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 This feature was conceived as a lighthearted examination of the times when too much is asked of insulation manufacturers. When it comes to the quality of our built environment, however, it’s difficult to avoid being entirely serious. It’s no exaggeration to state that the performance gap - the disparity between a building’s intended thermal comfort and efficiency at design stage, and how it behaves once constructed - is endemic within much of UK construction. Speed of construction is prioritised over quality; questions are asked after the event, rather than checking correct installation procedures before starting. It speaks to issues of knowledge, skills and training in the whole construction industry - issues we are all aware of, but for which solutions always seem to remain tantalisingly out of reach. For the majority of projects, post occupancy evaluation still lacks feasibility. We don’t know how the buildings we produce are performing. Checking as-built performance simply isn’t on the agenda, but unless issues like those listed above are picked up during the design and construction phases, the end user will be saddled with an uncomfortable building and high energy bills. And, as events in 2017 have shown us, these sorts of compromises do not just risk compliance with energy efficiency requirements… Too often, poor insulation installation is only picked up once it is too late. When a problem is raised, when the original intent has not been met, the aim becomes to find the ‘best’ compromise solution. when the original intent has not been met, the aim becomes to find the ‘best’ compromise solution. You can’t blame people for being reluctant to take down work that has already been done, but you can question why every step wasn’t taken to ensure the work was done correctly from the outset. Photographs are emailed from site; restricted views of small areas of the build. “The building inspector is happy if you say this is okay,” comes the accompanying request. Insulation manufacturers understand how their products should be used as well as, if not better than, anybody. But they can only comment on whether an installation meets, or appears to meet, their recommendations. That isn’t to pick on Local Authority Building Control or Approved Inspectors. It is to demonstrate the importance of all professionals working together and enjoying proper collaboration, rather than hoping manufacturers have magic wands capable of curing on site conflicts. Too often, poor insulation installation is only picked up once it is too late. When a problem is raised, Next month, part two of this feature will look at how far insulation manufacturers can go in helping with architectural and structural design. 8
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