52 RCI 0714

RCI JULY 2014

ROOFLIGHTS & ROOF VENTS Rooflights: overcoming specification issues If you’ve specified rooflights during the last A spokesperson for NARM (National Association of Rooflight Manufacturers) looks at all the issues surrounding the specification of rooflights and how you can be compliant Above (l-r): examples of rooflights including glass, GRP and polycarbonate few years, you’ll be aware of the increasingly complex raft of standards and legislation covering all aspects of rooflighting, from energy efficiency to health and safety. Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations; The Building Regulations Part L; The ‘Red Book’ ACRM001; the Building Regulations Approved Document B; and since July 2013, another layer of legislation has come to the UK: certain rooflighting products now require CE Marking. Each of the above is a subject worthy of an article in its own right. For a specifier starting from scratch, together they represent a daunting research project, although it would seem perfectly reasonable for the specifier to assume that the manufacturer could be relied upon to supply compliant rooflights. However, this has proven not always to be the case. Rooflights from all over the world are now available on the UK market and while some of these are excellent, many others are either of substandard quality, or have simply not been tested to UK standards. This situation is made worse by the fact that some importers are keen to highlight price advantages by ‘fudging’ or ignoring compliance issues. This means that in some cases, customers may be unaware that they are buying non-compliant rooflights. Others may actively ‘turn a blind eye’, to benefit from an unfair price advantage. Needless to say, prosecution can result from specifying non-compliant products, particularly in cases where health & safety may be compromised. As the united voice of the UK’s rooflight industry, NARM offers authoritative independent advice and support for anyone who is unsure of rooflight compliance – or the validity of a manufacturer’s or importer’s claims.* We are a highly active and influential industry 052 JULY 2014 RCIMAG.COM association, currently comprising fifteen member companies and representing a complete crosssection of currently available rooflight technologies, including glass, thermoplastics and GRP profiled sheets. Our membership accounts for the majority of rooflights manufactured in the UK, aswell as high quality imports mainly from Europe. Established over thirty years ago, NARM is a member of the Construction Products Association (CPA) and represents the rooflight industry in consultation with the government. At NARM we play a key role in providing information to ensure that legislation is based on best practice. The association also chairs the relevant BSI committees for all rooflight product standards and through this position, represents the UK industry with reference to European standards. Compliance transgressions Over the last few years, our Technical Committee has been made aware of a number of serious compliance transgressions. Among current issues receiving attention is compliance with Building Regulations Approved Document L2A. Rooflights can make a major contribution to reductions in CO² emissions and it is widely accepted they can be an essential element of compliance with Criterion 1 of the Regulations. Criterion 2 requires rooflights to have a U-Value of 2.2W/m²K, but the status of this criterion is complex and has been subject to much debate and variation in interpretation – often as a means of justifying lower-spec, lower-cost rooflights which are not compliant. Our stance on this issue at NARM is simple and unequivocal, and supported by DCLG: rooflights should comply with this criteria, which means plastic rooflights must be of at least triple skin construction. Other issues currently being addressed, include imported GRP rooflights which do not carry UK fire ratings or fall short of the glass content required by UK standards; false claims or lack of clarity in respect of non-fragility, plus others. The message is frustratingly clear: it’s too easy for specifiers to make the mistake of specifying rooflights which are either not fit for purpose or do not meet regulatory criteria, whether deliberately or through misinformation. So how should the responsible specifier go about ensuring compliance? The NARM website publishes specific guidance on all aspects of compliance in relation to rooflighting, as well as links to the latest Approved Documents and Building Regulations publications. Drawing on the combined technical resources of our member companies, this resource is regularly updated and provides an authoritative source for rooflight specification information. It should also be noted that the NARM website presents profiles of all member companies, with clear identification of the types of rooflight that each offers. This in itself is a useful tool for specifiers, providing a portal to most of the leading UK rooflight businesses. In fact for the busy specifier, in my view the simple and easy short cut to ensure rooflighting compliance is simply to choose rooflights from a NARM member company. A key condition of NARM membership is that member companies’ products must be fully compliant with UK standards and legislation. For this reason, it pays to look for the distinctive NARM logo, or simply check the NARM membership listings at: www.narm.org.uk * The NARM Technical committee is staffed by volunteers and as such, support and advice is offered freely. Should a site visit or written report be required, NARM can provide details of a suitable organisation to carry this out.


RCI JULY 2014
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