29 Future-proof buildings now

Jim Lowther assesses how we can future-proof a new generation of buildings through the specification of the latest rooflights and fire protection products

pecifying products for domestic and commercial building projects can be a daunting process, one which has to balance the demands of customers and end users, and support the practical and safety requirements demanded by the building. Roof lights and glazing are an intrinsic part of this process and deliver tangible benefits like permitting natural light into buildings and providing ventilation and access. The latest raft of products to arrive on the market can support safety aspects and stringent fire regulations too. Specified in a range of domestic and commercial applications rooflights can provide workable solutions where lighting is required, allowing architects to create naturally-lit rooms which have been proven to have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the building users. In addition to specification in new-build projects, rooflights can also be used in retrofit commissions and conservation rooflights are available to support listed building requirements and sympathetic restoration. All this being said, it is often aesthetics and thermal efficiencies that are at the top of the list when selecting rooflights. Roof glazing and technological developments in recent years now give an unrivalled choice where style is not compromised over substance allowing performance and aesthetics to co-exist. And, whilst there is no legal requirement regarding glazing fragility, it is best practice to specify non fragile glass or polycarbonate. It is important to consider the sustain- ability and environmental impact that buildings will be required to fulfil as part of future regulations. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, will require all new buildings to be at ‘almost zero energy’ by 2021 and the thermal efficiencies of rooflights will never have been more important. In addition, rooflights can also aid egress from buildings should the need arise and can either be used as stand-alone access or can be coupled with a fire safety system. It is perhaps this area of the market where


most development has been made recently and which will future-proof buildings as a result of predicted changes to legislation next year.

Fire and smoke safety

In 2013 only minor amendments were made to Part B (Fire) Building Regulations rendering it virtually unchanged since its


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