052 RCI 0717

RCI July 2017

INSULATION The fabric first approach When it comes to prioritising energy efficiency and environmental issues, Scotland has been leading the way in recent times. The latest development being the introduction of its Home Energy Scotland Loan Scheme (HESLS), which was launched on 2nd May, merging the existing Home Energy Efficiency Programme for Scotland and Home Energy Scotland Renewable loan schemes. Over half of Scottish homes were constructed before the first insulation requirements were included within the Building Regulations. In addition, 84% of fuel poor households in Scotland live in properties constructed before 1984. By offering Scottish homeowners and private sector landlords interest free loans of up to £32,500 to install energy saving or generating measures on their properties, the Scottish Government is taking a significant step towards improving the energy performance of these properties. With options to fund significant changes to existing properties for energy and money saving improvements, including floor, wall and roof insulation, it is worth exploring a fabric-first approach. Unlike renewable technologies – which I feel are often costly and have relatively short lifespans – improvements to the thermal performance of buildings will keep delivering energy savings over the long-term with little or no maintenance. Insulating the building envelope is one of the easiest, and most cost-effective ways to improve the thermal performance of a building, protecting homeowners from fuel poverty and allowing them to feel an improvement in the level of comfort in their home in a relatively short space of time. Envelope performance The principles of a fabric-first approach are well Primary and Secondary Improvements for building fabric under HESLS 052 JULY 2017 RCIMAG.COM recognised. A highly-insulated building envelope is created and air-leakage is effectively controlled to prevent unnecessary heat loss. Unlike renewable technologies, which can have a limited operational lifespan, properly installed insulation products can continue to deliver throughout the lifecycle of a building with virtually no maintenance. This can help to minimise both long-term energy and building management costs. Under the HESLS, improvements are separated into “Primary” and “Secondary” categories. Maximum funding levels are also set for each improvement. Any applications must include at least one “Primary” improvement. The building fabric measures covered under the scheme are shown in the table below: In order for fabric-first schemes to meet their potential, it is critical that they are deployed as part of a holistic package. As the recent Each Home Counts review by Dr Peter Bonfield, chief executive of the BRE Group, highlighted, poor attention to areas such as detailing and ventilation during installation can badly undermine a property’s final energy performance. As such, buildability must be a key consideration during the design phase, and installers must pay close attention to the quality of their work. Following on from the review, BSI has also published a revised version of PAS 2030 certification – the specification for the installation of energy efficiency measures in existing buildings. Careful material selection is also particularly important for both modern developments and refurbishments, where space within a property is highly limited. Products such as rigid phenolic insulation board can achieve lambda values (thermal conductivities) as low as 0.018 W/m.K. The lower the lambda value, the more difficult it is for heat to pass through, therefore thermal performance is improved and slimmer insulation can be used to achieve the desired U-value. As a result, they can help to achieve the target U-value (thermal performance) for a floor, wall or roof with a much slimmer construction thickness when compared with other commonly used insulation materials. This can allow the project team to create more spacious living areas for tenants, without compromising on energy performance. The use of more efficient materials, and better detailed constructions, can also have significant ancillary benefits, especially where access to a site is limited. Issues such as site delivery, transport, storage, waste and project timescales on large projects can all be positively impacted, helping to cut overall costs. Currently, as of Q1 2017 figures, only 13% of all domestic properties newly constructed, sold or let since 2008 have achieved an EPC rating of B or above for fuel efficiency, and 14% for carbon emissions. To improve the UK’s environmental impact, it is essential the government looks at strategies to encourage positive changes. Making smarter choices about the materials we use can also help to reduce labour costs when selecting products that are readily available from UK manufacturers, in addition to utilising products that are easy to handle and install. Looking long-term The continuation of energy efficient funding support north of the border is a positive step which will hopefully be reflected in government policy elsewhere in the UK over the next few years. By taking a fabric first approach to both new build and refurbishment work – combining careful detailing with modern insulation products such as the latest premium performance phenolic insulation – it should be possible to form dwellings which will remain warm and energy efficient throughout their lifespan. www.kingspaninsulation.co.uk By Adrian Pargeter, head of technical and product development at Kingspan Insulation Primary involvement Maximum funds available Solid wall insulation (covering both internal and External Wall Insulation Applications £10,000 Flat Roof and Room-in-the-roof insulation £4,000 Loft Insulation £1,000 Cavity Wall Insulation £1,000 Floor Insulation £1,000 Secondary Improvement Draft Proofing £500 Above: “Kingspan Kooltherm K100 range boards are available for a wide range of applications and can be cut to size with a fine-toothed saw” Left: “Kingspan Kooltherm K100 range products have a thermal conductivity of 0.018 W/m.K across all board thicknesses – helping to achieve the desired Uvalue with a reduced slim insulation thickness”


RCI July 2017
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