Ground Gas Protection for Professionals

As a long-established professional Trade body serving the property care sector, the Property Care Association is now helping to lead the way to create professional frameworks and draw up training and codes of professional practice with specialists in ground gas protection.

Along with aiming to provide better standards within the ground gas industry, the PCA’s ‘Ground Gas Protection Group’ is working to provide building professionals with an information resource and access to highly-skilled, trained and vetted contractors, verifiers and those who can assist in the detailing and execution of ground gas protection systems.

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Why there is a need to do things BETTER!

The need to consider the hazards associated with harmful gasses that can enter buildings from the ground is growing. As we develop a better understanding of the effects and widespread presence of both natural and manmade of ground gasses, controlling and eliminating their effects is now a critical element of many projects.

A number of high profile cases where the presence and implication of ground gas have been overlooked have highlighted the very real risk to life and health when ground gas protection is not considered, ill-conceived or inadequate.

The introduction of new legislation

A combination of increased awareness of the ground gas issue and a better understanding of the hazard associated with their presence has led to new legislation. Local authority planning departments backed by regulations from Government now have the power to insist on a much stricter approach when dealing with sites where there is the potential for harmful ground gas contamination.

The Property Care Association will promote, share and work to develop and improve operating standards while providing clear direction to those who need the services of trained, experienced specialists who have been inspected, audited and who have proved competence and a willingness to be bound by the Associations strict rules on service, quality and competence.

The stages for good ground gas protection

For anyone looking to work within the ground gas industry or for any construction/building professionals looking to employ someone from the sector, there are multiple stages you need to consider before proposing any form of ground gas protection.  They include site investigations, system design, considerations and detailing, communication, system delivery & installation and finally verification.

To find out more, click on the expandable text sections below.

Site investigations

The process of conducting ground gas investigations and establishing the presence of and likely risks from harmful ground gas should be a task performed by a suitably trained and competent geotechnical engineer. This should include as deemed appropriate:

  1. Preliminary investigation: using historical maps, geographical maps, regulation data, research on landfill sites and memories
  2. Ground investigation: including the use of ‘trial pits’
  3. Laboratory testing: with consideration of the use of WAC (Waste Acceptance Criteria) testing on soil samples

The processes of site evaluation and risk assessment are set out in ‘BS8485:2005’ (design of protective measures for ground gases for new buildings). To gain a better overview of the site investigation process, click on the button below to view a flow chart that illustrates the process.

Site investigation and site classification services are not provided by PCA members and should be provided by a suitably trained and competent geotechnical engineer.

Site Investigation Flow Chart >>

System design

Many failures with ground gas protection are attributable to insufficient consideration of the relevant factors, leading to poor or inappropriate ground gas design.

It is the role of a ground gas designer to configure products and systems within that structure in order to afford the required levels of ground gas protection. The goal of this is to ensure proposed ground gas protection system are successfully met, and structures and occupants are protected from the risk of harmful ground gas in the long term.

Detailing - Understanding the design considerations

No two ground gas projects will look the same. However, as with all protection design solutions for ground gas, the primary considerations should be:

  1. What are the underlying ground conditions?
  2. What is the risk of harmful gas?
  3. What is the potential of contamination that may release harmful gases?
  4. What is being built and what are the buildings going to be used for?

Ground gas design must consider the structure as well as the soil and ground conditions together with the gas hazards that have been identified. Any proposed ground gas protection system must deliver a solution that can be installed successfully to eliminate risk as far as is practicable and assure a built environment that is safe for occupation.

It is important to note that if a ground gas designer is not up to speed with the knowledge contained within BS8485:2005 (and the soon to be launched PCA Code of Practice) then that designer is failing the client/customer.

If you are a ground gas designer and you are not up to speed, we strongly suggest you read the appropriate documentation within the buttons below

Methods of system design

The methods commonly adopted in to deliver ground gas protection are typically based around:

  • Structural design and detailing
  • Ventilation
  • Gas protection barries/membranes

Depending on the ground gas risk, the type of construction and property type; these measures may be used individually or in combination.

The need for ground gas protection will be identified by the geotechnical engineers as part of any site investigation. The findings of the geotechnical engineers will be used to inform a conceptual site model that in turn will determine the risk and subsequent levels of ground gas mitigation that will be needed for any development. The detail of this process can be found in BS8485:2005 Code of Practice for the ‘Protective Measures for methane and Carbon Dioxide Ground Gasses for New Buildings’.

It is also possible that contamination and ground gas hazards are found to be a risk in existing buildings. In such situations, a geotechnical engineer will be required to conduct evaluations, evaluate the hazards present and conduct the necessary risk assessment. These can then be used to inform the subsequent ground gas protection strategies.

Communication

It is important that during all stages of the design process that the geotechnical engineer, system designer the specialist installer and any verification consultant, establish robust channels of communication that are maintained throughout the build process.

Good communication prevents misunderstanding, allows problems to be solved and prevents damage to systems that are being installed. Openness and problem sharing allows problems and obstacles to be overcome in a collaborative way saving time and money AND delivering a better job!

System delivery and installation

Ground gas protection systems should always be detailed and installed by specialists that are properly trained and competent. Specialists who have detailed knowledge, experience and an understanding of the implications of defects will ensure safety-critical designs are delivered and executed properly!

Ground gas specialists, must be skilled, knowledgeable and experienced. Technicians, supervisors designers and verifiers should have attended appropriate training and have gained the appropriate qualifications.

When selecting a ground gas protection specialist, look for the following

  • The company can demonstrate experience in the successful delivery of similar ground gas protection systems and on projects of a similar scale and complexity.
  • Installer that can demonstrate relevant qualifications
  • Detailed product knowledge and training commensurate with the application, jointing and handling of the product types that are to be used.
  • Access to technical back up and support and detailed knowledge of the relevant codes of practice and technical guidance

To find a PCA approved ground gas specialist who has been assessed and that meets the criteria set out above, use the search functionality below:

The Impact of getting it wrong?

For contractors, designers, installers and ultimately the individuals residing or working within the building, getting it wrong can have serious health and safety consequences.

The impact of poor investigation, poor design, product choices or how these are effectively applied by skilled and experienced specialists is the possibility of serious harm to individuals. Radon is known to significantly increase the risk of lung cancer, while the impact of methane can literally be explosive. Depending on exposure and the level of gas concentration, the build ups of volatile organic compounds and carbon dioxide can lead to sudden death or chronic long tern health problems.

A ground gas specialists knows that getting it right is critical. For developers, surveyors, building contractor, finding the right qualified & experienced specialist who understands the implications and importance of what they are doing is essential!

Ground Gas Specialised Training >>

Get trained!

When working on sites affected by harmful ground gasses a principal objective must be to achieve effective control in order to preserve life and protect the health of occupants or users.

The Property Care Association is providing training courses that deliver the knowledge and understanding needed to meet the challenges of ground gas protection. Courses are delivered by leading industry experts and are open to all.

Getting it right is crucial. To learn more about the training that is available, why not check out our training courses below. Alternatively, to make your ground gas credentials stand out, get in touch with us about PCA membership

Ground Gas Specialised Training >>

Stand out from the crowd – PCA Membership

It is now the case that when ground gas is detected, it is now being advised that an appropriately accredited specialist in ground gas protection should be engaged for investigation, design and installation.

If you are a professional that has an interest with all things associated with ground gas, you may wish to consider making your brand stand out as a specialist within the ground gas industry by associated your company and displaying the PCA logo alongside your brand.

To find out more about membership contact us on 01480 400 000 or alternatively, email us at hannah@property-care.org or complete the contact form below and one of our team members will get back to you very soon.

Ground Gas Specialised Training >>

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Other relevant information

Whatever your level of reporting experience, the Property Care Association can assist. Click on the button below to find out about our expert report writing training course.

Ground Gas Protection – Installation Writing Expert Reports Understanding Building Principles British Standards Institute

Also consider

  • From: BSI Publications, Linford Wood, Milton Keynes MK14 6LE – BS 8485:2015 – Code of Practice for the design of protective measures for methane and carbon dioxide ground gases for new buildings
  • BRE – From: BRE Bookshop, BRE, Garston, Watford WD2 7JR
  • CIRIA- Giffin Court, 15 Long Lane, London, EC1A 9PN
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