When is an Insulation Manufacturer not and Insulation Manufacturer headlines the October issue of Insulate Magazine. Possibly the best front cover for an Insulation publication EVER.
The only independent insulation industry trade magazine Cover Story When is an Insulation Manufacturer... Not an insulation manufacturer? No, it’s not the set-up for a bad joke! All construction projects, even the smallest domestic extensions, feature many different voices either asking for information or offering advice. For any project to be a success, good communication between those voices is vital. By Insulate Magazine. Alas, ‘communication’ doesn’t necessarily translate into ‘collaboration’, meaning the shared goal of creating a quality, comfortable and efficient end product can get lost. With varying levels of knowledge and confidence, it can be difficult for people - particularly those with limited experience of construction - to know which voices to listen to. The imperative for insulation manufacturers to demonstrate the performance of their products to meet thermal regulations sees them thrust to the forefront of the process. A side effect is that their advice is sought on all aspects of the constructions where their products are used - even when that guidance should be sought from other professionals. SAP Assessors It’s the question that comes up time and again: “What U-value do I need to achieve?” For refurbishment and extension projects, it’s a relatively easy question to answer. Work to existing buildings takes an elemental approach with each part of the building looked at in isolation. Each country’s Building Regulations set out defined targets for individual construction elements and, in the majority of cases, nothing else needs to be addressed. New buildings require a more holistic approach. The performance of the whole ‘package’ - U-values, air tightness, heating, renewables, solar gains etc. - is assessed in combination. Specifications can be tweaked to optimise the design and, where U-values are concerned, improved performance in one element can offset a shortfall in another. The energy efficiency of new buildings has been assessed this way for a decade or more throughout the UK, but there are times when the concept remains an alien one. For people not used to working with regulations day in, day out, manufacturers are more likely to be the first port of call. We don’t know how the buildings we produce are performing 6 www.insulatenetwork.com
www.insulatenetwork.com Insulation companies might employ people experienced in carrying out SAP and SBEM calculations; they may even partner with companies who provide energy assessment services. But, unless the customer is copying the ‘notional dwelling’ specification, a manufacturer is unlikely to be able to definitively state what U-values should be met. Those notional specifications provided in the Building Regulations for England, Wales and Scotland provide a starting point. Experienced assessment professionals can refine those specifications based on experience and common construction practice, but for new build projects SAP or SBEM calculations must define the performance of individual elements. Any U-value target suggested by an insulation manufacturer is therefore precisely that: a suggestion. Chartered surveyors / building inspectors The potential scenarios that result in insulation manufacturers being asked to give their blessing to work are too numerous to be explored individually in this word count, but can involve some or all of the following: - A lack of knowledge, experience or confidence when installing or inspecting insulation. - Not enough appreciation of what low energy construction requires or looks like. - An attitude of ‘I’ve always done it this way’. - Shortcuts taken or product substitutions made due to time or cost pressures. - Poor communication between parties involved on the project. www.insulatenetwork.com 7