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SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTS 49


A LINTEL CONTRIBUTION TO FABRIC FIRST


Catnic’s Richard Price offers a philosophy of designing and constructing homes where individual components and systems contribute to, rather than compromise, the overall building performance.


and developers to create homes that are liveable while meeting increasingly stringent energy performance legislation. Renewable technologies such as solar PV and ground source heat pumps are ‘nice to have’ but for many housebuilders and developers their cost, in both design and practical implementation, still precludes them from many specifications. However, a fabric first approach, one where the building does the work without relying on more expensive ‘bolt-on’ technologies such as these, can ensure new homes meet the highest demands of the current Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard, Part L and SAP compliance. Achieving this requires careful specification. It is an equation in which the sum of the parts equals the final outcome: a truly energy efficient home that is structurally sound and both cost effective and logical in its construction. Within this approach, no one component or system will compromise another.


‘F


Such an equation is a balancing act, between high performance components and systems and the potential thermal bridges they create. A key example is the steel lintel.


abric first’ remains the optimum way for housebuilders


We cannot achieve structurally sound


homes, cost effectively, without them. Indeed the steel lintel has become the byword for architectural achievement in the modern construction agenda. However the legislative landscape of increasingly demanding energy efficiency standards, combined with the sophisticated measurement of energy wastage through the building envelope, has highlighted a need for improvements in the psi values of lintels. It has prompted the introduction of a new type of lintel on the marketplace, one that is designed with a thermal break. While steel lintels do provide a means to build homes quickly, safely and effectively, they also have the potential to directly convey heat from the inside to the outside of a building. In other words, without careful and knowledgeable specification, steel lintels have the potential to create thermal bridges that may compromise the energy performance and therefore the fabric first approach of a new building. In fact, any material, component or system that forms a bridge linking two structural features – such as roofs and walls, or walls and floors, together – stands to risk the unwanted transfer and dissipation of heat.


THERE WAS A NEED FOR IMPROVEMENT OF THE PSI VALUES OF LINTELS


The need for energy efficiency improvements has given rise to more sophisticated methods of measuring heat loss. Heat lost through the building fabric, for example through walls, roofs, floors and doors and windows, called U-values, is measured in W/m2


K. Psi values measure


heat lost at the junctions between these elements, for example at window heads, window jambs, window cills, corners, walls and floors as well as the walls and roof of a building at its eaves, and they are measured in W/mK. The total fabric heat loss of the structure is calculated as the sum of the U-value multiplied by the area plus the sum of the psi value multiplied by the length of the building.


For housebuilders and developers this requires close collaboration with manufacturers of systems and components. Working together they can fully understand individual performances and how building products might be designed together, to ensure the outcome embraces a fabric first


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