Tag Archives: thermal insulation

ROCKWOOL reaches new heights in Manchester’s skyline

ROCKWOOL insulation has been specified and installed on a landmark project in the centre of Manchester, providing two new tower blocks with a façade system that ticks all the boxes: fire prevention, thermal insulation and an aesthetically pleasing external appearance.

The Cambridge Street development includes two and three bedroom apartments, built to alleviate Manchester’s growing population. Originally a vacant brownfield site, the project will provide 282 residential flats in a highly accessible location within Manchester’s City Centre.

Although the location is one of the development’s biggest selling points, it presented a challenge for the construction teams. As well as abiding to the local surroundings, the contractor required an insulation solution that complied with all building regulations, including a U-value of 0.18 W/m²K, and would withstand external elements to ensure a quick and undisruptive installation phase.  The materials also had to conform or exceed the regulation for limited combustibility defined in section B4 of Approved Document B External Fire Spread.

Due to ROCKWOOL RAINSCREEN DUO SLAB® being approved by the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) as an acceptable solution for projects above 18 meters, Manchester-based building contractor, Renaker Build specified 13,000m2 of 125mm RAINSCREEN DUO SLAB®.

“As a project manager, I have to make many decisions each day, but specifying RAINSCREEN DUO SLAB® for this project was one of the easiest decisions I had to make,” comments Pete Cregeen of Renaker Build.  “We had a strict technical specification to meet, which RAINSCREEN DUO SLAB® effortlessly achieved. I am most impressed with the company’s streamline route to fire compliance with Approved Document B and fire safe solutions for high rise buildings over 18m. In comparison to other insulation solutions, there was no alternative.”

As a fibre based product, RAINSCREEN DUO SLAB® can be amalgamated to slot into very tight spaces, leaving no empty gaps and achieving optimum thermal performance. It features a dual density insulation board that incorporates a robust outer surface and a resilient inner face. By compressing the primary fleece onto the top 50mm of the insulation, the product can be used, unprotected, in conditions of severe climatic exposure, including strong wind and rain, as experienced at high altitudes. In addition, the RAINSCREEN DUO SLAB® requires fewer fittings compared to other standard stone wool slabs, minimising installation time.

“We are delighted with the ease of installation and the speed at which we could erect the building’s rainscreen,” comments Pete. “ROCKWOOL goes beyond supplying the product and provided fantastic support. Designated technicians were regularly on site during the planning stages and are readily available throughout the installation phase to ensure satisfactory product installation. This additional service provides invaluable support for our men during construction.”

Based in the city centre of Manchester, the final appearance of the building was crucial in the design and specification stage. ROCKWOOL insulation can be easily rendered to accommodate the project’s strict aesthetic requirements using a wide range of available aesthetic tissue faces.


Histoglass helps save iconic Leeds architecture

Histoglass Thin Double Glazing D13 (13mm), with clear and toughened float glass throughout, was chosen for the superb refurbishment of Leeds Printworks on Hunslet Road. It offers the very latest in thermal insulation as well as the high-performance acoustic insulation which is essential for such a busy location.

Leeds Printworks

This distinctive Grade-II listed building, constructed in 1895, was designed by Thomas Ambler for Alf Cooke’s printing works. The site became derelict when the works closed in 2005, but reopened in 2013 as Leeds City College’s Printworks Campus – part of a £25m project including several new adjacent buildings.

Leeds Printworks

The Printworks is one of Leeds’ historic landmarks, thanks in particular to its iconic clock tower and serried rows of large arched windows. At the height of Victorian manufacturing, the amount of light and fresh air they permitted would have been unusual; indeed, the building was described shortly after it was built as “the largest, cleanest, healthiest… printing works in the world”. The windows are therefore essential to the overall character of the building, and were a key consideration in its refurbishment.


Natural frequency and vibration behaviour of free cantilever steel balconies

Lightweight support structures, such as free-cantilevered steel balconies, can be prone to vibration when people move about on them more heavily than usual.    As designs become ever more lightweight and competitive in cost terms, particularly with very large cantilevers, the vibration behaviour of a structure takes on even more importance. 

On this scheme, the balconies are an unusually demanding 2.3m in depth
On this scheme, the balconies are an unusually demanding 2.3m in depth

So when considering the development and structural design of steel balconies, there are a whole host of influencing variables that should be taken into account.  In selecting the method of connection to the building slab, the challenge lies not only in choosing a component that ensures effectiveness as a thermal break; but one that offers a safe structural design solution as well.  An additional factor is that it also needs to be compliant with the necessary serviceability requirements.

Acceptability of vibrations

The Building Regulations Part L defines the limit values for thermal bridges; and Eurocode 3 specifies the required verifications, such as for vibration, in serviceability limit state. Such verification is the responsibility of the structural engineer, whose function it is to calculate the natural frequency of the construction depending on its utilisation.    That being said, when considering the design of the balcony construction and thermal insulating element, it is prudent to ensure that the natural frequency is greater than the limit frequency specified by the structural engineer.     Generally, vibration of floors is considered to be a serviceability issue, primarily related to discomfort.   As the perception of discomfort varies from one individual to another, no precise limit can be imposed that will guarantee satisfaction for everyone during the lifetime of the balcony.    Assessment of acceptable vibration is therefore not straightforward. However, a logical approach is to design structures so that their natural frequency is sufficiently beyond potential excitation frequencies.

Depending on the type and utilisation of the structure, published data indicates limit frequencies of between 4 Hz and 7.5 Hz.   Experience has shown that adopting a limit frequency of 7.5 Hz for steel balconies not only eliminates the possibility of undesirable vibration, it also enables the design of cost efficient structures. 


The Schöck Isokorb performs above recommended limit frequencies

If planned properly, the Isokorb type KS for concrete-to-steel thermal connectivity allows almost any balcony geometry to be designed without constraints.     To assess how prone to vibration separated balconies using the Isokorb type KS might be, Schöck has employed the latest Natural Frequency Calculator software package.  This is a free service which uses geometric and material variables and enables project teams to identify the optimum solution for steel cantilever balcony connections early in the design process.     In most cases it will be found that the natural frequencies of normal balcony constructions are still above the recommended limit frequencies when utilising the Isokorb type KS.  


The Schöck Isokorb type KS incorporates 80mm of insulation and is 180 mm wide and between 180 and 280mm high, to allow flexible adjustment for differing slab thicknesses.     It can be prefabricated, reducing assembly time on site and can bear extremely heavy loads.    This combination of features makes the unit ideal in meeting the various thermal and structural demands involved in the design of modern balconies. Which in the case of cantilever steel balconies, with a thermally broken connection to a concrete slab, normally sees the elements exposed to both vertical and horizontal bending moments and shear forces.   The KS has a shear-bending interaction which, based on project specific loadings, allows for a much more flexible design and results in greater tolerance when designing steel balconies. 


Recommendations for planning and designing steel balconies

The following factors influence the natural frequency and therefore the vibration behaviour of free cantilever steel balconies. Particular attention should be paid to these factors when planning and designing thermally broken steel balconies:

·     Balcony geometry, especially the cantilever length and spacing between the connections

·     Rigidity and proper execution of the stub bracket, especially on stepped thresholds

·     Sufficient transverse rigidity of the balcony construction

·     Incorporation of the stiffness of the chosen thermal insulating element into the planning process

Demandingly large balconies at Rathbone Market

A good example of unusually large cantilever steel balconies being incorporated is on the Rathbone Market scheme, part of the Canning Town and Custom House regeneration programme. A three-phase development delivering a new library, around 652 new homes and a new market square at the heart of the scheme.  Here the balconies are an unusually demanding 2.3 metres in depth.


Imago Lift & Slide the Perfect Choice for Ambitious Hillside Project

Imago Lift & Slide Door by Italian hardware giants, AGB, was chosen for an ambitious hillside house in Italy. Its large glazed area and slimline frame makes it the perfect door to maximise light and provide thermal insulation to meet the requirements of the development.

The project called Casa S, created by Italian architects Studio 3XL, sees an original rustic house on a hillside in Italy overlooking the city of Bassano del Grappa, extended with modern natural materials into the hill. The main aim behind the project is to build a home which not only keeps the continuity and essence of its natural surroundings, but allows for breath-taking views of the cityscape below.

Undertaking such a complicated design meant some of the key challenges were to maximise available light to make sure enough natural light could get into each room and create a thermally insulated home. The Imago Lift & Slide Door was the natural choice to achieve these requirements.

Guido Longo of 3XL Architects says the Imago Lift & Slide Door plays its role in achieving their vision. “Many of the access points are reached by going down stairs which means we had to create wells to allow light to travel easily to each room. The next part of the challenge was finding the right doors to maximise the natural light. This is where Imago comes in.

“Because of its large glazed area and minimal frame, the Imago Lift & Slide door fills up to 20 percent more floor space with daylight than the other doors we looked at, something which is vital to creating a comfortable naturally lit home. It also meets the thermal requirements of the building as the timber frame is built into the wall to make it fully insulated. The timber itself fit in beautifully with the modern look we wanted to achieve.”

The project is also using Imago’s cornerless glazing to get an extra feeling of space in some of the rooms. Imago’s cornerless glazing provides a glass wall around a room to fill it with natural light and connect the outside with the inside to create a sense of more space.

Casa S came as a runner up in last year’s Live Outside the Box competition which looked to find the best use of the Imago Lift and Slide door. The competition was ran by Casabella, the prestigious Italian architectural magazine which focuses on modern and ambitious designs.

To find out more about Imago Lift & Slide Doors, visit www.chooseimago.co.uk and to find out more about Studio 3XL visit http://www.studio3xl.it/ .

Continuous ribbon balconies require effective thermal insulation


The Chiswick Point development, at Bollo Lane, in West London, is a £20m contemporary mixed-use residential scheme offering 124 one, two and three bedroom residential apartments, including three penthouses.  The apartments are either south facing single aspect, or dual aspect with some even enjoying a triple aspect.    A sustainable approach was important, with all of the units designed to meet Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, and the Lifetime Homes code.   Constructed in two blocks of six and nine storeys, the frame is mainly reinforced concrete, with the concrete frame floors and cladding providing thermal mass, which absorbs energy and slowly releases it to help reduce temperature fluctuations.

Long continuous ribbon balconies provide solar shading to the two blocks and provide the residents with a very pleasant outlook across the London Wildlife Trust nature reserve at the rear of the development.     The continuous balconies are a major feature of the scheme and with several hundred metres of them winding across the two blocks, effective thermal insulation was imperative if thermal bridging is to be avoided.   To minimise any condensation problems and subsequent mould growth as a result, plus the avoidance of thermal outflow, Schöck Isokorb type K heat-insulating load-bearing elements are installed at various strategic positions along the large expanse of balconies.   The Isokorb type K provides high thermal resistance by using stainless steel bars to act as tension and shear reinforcement, plus high-strength HTE pressure bearing modules.


Research at the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD) at Oxford Brookes University shows that as a result of airtightness and fabric U-values being improved in UK building, thermal bridge heat losses are responsible for an increasing percentage of the overall building heat loss.   It is common for thermal bridges to account for 20% – 30% heat loss in multi-residential units (as calculated by thermal modelling) and balcony connections can be a major contributor to the thermal bridge heat loss if effective thermal isolation is not included in the design.


Schöck offers a number of highly effective solutions to various thermal bridging situations.   In addition to concrete-to-concrete capability, the Isokorb range provides totally verifiable solutions for concrete-to-steel, steel-to-steel and even a maintenance free alternative to wrapped parapets.  All solutions meet full compliance with the relevant UK building regulations and offer BBA Certification and LABC Registration. The requirement that the temperature factor used to indicate condensation risk (the fRsi value), in residential buildings, must be equal to or greater than 0.75 is comfortably met by incorporating the Isokorb.   It also complies with the Government Standard Assessment Procedure, SAP 2012, concerning CO2 emissions from buildings and respectively heat losses through non-repeating thermal bridges. The lambda values of the Isokorb enable energy loss to be reduced by as much as 84% to 91% in various connective situations.

For a free copy of the Schöck Thermal Bridging Guide and / or the Schöck Specifiers Guide – contact the company on 01865 290 890 or visit www.schoeck.co.uk


A window at the seat of learning


As part of the extensive remodelling and improving of schools across the London Borough of Islington, Reynaers aluminium systems have been installed throughout Islington Arts and Media School in a multi-million pound scheme that has turned the school into a vibrant, modern learning facility.

Transformation of the school was completed after new building, extensive renovation and remodelling of the entire site took place as part of the schools improvement programme within the Borough. A Foundation Trust, Islington Arts and Media School saw the impressive scheme, designed by architects BDP, carried out in association with Balfour Beatty’s Transform Schools initiative.


A critical part of the scheme was the substantial new build delivering state-of-the-art facilities with new science laboratories, ICT suites, arts, dance, drama, media and music classrooms and practice rooms, new sports hall and a dedicated theatre. Bold sweeps of Reynaers CW 50 curtain wall feature on both the new main entrance and the expansive new facilities adding large expanses of glazed areas bringing natural light right into the heart of the school. Strategically located runs of Reynaers Brie Soleil offer sun screening, minimizing the effect of solar gain and glare, while allowing the ingress of daylight.

Installed within the fenestration all through the new building are Reynaers CS 77 parallel opening windows. They combine ease of operation with highly efficient ventilation, compared to top hung windows, along with optimised safety and security. Facilitating greater internal air movement they allow the effective passage of stale air out of the classroom, refreshing and enhancing the learning environment by helping to reduce the concentrations of carbon dioxide which can build up in specific areas of a classroom.


Reynaers Vision 50 door systems are installed on the major thoroughfares within the new building and are also on the main entrance area. Suitable for high usage in busy areas they offer stylish design combined with excellent performance and low maintenance.

Main contractor on the project was Balfour Beatty and architectural systems fabricator was M. Price Ltd.

For full details contact: Reynaers Limited, Tel: 0121 421 1999, Fax: 0121 421 9797 or email: reynaersltd@reynaers.com.

Nansulate® Protective Coatings

Network Rail – Icephobic Coating

Nansulate coating applied to tunnel

Network Rail is the owner and operator of most of the rail infrastructure in Great Britain.

One issue they’ve been working to solve is icicle formation in tunnels. When icicles form inside the train tunnels or on overpasses, they can drop o ff onto the tracks causing potential derailments.

Millions of pounds are spent each year removing ice before that happens.

They first began looking into using Nansulate coatings on the bridge tunnels in areas such as the tunnel eyeholes and ceilings in 2011 after becoming aware of the hydrophobic and insulating nature of the technology.

After completing a successful preliminary “phase I” trial, they expanded the evaluation project in 2013 to encompass approximately 8-12 tunnels. Nansulate coating is being used over bridge soffits and tunnel structures to provide resistance to icicle formation, thus reducing the cost for icicle removal and increasing rail safety.

Rob McCutcheon at Nanotech Coatings SW Limited

Landline – 01726 812233
Mobile    – 07970 211528




Nansulate® is a registered trademark of Industrial Nanotech, Inc.


A winning situation all-round with UNILIN, division insulation

UNILIN Structural Insulated Roof Panels by UNILIN, division insulation offer advantages for end users, specifiers and contractors in equal measure.


For end users, UNILIN roof panels provide a highly efficient thermally insulated roof that helps to reduce ongoing energy costs while adding valuable extra space. The simple uncomplicated design means excellent durability and fully compliant with building regulations, the panels will provide a high performance roof for many years to come.

Specifiers can benefit from a product that achieves reliable thermal performance by design, without the need for complex details and specification clauses. With a range of products and solutions for virtually any project, UNILIN roof panels can be integrated in the design phase to produce cost-effective, fast-track and environmentally sound projects that will meet the expectations of end users.

When it comes to the contractor, roofs made with UNILIN structural insulated roof panels provide a simple and fast way to build. As a sealed system that avoids thermal bridging problems, a UNILIN roof is trouble free and watertight from the moment it is built. No specialist trades or tools are required and the system has been successfully installed in Europe for over 35 years.

Available in a range of different specifications, insulation materials, thickness and with a full custom programme available, UNILIN structural insulated roof panels are transforming the way UK roofs are created. With a system to meet the look of traditional UK domestic pitched roofs, UNILIN, division insulation is finding increasing use within new build residential developments.

Helping to deliver a better roof on time and within budget, UNILIN roof panels keep everybody happy.

For further information contact UNILIN, division insulation, on 0032 5673 5990, info.insulation@unilin.com, www.unilininsulation.com

UNILIN, division insulation, specialises in advanced SIP systems for walls and roofs. Manufactured in Belgium to exacting tolerances to minimise energy consumption and wastage throughout production, SIPs panels from UNILIN can help to create thermally efficient structures. Providing solutions to the construction industry for over 40 years, UNILIN upholds a philosophy of performance through innovation and research and development.

South Staffordshire College reaps the benefits of Reynaers systems

South Staffs College 1

Reynaers Aluminium has supplied a range of systems to South Staffordshire College’s Cannock Campus, helping to create a smart and modern new look as part of a £4.2m upgrade of the premises.

The three storey building at ‘The Green’ is one of two sites in Cannock, which along with those located in Lichfield, Tamworth and Rodbaston, make up South Staffordshire College which offers a range of courses for students in the region.

As part of an overall refurbishment project under the direction of architects Maber, new classrooms have been created along with an impressive glazed main entrance. The original brief was to modernise the facilities to improve and update the overall look and feel of the college for students and staff.

A series of aluminium systems were supplied by Reynaers which have been used throughout the building to achieve the required light, airy and modern look, while at the same time providing a practical and effective solution. These included Reynaers CS 24-SL thermally insulated three-chamber window system, which is renowned for its slim frame and being particularly suitable for the replacement of steel framed windows as it is extremely sympathetic to original designs. Also installed was CS 77-FP, Reynaers’ fire-resistant range, which meets relevant European testing and classification standards.

In addition, Reynaers CW 50 and CW 50-SC curtain walling was specified, which facilities unlimited creativity and maximises the amount of natural light into a building, while offering excellent thermal insulation and acoustic performance. Vision 50 doors also have been selected for their aesthetic appearance and robust operation – in that they are able to stand up to the rigours and frequent use demanded from a busy college application.

Paul Duffy, Sales Director for Reynaers, said: “This contract for South Staffordshire College is the latest in a long line of new and refurbishment projects we’ve undertaken in the education sector and highlights our expertise and knowledge of the necessary requirements for this market, while also making creative and aesthetically pleasing design possible.”

GF Tomlinson of Little Eaton, Derby, were the main contractors with MB Glass Supplies of Chesterfield being the fabricators for the project.

South Staffordshire College offers a range of courses including NVQs, apprenticeships, access courses as well as some higher education courses. An extensive range of topics are available for study; including art and design, beauty, construction, mechanical and electrical engineering, plumbing, performing arts, teacher education and tourism.

For full details contact: Reynaers Limited, Tel: 0121 421 1999, Fax: 0121 421 9797 or email: reynaersltd@reynaers.com.


Warm reception for new soffitliner insulated panel

Panel Systems, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of insulated panels, has responded to customer demand and launched a new weather-resistant panel – SoffitLiner, which is designed to improve the thermal performance of exposed concrete soffits.

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SoffitLiner is made up of 6mm fibre cement facing board that is factory bonded to high performance insulation, to meet different requirements.

The SoffitLiner range can be used to upgrade the energy efficiency of semi-exposed concrete decks for new builds or refurbishments, such as car parks and other similar applications.

Danny Phelan, Sales Manager at Panel Systems, said: “With the increasingly stringent thermal performance requirements of buildings, our new SoffitLiner range offers an effective means of improving energy efficiency. We have had a great deal of interest from specifiers and contractors looking to enhance the thermal and fire resisting properties of soffits.”

There are three products within the SoffitLiner range; all of which are faced with 6mm thickness Class ‘0’ cement particle board and are factory bonded with different grades / thicknesses of insulation.

SoffitLiner features Extruded Polystyrene as the insulated core and is used for general soffit applications.  SoffitLinerFR is made up of Class ‘0’ Phenolic foam insulation with the insulation having zero ODP (Ozone Depletion Potential) and low GWP (Global Warming Potential), making it ideal for BREEAM applications.

SoffitLinerFR+ features high density mineral fibre, which is non-combustible to Euroclass A1.  It is also extremely moisture resistant, so could be suited to wet environments, such as leisure centres.

The SoffitLiner products are available in economical sheet sizes to maximise coverage and is easy to cut and light in weight, which enables speedy dry installation.

The SoffitLiner boards can be fixed directly to concrete soffits using mechanical fixings.  Fixing instructions are available by requesting Panel System’s SoffitLiner brochure, by calling 0114 249 5635 or emailing sales@panelsystems.co.uk.

Panel Systems is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of insulation products, architectural panels, decorative panels and portable staging systems. For more information please call direct on: 0114 249 5635.