Catching a plane is stressful enough … the long queues … the security screening … the silly, ineffective regulations about liquids … the unbelievably high prices for everything at an airport (every airport !) … the marathon walks to departure gates … without having to endure the additional stress of not knowing whether the flight is on or off … and even IF you then get to your destination … not knowing whether the return flight will be on or off.
HOWEVER … to Know and Claim Your Rights, under European Union Law, during the volcanic ash crisis … go to this Page on the European Commission (DG SANCO) WebSite … http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/icelandic-volcanic-cloud/index_en.htm It’s time to kick ass with the airlines ! And … that is exactly what happened with Ryanair in Italy, when it was fined €3 Million on 15th May 2010 !!!
IMPORTANT UPDATE … IATA Press Release #20, dated 18th May 2010 …
[ IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents approximately 230 airlines, comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic.]
Geneva – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on European governments and air navigation service providers to urgently develop more precise procedures to identify ash contaminated air space and allow more flights. The call came in the wake of 1,000 flight cancellations on Monday (17 May) as a result of the continued volcanic eruptions in Iceland.
“This problem is not going away any time soon. The current European-wide system to decide on airspace closures is not working. We welcome the operational refinements made by the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAAC) in their theoretical model, but we are still basically relying on one-dimensional information to make decisions on a four-dimensional problem. The result is the unnecessary closure of airspace. Safety is always our number one priority. But we must make decisions based on facts, not on uncorroborated theoretical models”, said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Bisignani noted some successful exceptions which provide examples to follow. “France has been able to safely keep its airspace open by enhancing the VAAC Data with operational expertise to more precisely determine safe fly zones. Today, the UK Civil Aviation, working with the UK NATS (the air navigation service provider), announced another step forward by working with airlines and manufacturers to more accurately define tolerance levels while taking into account special operational procedures. Both are examples for other European governments to follow”, said Bisignani.
Bisignani called for (1) more robust data collection and analysis; (2) a change in the European decision-making process; and (3) urgency in addressing the issues.
Data Collection & Analysis: “Numbers show that the current system is flawed. Over 200,000 flights have operated in European airspace identified by the VAAC as having the potential presence of ash. Not one aircraft has reported significant ash presence and this is verified by post-flight aircraft and engine inspections. We must back the theory with facts gathered by aircraft to test ash concentration. France and the UK are showing that this is possible. If European civil aviation does not have the resources, it should look to borrow the test aircraft from other countries or military sources”, said Bisignani.
Changing the European Decision-Making Process: “We have lost confidence in the ability of Europe’s governments to make effective and consistent decisions. Using the same data, different countries have come to different conclusions on opening or closing airspace”, said Bisignani.
“Ultimately the industry needs a decision-making process for ash clouds similar to the one used for all other operational disruptions. Every day, airlines make decisions whether to fly or not to fly in various weather conditions. Airlines collate the information available and make informed decisions placing safety first and with full access to all the latest weather reporting. Why should volcanic ash be any different ?”, said Bisignani.
In the US, which has a lot of experience with volcanic activity, the government identifies a no-fly zone where ash concentration is the highest. For all other areas, it is the responsibility of the airline to decide to fly or not based on the various data sources available. “The US has well-established, safe and effective procedures for tracking the hazards of volcanic ash. In recent years, the industry had no recorded safety incidents from volcanic activity in US airspace. Europe has a lot to learn”, said Bisignani.
Urgency: “Volcanic ash is a new challenge for European aviation. We can understand that systems need to be developed to cope. But, what is absolutely inexcusable is the failure of Europe’s governments to act urgently and collectively to provide real leadership in a crisis. We have vast amounts of data from over 200,000 safe flights ready for analysis to support an urgent review of the current processes. The UK is finally moving in the right direction. But what about the other affected European governments ? The next transport ministers meeting is scheduled for 24th June 2010. What kind of leadership waits more than a month to make crisis decisions ? European businesses are dependant on air travel and passengers certainly cannot wait that long for initiatives like the UK’s to be implemented continent-wide”, said Bisignani.
To enhance the industry’s long-term ability to address volcanic ash issues, Bisignani is travelling to Montreal for urgent meetings with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). “IATA and ICAO have been working intensely on this issue since the crisis first struck in April, 2010. IATA is strongly supporting the ICAO Task Force which is reviewing ash tolerance thresholds with states, operators, manufacturers and the scientific community. The responsibility of manufacturers is critical in providing performance information to back decisions”, said Bisignani.
Tomorrow, Bisignani will meet Roberto Kobeh-Gonzales, President of the ICAO Council and Raymond Benjamin, ICAO Secretary-General. “It is important that we act urgently and globally to better deal with this crisis and to lay a solid foundation for better decision making in future eruptions. Even as Europe stumbles with its fragmented approach, IATA is working with the global community through ICAO and by tapping into the experience of leading regulators like the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to facilitate harmonized solutions”, said Bisignani.
Earlier Information Which Is Now Very Interesting ! … EEA Press Release, dated 23rd April 2010 …
Volcanic Ash is Having Little Impact on Europe’s Air Quality
Copenhagen – The European Environment Agency (EEA) is closely following the impacts of recent volcanic eruptions in Iceland, in particular assessing changes in ground-level air pollution. According to preliminary monitoring data, ground-level air quality across Europe has not deteriorated significantly as a result of the volcanic activity.
Volcanic eruptions have the potential to inject substantial amounts of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ash into the atmosphere. Volcanic aerosol, a suspension of fine solid particles or liquid droplets in the air, is created during eruptions and can be transported thousands of kilometres. Particles in the volcanic aerosol may carry pollutants with the potential to harm human health and ecosystems.
So far, monitoring stations in Europe have only detected a few episodes of ambient air concentrations of particulate matter and sulphur dioxide of volcanic origin, in particular at elevated mountainous locations, for example at Zugspitze in Germany (2,659 m). The threat to public health in the European Union is therefore considered minimal at present.
On Iceland, however, the situation is different: concentrations of particulate matter are markedly higher than usual in some areas. That potentially represents a significant threat to humans and farm animals, according to the Icelandic Directorate of Health, which closely monitors pollution levels.
In Europe, rain and snowfall are expected to remove volcanic debris from the atmosphere. Detecting this process requires the chemical content of precipitation to be analysed, which takes time. Should these data indicate high pollutant levels, the current assessment of risk for human health and ecosystems may need to be reassessed.
The EEA maintains a public air quality information system, Air Watch, within its Eye on Earth Portal. It displays near real-time measurements of concentrations of three air pollutants (ground-level ozone O3, particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide NO2) from approximately 1,000 monitoring stations in 32 countries, as well as updates from citizens.
Because ambient air concentrations and fallout can vary across short ranges within Europe, the EEA also advises the public to refer to national or local air quality authorities, which may have additional or new information on local conditions. Detailed information on national and local data providers is also available via Eye on Earth.
2010-04-01: The Inter-Basin Water Transfer Project from Lough Ree, on the River Shannon, to Dublin City, in Ireland, has been described as a Pilot Adaptation Project on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) WebSite Database relating to the Nairobi Work Programme (2005-2010).
Detailed information concerning the Project can be accessed and downloaded at this Irish Address: www.watersupplyproject-dublinregion.ie It will cost approximately €600 million (probably much more !) … devour many material resources and have an adverse environmental impact … the objective being to divert water from the Shannon, a large river in the mid-west of the country … to Dublin, the capital city, which is located over 100 kilometres away on the east coast … in order to deal with the expected shortage of water which will be caused, among other relevant factors, by future climate change.
BUT … just how Sustainable is this Climate Change Adaptation Project … if the following other relevant factors are considered ?????
1. Since the 1960’s … a dysfunctional and corrupt Spatial Planning System in the Dublin City Region has actively encouraged an uncontrolled, urban and suburban horizontal sprawl to take place. Today, this pattern of development remains unchecked.
2. At this time, there are still no Residential Water Charges in Dublin. The concept of water conservation is, therefore, almost unknown among householders. National and local politicians are terrified by any prospect of having to vote in favour of imposing these necessary charges.
3. There are enormous un-intended losses, i.e. Leaks, from the public mains potable/drinking water distribution system … approximately 40% even in the good times, and recently, well in excess of 60% following the National Snow Emergency in Ireland.
4. Potable/drinking water supplied to houses in the Dublin City Region is not yet Metered. There is no urgency, therefore, in locating and repairing water leaks which occur between the private property boundary of a house and the house itself.
5. There is no existing legal requirement in Ireland’s National Building Regulations to Harvest Rainwater in any buildings, or on any hard surfaces in the vicinity of those buildings. A current proposal to amend Technical Guidance Document H: ‘Drainage & Waste Water Disposal’ will merely present relevant guidance text to building designers concerning this option.
Furthermore, there is no effective System of Technical Control operated by the Local Authorities in the City Region … to enforce a legal requirement concerning rainwater harvesting … even if such a legal requirement were to be introduced !
Overloading of the existing drainage systems was evident from a marked deterioration in water quality, increased risks of flooding and pollution, and concerns that the drainage system and sewage treatment plants had insufficient capacity to cater for future development.
7.Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) …
‘ a continual evaluation and optimization assessment – informing initial decision-making, or design, and shaping activity/product/service realization, useful life and termination, or final disposal – of the interrelated positive and negative social, economic, environmental, institutional, political and legal impacts on balanced and equitable implementation of Sustainable Human & Social Development ‘
… is not yet a standard procedure, at any level, within national, regional and local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s). If it were, the most glaring flaw in this project would rapidly be identified. There is no comprehension at all, in the minds of Dublin City’s decision-makers, that water is a very valuable, but limited, resource !
Although today is 1st April 2010 … far too many people in senior policy and decision-making roles are giving solemn, unquestioning consideration to this Project.
To be successful, however, National Adaptation Strategies, Programmes and Projects must be informed, in a meaningful way, by the concept of Sustainable Human and Social Development … and, prior to implementation, must be filtered through the lens of a comprehensive Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) !
22.11 Funding for the provision of infrastructure for the supply of drinking water is provided by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government under two programmes. Major water supply schemes are included in the rolling three-year Water Services Investment Programme (WSIP). These schemes focus on the larger concentrations of population in urban areas. Annual Rural Water Programmes (RWP) provide the bulk of funding for the construction of group water schemes and small public schemes in rural areas.
22.12 Over the period 2000-2010, €5.2 Billion of Exchequer resources have been invested in the upgrading and provision of new water services infrastructure, of which €4.2 Billion was spent on WSIP and €0.99 Billion was spent on RWP. Overall expenditure includes investment of over €1 Billion on public water supply and networks and €168 Million on water conservation. [The WSIP expenditure also includes €889 million relating mainly to the group water sector under the rural water programme.] There are two key indicators of the effectiveness of expenditure on water supply and conservation:
the quality of drinking water;
the extent to which treated water reaches the consumer.
Effectiveness of Water Supply System
22.17 Loss of output is a feature of all water distribution systems. Unaccounted for Water (UFW) is a measure that is used to track this loss. It is the difference between ‘net production’ which is the volume of water delivered into a network and ‘consumption’ measured in terms of the volume of water that can be accounted for by legitimate consumption.
22.18Figure 109 shows UFW as a percentage of the net volume of water supplied for 2008 and 2009. It sets out the national average performance and the range across local authorities. Annex A contains the data on UFW for these two years for all county and city councils.
22.19 Overall, the average percentage of UFW was approximately 41.48% in 2009, which showed a marginal increase over 2008 (41.20%). Some 17 of the 34 authorities have seen an improvement in 2009, the most noticeable being a reduction in the percentage of water lost in Monaghan which was down by 27%, Cavan by 18% and Kilkenny by 15%. The other 17 local authorities reported a disimprovement in the amount of UFW for 2009, with Limerick County Council reporting losses of 35%, up from 17% in 2008. Fingal County Council, Limerick City Council, and Dublin City Council reported substantial increased leakage in 2009 over 2008 at 27%, 22% and 20% respectively.
Cost of Unaccounted for Water (UFW)
22.20 The cost of UFW is considerable for local authorities. However, since the LGMSB does not collate information on water production and associated costs the data is not available in the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. As a result, it is not possible in this report to provide an up-to-date estimate of the cost of UFW being experienced.
22.21 A value for money examination carried out in the mid-1990’s on water production and distribution showed that the cost per cubic metre of water produced varied between €0.14 to €0.39. The study found that overall water leakage level in the authorities surveyed at that time ranged from 27% to 40% of total water produced.
22.22 The results of the study were based on estimates since none of the authorities that were the subject of the value for money examination had the means to measure accurately the level of overall leakage.
22.23 Based on its results, the examination reported that, for five local authorities reviewed at that time, the estimated annual production cost of the water lost due to leakages was in the order of €3.5 million. Applying the Consumer Price Index to this value brings the cost to approximately €5.3 million in present-day terms.
22.24 As leakage is just one factor contributing to UFW, it appears from the losses now being recorded by local authorities that there has been little, if any, improvement in the situation despite the considerable State investment in water services in the interim.
Views of the Accounting Officer
22.25 The Accounting Officer informed me that under the National Water Conservation Sub-Programme, which commenced in 1996, the National Water Study undertook a comprehensive national water audit of all urban centres with populations exceeding 5,000 to determine the extent of UFW and leakage problems nationally. The National Water Study examined the reasons for UFW and set out recommendations to reduce the levels of UFW.
22.26 Arising from the findings of the National Water Study and pilot water conservation schemes undertaken in the main urban centres of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick, water conservation strategies and operational programmes were adopted which have been rolled out nationally since 2003.
22.27The Dublin Region Water Conservation Programme, which was carried out between 1998 and 2002 as one of the pilot schemes under the National Water Conservation Sub-Programme, reduced regional leakage from 47% to 28%. UFW in the Dublin region now averages 30% which is amongst the lowest in the country.
22.28 Since the commencement of the water conservation sub-programme, substantial investment has been made in the fundamental infrastructure for water management, including the metering of supply input. Also, the methodology has been standardised. Arising from this, the reported figures now have an accuracy that the figures from earlier times could not have had.
22.29 By way of example, the Greater Dublin Water Supply Strategic Study (1996) estimated losses of 44% of total input, of which 39% was allocated to distribution losses and 5% allocated to customer losses. When the metering infrastructure was checked and upgraded during the water conservation project (around 2000), it was found that the original meter readings for flow into supply were incorrect, and that losses were actually higher than originally thought (giving the corrected estimate for that time of 42% distribution losses and 47% in total). Notwithstanding that the Dublin Region bulk metering infrastructure was considered reliable at the time, it was found to have inaccuracies that were subsequently corrected.
22.30 In terms of comparisons, the Accounting Officer pointed out that the Dublin supply is hugely significant, serving approximately one third of the population of the country. Consequently, the Dublin supply region reduction of distribution loss from 42% to 30% currently must reflect positively on the national average (and it is the corrected Dublin Region figure from 1995/96 that is most reliably reflective of the situation at that time).
22.31 A further observation by the Accounting Officer was that without investment the leakage situation will deteriorate as assets age. It follows that a certain level of investment is required even just to maintain the status quo.
22.32 The Accounting Officer stated that, outside of Dublin, most of the investment had been in water management systems, which while they had made a contribution to tackling leakage, were really the platform for the more intensive investment being rolled out for mains rehabilitation in the WSIP 2010-2012. She said that this investment in water management systems had contributed to greater efficiency in the supply system, which had been demonstrated during the two severe winters and flooding in Cork, when authorities had been better able to manage the rationing of supply and restoration of supply than they would have been a decade ago.
22.33 Finally, the Accounting Officer said that the need to focus on water conservation had been demonstrated through the development of service indicators, training in water conservation, development of guidance and work with the County and City Managers Association to streamline the approaches and accelerate work in this area.
CONCLUSION – Effectiveness of Water Supply System
UFW arises from factors such as leakage, poor service connections and metering errors. Average UFW levels in Ireland appear to be at levels twice the OECD average of 20%. While some caution needs to be applied in interpreting the results of a limited examination of water leakage carried out over 15 years ago, present-day losses may be, in many local authorities, as high as those found in the mid-1990’s, notwithstanding an investment of over €1 Billion in water supply and conservation in the last ten years.
In the light of the potential cost of UFW it is necessary that the factors that give rise to UFW be reviewed and strategies and operational programmes to address the underlying issues contributing to the problem be re-evaluated.
2010-03-31: Before the official announcement, in New York, of the independent InterAcademy Council (IAC) Review of the WMO/UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) … on 10th March 2010 … clear indications had been given, at meetings in the Institute of International and European Affairs (Dublin), that serious question marks hovered over the IPCC, its 2007 4th Assessment Report, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri’s position within the IPCC … the actions of many of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) who were at Copenhagen during the 2009 UNFCCC Climate Change Summit … and the Science of Climate Change itself (refer, for example, to revelations following the hacking of e-mails and other data from a server in the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit in England, and the irregularities/errors in the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report).
The 2009 Copenhagen Accord was a political agreement between a small number of Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers, and Heads of Delegation – Brazil, South Africa, India and China (BASIC) and the USA – who attended the Climate Summit, which concluded on Saturday, 19th December. At the time of writing, many countries have made voluntary submissions, i.e. they are not legally binding, to Appendices I and II of the Accord.
A general overview of the submissions made by Developed Countries, however, reveals the following about the Voluntary Emissions Targets being undertaken …
– they are highly conditional on the performance of other countries ;
– they are very disappointing, being far below what is required to cap the planetary temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius ; and
– there is no consistent emission base year … varying from 1990 and 1992, up to 2000 and 2005.
This is very far from being a signal of serious intent from Developed Countries … and is not … in any way, shape or manner … an acceptance of historical responsibilities. It would be reasonable, therefore, to surmise that the process of achieving a global, legally binding, consensus agreement on greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets will be long and difficult. The Climate Change Mitigation Agenda is, to put it mildly, fraught with problems … and has an unclear future in the short term.
On the other hand, anyone involved in the design, construction, management or operation of the Built Environment must think ‘long-term’ … the minimum life cycle for a sustainable building should be at least 100 years. Today in Dublin, buildings which are 250 or 350 years old still look remarkably good, and are well capable of fulfilling an important function within the social and economic environments of the city. ‘Politically’ and ‘technically’, therefore, it would be more appropriate for the built environment if we were concerned with the Long-Term Climate Change Adaptation Agenda … rather than a problematic, short-term Mitigation Agenda. But, in terms of a building … is there really a clear difference between measures undertaken for the purpose of mitigation and those undertaken for adaptation ? For example, measures to incrementally improve energy efficiency and conserve energy, in accordance with short-term legally binding targets, will serve to mitigate CO2 emissions … but the same measures will also serve to adapt the building to rapidly dwindling supplies of climate-damaging fossil fuels. The long-term perspective will exert pressure for more radical actions in the short-term.
But, should we not already be undertaking these sorts of measures as part of the Mainstream Sustainability Agenda … in order to increase building durability and prolong life cycle ?
Generally … Climate Change Adaptation encompasses urgent and immediate short, near and long-term actions at local, national, regional and international levels to reduce the vulnerability and strengthen the resilience of the Human Environment, including ecological and social systems, institutions and economic sectors … to present and future adverse effects of climate change and the impacts of response measure implementation … in order to minimize the local threats to life, human health, livelihoods, food security, assets, amenities, ecosystems and sustainable development.
More specifically … Built Environment Climate Change Adaptation means reliably implementing policies, practices, projects and institutional reforms in the Built Environment … with the aim of reducing the adverse impacts and/or realizing the benefits directly/indirectly associated with climate change, including variability and extremes … in a manner which is compatible with Sustainable Human and Social Development.
Climate Change Adaptation is one of the most important drivers for Sustainable Design !
Attention anybody who is screaming, struggling, protesting … being forced to revolt against an unjust and uncaring ‘system’ … so that Vulnerable Individuals and Groups … older people, children, people with disabilities, the homeless, etc., etc., etc … will be treated with dignity, equality and respect in our society … Ireland and the European Union. Pinch yourselves … we are Irish and Europeans !
It is helpful, as an introduction, if a distinction is made between human rights and social rights …
Social Rights: Rights to which an individual person is legally entitled, e.g. the right to free elementary education [Art.26(1), 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights], but which are only exercised in a social context with other people, and with the active support of a competent legal authority, e.g. a Nation State.
Commentary: In contrast to Human Rights, it is not protection from the State which is desired or achieved, but freedom with the State’s help.
Social Rights, as distinguished here, include and extend beyond current understandings of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
Early in the year 2000 … the European Parliament issued a Working Paper (reference PE 168.629) with the title: ‘Fundamental Social Rights in Europe’. The authors were Mark Eric Butt, Julia Kübert and Christiane Anne Schultz. The manuscript was completed in November 1999.
Without getting into the fine detail of the Working Paper … the following Table, on Page 31, is very enlightening …
In the Working Paper, the Table is explained …
‘ The following Table is an overview of the contents of the Member States’ constitutions. It shows what fundamental social rights are enshrined in the constitutions. It is impossible, however, to forge a link between the existence of fundamental social rights and the existence and level of social benefits and institutions in the Member States concerned. This is clear, primarily, from Austria and Great Britain, their columns being empty – whereas they do, of course, have social rights.
The symbol … simple black box … in the table means that the right concerned is referred to in the constitution. The other symbol … shadowed white box … means that, though not explicitly enshrined in the constitution, it is recognised.’
The Countries are listed in the order … Belgium (B), Denmark (DK), Germany (D), Greece (GR), Spain (E), France (F), Ireland (IRL), Italy (I), Luxembourg (L), The Netherlands (NL), Austria (A), Portugal (P), Finland (FIN), Sweden (S) and Great Britain (UK).
Now … compare and contrast … paying particular attention to Ireland …
International Guidance Document … ISO/IEC Guide 71 : Guidelines for Standards Developers to Address the Needs of Older Persons and Persons with Disabilities was issued in November 2001.
European Guidance Document … CEN/CENELEC Guide 6 : Guidelines for Standards Developers to Address the Needs of Older Persons and Persons with Disabilities … a similar document … was issued a little later, in January 2002.
These Guides provide basic guidance to people drafting International & European Standards on how to take into account the needs of people with activity limitations, particularly older persons and people with disabilities. While recognizing that some people with very extensive and complex impairments may have requirements beyond the level addressed in these documents, a very large number of people have minor impairments which can easily be addressed with a very small change of approach by people writing the Standards. Typically, the problem is solely a lack of awareness.
Unfortunately, few Standards Developers … in either organization … are paying the slightest bit of attention to these Guides.
People with Activity Limitations: Those people, of all ages, who are unable to perform, independently and without aid, basic human activities or tasks – because of a health condition or physical/mental/cognitive/psychological impairment of a permanent or temporary nature.
1. A full six months before the appearance of ISO/IEC Guide 71 … all of the 191 Member States of the World Health Organization endorsed, and officially adopted, the International Classification of Functioning, Disability & Health (ICF) on 22nd May 2001 … which replaced the earlier International Classification of Impairment, Disability & Handicap (ICIDH), dating from 1980.
While the previous health indicators had been based on the mortality (i.e. death) rates of populations … the new 2001 WHO ICF dramatically shifted the focus to ‘life’ and ‘living’ … in other words, how everyone is living with his/her health condition(s) and how improvements can be made to ensure a productive, fulfilling life in society.
This had important implications for medical practice; for legal, social, economic, institutional, design and spatial planning policies to improve accessibility, equal opportunity for all and inclusion; and for the protection of the rights of all individuals and groups.
Of special interest for people involved in any of the technical fields mentioned above … the 2001 WHO ICF also introduced a new disability-related language and terminology.
BUT … But … but … ISO/IEC Guide 71 and CEN/CENELEC Guide 6 do not use the 2001 WHO ICF’s innovative language and terminology. Consequently, these International & European Guides are flawed.
For a very good example of WHAT MUST BE AVOIDED (!) in the drafting of International & European Standards … please examine the following text …
ISO DIS (Draft International Standard) 21542 : Building Construction – Accessibility and Usability of the Built Environment … dated November 2009 …
Section 3 Terms & Definitions
‘ #3.36 Impairment
Limitation in body function or structure such as a significant deviation or loss which can be temporary due, for example, to injury, or permanent, slight or severe and can fluctuate over time, in particular, deterioration due to ageing.
NOTE 1 Body function can be a physiological or psychological function of a body system; body structure refers to an anatomic part of the body such as organs, limbs and their components (as defined in ICIDH-2 of July 1999).
NOTE 2 This definition differs from that in ISO 9999:2002 and, slightly, from ICIDH-2/ICF: May 2001, WHO: ‘any loss or abnormality of a body function, or body structure’.
NOTE 3 The word ‘abnormality’ is strictly used here to refer to a significant deviation from an established population mean, within measured statistical norms. Impairments can be physical, mental, cognitive or psychological.’
As clear as mud … what a mess ! This does nothing only sow needless confusion in the mind of a reader.
Unless and Until … we properly harmonize, at a technical level, disability-related language and terminology … in order to improve communication … we will all continue to run around in circles and make little forward progress !!!
[ At the level of the individual, people should always be free to use whatever language they wish. ]
Our Guidance to All Standards Developers is … whether working within the International Standards Organizations (ISO & IEC) or the European Standards Organizations (CEN & CENELEC) … or both …
‘ People with Activity Limitations must be properly considered at all stages in the development of a Standard … and any disability-related terminology used … should be fully consistent with the World Health Organization’s 2001 International Classification of Functioning, Disability & Health (ICF). Confusing and contradictory texts should be avoided.’
2. In relation to ISO/IEC Guide 71 & CEN/CENELEC Guide 6 – Table 7 (Page 13 in both Guides) … #8.23Fire Resistance requires a complete re-assessment. On Page 21 of ISO/IEC Guide 71 and Page 22 of CEN/CENELEC Guide 6 … the supporting text for #8.23 has the different heading of ‘Fire Safety of Materials’ ?!? Confusing, isn’t it ?
The Revised Title in Table 7 and the supporting text should read … Fire Safety. ‘Fire Resistance’ is but one of many passive fire protection concepts … a very small sub-set in the wide technical field of ‘fire safety’ in buildings. ‘Fire Resistance’ is not used in connection with the ignition and fire development behaviour of materials or fabrics.
Relevant Factors for #8.23 are not properly indicated, in Table 7, under Columns #9.2, #9.3, #9.4 (a glaring omission !) & #9.5.
3. Pertinent to ‘fire safety’ in buildings … this text was removed from ISO CD (Committee Draft) 21542 … the previous version of the ISO Standard, dating from December 2008 …
ISO CD 21542 – Annex A.1.2 – 2nd Paragraph
‘ Building users should be skilled for evacuation to a place, or places, of safety remote from the building. In the case of people with a mental or cognitive impairment, there is a particular need to encourage, foster and regularly practice the adaptive thinking which will be necessary during a ‘real’ fire evacuation.’
The Definition for the Term Skill (#3.60) is still retained in the later ISO DIS 21542 version of the Standard …
‘ The ability of a person – resulting from training and regular practice – to carry out complex, well-organized patterns of behaviour efficiently and adaptively, in order to achieve some end or goal.’
4. While there are eight references to ‘Cognitive Impairment’ in both Guides … nowhere is this term defined … or distinguished from ‘Mental Impairment’ …
Cognitive Impairment: A deficiency of neuropsychological function which can be related to injury or degeneration in specific area(s) of the brain.
Mental Impairment: A general term describing a slower than normal rate in a person’s cognitive developmental maturation, or where the cognitive processes themselves appear to be slower than normal – with an associated implication of reduced, overall mental potential.
A deeper understanding, at a technical level, of the many different types of health conditions and impairments (physical/mental/cognitive/psychological) … can only result in a better designed, more facilitating Human Environment.
One final important term … when considering Fire Safety in Buildings …
Panic Attack: A momentary period of intense fear or discomfort, accompanied by various symptoms which may include shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations, trembling, sweating, nausea, and often a fear by a person that he/she is going mad.
I have long held the view that, in Fire Engineering, dramatic breakthroughs will result from a closer study of Cognitive Psychology.