High demand for office space in Central London remains, in contrast to other areas


A recent study from commercial property advisors Savoy Stewart, using data from the Valuation Office Agency, has found a continuation of the steady growth in demand for office space in Central London, based on data over the years from 2000 to 2016. The study indicates the proportionally huge amount of office space in Central London compared to other areas of the UK, as the office floorspace in this area (21,092,000 square metres) makes up nearly one quarter of the office floorspace across England and Wales (89,037,000 square metres).

The report shows that from 2006-07 to 2015-16, the amount of office floorspace being utilised in inner London went from 19,264,000 to 21,092,000, giving an increase of 8.53 percent. In contrast, outer London saw a steady decrease in office usage; from 2006-07 to 2015-16, office floorspace in the outskirts of the capital fell by 441,000 square metres showing a 8.02 percent decrease. The City of London was the borough with the fastest rate of growth with a 14.49 percent increase, however Westminster remains the most popular office location within inner London. Most outer London boroughs experienced decreases over these ten years, but none as severe as Croydon, where office floorspace fell by by 14.05 percent.

A spokesman from Savoy Stewart commented; “We have witnessed major changes in the last decade including the rise of office alternatives to inner London which has become too expensive for a growing number of businesses.

“However… office floorspace in inner London was growing at a steady pace. This suggests that despite the premium cost, inner London hasn’t lost its appeal to businesses looking for swanky modern offices. On the contrary, it is becoming an even more attractive office destination than ever before.”

DHF supports recommended changes to building and fire safety regulations


Recommendations made in a report published on the 18th December from an Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety have been welcomed by the dhf (Door & Hardware Federation). The overriding implication of the report is that it must be ensured that people working on the construction and maintenance of complex buildings have the proper qualifications. Dhf’s CEO Bob Perry expressed his satisfaction and explained why his organisation’s expertise were important in this area; “We have been actively lobbying for this and are pleased to work with other bodies in the industry to achieve this objective.

“In the case of fire doors, however, the system is uniquely vulnerable to damage caused by use and abuse. This necessitates a high level of maintenance activity, which must be continually undertaken by competent persons throughout the life of the building.”

In November, the trade association pushed for more stringent building regulations and for the government to rule that all fire doors must be prepared in factories. Furthermore, they argued that the UK should follow the lead of other European countries in providing more thorough fire door maintenance procedures, as the CEO explained; “Currently, we are lagging behind our European neighbours, but the appropriate changes would bring the UK in line with many other developed nations and help to ensure that inadequate standards do not lead to tragedy, such as Grenfell.”

He went on to use France as an example for what the UK’s future building regulations could resemble . In France, it is the building owner’s responsibility to ensure all the necessary maintenance checks are completed and properly documented. Failure to document these procedures could mean that insurers can withdraw their cover, which would in turn make other building owners keen to keep up with the relevant maintenance checks.

Devastating fire at Woburn safari park kills 13 monkeys


Young Patas Monkeys, Gambia / (Erythrocebus patas patas)

Some very unfortunate news to begin the year; thirteen patas monkeys have died in a fire at Woburn safari park in Bedfordshire. The blaze occurred in the patas monkey enclosure during the early hours of Tuesday morning, when all the monkeys were locked inside for the night. Security discovered the fire on a routine patrol, and alerted the Bedfordshire fire brigade, from which three appliances were sent to tackle the fire. The firefighters arrived just after 2.30am to find the monkey house ablaze with the roof having fallen in, and later commented that the building was 90% damaged by the fire.

The monkeys have 16 acres to roam around in the day but are all confined to their enclosure during the night. Their was concern about how the fire may have affected other animals near the enclosure, but have been monitored and are thought to be stable. The park will therefore remain open while the cause of the fire is investigated, but the initial view of the fire service was that it was caused by a faulty generator.

This incident, along with the London Zoo fire which took place only 10 days before, has raised general concerns around the ethics of keeping animals in captivity. A spokeswoman for the Captive Animals’ Protection Society commented; “You’re taking animals and putting them in an unnatural environment which risks their welfare. When a fire happens [in captivity] there’s nothing they can do.”

The London zoo fire also ended in loss of life for a number of animals, and has raised further questions about fire safety of organisations in this country, something which was at the forefront of many people’s minds during 2017.

Meet the poet who holds Christmas dinner for 500 strangers


Christmas is thought of by most as a time that should be spent with family; so for those who have grown up in care and don’t have any family, it might feel very lonely. Lemn Sissay, a poet from Greater Manchester, who is known for his outdoor works which cover walls and pavements across the city, has gone to great lengths to ensure that those in the system do not spend Christmas alone. His annual Christmas Dinner event helps to embody this family feeling, creating positive memories of the festive period for those in care, and having been in care himself as a baby and from the ages of 12 to 18, knows how important this is.

Lemn took inspiration from a Christmas Dinner event run by the Tope Project in London for those who had been in care, and wanting to create the same solidarity in his city of Manchester, began his own version by a single dinner in 2013. This year, the event will take place across the country in 12 destinations, feeding over 500 people who are either in care of who have been in care, without a family of their own to celebrate with. Each is organised by local volunteers who are given direct instructions from Sissay on how to plan the day.

He commented on what the event means to him and the people he helps; “Christmas Day can be a very difficult day for young care-leavers.

“It’s about giving them a smile and making them know that they matter on that day.

“It’s all about the detail – the cards written to that person, the presents chosen for that person so they have that joy and surprise and the thing they’d always wanted, like a pair of football boots,” he says.

This year, the Lemn Sissay Foundation has been set up as a registered charity, securing the future of the event.

Mike Morris was in care from the age of 13, and attended the Manchester Christmas Dinner last year for the first time. He said that before, not celebrating Christmas with a family made him feel depressed and alone, and although he was doubtful about the event, said it was very enjoyable.

He says that one of the best things about the event is that it doesn’t feel like a “charity case”.

“It doesn’t feel like you’re being given things, it feels like you belong there,” commented Morris.

The kindness exhibited by Sissay really does demonstrate the spirit of Christmas, and reminds us that the holiday is not as simple for us all and can be a lonely time. We should all strive to follow the example set by Lemn Sissay, in showing compassion to others during this special time of year.

NICEIC to launch information hub for the upcoming 18th Edition of IET Wiring Regulations

In the build up to the release of the 18th Edition of the IET Wiring Regulations, both the NICEIC and ELECSA have created a website for electricians to find out everything they need to know about the new BS-7671 IET Wiring Regulations.

The website URL is as followed: www.18edition.com.  Marketing and Communications Director Mark Smith had this to say – “The introduction of a new standard is obviously a very important time for all electricians. Everyone in the industry will need to be aware of the changes and the implications it has on the work they carry out.”

As the website explains – “NICEIC and ELECSA will be at the forefront of providing electrical contractors with everything they need to know – from updates on the latest developments, opportunities to purchase the new book and training packages to suit all contractors’ needs.”

Expected around July 2018, with an estimated allowance of 6 months transition period for electricians to get to grips with the new regulations. By January 2019, it will be a requirement that all electrician’s electrical installations are complying with the new BS-7671 IET Wiring Regulations.

Food cravings could be be stopped with an electrical brain implant

How does the thought of being able to literally switch off the food cravings you get sound? Well this could be a reality in the not too distant future, thanks to a carefully planted electrical implant just under the skull. The brain learns to expect certain rewarding outcomes that come from eating, such as enjoying the taste. The brain will start to reinforce the desire to indulge in food in anticipation of the upcoming pleasure. However, this mechanism of thought can become damaging if it becomes too over sensitized to pleasurable behaviours, the brain will then start to produce pathological behaviours very similar to drug addiction. Binge eating as well as binge drinking are a common problem.

Imagine if you could somehow prevent these harmful urges that occur in the brain from developing into negative outputs. This could be possible, according to a new study led by neurosurgeon, Casey Halpern at Stanford University. Him and his team have identified noticeable “signature impulsive urges” in the reward-learning section of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. By delivering electrical impulses to this area of the brain upon detecting this activity helped reduce binge-eating behaviour in mice.  This same signature behaviour was also noticed in the human brain, this suggested that this technique has the potential to treat many negative addictive behaviours in the human thought process.  “We’ve identified a brain bio marker of loss of control,” Halpern says. “If we can use that to prevent any of these potentially dangerous actions, we can help a lot of people.” 

Better energy efficiency could prevent our homes from making us sick


The European Parliament and EU member states are currently deciding the climate and energy goals of the EU for the year 2030 and beyond. Following advice from the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Association (EFA), part of the focus for these goals is likely to be on improving the quality of buildings to counteract illnesses caused by them, as well as trying to reduce the overall carbon footprint. There is growing evidence that the efficiency and design of our buildings can cause adverse health effects, and with 90% of our time spent inside, the organisation is looking at this as a way to reduce public health issues.

Recent evidence has suggested that 1 in 6 Europeans live in homes with aspects that could affect their health, like dampness, leaky roofs or inadequate thermal control. People living in these homes are 1.5 times more likely to have an illness, with damp homes meaning it is twice as likely to develop asthma or for a child to become ill. Poor indoor air quality is responsible for the loss of 2 million healthy lives each year in EU countries. Cold homes are responsible for 100,000 deaths a year, but have also been shown to contribute towards deteriorating mental health for individuals across the EU.

Furthermore, these problems do not stop with homes. Schools and workplaces have also been shown to produce similar adverse health affects for their occupants, but also contributes towards lower productivity and well-being.

The correction of these issues though should be very achievable, with all the common problems in buildings across Europe able to be rectified by well-known, widely-used practices. In the past, most of the EU’s energy and climate goals have been driven by the need to reduce the carbon footprint and increase sustainability, but it is thought that with further evidence on how energy efficiency in buildings can improve public health, as well as saving energy, the decision-makers will focus on this, improving physical and mental health of occupants as well as productivity of schools and businesses and their use of energy.

UK most AI ready country, according to study

The UK is the most AI ready nation according to a study carried out by consultancy company “Oxford Insights”. The UK based company devised an index in which they stated that the UK currently has the “world’s leading centres for AI research and strong technology industry”.

The UK topped the list with a host of big countries trailing behind them. The list of runners up included the United States of America, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, Netherlands, and Finland.

Prime Minister Theresa May has since welcomed the news stating that the UK is “leading the world in ‪#AI readiness – but I want us to do even more”. In the study it is suggested that “in order to remain competitive in future years”, the UK must continue to invest in the development of AI.

Don’t let your Christmas tree become a fire hazard this festive season

Earlier in the week we highlighted the risks that come with dangerous Christmas lights, however arguably the most vulnerable to fire hazards in the festive period are Christmas trees. The tree is heavily stacked with flammable materials as well as potentially hazardous lighting, with these two factors combined, Christmas tree safety is not something that should be overlooked.

To avoid obvious risks, trees should always be placed away from any obvious fire hazards, this includes any candles, fireplaces, radiators, or any other sources of heat that could potentially dry out and ignite the tree. It is also best practise to always ensure that the bottom of the Christmas tree is placed under water for both the trees health and to deter any potential heat threat.

Any lights or string of lights that have broken, or worn cords and bulbs should be replaced or removed from your tree immediately. You should NEVER use any type of candle lit decorations for your tree and ALWAYS avoid leaving your Christmas tree unattended with the lights switched on. If you are leaving the room for more than a couple minutes, switch off the Christmas tree lights.

Future artificial human organs could be powered by electric eel-inspired sources


Scientists have designed a new biocompatible power source that could act as a battery to power electrical devices in the body. The power source is flexible, transparent and runs on salt water, but experts predict that in the future it could get energy from bodily fluids, when they hope it can be used to power prosthetic organs. The chemical engineer Thomas Schroeder and his team took inspiration from electric eels, which generate powerful electric shocks through specialised cells called electrocytes which they possess in organs throughout their body. Each cell only carries a small charge, but when combined in unison they produce a powerful voltage.

Schroeder commented; “Our artificial electric organ has a lot of characteristics that traditional batteries don’t have… it isn’t as potentially toxic, and it runs on potentially renewable streams of electrolyte solution”.

Schroeder and his team modelled their system on the electrocyte structure in eels, using four different hydrogels made from polyacrylamide and water, then stacked 2,500 of these units together. Combined, the system generated a potential difference of 110 volts, which is significantly smaller than that produced by electric eels who have thinner and lower-resistance cells. Schroeder said the system as it is could power some cardiac pacemakers and other lower-power devices, but they believe the performance could improve by making the hydrogel thinner and less resistant.

Electric eels use metabolic energy to sustain different concentrations between electrocytes and Schroeder hopes this could also be replicated; “It’s conceivable that we might someday be able to use a scheme like our artificial electric organ to tap into different fluids in the body,” said Schroeder.

This advancement is clearly exciting and complex, but could be revolutionary if the technology could be altered to power different artificial systems throughout the body.