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3 Critical Skills the Architects of the Future Will Need

The architecture and built environment sector is one of the fastest evolving industries in the UK. Not only are technical innovations being implemented rapidly, but there are more regulations than ever to consider, not to mention forthcoming sustainability and fire safety goals.

This means that architects’ skills must constantly evolve, and the architects of tomorrow will require a broader set of skills.

Here, we explore the skills that future architects will need in order to succeed in the role.

Digital skills come first

Technology is advancing industries at a rapid pace, and we’re seeing technological innovations hit the architecture and built environment sector at lightning speed. The digital journey began with 2D renderings, followed by 3D designs. We then saw the adoption of both industry-specific tech like building information modelling (BIM) and sector-agnostic digital tools such as the Internet of Things (IoT).

We’re beginning to see virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) make their way into the sector, marking the next stage of design visualisation. Once an architect has created their building rendering, complete with metal cladding, they can use AR to superimpose it onto a real background to see how it will look in its final location. VR, meanwhile, will allow people to explore a digitised version of their final creation as if it were real. A RIBA and Microsoft survey expects that adoption of these technologies will increase to a share of 64% by 2023.

Architects who have existing digital skills will be well-equipped for the future of the sector.  Architectural design courses should be teaching learners general digital skills, as well as specialist skills in these types of software. Practical, hands-on experience of these digital solutions will be essential for our future architects.

“Net-zero” skills

According to Scott McAulay, founder of the Anthropocene Architecture School, a huge skills gap is emerging in sustainable architecture. With 40% of carbon emissions generated by the built environment sector, it’s easy to see why this is such a pressing issue.

McAulay believes sustainability should be embedded into architecture degrees now in order to prepare the architects of the future for net-zero targets. He says: “At this point, it needs to be entirely normal to start an architecture degree and to be taught in a context of a climate emergency where we have been told that we should be net-zero and curbing carbon emissions as fast as possible.”

Net-zero skills will allow architects to assess the environmental impact of their buildings and reduce the emissions produced by the creation of the building and its use. With the 2050 target of net-zero emissions across the UK, this skill will only become more important as we work towards that deadline and beyond.

Fire safety skills as standard

A huge focus has been placed on fire safety in the years since the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The Building Safety Bill, which is currently at committee stage in the House of Commons, is expected to become law next year and includes new powers regarding architects.

Under the bill, the Architects Registration Board will be able to remove architects from the register if they don’t keep their skills up to date with regular training. This is especially critical with regard to fire safety, with legislation evolving rapidly.

According to a study in the Fire Safety Journal, fire safety is not integrated into building design processes. This means it is often addressed at a later stage, whereas it should be embedded into the design of a building. As the government moves forwards with further fire safety measures, future architects will need to have an in-depth understanding of fire safety design principles and approach their work with a fire safety-first mentality.

The built environment sector has been moving at a high speed in terms of the adoption of technologies and leading the way in hitting our net-zero emissions target. In order for our next generation of architects to succeed, they’ll need these vital skills.

Sources

https://www.modernbuildingalliance.eu/fire-safety-skills-competency

https://www.architecture.org/news/innovation-in-architecture/the-future-of-design/

Will EU Supply Chain Issues Encourage Growth in the UK Economy?

Brexit and the pandemic have been disruptive for supply chains. Between new regulations, tariffs, and isolation and testing policies, importing and exporting products has been difficult. However, where disruption occurs, so too does the opportunity to seize new shares of growing and changing markets.

By discussing how Brexit has affected trade between the EU and the UK, we can explore how the UK economy may experience local economic growth and how businesses should reinforce their operations to succeed in this new era of regulated trade.

Why is Europe so important for British supply chains?

Trading with the EU has played a significant role in British business as the number one partner for trading goods, accounting for 52 per cent of imports and 43 per cent of exports in 2019.

In 2019, £374 billion worth of goods were imported to the UK from the EU, while £294 billion worth of goods were exported.

These trading ties are significant for sectors including food and drink, chemical, and automotive industries, supplying commodities and equipment for supply chains in the UK.

Measuring trade

However, the Brexit trade agreement has been disruptive, with imports and exports experiencing a sharp slump after the UK officially left the EU. While it has recovered, there are still some teething issues as the UK attempts to restore European trade to its pre-Brexit high. More checks, paperwork, and higher costs are just some of the problems that businesses are facing.

In May 2021, the value of imports from the EU matched levels of January 2016, lower than its peak in 2019. However, the value of exports remains relatively high, exceeding most figures as far back as 2007. The trade deficit is also at its lowest difference since 2012. The impact of Brexit has been sharp, but data shows that while the recovery is turbulent, it is a recovery nonetheless.

Opportunities for UK businesses

The UK is in a trade deficit with the EU, meaning that more goods are imported into the UK than are exported. This is not inherently bad or good. In fact, in some situations, a trade deficit can allow economies to specialise in specific sectors and achieve significant growth.

However, as imports from the EU remain below its 2019 peak, it could present an opportunity for short-term economic growth in the UK. Businesses may have to temporarily rely on domestic supply chains to sustain their current models while wider international trade deals are crafted. As businesses look to their own backyards, could it boost local communities through employment and other investment?

UK businesses that supply transport equipment, chemicals, and non-electrical machinery could find domestic investment from investors struggling to attain imports from our European neighbours, where these commodity groups equate to 17, 15, and 14 per cent of import from the EU respectively.

One UK business, FPE Seals, is a manufacturer and distributor of pneumatic seals and hydraulic cylinder parts. Steve Ellis, Managing Director at FPE Seals says that while Brexit has been disruptive, a clear supply channel strategy along with the specialist focus of their products has allowed them to remain competitive across UK and European markets. NAME said: “It’s key for businesses to focus on their strengths and what makes their products or services unique. Despite the disruption of Brexit, we’ve been able to embrace a growing UK market while maintaining relationships abroad that limit the impact on our supply chains. Ultimately, by recognising the strengths of our partners and clients, we’ve been able to tailor our processes to a market and supply chain that is constantly changing.”

Preparedness is key. While European opportunities may be reduced, businesses should seek out local opportunities.

Finding strengths to grow your business and the economy

The environment of uncertainty is unsustainable, as the UK and the EU move beyond the pandemic, businesses will be back to analysing their Brexit strategy. For UK businesses to grow and to benefit the economy, there are several factors that should be considered and operations that can be more efficiently organised. Businesses that are progressing beyond Brexit and the pandemic must:

Create a new sourcing strategy

Investing in local supply chains or encouraging the establishment of international suppliers on your doorstep can help alleviate the uncertainty of European trade. Existing contracts should also be modified to account for risk in both the near and distant future.

Consider demand changes

As trade changes, so will the demand for your products. Those exporting to the EU may recognise that they cannot compete with internal-bloc businesses, but those with popular imported products may find more domestic success. Flexibility is also vital, where volatility may be a common feature of UK and European markets than previously known.

Reinforce their capabilities

Brexit means that UK businesses will have to stress their capabilities and advantages to new competition within the UK, and to their existing EU customers that may be discouraged by new tariffs, regulations, and checks. Whilst in the trade deficit, businesses should concentrate their efforts to reinforce their specialist skills and products that can also be procured through their business and trade. Only then can supply chains encourage economic growth.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/statistics/284750/united-kingdom-uk-total-eu-trade-in-goods-by-trade-value/

https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=United_Kingdom-EU_-_international_trade_in_goods_statistics#EU_and_the_United_Kingdom_in_world_trade_in_goods

Online Sites with A Live Dealer

The Live Online Casino is a huge step in the evolution of the gambling industry. Since the early 2000s, all large gambling brands have moved to virtual mode. This saved the players time, they were able to play at home. The clubs themselves have significantly saved on renting numerous halls and expanded their audience.

Time went on, and it became clear to everyone: something was missing… This missing highlight turned out to be the emotions and communication that the players received during their trips to the casino. This problem was solved instantly: since the beginning of 2010, online casinos with live dealers have gained momentum.

What is it?

Playing with a dealer in an online casino is between two realities. The dealer is located in a special studio, all actions are transmitted to the screen using special cameras. The broadcast is in real time.

The player enters the livecasino, selects an entertainment and launches the roulette wheel directly from an own computer. Technologies are constantly improving. Today, live casinos are available on both mobile devices and smartphones.

What to play and with whom?

All the entertainment that is available in land-based casinos is available in livecasino online sites:

  • Black Jack;
  • Roulette;
  • Poker;
  • Baccarat;
  • Dice;
  • And much more.

A professional dealer – a guy or a girl – deals the cards, spins the roulette wheel, announces the results. The process takes place in real time and is broadcasted from several angles. The croupiers smile and make a good atmosphere. As a rule, these are people of pleasant appearance.

A visitor to a live casino can simply be an observer. By participating in the game, you can communicate with the presenter using the online hour. The dealer reads all the questions and answers them.

Advantages

Over the past few years, a live casino with professional hosts has earned a special love of players. It attracts to itself:

  • Genuine emotions. Such a surge in mood can only be obtained in a real casino;
  • Impressions. Nice staff and a real studio convey the lively gaming atmosphere;
  • Saving time. As in the case of a regular virtual club, you can play at Live Casino at home;
  • During the game, no competitors are visible, although there may be a thousand of them at one table. But no one is disturbing you.

Is it fair?

Absolutely! The whole process of roulette and card games is transmitted to the screen. All actions of the dealer are recorded in detail and broadcast to players. To make sure that the dealer is not a robot or a video recording, you can ask him to wave his hand, say something, or take any action within a reasonable framework.

An important nuance: in most cases, communication takes place in English! But now there are more and more online tables in different languages. This makes playing in a live casino even more comfortable for everyone.

HULT Private Capital In Middle Of U.K.’s Record-Setting Year For Private Equity

Research from KPMG showed that in the first half of 2021, the United Kingdom saw the highest level of Private Equity (P.E.) investment since the record-setting 2017.  In the first half-year, the KPMG data shows that a total of 785 deals worth a total of £73.7 billion were completed after factors like the vaccine rollout gained steam, and the loosening of travel restrictions have allowed for increased optimism.  One might think the bubble would burst; however, since the publication of KPMG’s report, the number of deals being done taking British firms private has not slowed, and now according to Refinitiv, who has a different system of counting, there have been over 400 U.K. deals so far worth over $50 billion USD.  This is the highest number since Refinitiv first collected data in 1996.  For comparison, the next highest year for Rafinitiv was 2018, with 297 deals done through September and 402 deals done for the year; we are only at the beginning of October. 

The first reason for the continued expectation of deals globally is untapped capital.  According to Pitchbook, a Private Equity researcher, firms are sitting on about $1.3 trillion in unallocated capital.  This money burning a hole in P.E. pockets is a huge incentive.  While borrowing interest rates stay low, firms like HULT Private Capital, a London-based P.E. firm, will be on the hunt for the next takeover prospect.

Second, for the U.K. specifically, firms are undervalued.  According to data from Bloomberg, the simple value measure, price to earnings ratio, for the companies of the London Stock Exchange in the FTSE all share P.E. ratio is at 14.700 while the U.S.’s S&P500 is more than double at 33.48.  This difference is due to an undervalued British pound that has not quite recovered since Brexit and a stock market that has lagged behind other global markets.  In the past five years, the FTSE climbed only 26%, while the S&P 500 has given its investors 125% return in the same timeframe.  Besides the lagging pound, the underperformance is that there are few tech stocks in the FTSE compared to the S&P, and for the past few decades, tech has pushed the entire market higher.  This lack of tech stocks in the FTSE has hindered stocks that should have risen more.  Therefore they are undervalued when looking at their assets held and prime for takeover. 

This optimism among business titans is continuing to rise. With several high-value deals continuing, making the market unstoppable through September, no one can guess how high the record will be for 2021. I.W. Captial wishes to try to find an accurate list of viable companies and therefore commissioned countrywide research to determine which sectors the P.E. investors will continue to back. 

The resulting data from I.W. indicates that the green and sustainable sectors will likely be the main beneficiaries of significant investment backing for the next year.  Beyond green, other firms that are in more “scientific fields,” (biotech, pharma, online retail, and fintech) that have benefitted from “increased exposure for the last year and a half” (during the pandemic) are also primed to benefit.  Finally, the I.W. research suggests that the creative industries and hospitality, which have been the worst affected by the pandemic’s impact, are on the list of potential U.K. investments.  HULT Private Capital is on the inside track for finding these valuable acquisition targets.

I.W. Capital’s DATA RESULTS

  • In the next year, 45% of U.K. investors are looking to back sustainable and green companies.
  • In the next year, 36% of U.K. investors are looking to purchase stocks and shares.
  • In the next year, 34% of U.K. investors are looking to back the Biotech, Pharma, and Medtech industries.
  • In the next year, 29% of U.K. investors are looking to back online retailers.
  • In the next year, 26% of U.K. investors are looking to back fintech.
  • In the next year, 18% of U.K. investors are looking to back creative industries.
  • In the next year, 16% of U.K. investors are looking to back the hospitality sector.

I.W. Capital’s CEO, Luke Davis, said about the research, “demand exists…..around climate change, green and sustainable companies topping the list of investor demand……also significant confidence in long-suffering sectors with periods of lockdown (with) nearly a 1/5th of investors looking to back the hospitality sector or creative industries. “

John Hudson of HULT Private Capital says that “investor confidence is a good barometer of business sentiment and the economy.  Private equity is all in for U.K. firms.  Small private growth companies are even seeing investment.  Growth is what investors are looking for to support their goals after 2020’s hard times.”

Hudson continued, “SME’s and entrepreneurs are key for U.K. growth,  making up 99.9% of private-sector businesses and employing 60% of the U.K. workforce.  The investment community backing these is hugely important for optimism and activity.”

Private equity is not only happening in the U.K. but is a global trend; public companies may not be the best form for business.  According to a Gbenga Ibikunle, a University of Edinburgh Business School professor, in 2019, 2,026 businesses were listed in the U.K., down from 2,913 in 2006, and according to Prof. Ibikunle, a steeper drop was seen in the U.S., with private equity playing a critical role.  The Professor said that” investors are seeking significant returns and perhaps because of a U.K.-U.S. cultural fit, a lot of P.E. money is coming from the U.S. and finding homes in the U.K.”

HULT Private Capital‘s Hudson also said, “Our international investors like the fact that we are local.  With the influx of international P.E. funds, more scrutiny and even push back has been seen from the Labour Party.  Local P.E. firms like HULT can circumvent this.”

The P.E. deal record year is a certainty, but it is still not determined how high it will go.  HULT Private Capital and the other P.E. firms vying for the next takeover targets will benefit, but only time will reveal the final tally. 

Tel: +44 208 123 5164

Email: info@hultprivatecaptal.com
Web: www.hultprivatecapital.com

Address: 1 Cornhill, City of London,England, EC3V 3ND

South Kensington Property Market Trends

South Kensington is a royal borough located in the county of Kensington and Chelsea, London, England. It is positioned on high ground just to the west of Kensington Gardens and north of Earl’s Court. South Kensington is home to two of the world’s most exclusive residential developments- Hyde Park and The Boltons but also has more affordable housing in North and South Kensington. This area has attracted several wealthy people who invest in properties since it was first developed in the 18th century. It is one of the most affluent areas in London, conveniently located just minutes away from all the major tube stations.

In recent times, it has been a place where many celebrities have chosen to live. The selling prices reached a peak of $825k in mid-2020, which turned beneficial for many sellers. Property prices have always fluctuated in South Kensington in the past year but saw a slight drop in 2021. Once a property for sale in South Kensington enters the selling market, it gets sold within 19 days. The housing market in this borough of London is very competitive, where multiple buyers are seen bidding for a single property. Due to the high demand in South Kensington, most homes sell above the quoted selling price. Several hot listed households sell within a week from being posted on the property listings. The property market at South Kensington is now more affordable than it has been in the last few years.

CURRENT PROPERTY MARKET

Market trends keep changing every year, and it entirely depends on the type, size and location of the property. The borough of South Kensington is always in demand for its geographical positioning. The neighbouring boroughs like Chelsea, Notting Hill, Brompton etc., are nearby places from South Kensington, making it easier for people to commute. South Kensington has always been a desirable destination for the rich and famous, but also attracts buyers who wish to live in one of London’s historic neighbourhoods.

South Kensington has always reflected unique property trends compared to other boroughs of London. It is because of the distinct set of people who come forward to invest in South Kensington. The real estate business in this place predominantly depends on wealthy investors from local and overseas regions. The majority of the residential developments comprises semi-detached and terraced properties. Additionally, many converted flats are popular among residents moving into this region.

Over the previous year, the average price of a property in South Kensington was £2,512,115. The most substantial property transactions in South Kensington last year were flats, which sold for a median of £1,829,354. Terraced houses sold for a total of £4,453,231, while semi-detached houses sold for £9,889,286. The overall selling prices in the borough of South Kensington were 7% lower than the previous year and 4% lower than the 2018 record of £2,616,373.

Property prices dropped down to a further 0.48%, where an average household costs about £2,533,577. The demand for rental properties in South Kensington has declined steadily in the past six months and the employment status of the residents in the locality. Despite the stamp duty holiday and low interest rates, the property prices have only decreased concerning other boroughs of London. The number of residential units is higher than the number of occupants or demand from buyers. According to recent reports, the property prices at South Kensington can drop by a further 2% by the end of next year.

FUTURE TRENDS AND POSSIBILITIES

The increasing demand for properties at South Kensington for all good reasons has seen multiple overseas and local investors flooding into the region. The post-pandemic recovery is improving in different boroughs of London and other parts of the globe. However, property prices have fluctuated frequently, making it unclear for people to determine the price range of homes in South Kensington in the long term. The economic and employment status has become better in central and other regions of London. Similarly, the real estate business is getting back to normal and has already recovered to its original state in different parts of the world. The UK property market is recovering slowly, and property prices might gear up by the end of next year. This will ultimately increase the property prices at South Kensington and reach their original values in a while. The price spike might be slow, but the chances of improvements are pretty much high with the betterment of the global economy.

Making a Case for Tidying Up Your Rooms

Imagine coming into your bedroom, which resembles a scenario after a nuclear explosion or that a burglary has taken place. There are clothes strewn everywhere; the covers are dishevelled, the furnishings upturned and broken, cabinet doors ajar. Would you have a good night’s sleep? Would you even be comfortable? Or would you need to tidy it up to get some semblance of order?

Yes, we know that tidying up can be challenging at times. Especially when you’re always on the run and there’s a lot on your plate. However, there are benefits to keeping your rooms clean and organised. It’ll only take a little while to do it, and the benefits generally outweigh the time you spend doing it. These are among the reasons why you need to have a fitted bedroom done, too. Let’s explore them in this article. We know you’ll see the light after reading through.

A tidy room saves you time

That’s one of the primary reasons you need to keep your room and, for that matter, your workspace as tidy as possible. You’ll know where everything is; you wouldn’t have to search high and low and take a long time doing it. You wouldn’t have to look for your socks or other accessories frantically. You’ll know which drawer you’ll have to pull or which compartment you’ll have to open.

You’ll know what you have 

Have you ever bought something from the store, and when you came home, you realised that you got the same thing and you’re not using it? You may laugh at it, but it does mean you’ve wasted your money on something you already have. If you have a tidy and organised storage space, you’ll know what things you have. You don’t need to place them in individualised compartments, but at the very least, you’ll know where they are located. You wouldn’t have to spend your money on something that you already have.

A tidy room makes you feel happy 

Less clutter, less mess, makes you feel a lot better. Psychologists state that how your personal space looks is a reflection of your mindset. The messier it is, the more your mind will feel strained, and the converse is also true – the cleaner it is, the happier you feel. You wouldn’t have to feel frustrated every time you enter your room. Instead, you’ll feel relaxed and ready to rest.

A tidy space is a healthy space

One thing’s for sure, a tidy space has fewer germs, and it just invites positivity. If your rooms are clean, you wouldn’t have to worry about catching a virus in your home. You’ll have one less thing to worry about because you have your space cleaned up. You just have to dust and wipe a few spots regularly, and you know it’s a safe haven.

A tidy space invites confidence

With a tidy space, you wouldn’t have to worry about inviting someone over. You know you’ve got a presentable home, and you wouldn’t need to worry about the mess.

Takeaway 

A tidy room is a good space. You don’t have to be overly organised to have a clean area. All you have to do is make sure everything’s in its proper order, and you’ll enjoy the space even more.

Common Myths About Wooden Houses

Wooden houses are one of the most eco-friendly and natural places to reside. In fact, a majority of people have shifted to wood as a building material instead of conventional materials. 

However, along with its benefits, people know a lot of things about the material, which is ultimately a myth. Some say it’s not durable, while others find it fragile. Both of these statements are absolutely false.

Speaking of which, today, we will decode some of the common myths related to wooden houses.

Myth 1: They are not Long Lasting

One of the most apparent myths related to wooden houses is that they are not long-lasting. However, the truth is that houses made from wood can serve for 100-150 years. All it requires is proper construction and maintenance, that’s it.

The primary reason behind its durability is the advanced technologies used in wood production. These technologies prevent any negative occurrences like cracking, decay, discoloration, twisting, etc., in residential log cabins

When the wood is technically dried, it makes a sturdy building material. Blend in some protective composition, and you will get a robust and lasting wooden house. 

Myth 2: Woods Get Damaged in Bad Weather Conditions

Be it extreme summers or winters; woods provide the desirable environment as per the season. Being a natural insulator, it keeps you warm during winters and cools during summers. 

So, again the above-mentioned statement is false. Sidewise, the natural insulation property of the wood can cut your electricity costs (related to air conditioners and heaters).

The insulation materials that are combined with wood ensure more thermal efficiency. The material has the potential to combat intense winds. As it’s flexible in nature, the house surface does not get cracked and damaged. 

If you choose a good-quality material, woods can render the same performance as other materials. In fact, many times, it’s sturdier than standard building materials. 

Myth 3: Woods are Weak Building Material

Being light-weighted, woods are considered a weak building material by many. Some people believe it to have less strength than other bricks ( commonly used in house construction). However, in reality, timber/woods are extensive in potential and versatility. They are used as per shapes and sizes to construct a strong structure. 

Once it gets dried, woods become efficient for use. That’s because drying decreases the moisture in the material. Dry woods are also less prone to staining and insect attacks. 

If you want another option other than dry woods, then you can go for cross-laminated timber. They also have enough strength to build a safe and indestructible house. 

Presently, so many people are choosing woods as the building material for their houses. The reason being its eco-friendliness and lasting potential. 

Conclusion

Surprising, right? All that you heard earlier was, in fact, false. Hopefully, now you know the reality behind the material. Summing up, wooden houses are one of the most efficient building materials presently. Be it standard tree houses, cabins, or cottages; you can use it for constructing any structure.  

Loch Ness in the frame as destination among most popular venues to feature in Instagram pictures

New research by Heriot Watt University shows that the monster’s hideaway in Loch Ness is among the most popular venues to feature in Instagram pictures.

The university analysed Instagram hashtags relating to the most popular Scottish destinations on Trip Advisor.

What are the most popular locations?

It shows Loch Ness is the third most ‘Instagramable’ destination, behind Edinburgh Castle and Loch Lomond.

Figures until October 17 show Loch Ness had 439,736 hashtags, compared to Edinburgh Castle with 602,806 and Loch Lomond which has 501,498.

Other Highlands and islands tourism hotspots to feature in the list’s top 10 include Ben Nevis (218,208 hashtags), St Kilda (198,217) and Skye’s Fairy Pools (83,102).

Local tourism operators welcomed the latest proof of the famous loch’s popularity.

Willie Cameron, known as Mr Loch Ness, says he is “delighted but not surprised” by the findings.

The director of the Cobbs group, which has various tourist attractions in the area, adds: “It’s great for Loch Ness and couldn’t come at a better time as people plan their vacations next year.”

No surprise at Loch Ness featuring high on the list

Jo de Sylva, who chairs Visit Inverness Loch Ness, said: “As one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world, I’m not at all surprised that Loch Ness has featured so highly in the list of most Instagrammable locations in Scotland.

“The natural wild beauty, combined with both stunning sunsets and sunrises means that the opportunities for gorgeous Instagram posts are endless.”

She says more people are experiencing the scenery and landscapes across the whole year.

“Loch Ness is so incredibly picturesque, and with the villages on the loch side offering great Highland hospitality, there is really no better place to spend a few hours, days or weeks.”

Yvonne Crook, director with Highland Tourism, adds: “This is a welcome example of how important Loch Ness and the wider beauty of the area is to the Highlands.

“Time and again we see that Loch Ness is truly a leading world class destination and we are determined to ensure a sustainable tourism future for the whole region.”

Heriot Watt said the research aims to provide information about the country when recruiting students.

Eco-Friendly Tips to Minimise Your Travel Carbon Footprint

“Πάντα ῥεῖ!” said Heraclitus of Ephesus, famous Ancient Greek philosopher, over 2500 years ago. His pearl of wisdom translates as ‘Everything moves and flows.’ This is as true today as it was all those centuries ago.

Although less philosophically, we can agree that our frenzied world never stops. Our hectic routines require us to travel from one place to another all the time, whether to collect our weekly food shop or to begin our morning shift at work.

Even when on holiday, we are constantly on the move. You may be crossing the country to spend a weekend with friends and family in your hometown, or you may be exploring a new continent and enjoying stunning landmarks every day. In both cases, you will need to use some sort of transport to reach your desired destination.

When it comes to choosing our mode of transport, duration is usually our primary concern, and we tend to select the option that gets us from A to B in the shortest amount of time. However, the environmental consequences are gradually taking their toll on our planet. Tourists visiting the stunning Sicilian area of Syracuse last August, for instance, will have certainly experienced one of climate change’s detrimental effects as thermometers registered an unbearable and record temperature of 48.8°C (119.84 °F). Therefore, the next time we plan a trip, it would be wise to carefully weigh another important factor: how can I reduce my travel carbon footprint?                  

Here we set out some expert tips that could come in handy when organising your future eco-friendly travels.

WHEN YOU TRAVEL

Digital tickets

Booking your tickets is arguably one of the highlights of the trip. In all honesty, filling out tedious forms and registration pages is probably not that memorable, though once your reservation has been officially confirmed, it is difficult to repress a small surge of excitement. So much so that you may even be tempted to print your tickets straight away, just to convince yourself that the anticipated vacation to Mykonos or Fuerteventura is actually happening. If possible, save a digital ticket on your phone instead: switching to paperless documents is the first step towards making your holiday as sustainable as possible.

Train or plane?

It is no secret that aviation emissions contribute dramatically to climate change. That said, however, it is also true that planes can comfortably cover distances that would otherwise seem insurmountable. Therefore, our suggestion would be to book a flight if the plane journey lasts three or more hours; in fact, if you decided to use a different mode of transport, chances are you’d already have to be on your way back by the time you reach your destination.

When travelling within your country’s borders though, try to opt for a train ride instead. Studies show that by hopping on a train rather than a domestic flight, you are reducing your carbon footprint by 84%. Not only that, the scenery outside your window as you dart along the rail is unbeatable, and you are doing nature a whole lot of good.

Flying tips

Prior to the ongoing pandemic, travelling by plane had become increasingly popular, with about 4 billion passengers flying every year. As we slowly return to our beloved travels abroad, there are a few actions we can take to ensure that we are minimising our personal negative impact on the environment.

  • Fly direct: when booking a flight, search for non-stop routes. Changing planes at airports will increase your carbon footprint, as aircraft use most fuel when taking off and landing.
  • Use your local airport: if you are lucky enough to have a well-connected airport not far from your home, make sure to choose your local one over options that are further away. It will both limit petrol consumption and save you time.
  • Travel light: there is always an impulse to pack your entire wardrobe when setting off on an adventure, but it would be wise to only fill your suitcase with things you really need. Every item on a plane makes it heavier. And the heavier the plane, the more fuel is needed.   
  • Fly cheap: this is a win-win situation: save precious spending money and help the planet. By travelling in economy, seats are smaller, and more people can be carried with the same amount of fuel. According to a World Bank study, if you were to fly in business or first class instead, your emissions would be three times higher.

WHEN YOU’RE THERE

You have finally arrived and are ready to enjoy your well-deserved vacation. Even when in loco, there are some specific actions you can take to continue having an unforgettable eco-friendly holiday.

Hotels

Your hotel can often be viewed as a place in which to forget all housekeeping rules and let the staff take care of your every need. With a touch of mindfulness, however, you can truly minimise the impact of your stay.

Firstly, leave the “do not disturb” sign on the door so that staff do not enter your room to clean it when there is no need to. Similarly, fold and hang your towels instead of throwing them on the floor. Hotel laundry services not only are generally quite expensive, they also consume an unnecessary amount of water.

Also, act as if you were at home and had to pay your own bills: use lighting, water, and heating responsibly.

Travel, buy, and eat local

As you land in Barcelona, the city is there for you to discover. You can stroll along La Rambla, take pictures outside the Camp Nou and the Sagrada Familia, and walk around the enchanting Parc Güell. Wherever you go in the world, make sure to experience the place to the fullest.

Why not consider exploring your holiday destination on foot or by bicycle? Get lost in its traditional alleyways, chat to locals, and reduce your carbon footprint to the bare minimum. Also, try traditional dishes made from locally grown products and buy souvenirs from local artisans: you will be supporting the local economy and drastically cutting the kilometres your food and keepsakes have to travel to get to you.

Eco-friendly experiences

If you are up for some breathtaking and adventurous experiences which will stick with you forever, there are some sustainable options that you should definitely look into. Here are a few that caught our imagination:

  • Hop aboard the Shinkansen – With an Orient Express vibe going for it, the Shinkansen is a speed train that shoots through Japan in around eight hours, taking passengers from the bustling capital city of Tokyo to the remote and snowy Sapporo in the country’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. Japanese speed trains are substantially cleaner than diesel-powered lines, and this particular journey will allow you to admire mesmerising contrasting landscapes while having a low impact on the environment.
  • Cross the Andes and bathe in two oceans – Taking several days to complete, the Expreso Internacional Ormeño is a 6,300km bus trip (the longest in the world) that extends from the Pacific to the Atlantic. It is an unforgettable, slightly crazy endeavour that will transport you through the Andes without the need to board a plane.
  • The ultimate alpine routes – If your dream is to delve into the mountainous Swiss villages and settle down in a different cosy inn every evening, the Haute Route is for you. Walk or cycle from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn and enjoy the eco-friendliest tour of them all! However, if you would rather take in the marvellous views of the Alps while relaxing and leaning back on a comfy seat, hop on the OBB train and contemplate the Austrian peaks from Graz to Innsbruck (or Zurich in Switzerland). With free railway Wi-Fi connectivity on board, you will have the chance to take stunning pictures along the way and immediately share them with friends and family on social media.

And there you have it – please feel free to follow these suggestions to travel and spend your well-deserved holiday in a sustainable and environmentally conscious way.

Referring back to our Ancient Greek friend, Heraclitus’ aphorism implies also that things mutate over time and never stay the same. Perhaps it should be taken as a gentle encouragement to tweak our ways of doing and travelling too, in order to preserve our planet and make sure we can keep enjoying the beautiful sceneries we admire today. 

Sources

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/science-environment-48206946

https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/travel/sustainable-tourism-travel-carbon-footprint-tips-353722

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/11-smart-ways-to-reduce-your-travel-footprint_b_593ff5c7e4b094fa859f1bc8

https://ourworldindata.org/travel-carbon-footprint

The Impact of COVID-19 on Waiting Times and What You Can Do if You’re Affected

COVID-19 has had a huge and far-reaching impact on our NHS. Frontline staff worked tirelessly to support COVID-19 patients, as well as delivering as many critical services as possible.

Some key services are experiencing a backlog, with over 5 million people waiting to start treatment – a record number. This number could even reach 13 million in the coming months.

Here, we take a look at the impact of COVID-19 on NHS waiting times and explore some alternatives if this is impacting you.

Which procedures are backlogged?

Most of the procedures that are backlogged are “routine”, which includes non-urgent surgery and consultant-led appointments. They address treatments that aren’t life-threatening but are still important to many of us.

The backlog of treatments is a result of many of these services being suspended during multiple lockdowns to prioritise urgent healthcare. Additionally, many patients didn’t seek care for non-critical problems during the height of the pandemic.

Analysis from the Health Foundation has shown a number of drops in routine appointments, including:

  • 41% reduction in referrals for eye-related problems, including cataract surgery and glaucoma treatment
  • 42% fewer appointments for musculoskeletal problems, including knee or hip surgery
  • 43% reduction in oral surgeries, including tooth extractions and root canal surgery
  • 29% fewer appointments for neurology issues, including stroke and headache-related problems.

In total, 4.7 million fewer people were referred for these types of routine appointments and others in 2020 than in 2019.

What do the waiting lists look like for routine appointments?

The figures on the number of people waiting over a year for treatment vary by report. A study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said that over 385,000 people had been waiting for more than a year for treatment, up from just 1,600 before the pandemic. The BMA reports these figures as 304,803 in June 2021, increasing from 1,032 in June 2020. Over 3 million have been waiting between 18 weeks and a year, according to NHS data.

Procedures that are most likely to have waiting lists longer than the NHS standard 18-week window include:

  • Oral surgery
  • Ear, nose, and throat appointments
  • Eye condition treatments

The IFS stated that to deal with the backlog, the NHS needed increased capacity.

The NHS is making good progress on its backlog of treatments, but waiting times are still high for some. The number of people waiting over a year decreased by over 10,000 between June and July 2021, but this still leaves over 5 million people waiting.

As well as the known backlog due to delayed or cancelled treatments, new referrals are likely to increase again because people are more comfortable seeking medical appointments now that restrictions have relaxed. The Health Foundation refers to this as the “hidden backlog”.

What can you do if you’re waiting a long time?

It’s clear that the NHS needs additional support to tackle the huge backlog it’s facing. The government has announced extra funding dedicated to helping the NHS reduce its backlog, but it’s already reported to be operating at 95% capacity.

To avoid the long waiting list for routine surgery or treatments, there are other routes you can consider. Private health insurance is a viable option. Traditional private medical insurance can be costly, but alternative private health insurance options operate slightly differently to keep costs lower for users.

These options don’t cover areas prioritised by the NHS, like cancer and heart disease, in order to keep premiums low. Private health insurance is more accessible for many and allows you to access treatment for health conditions that aren’t life-threatening but are having an impact on your life.

Not only can private health insurance help you access private treatment for non-urgent conditions more quickly than on the NHS, but you could also be helping to ease pressure on the health service. With fewer patients to treat, the NHS can address its backlog faster.

Is private insurance right for you?

Even with a concerted effort from the NHS, it’s likely that we’ll be living with longer waiting times for non-urgent surgery in the long term. If you’re worried about the impact this could have, private health insurance could help give you peace of mind.

Most providers will give you an instant quote so you can decide if it fits within your monthly budget. With most policies, the process is simple too. You make a GP appointment to get a referral as you normally would, then get in touch with your provider, who’ll assess your claim and arrange your appointment and payments. Some providers will even allow you to choose which hospital you attend.

The NHS has been under extreme pressure for over 18 months now. While it has rightly focused on treating COVID-19 patients and life-threatening emergencies, more patients than ever are experiencing longer waiting times for routine appointments. In addition to the NHS receiving more support to address this backlog, you may be able to seek out affordable private health insurance to skip the queues, receive treatment quicker, and support the NHS in addressing its backlog.

Sources

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-57793122

https://www.health.org.uk/news-and-comment/news/hidden-backlog-looms-as-nhs-referrals-for-routine-hospital-care-drop

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-58132538

https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/nhs-delivery-and-workforce/pressures/pressure-points-in-the-nhs

https://www.health.org.uk/publications/long-reads/elective-care-in-england-assessing-the-impact-of-covid-19-and-where-next

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