roofing which could prove susceptible to noise ingress from heavy rainfall. At the same time, they required an efficient thermal solution that would meet the project’s low energy credentials and a robust durable waterproofing system, that would safeguard the building from defect for many years to come.

Fire safety Beyond sound, fire safety is an especially important issue and is in focus more than ever before. In terms of specifying an insulation material, it is key to understand what is combustible and what is non-combustible. Firstly, considering reaction to fire, there is the distinction between what is combustible, non-combustible and of limited combustibility. Here, we should recognise the classifications given within the Euroclass system applicable under CE Marking rules. To be classified to the Euroclass system, products must undergo testing for a range of factors including: ignitability, flame spread, heat release, smoke production and propensity for producing flaming droplets/particles. The Euroclass system is accepted by all European Union States (and is mandatory where there is a Harmonised Product Standard). It includes seven classification levels, from A1 to F, plus one rating (NPD), that sits alongside but outside these ratings.

UK Building Regulations (England & Wales) define classifications, under the Euroclass system, as A1 non-combustible and A2 Limited Combustibility, offering “no significant contribution to fire growth”. Products achieving a rating of B-F are deemed to be combustible.

NATIONAL AUTISTIC SOCIETY – ANDERSON SCHOOL AND ENTERPRISE CAMPUS Stone wool insulation has helped an autism-specific facility in Essex create a calm, productive and quiet learning environment Image © William Eckersley

Source: ‘MIMA Building Safety Guide – Insulated Facades’

Other terms typically used by the industry to describe product performance, such as, fire safe, fire proof, fire retardant or flame proof do not necessarily define that the product is non-combustible. Manufacturers of CE-marked construction products in the UK are legally obligated to declare an RtF rating, so HVAC consultants and contractors can find out the combustibility rating of their chosen HVAC insulation in the product’s Declaration of Performance (DoP) certificate.

The RtF rating is not to be confused with Class 0, a product performance classification which simply measures flame spread. Class 0 is not a measure of a product’s combustibility. In fact, many insulation products will be able to achieve Class 0 but have an RtF of C, or worse.

Much has been written about the use of various types of insulation on the building envelope, particularly the facade, but the specification and use of materials in other areas is also under the spotlight. We believe that the best way to ensure public safety is to


require that only non-combustible insulation be used throughout the building envelope. Why would any specifier take the risk of adding combustible materials to a building? It simply doesn’t make sense. A clear example of the need to consider the whole building envelope is the recent roof fire at the flagship Primark store in Belfast. The fire is reported to have taken three days to fully put out, and resulted in one of Belfast’s Iconic buildings being destroyed, but the effects have the fire have been felt on a much wider scale. Reports indicate that footfall was reduced by some 49 per cent into the Castle Court shopping area where the store was located, 14 local businesses have closed since the fire, and Belfast city centre is reported to be losing revenue in the region of £3m per month. We are an industry going through unprecedented change from top to bottom – the insurance industry, clients and architects, many of whom are identified and highlighted in the Hackitt Review as having key roles going forward, are focused on risk – risk to lives and, indeed, livelihoods. In short, the conversation is changing. Insurers, property owners, businesses large and small as well as specifiers are re-assessing the risk presented by fire at all levels and choosing the ‘lower risk’ approach of specifying non-combustible solutions around the building envelope and on the building services within.

Ed Peltor is commercial director at Rockwool UK WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK

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