Our timber frame and SIP build systems

28 March 2018 Justin Barker, Head of Technical
Energy Efficiency Graphic

For some time now there has pressure on the construction industry to demonstrate that the buildings it constructs perform in line with the claims it makes and the way that users expect them to.

The housebuilding sector has been the focus of this effort and closing the gap between the expected and actual energy efficiency performance has been a particular point of interest.
It is disappointing that the current government has little interest in continuing this work or improving the energy efficiency of new build housing through regulations.

It is particularly irritating that the government chose to abandon the pathway to zero carbon homes and closed down the organisation it created to deliver them using a pathway initiated in 2007 because it is clear that low energy houses tend to be constructed more carefully and are therefore more likely to deliver the levels of energy efficiency desired by the customer and intended by the building designer.

Market leading build systems

Kingspan TEK Building System render image
Our Kingspan Logic+, Ultima and TEK building systems provide sector leading levels of energy efficiency in their particular niches.

Each utilises high performance rigid insulation products from Kingspan Insulation and is designed, manufactured or fabricated in our own factory on the Beds / Cambs borders.

Our whole house approach to fabric energy efficiency and insulation provision ensures that products are correctly selected, specified and supplied and that they are manufactured in accordance with relevant standards and where necessary supported with the appropriate independent certification.
The tragic fire at Grenfell Tower last year has put a particular focus on the fire performance of building elements and will almost certainly result in changes to Building Regulations relating to fire.

The significant challenges inherent within high-rise tower blocks are not all applicable to low rise housing but there is no space for complacency when designing and constructing these simpler structures.

As a manufacturer and constructer of building systems and part of a global building product manufacturer we have to ensure that the systems we provide to our customers meet, and even exceed, regulatory requirements.

We have a suite of recent and current fire resistance test evidence in place for each of our build systems and we always consider and address the potential impact of fire during construction on our systems and properties adjacent to the homes we construct.

As, if, and when regulations change, our customers can be certain that we will ensure that our systems and the designs they are part of continue to meet the requirements.
Kingspan Ultima Building System during construction
Every home constructed using a timber system supplied by Potton benefits from a set of structural calculations carried out specifically for that property. Calculations are carried out in accordance with British and European Standards and where relevant appropriate third party certifications.

In truth, this is how all timber system manufacturers operate. Where we differ is in some of the steps we take to get to this point and, in particular, how we treat the design of floors where we reduce deflection levels below those required by the structural codes and warranty providers in order to improve vibration performance and user perception in service.

We are also unlike many manufacturers in that almost all of our manufacturing design work is carried out in house by a permanently employed team; we use very few design contractors. By working in this way we get more control over what we design and how we design it for manufacture.
It is clear that low energy houses tend to be constructed more carefully and are therefore more likely to deliver the levels of energy efficiency desired by the customer and intended by the building designer.
Finally, we come to acoustic performance. Minimum standards for acoustic performance, like the other parameters we have considered in this article, are defined in the Building Regulations.

Clearly, the vast majority of the houses we construct are detached properties so we do not have to regularly address the complexities of acoustic performance between dwellings; we just have to make sure that our customers feel comfortable with the acoustic performance achieved within their home and that noise from external sources is reduced to an acceptable level.

Performance with regards to the latter is significantly improved by constructing an air-tight home, removing unsightly trickle vents from windows and using a mechanical ventilation system to provide a constant stream of fresh air into the property – this is something that at least half of our customers chose to do.

As mentioned when explaining our approach to thermal insulation we provide our customers with a whole house insulation pack. This pack includes not only thermal insulation but all of the products needed to enhance the acoustic performance of ceilings and all internal walls.

If, in order to meet specific needs an upgrade in performance is required, say around a media room or between bedrooms in a guest house, then we have a range of design and specification options available to us to meet those requirements.

I hope that this article demonstrates that we take the performance of our systems and our customers homes seriously and continue to invest in improving both these important aspects.

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