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EXTERNAL ENVELOPE Wall-to-wall thinking


As part of meeting our commitments to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050, Chris Miles of Kingspan Facades looks at the options for specifiers when it comes to holistic approaches to maximising thermal efficiency in facades


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n June, the UK became the first major economy to pass laws to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings has been identified as “a key pillar of any credible strategy” to meet this ambitious yet vital goal, as well as “one of the cheapest” and most practical ways to do it. It is clear that over the next 30 years the industry must rapidly change and adapt its methods of construction, and deep discussions are already happening in the architectural community on the best materials and approaches to do this. With approximately 19 per cent of the UK’s total emissions attributable to heating buildings, the building envelope is a logical place to start.


Future constructions


Through-wall facade systems are a popular choice for many buildings in all kinds of sectors. From simple, single-component insulated panels to multi-layered built-up designs; they offer a holistic solution which enables high levels of thermal efficiency to be met, without compromising on other performance aspects such as fire, acoustics, environmental impact and weathertightness. A built-up system offers the widest range of design potential. As all the elements are separately installed, it allows different combinations of insulation and rainscreen finishes to be selected to suit each project. However, considerable attention must be paid to detailing to ensure all the components are installed together to achieve the designed airtightness, insulation continuity and to minimise thermal bridging. Meanwhile, while there may be less variety with panelised systems, their singular, factory-engineered construction simplifies detailing, providing greater assurance of reliable levels of insulation and airtightness. Available in an array of profiles and colours, they can also reduce the length and complexity of the construction programme, limiting on-site


ADF SEPTEMBER 2019


65


adjustments and waste.


A good compromise is a facade construction which uses insulated panels to provide weathertightness and thermal performance, and an external support structure for the preferred cladding. This enables buildings to be made as energy efficient as possible and weatherproof at an earlier stage than with a conventional built-up system, while retaining greater design freedom.


Material potential


Just as there are different advantages to using different systems, component materials also require careful consideration. For example, while mineral fibre can be more suitable for buildings where reducing external noise is a requirement, rigid thermoset insulation has a much lower thermal conductivity, allowing high levels of


With an estimated 80 per cent of the buildings that we will occupy in 2050 already built and only 15 per cent of those constructed after the introduction of insulation and energy performance standards in 1990, the refurbishment of existing stock will be critical to meeting the UK’s decarbonisation goals


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