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  • 01 Dec 2017
    Using high performance insulation within the fabric of a building is key to meeting increased energy efficiency demands, but as we look to enhance the airtightness of homes, are we paying enough attention to other aspects including ventilation, heating, detailing and the quality of the installation? Overheating and poor air quality has seen wide and often simplistic coverage in the press, including even suggestions of deaths caused by overheating. This has led some to erroneously put the blame on insulation. However, despite the fact that overheating can be a problem, particularly poorly ventilated loft spaces, it is a more complex issue than insulation alone, and well-installed insulation could even help reduce overheating if a whole-house approach to building design is employed. As is so often the case, an intelligent solution to the problem will need to consider a range of factors. It is a given that the more insulation you have, the heat from solar gain will last longer, and if you don’t have adequate ventilation and design to limit internal and external heat gains, then of course that heat will stay in the building. But it’s not the fault of the insulation. Blaming insulation for doing its job is a bit like blaming an oven for global warming if someone leaves the door open. Ventilation provides a means by which moisture from activities such as cooking and bathing, as well as breathing, can be expelled and replaced by fresh outside air,. At the same it will also remove or dilute the odours and pollutants that can accumulate in a building, so that the indoor environment remains healthy for the occupants. An under-ventilated property can experience condensation issues and problems with air quality. An over-ventilated dwelling is usually less efficient, as lost heated air is replaced with colder unheated air from outside (with associated costs and carbon emissions from heating it). Warm and airy A good ventilation system will ensure the right amount of air moves consistently through the house and is vital in kitchens and bathrooms.  Excessive moisture in the air can lead to condensation and mould growth where it condenses on colder surfaces, not just in the bathroom itself but throughout the rest of the house.  A ventilation system will remove and dilute the odours and pollutants that can accumulate so that the indoor environment remains healthy for building occupants. Often the only form of ventilation in older homes is through natural leakage such as around doors and windows, or by opening windows, but these are uncontrolled with either too much, or too little, ventilation. When retrofitted, the airtightness of a building may increase through sealing up uncontrolled ventilation pathways, so it is essential that alongside any changes to the building fabric, an adequate ventilation strategy be considered.   Some designers question whether natural ventilation can provide sufficient ventilation in more airtight dwellings, which is why they often specify mechanical ventilation for more airtight homes due to concerns that natural ventilation will not perform adequately. A mechanical ventilation system can also include heat recovery, so that the heat lost with expelled air is in part recovered to heat the incoming cooler replacement air. Ventilation should ideally also come ‘out of the box’, with the capability to ramp-up and down operation without the need for user intervention as demands and needs change. Damp and mould A 2016 study by The Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP looking at mould and dampness in European homes, concluded that “Enabling easy natural, automated or mechanical demand-related ventilation in buildings helps prevent development of damp and mould.” Mould-related damage was noted in the report as being frequent in Germany (10% of building damage being mould related), but levels were noted as being better (lower) for modernised buildings. The report noted that for those modernised buildings (after 1995) 35% of damage occurs due to insufficient thermal insulation; 33% due to insufficient ventilation; 22% due to defective installations and trapped moisture and 10% due to problems in sanitary /other areas. So from the report, it is clear that adequate insulation is the most important factor to help reduce moisture problems, but close behind is adequate ventilation provision. Whole-house approach  But it is not only insulation and ventilation; house design means taking the time on the details. For example, ensuring junctions are appropriately designed and constructed, as this makes a significant contribution to reducing heat loss. Thermal bridges occur at breaks in insulation at junctions and openings causing heat loss which ultimately leads to a drop in internal temperature and an increased demand for heating. This can increase the risk of surface condensation and mould growth. Good design and workmanship necessitates a proper level of quality assurance throughout design and construction and good detailing is particularly important for new-build and retrofit alike. The Government’s Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (FEES) has grappled with the issue and puts the focus on the whole energy performance of new houses in the context of user comfort, emphasising the importance of a robust and well-designed fabric, which has good levels of air-tightness coupled with an appropriate ventilation strategy and incorporates measures to minimise thermal bridging. There are many issues beyond the fabric of the building to consider when it comes to tackling overheating in housing, including its ventilation strategy, orientation and initial choice of location. While the issue remains a challenge for the industry, the problems are not insurmountable. If we want more thermally-efficient building envelopes as well as comfortable buildings, then we need to aim for a fabric-first approach which includes insulation such as high-performance PIR, however, at the same time, we need to design and build in a way that takes into account the effect of both external and internal heat gains that can lead to overheating.                                                   
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Using high performance insulation within the fabric of a building is key to meeting increased energy efficiency demands, but as we look to enhance the airtightness of homes, are we paying enough attention to other aspects including ventilation, heating, detailing and the quality of the installation? Overheating and poor air quality has seen wide and often simplistic coverage in the press, including even suggestions of deaths caused by overheating. This has led some to erroneously put the blame on insulation. However, despite the fact that overheating can be a problem, particularly poorly ventilated loft spaces, it is a more complex issue than insulation alone, and well-installed insulation could even help reduce overheating if a whole-house approach to building design is employed. As is so often the case, an intelligent solution to the problem will need to consider a range of factors. It is a given that the more insulation you have, the heat from solar gain will last longer, and if you don’t have adequate ventilation and design to limit internal and external heat gains, then of course that heat will stay in the building. But it’s not the fault of the insulation. Blaming insulation for doing its job is a bit like blaming an oven for global warming if someone leaves the door open. Ventilation provides a means by which moisture from activities such as cooking and bathing, as well as breathing, can be expelled and replaced by fresh outside air,. At the same it will also remove or dilute the odours and pollutants that can accumulate in a building, so that the indoor environment remains healthy for the occupants. An under-ventilated property can experience condensation issues and problems with air quality. An over-ventilated dwelling is usually less efficient, as lost heated air is replaced with colder unheated air from outside (with associated costs and carbon emissions from heating it). Warm and airy A good ventilation system will ensure the right amount of air moves consistently through the house and is vital in kitchens and bathrooms.  Excessive moisture in the air can lead to condensation and mould growth where it condenses on colder surfaces, not just in the bathroom itself but throughout the rest of the house.  A ventilation system will remove and dilute the odours and pollutants that can accumulate so that the indoor environment remains healthy for building occupants. Often the only form of ventilation in older homes is through natural leakage such as around doors and windows, or by opening windows, but these are uncontrolled with either too much, or too little, ventilation. When retrofitted, the airtightness of a building may increase through sealing up uncontrolled ventilation pathways, so it is essential that alongside any changes to the building fabric, an adequate ventilation strategy be considered.   Some designers question whether natural ventilation can provide sufficient ventilation in more airtight dwellings, which is why they often specify mechanical ventilation for more airtight homes due to concerns that natural ventilation will not perform adequately. A mechanical ventilation system can also include heat recovery, so that the heat lost with expelled air is in part recovered to heat the incoming cooler replacement air. Ventilation should ideally also come ‘out of the box’, with the capability to ramp-up and down operation without the need for user intervention as demands and needs change. Damp and mould A 2016 study by The Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP looking at mould and dampness in European homes, concluded that “Enabling easy natural, automated or mechanical demand-related ventilation in buildings helps prevent development of damp and mould.” Mould-related damage was noted in the report as being frequent in Germany (10% of building damage being mould related), but levels were noted as being better (lower) for modernised buildings. The report noted that for those modernised buildings (after 1995) 35% of damage occurs due to insufficient thermal insulation; 33% due to insufficient ventilation; 22% due to defective installations and trapped moisture and 10% due to problems in sanitary /other areas. So from the report, it is clear that adequate insulation is the most important factor to help reduce moisture problems, but close behind is adequate ventilation provision. Whole-house approach  But it is not only insulation and ventilation; house design means taking the time on the details. For example, ensuring junctions are appropriately designed and constructed, as this makes a significant contribution to reducing heat loss. Thermal bridges occur at breaks in insulation at junctions and openings causing heat loss which ultimately leads to a drop in internal temperature and an increased demand for heating. This can increase the risk of surface condensation and mould growth. Good design and workmanship necessitates a proper level of quality assurance throughout design and construction and good detailing is particularly important for new-build and retrofit alike. The Government’s Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (FEES) has grappled with the issue and puts the focus on the whole energy performance of new houses in the context of user comfort, emphasising the importance of a robust and well-designed fabric, which has good levels of air-tightness coupled with an appropriate ventilation strategy and incorporates measures to minimise thermal bridging. There are many issues beyond the fabric of the building to consider when it comes to tackling overheating in housing, including its ventilation strategy, orientation and initial choice of location. While the issue remains a challenge for the industry, the problems are not insurmountable. If we want more thermally-efficient building envelopes as well as comfortable buildings, then we need to aim for a fabric-first approach which includes insulation such as high-performance PIR, however, at the same time, we need to design and build in a way that takes into account the effect of both external and internal heat gains that can lead to overheating.                                                   
    Dec 01, 2017 0
  • 10 Nov 2017
    Noise is all around us and can interfere with our working efficiency by being an annoyance and causing stress. Good or bad, the acoustical environment in buildings is ultimately a result of design and so it’s never been more important for architects and building engineers to silence a well-known source of undesirable noise and vibration – heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. A fundamental element of buildings across a wide range of sectors, building services equipment can create unwanted noise problems leading to workplaces that are uncomfortable and less productive. Noise sources can include everything from fans to variable air volume systems; grilles and diffusers to roof-top units; fan coil units to chillers, compressors and condensers; pumps and stand-by generators; boilers and cooling towers. As we create more energy efficient and airtight buildings, this has a knock-on impact both thermally and acoustically. However, this further drives the need for ventilation and thermal management, and this required airflow can then introduce a noise issue of its own, both break-out and in-line noise. Break-out noise is where sound transmits through the wall of ducting and into the room through which the ductwork is travelling.  In-line (duct-borne) noise or noise traveling through ductwork can create unwelcome high levels of background noise if not properly managed. This noise can raise stress levels in the workplace, harming communication and concentration and increasing fatigue. A poorly designed acoustic solution can potentially exacerbate issues by causing regenerative noise, and negatively affecting airflow. There’s also the issue of cross-talk, whereby speech privacy is compromised by room-to-room transmission via the ventilation system. Air velocity within a duct system is another important element as it influences the noise levels significantly. Regenerated noise can be created by transition pieces, bends, dampers, grilles and diffusers. Regenerated noise can be reduced by limiting the air velocities within the duct system; by easing transitions in the system design and by ensuring that internal acoustic treatments contain chamfers where appropriate to reduce the turbulent effect of sudden changes in opening or direction. When two adjacent or closely positioned rooms are sharing the same ductwork, sound travels within ducts and will decrease the room-to-room sound insulation dramatically. This, will of, course impact speech privacy and negatively affect the working environment through disturbance. Vibration and sound energy from HVAC operation will transmit to a structure and be redistributed around a building.  By isolating your systems from the structure before it has a chance to vibrate, through isolation mounts or decoupled through flexible linkages from the structure via the noise source and the duct runs, another path of noise has been reduced through physical materials. Silent treatment The SIDERISE range of noise control solutions can be tailored to meet project -specific design and performance requirements such as the octave band requirements of your HVAC unit, thereby delivering the optimum acoustic performance at the minimum cost. Manufactured from high performance open cell acoustic foam, parts are designed to ease airflow and lower regenerative noise, and the lining treatment is engineered to deliver the lowest possible Sound Power (LwA). These acoustic solutions give exceptional noise absorption, yielding reduced airborne noise at inlets and outlets, and lowering case radiated noise.  Lining kits are Class 0 fire rated to EN 13501-1 to comply with Building Regulations Approved Document B. Supplied as an easy-to-fit, pre-cut kit and backed with high performance modified acrylic adhesive for rapid installation on a manufacturer’s assembly-line, these noise control solutions offer exceptional performance for fan coil units, air handling units and heat exchangers. Existing buildings can benefit too. If there is a ductwork ‘in-line’ noise problem, open-cell melamine resin foams are an easy and cost-efficient way to introduce noise control.  At the terminal ends, where air is being delivered to the occupied spaces, you can remove the grille and simply install the foam inserts. Inherently flexible, the inserts are ideally suited to retro-fit installation, particularly in situations where there is minimal access and/or where less disruption is a consideration.  For ‘duct noise breakout’ another solution, which contributes well to quiet air-handling, are externally applied acoustic treatments. Easy to install without disturbing the HVAC system, this solution reduces break-out noise by providing a combination of acoustic absorption and sound reduction via inherently damped flexible mass membrane. While it’s difficult to escape sound completely, by proactively considering potential acoustic problems at the design stage of a HVAC system and adding sound control measures to minimise unwanted noise, building owners will have a far quieter system, which in the end, can go a long way towards promoting comfort and productivity.   By Graham Laws – Business Development Officer, Siderise Visit: www.siderise.com
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Noise is all around us and can interfere with our working efficiency by being an annoyance and causing stress. Good or bad, the acoustical environment in buildings is ultimately a result of design and so it’s never been more important for architects and building engineers to silence a well-known source of undesirable noise and vibration – heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. A fundamental element of buildings across a wide range of sectors, building services equipment can create unwanted noise problems leading to workplaces that are uncomfortable and less productive. Noise sources can include everything from fans to variable air volume systems; grilles and diffusers to roof-top units; fan coil units to chillers, compressors and condensers; pumps and stand-by generators; boilers and cooling towers. As we create more energy efficient and airtight buildings, this has a knock-on impact both thermally and acoustically. However, this further drives the need for ventilation and thermal management, and this required airflow can then introduce a noise issue of its own, both break-out and in-line noise. Break-out noise is where sound transmits through the wall of ducting and into the room through which the ductwork is travelling.  In-line (duct-borne) noise or noise traveling through ductwork can create unwelcome high levels of background noise if not properly managed. This noise can raise stress levels in the workplace, harming communication and concentration and increasing fatigue. A poorly designed acoustic solution can potentially exacerbate issues by causing regenerative noise, and negatively affecting airflow. There’s also the issue of cross-talk, whereby speech privacy is compromised by room-to-room transmission via the ventilation system. Air velocity within a duct system is another important element as it influences the noise levels significantly. Regenerated noise can be created by transition pieces, bends, dampers, grilles and diffusers. Regenerated noise can be reduced by limiting the air velocities within the duct system; by easing transitions in the system design and by ensuring that internal acoustic treatments contain chamfers where appropriate to reduce the turbulent effect of sudden changes in opening or direction. When two adjacent or closely positioned rooms are sharing the same ductwork, sound travels within ducts and will decrease the room-to-room sound insulation dramatically. This, will of, course impact speech privacy and negatively affect the working environment through disturbance. Vibration and sound energy from HVAC operation will transmit to a structure and be redistributed around a building.  By isolating your systems from the structure before it has a chance to vibrate, through isolation mounts or decoupled through flexible linkages from the structure via the noise source and the duct runs, another path of noise has been reduced through physical materials. Silent treatment The SIDERISE range of noise control solutions can be tailored to meet project -specific design and performance requirements such as the octave band requirements of your HVAC unit, thereby delivering the optimum acoustic performance at the minimum cost. Manufactured from high performance open cell acoustic foam, parts are designed to ease airflow and lower regenerative noise, and the lining treatment is engineered to deliver the lowest possible Sound Power (LwA). These acoustic solutions give exceptional noise absorption, yielding reduced airborne noise at inlets and outlets, and lowering case radiated noise.  Lining kits are Class 0 fire rated to EN 13501-1 to comply with Building Regulations Approved Document B. Supplied as an easy-to-fit, pre-cut kit and backed with high performance modified acrylic adhesive for rapid installation on a manufacturer’s assembly-line, these noise control solutions offer exceptional performance for fan coil units, air handling units and heat exchangers. Existing buildings can benefit too. If there is a ductwork ‘in-line’ noise problem, open-cell melamine resin foams are an easy and cost-efficient way to introduce noise control.  At the terminal ends, where air is being delivered to the occupied spaces, you can remove the grille and simply install the foam inserts. Inherently flexible, the inserts are ideally suited to retro-fit installation, particularly in situations where there is minimal access and/or where less disruption is a consideration.  For ‘duct noise breakout’ another solution, which contributes well to quiet air-handling, are externally applied acoustic treatments. Easy to install without disturbing the HVAC system, this solution reduces break-out noise by providing a combination of acoustic absorption and sound reduction via inherently damped flexible mass membrane. While it’s difficult to escape sound completely, by proactively considering potential acoustic problems at the design stage of a HVAC system and adding sound control measures to minimise unwanted noise, building owners will have a far quieter system, which in the end, can go a long way towards promoting comfort and productivity.   By Graham Laws – Business Development Officer, Siderise Visit: www.siderise.com
    Nov 10, 2017 0
  • 19 Oct 2017
    Productivity, well-being and happy employees are all key considerations in the ideal office environment. With noise being high on the list of annoyances in the workplace and a cause of work-related stress, how can designers and specifiers create a quieter office place, improve privacy and deliver exceptional floor-to-floor, room-to-room sound reductions?   The office has changed quite dramatically over the years, with informal, open-plan and flexible spaces replacing the more formal enclosed and private rooms of the past.  This flexible working ends up having a knock-on effect - increasing the level of occupation, upping noise levels, which in turn hinders productivity.  Acoustics, like lighting, should be an integral part of good architectural design and when it is done well, is a significant contributor to the well-being and productivity of the office employee.  From the outset it’s important to use materials which will achieve good acoustics and solve any sound transmission issues. The designer must also not only satisfy the legislative requirements, but the client or end user’s ‘wish list’ of acoustic behaviour. Proper acoustics, the unobtrusive sum of all sounds, is the key objective for a comfortable environment. Cross-talk The sound separation achieved between adjoining rooms or offices is often severely limited by ‘cross-talk’ via a common void. This common problem occurs when the transmission loss associated with this sound path is less than that provided by the primary separating element, for example, a partition.  Voids affected by ‘cross-talk’ include:  * Suspended ceiling voids at partitions,  * Access floor voids below partitions  * Cavities at floor slab edges to façades. To effectively reduce sound transmission or ‘cross-talk’ via hidden voids which sit above office partitions, ceiling void barriers should be installed directly in-line with the partition. The Sound Reduction Index or SRI (Rw) of the cavity barrier is not normally required to equal that of the partition itself. This is due to the presence of other obstructions in the room-to-room sound path such as the suspended ceiling. The individual performance of the barrier need only be sufficient to correct the shortfall between the partition and the untreated cross-talk path. Suspended ceiling systems The actual value of these paths can vary substantially. For ceiling voids, 15-40dB Dnf,w (DnCw) would usually be associated with most suspended ceiling systems. An acoustic engineer can assess a minimum SRI value for the cavity barrier with knowledge of either the existing overall path value or details of the individual path obstructing elements. Occasionally conditions arise that demand substantially higher SRI values of the cavity barrier, such as ceiling voids formed by open-cell or substantially perforated suspended ceilings. Twin barrier or multiple element arrangements can then be employed to accommodate almost all possible sound performance criteria.  In this situation, Rw values are for the barrier arrangement alone. Room-to-room performance (DnCw) would normally be significantly higher. Curtains to noise When you combine the evolving and changing nature of the workplace with modern lightweight construction, such as curtain walls, this can also present a number of challenges when it comes to acoustics.  The overall sound performance in a curtain wall building is effectively controlled by the ‘weakest link’. This means that very careful consideration should be given to any potential weak point to ensure it does not become the ‘limiting factor’ in the overall sound transmission performance. The curtain wall together with the movement joint should all be considered as potential weak points and thoroughly assessed accordingly. Making it soundtight Involved in projects throughout the world and having manufactured acoustic and fire insulation products for more than 40 years, SIDERISE offer a large range of tried and tested product enhancements specifically developed for both building interiors and the façade industry. From flexible and semi-rigid acoustic barriers for suspended ceilings to acoustic void closures for tops of walls and fire stops for profiled decks, the ceiling void barrier range is designed to effectively reduce sound transmission via hidden voids. Designed to reduce vertical and horizontal sound transmission in curtain wall buildings, this comprehensive range includes a choice of effective and proven acoustic void barriers and barrier overlays for facades that deal with all common sound path problems and are frequently used to assist in reducing flanking transmission between adjacent internal areas. Acoustic comfort in the built environment has become a concern to society and a challenge to designers. It is all too common when considering the specification of the seal between the slab edge and the facade, for product selection to be based exclusively in terms of compliance to the relevant fire regulations. For façade engineers, architects and their clients, it is essential that due consideration is given to both the acoustic implications and performance of the closure arrangement, ensuring any potential weak point in curtain walled buildings is controlled. The cavity seal should ideally always be selected at the design stage because at this point, the largest range of suitable products is potentially available to the designer.  Products can therefore be selected based on cost-effectiveness, ease of installation, and acoustic performance.  Post or remedial treatment severely limits available product selection. Also it is invariably more expensive, less practical to install and may not always be fully compliant. Often the acoustic design of offices does not receive the attention that most other architectural systems would.  A superior acoustic environment should be a given. The use of performance enhancing products will mitigate against these issues and ensure any potential noise issues within offices are eliminated. By:Mike Carrick AMIOA, Head of Acoustics at Siderise Group Visit: www.siderise.com
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Productivity, well-being and happy employees are all key considerations in the ideal office environment. With noise being high on the list of annoyances in the workplace and a cause of work-related stress, how can designers and specifiers create a quieter office place, improve privacy and deliver exceptional floor-to-floor, room-to-room sound reductions?   The office has changed quite dramatically over the years, with informal, open-plan and flexible spaces replacing the more formal enclosed and private rooms of the past.  This flexible working ends up having a knock-on effect - increasing the level of occupation, upping noise levels, which in turn hinders productivity.  Acoustics, like lighting, should be an integral part of good architectural design and when it is done well, is a significant contributor to the well-being and productivity of the office employee.  From the outset it’s important to use materials which will achieve good acoustics and solve any sound transmission issues. The designer must also not only satisfy the legislative requirements, but the client or end user’s ‘wish list’ of acoustic behaviour. Proper acoustics, the unobtrusive sum of all sounds, is the key objective for a comfortable environment. Cross-talk The sound separation achieved between adjoining rooms or offices is often severely limited by ‘cross-talk’ via a common void. This common problem occurs when the transmission loss associated with this sound path is less than that provided by the primary separating element, for example, a partition.  Voids affected by ‘cross-talk’ include:  * Suspended ceiling voids at partitions,  * Access floor voids below partitions  * Cavities at floor slab edges to façades. To effectively reduce sound transmission or ‘cross-talk’ via hidden voids which sit above office partitions, ceiling void barriers should be installed directly in-line with the partition. The Sound Reduction Index or SRI (Rw) of the cavity barrier is not normally required to equal that of the partition itself. This is due to the presence of other obstructions in the room-to-room sound path such as the suspended ceiling. The individual performance of the barrier need only be sufficient to correct the shortfall between the partition and the untreated cross-talk path. Suspended ceiling systems The actual value of these paths can vary substantially. For ceiling voids, 15-40dB Dnf,w (DnCw) would usually be associated with most suspended ceiling systems. An acoustic engineer can assess a minimum SRI value for the cavity barrier with knowledge of either the existing overall path value or details of the individual path obstructing elements. Occasionally conditions arise that demand substantially higher SRI values of the cavity barrier, such as ceiling voids formed by open-cell or substantially perforated suspended ceilings. Twin barrier or multiple element arrangements can then be employed to accommodate almost all possible sound performance criteria.  In this situation, Rw values are for the barrier arrangement alone. Room-to-room performance (DnCw) would normally be significantly higher. Curtains to noise When you combine the evolving and changing nature of the workplace with modern lightweight construction, such as curtain walls, this can also present a number of challenges when it comes to acoustics.  The overall sound performance in a curtain wall building is effectively controlled by the ‘weakest link’. This means that very careful consideration should be given to any potential weak point to ensure it does not become the ‘limiting factor’ in the overall sound transmission performance. The curtain wall together with the movement joint should all be considered as potential weak points and thoroughly assessed accordingly. Making it soundtight Involved in projects throughout the world and having manufactured acoustic and fire insulation products for more than 40 years, SIDERISE offer a large range of tried and tested product enhancements specifically developed for both building interiors and the façade industry. From flexible and semi-rigid acoustic barriers for suspended ceilings to acoustic void closures for tops of walls and fire stops for profiled decks, the ceiling void barrier range is designed to effectively reduce sound transmission via hidden voids. Designed to reduce vertical and horizontal sound transmission in curtain wall buildings, this comprehensive range includes a choice of effective and proven acoustic void barriers and barrier overlays for facades that deal with all common sound path problems and are frequently used to assist in reducing flanking transmission between adjacent internal areas. Acoustic comfort in the built environment has become a concern to society and a challenge to designers. It is all too common when considering the specification of the seal between the slab edge and the facade, for product selection to be based exclusively in terms of compliance to the relevant fire regulations. For façade engineers, architects and their clients, it is essential that due consideration is given to both the acoustic implications and performance of the closure arrangement, ensuring any potential weak point in curtain walled buildings is controlled. The cavity seal should ideally always be selected at the design stage because at this point, the largest range of suitable products is potentially available to the designer.  Products can therefore be selected based on cost-effectiveness, ease of installation, and acoustic performance.  Post or remedial treatment severely limits available product selection. Also it is invariably more expensive, less practical to install and may not always be fully compliant. Often the acoustic design of offices does not receive the attention that most other architectural systems would.  A superior acoustic environment should be a given. The use of performance enhancing products will mitigate against these issues and ensure any potential noise issues within offices are eliminated. By:Mike Carrick AMIOA, Head of Acoustics at Siderise Group Visit: www.siderise.com
    Oct 19, 2017 0
  • 17 Oct 2017
    While the life-saving benefits of sprinklers are undisputed and well-known, the inclusion of automated sprinkler systems within offices can add value to a scheme by increasing design options, saving on capital costs and reducing the construction programme. An adequate level of fire safety is a statutory requirement but the decision as to how the fire safety measures are achieved is down to the designer. A recent BSA report, produced by leading engineering consultancy WSP: The Impact of Automatic Sprinklers on Building Design – Commercial Sector, Offices, outlines the beneficial impact that incorporating sprinklers can have and how they can add value to building design. Sprinklers are a key component in the long-term strategy of any building and if considered early in the design process, they can be included at little, and sometimes at no cost. One of the key advantages of an automatic sprinkler system is it enables the balancing of fire protection measures which in turn opens up a number of significant design opportunities. An office which has automatic sprinklers allows occupants more time to escape when a fire occurs, which for the designer means they can incorporate longer travel distances and narrower door and stair widths, freeing up their design. In addition, the maximum travel distances in an office building can be increased by around 15% when an automatic sprinkler system is incorporated. This provides flexibility in the location of staircases and reduces the necessity of introducing escape corridors. Another design benefit with sprinklers is in the number of firefighting shafts and fire mains can be adjusted.  In a building without sprinklers, a firefighting shaft should be provided such that no part of a floor is more than 45 metres from a fire main outlet in a protected stairway. If a building is fitted with sprinklers, the distance can be increased to 60 metres. Sprinklers act to limit fire growth so that compartment sizes can be increased, which in turn offers additional design options.  In addition to greater freedom in the building layout, sprinklers can work to contain a fire and limit fire to the compartment of origin. Building Regulations Approved Document B recommends that buildings are separated sufficiently, or that a portion of the building’s facade should be fire-resistant to prevent fire spreading between buildings. The area of facade required to be fire-rated is proportional to the distance between the facade and the site boundary. However, because automatic sprinklers inhibit fire size and therefore spread of fire, the non-fire-resistant area of facade can be doubled, giving designers greater flexibility in facade design and layout. In addition to the flexibility introduced in terms of the façade material and internal layouts, there is a misconception that sprinkler heads cannot be concealed and are visually unappealing. The use of concealed heads, however, ensures that they can be discreet when desired. Ultimately, the consideration of automatic sprinklers at the earliest stages of the design will enable stakeholders to realise and benefit from a wealth of design freedoms. Through robust research and by looking at different building types and design options, the consideration of automatic sprinklers should be part of any robust design development for a new office project. For more detailed information about the benefits relating to different building types and design options, download The Impact of Automatic Sprinklers on Building Design, Commercial Sector Applications – Offices which is available by clicking http://www.business-sprinkler-alliance.org/publications/impact-automatic-sprinklers-building-design-wsp/
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • While the life-saving benefits of sprinklers are undisputed and well-known, the inclusion of automated sprinkler systems within offices can add value to a scheme by increasing design options, saving on capital costs and reducing the construction programme. An adequate level of fire safety is a statutory requirement but the decision as to how the fire safety measures are achieved is down to the designer. A recent BSA report, produced by leading engineering consultancy WSP: The Impact of Automatic Sprinklers on Building Design – Commercial Sector, Offices, outlines the beneficial impact that incorporating sprinklers can have and how they can add value to building design. Sprinklers are a key component in the long-term strategy of any building and if considered early in the design process, they can be included at little, and sometimes at no cost. One of the key advantages of an automatic sprinkler system is it enables the balancing of fire protection measures which in turn opens up a number of significant design opportunities. An office which has automatic sprinklers allows occupants more time to escape when a fire occurs, which for the designer means they can incorporate longer travel distances and narrower door and stair widths, freeing up their design. In addition, the maximum travel distances in an office building can be increased by around 15% when an automatic sprinkler system is incorporated. This provides flexibility in the location of staircases and reduces the necessity of introducing escape corridors. Another design benefit with sprinklers is in the number of firefighting shafts and fire mains can be adjusted.  In a building without sprinklers, a firefighting shaft should be provided such that no part of a floor is more than 45 metres from a fire main outlet in a protected stairway. If a building is fitted with sprinklers, the distance can be increased to 60 metres. Sprinklers act to limit fire growth so that compartment sizes can be increased, which in turn offers additional design options.  In addition to greater freedom in the building layout, sprinklers can work to contain a fire and limit fire to the compartment of origin. Building Regulations Approved Document B recommends that buildings are separated sufficiently, or that a portion of the building’s facade should be fire-resistant to prevent fire spreading between buildings. The area of facade required to be fire-rated is proportional to the distance between the facade and the site boundary. However, because automatic sprinklers inhibit fire size and therefore spread of fire, the non-fire-resistant area of facade can be doubled, giving designers greater flexibility in facade design and layout. In addition to the flexibility introduced in terms of the façade material and internal layouts, there is a misconception that sprinkler heads cannot be concealed and are visually unappealing. The use of concealed heads, however, ensures that they can be discreet when desired. Ultimately, the consideration of automatic sprinklers at the earliest stages of the design will enable stakeholders to realise and benefit from a wealth of design freedoms. Through robust research and by looking at different building types and design options, the consideration of automatic sprinklers should be part of any robust design development for a new office project. For more detailed information about the benefits relating to different building types and design options, download The Impact of Automatic Sprinklers on Building Design, Commercial Sector Applications – Offices which is available by clicking http://www.business-sprinkler-alliance.org/publications/impact-automatic-sprinklers-building-design-wsp/
    Oct 17, 2017 0
  • 16 Oct 2017
    Human health and wellness is at the forefront of building design with the emergence of the WELL Building Standard® (WELL), the first standard of its kind which rates a building’s impact on occupants and gives a single ‘wellness’ rating for buildings.  But what are the challenges for the specifier and contractor to meet this standard and how difficult is it to find the right flooring system? Steven Argent, Construction Director at fit-out specialists QOB Interiors, looks at the WELL Standard and taking a healthy view in the specification of a flooring system. When you consider the average person spends well over 90% of their life in and around buildings, the creation of a healthy environment will have a direct impact on their wellbeing.  Illness costs UK businesses on average £550 per employee per year, amounting to a staggering £30 billion annually, according to the Chartered Institute of Professional Development, so incorporating wellbeing into our buildings has never been more important. Putting the emphasis on the human element, WELL is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. While the building industry is used to dealing with and incorporating well factors such as light and air quality, other features that impact mobility, access, nutrition, access to water, to name but a few - are new territory for many designers and fit-out specialists. This innovative approach to building design and operation is set to change the way we create building interiors. A well-made floor Whether it’s contributing to air quality and sound reduction, adding to atmosphere or helping to create a hygienic environment, floors play a significant and increasingly important role in a healthy and productive environment.  A well-chosen floor can add texture and comfort, whilst having the capability to reflect light and delineate spaces as well. To meet the WELL standard, it’s important to choose flooring manufacturers offering products that contribute to the health and wellbeing of building occupants. A flooring manufacturer which offers low VOC, phthalate-free products and solutions which are sound-reducing and allergy approved will make a significant contribution towards creating a healthier workplace and meeting WELL certification. One Carter Lane The first project in Europe to achieve the standard is One Carter Lane, the London office of multi-disciplinary engineer Cundall. As the first building in Europe to be delivered under WELL, there was careful attention to the specification of every single material and product used to ensure it met the criteria of WELL. This included research, testing materials as well as checking credentials and conformity. It is surprising when you start to scrutinise products how difficult it can be to find materials that are natural and don’t contain any toxins. It’s vital specifiers think carefully about what is used and the long term effects this has on building occupiers. From a design by architects Studio Ben Allen, the challenging 15,400 sq ft Cat B commercial office fit-out was carried out to stringent tolerances with a focus on the most sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials. Every aspect of the ground floor fit-out by QOB – from materials used, to lighting, heating and open space – had to be thoroughly considered as to the impact on post-occupancy use before the design was finalised. The specification of materials under WELL meant only those that had a very low concentration of formaldehydes and volatile organic compounds (VOC) could be used. The VOC rating of all materials had to be between negligible and zero, ensuring that office fixtures, fittings and fabric did not expel harmful chemical or organic emissions. Medical research has shown that indoor air quality has a major influence on the health, wellbeing and productivity of building occupants.  A floor like no other At the Cundall offices, all furnishings, insulation, interior paint, adhesives, oils, waxes, varnishes and finishes were specified for low or zero VOC, formaldehyde and toxic content.  A recycled, woven nylon floor tile from a Swedish manufacturer was specified for the flooring in main office area and fitted to the raised access floor system with an ultra-low VOC adhesive. The flooring material used in the main office area is from Bolon’s Botanic selection and is a natural Bolon tile. This particular product aids the reduction of VOC absorption which makes it the perfect fit for this environmentally aware fit out. The solvent-free adhesive used for bonding the floor tiles has an extremely low emission level of VOCs which makes it harmless for those who apply the product and for the people work in the environment in which it is applied. In addition, a WELL approved anti-slip, noise-absorbent and easy to maintain satin rubber floor was used for the tea point area. This was also applied used the ultra-low VOC adhesive. As a preventative measure, during construction, the specialist contractor ensured that all the carpet tiles were kept protected in the secure site office, to further reduce the chance of VOC’s absorption.  Managing the fit-out meant ensuring there was an understanding of product selection on the site so that operatives couldn’t defer away from using the approved materials. This was achieved through specific site inductions, informing the installation teams of the environmental standards to be achieved and their contribution to achieving them. Furthermore it was vital that the selected environmentally accredited materials performed to ‘industry standards’ so as to dispel the common myth that there would be a noticeable loss of performance. This was achieved through the ridged review of manufacturer’s material data sheets and ‘benchmarking’ the install to observe quality of workmanship and the acceptable performance of the installation prior to continuing with the whole install. With the constant monitoring and testing of indoor air quality under WELL so critical throughout the fit-out, it was vital there were precautions in place to isolate work areas to ensure any dust was contained, preventing contamination entering into other areas of the site. In addition, dust covers were used on light fittings and airtight plastic covers on all grills, filters, ducts and fan coil units. The WELL Building Standard is uncharted territory for many across the industry, but at One Carter Lane, Cundall has an office environment that sets a high benchmark for the workplace, putting people’s health and wellbeing at the very heart of the building. Visit: http://qobinteriors.com/  
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Human health and wellness is at the forefront of building design with the emergence of the WELL Building Standard® (WELL), the first standard of its kind which rates a building’s impact on occupants and gives a single ‘wellness’ rating for buildings.  But what are the challenges for the specifier and contractor to meet this standard and how difficult is it to find the right flooring system? Steven Argent, Construction Director at fit-out specialists QOB Interiors, looks at the WELL Standard and taking a healthy view in the specification of a flooring system. When you consider the average person spends well over 90% of their life in and around buildings, the creation of a healthy environment will have a direct impact on their wellbeing.  Illness costs UK businesses on average £550 per employee per year, amounting to a staggering £30 billion annually, according to the Chartered Institute of Professional Development, so incorporating wellbeing into our buildings has never been more important. Putting the emphasis on the human element, WELL is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. While the building industry is used to dealing with and incorporating well factors such as light and air quality, other features that impact mobility, access, nutrition, access to water, to name but a few - are new territory for many designers and fit-out specialists. This innovative approach to building design and operation is set to change the way we create building interiors. A well-made floor Whether it’s contributing to air quality and sound reduction, adding to atmosphere or helping to create a hygienic environment, floors play a significant and increasingly important role in a healthy and productive environment.  A well-chosen floor can add texture and comfort, whilst having the capability to reflect light and delineate spaces as well. To meet the WELL standard, it’s important to choose flooring manufacturers offering products that contribute to the health and wellbeing of building occupants. A flooring manufacturer which offers low VOC, phthalate-free products and solutions which are sound-reducing and allergy approved will make a significant contribution towards creating a healthier workplace and meeting WELL certification. One Carter Lane The first project in Europe to achieve the standard is One Carter Lane, the London office of multi-disciplinary engineer Cundall. As the first building in Europe to be delivered under WELL, there was careful attention to the specification of every single material and product used to ensure it met the criteria of WELL. This included research, testing materials as well as checking credentials and conformity. It is surprising when you start to scrutinise products how difficult it can be to find materials that are natural and don’t contain any toxins. It’s vital specifiers think carefully about what is used and the long term effects this has on building occupiers. From a design by architects Studio Ben Allen, the challenging 15,400 sq ft Cat B commercial office fit-out was carried out to stringent tolerances with a focus on the most sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials. Every aspect of the ground floor fit-out by QOB – from materials used, to lighting, heating and open space – had to be thoroughly considered as to the impact on post-occupancy use before the design was finalised. The specification of materials under WELL meant only those that had a very low concentration of formaldehydes and volatile organic compounds (VOC) could be used. The VOC rating of all materials had to be between negligible and zero, ensuring that office fixtures, fittings and fabric did not expel harmful chemical or organic emissions. Medical research has shown that indoor air quality has a major influence on the health, wellbeing and productivity of building occupants.  A floor like no other At the Cundall offices, all furnishings, insulation, interior paint, adhesives, oils, waxes, varnishes and finishes were specified for low or zero VOC, formaldehyde and toxic content.  A recycled, woven nylon floor tile from a Swedish manufacturer was specified for the flooring in main office area and fitted to the raised access floor system with an ultra-low VOC adhesive. The flooring material used in the main office area is from Bolon’s Botanic selection and is a natural Bolon tile. This particular product aids the reduction of VOC absorption which makes it the perfect fit for this environmentally aware fit out. The solvent-free adhesive used for bonding the floor tiles has an extremely low emission level of VOCs which makes it harmless for those who apply the product and for the people work in the environment in which it is applied. In addition, a WELL approved anti-slip, noise-absorbent and easy to maintain satin rubber floor was used for the tea point area. This was also applied used the ultra-low VOC adhesive. As a preventative measure, during construction, the specialist contractor ensured that all the carpet tiles were kept protected in the secure site office, to further reduce the chance of VOC’s absorption.  Managing the fit-out meant ensuring there was an understanding of product selection on the site so that operatives couldn’t defer away from using the approved materials. This was achieved through specific site inductions, informing the installation teams of the environmental standards to be achieved and their contribution to achieving them. Furthermore it was vital that the selected environmentally accredited materials performed to ‘industry standards’ so as to dispel the common myth that there would be a noticeable loss of performance. This was achieved through the ridged review of manufacturer’s material data sheets and ‘benchmarking’ the install to observe quality of workmanship and the acceptable performance of the installation prior to continuing with the whole install. With the constant monitoring and testing of indoor air quality under WELL so critical throughout the fit-out, it was vital there were precautions in place to isolate work areas to ensure any dust was contained, preventing contamination entering into other areas of the site. In addition, dust covers were used on light fittings and airtight plastic covers on all grills, filters, ducts and fan coil units. The WELL Building Standard is uncharted territory for many across the industry, but at One Carter Lane, Cundall has an office environment that sets a high benchmark for the workplace, putting people’s health and wellbeing at the very heart of the building. Visit: http://qobinteriors.com/  
    Oct 16, 2017 0
  • 09 Oct 2017
    Poorly-insulated homes can have an adverse effect on the health of the occupants, particularly the very young or elderly during winter months. The issue becomes more acute in multi-occupancy buildings. With a fair chunk of the UK’s social housing stock having been built in the 1960s, much of it is showing signs of age and disrepair. Ben Warren, Managing Director at global building materials manufacturer, Baumit, considers how improved insulation and internal plaster can tackle issues with mould and damp for the long-term benefit and wellbeing of the building and occupier. Creating better-insulated homes is more than about keeping occupiers warm and dry. It’s equally about facilitating an indoors environment in which residents can live happily and healthily for as long as they remain. Ageing buildings and the UK’s wet, mild climate provide the perfect storm for damp to thrive. This is particularly concerning when multi-occupancy, social housing buildings are affected, as these provide affordable accommodation for many elderly people and young families. Long-term exposure to mould and damp can lead to chronic health issues for the more vulnerable members of society. Big decisions The importance of choosing the right insulation is therefore paramount to creating interiors in which occupants can thrive. When it comes to deciding between external or internal wall insulation, it’s very much a case of horses for courses, as any selection will be based upon what the building’s owner is hoping to achieve or the age and type of brick the property is constructed from. For landlords of privately-owned multi-occupancy buildings, financial considerations might conclude an EWI system is more appropriate, and here’s why: from a rental point of view, if you have a room that is 5m2,to provide a decent level of internal wall insulation would require a minimum build-up of 15cm. This would result in a 6% reduction in floor area, which might not sound like a huge amount, but could equate to a significant incremental loss in buildings containing several properties. Loss of floor space equals loss of income for the landlord, therefore in such instances there’s a commercial argument for choosing external wall insulation. In terms of external wall insulation systems applied to housing association properties, acrylic top coats are very much in vogue. It’s an option primarily based on cost. Local authority funding has been cut to the bone across the board - every pound is being accounted for. It means, although an insulation system specified for a council-owned building might fit the budget, it’s not necessarily best for the property or its occupants’ long-term well-being. Through everyday living, residents create water vapour. Baths, washing, cooking…it all creates steam - even breathing. Now, consider how much vapour is generated in a multi-occupancy building containing, say, 150 tenants. All that vapour will pass through the building’s elements, but in cases where the EWI contains a non-vapour permeable acrylic topcoat, the vapour will be trapped. This can lead to condensation and the dreaded “d” word – damp. Therefore, an external wall solution that might have appeared cost-effective in the immediate-to-short-term could potentially result in unnecessary and unforeseen expenditure. Let it breathe Applying non-breathable EWI to a building causes what might be referred to as the “plastic bag effect” - walls can become cloaked in condensation from non-escaping vapour. To create a breathable outer layer for buildings private or public, a silicon-based finish render, such as Baumit’s SilikonTop, is preferable. Water-repellent, stain and weather resistant, the system provides a robust white or coloured façade. It’s easily applied to mineral renders old and new, providing a decorative, vapour-permeable topcoat that makes for an attractive exterior, whilst optimising occupants’ living environment.  Another benefit of ‘going external’ when it comes to wall insulation? EWI removes the dew-point - the temperature below which water droplets condense – from the inside of a building to prevent condensation forming. Baumit openSystem provides a perfect example of an EWI system that let’s go of moisture and retains airtightness. Its unique perforated Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) façade insulation boards ensure high vapour permeability, resulting in the release, rather than the entrapment, of water vapour. It has the added benefit of having no effect on a building’s airtightness. OpenSystem comprises six, high-quality vapour permeable components. It includes Baumit NanoporTop, an innovative self-cleaning topcoat render which uses ‘photokat’ photocatalysis technology to create optimum protection against contamination using the power of light. The system is also made up of Baumit PremiumPrimer, a superior quality primer for pre-treatment of hard or non-absorbent mineral substrates; and the aforementioned EPS boards. When applied as part of a new-build or refurbishment project, each component helps increase a structure’s ‘breathability’ to collectively offer outstanding levels of insulation. In short: EWI improves the aesthetics on the outside and the building’s thermal performance without affecting the interior space. Successful wall insulation, whether exterior or interior, is largely dependent on the correct system being specified for the appropriate environment. The consequences of getting it wrong could prove disastrous for building owner and occupant. With interior walls, for instance, this could lead to condensation forming on the surface of the inner face, or even worse, interstitial condensation within the wall that may result in material failures. Vapour permeability is as important to internal wall systems as external ones. Baumit’s range of lime-based, thin-coat plasters offers an excellent option for interior walls. Baumit KlimaDekor, for example, is vapour permeable and low in emissions, making it a high-performance, environmentally-friendly, breathable plaster. Whilst internal wall insulation might be viewed as a less cost-effective option, particularly for owners of multi-tenanted buildings, for single projects it could provide the aesthetic as well as thermal solution. For example, when installing insulation to a semi-detached house, it might be that you want to retain a brick façade to ensure it mirrors the neighbouring property. An interior system is therefore a great solution. It’s worth being aware, however, that interior wall insulation will incur some disruption for residents, whereas external systems can be applied without installers requiring access to a property’s interior. External or internal wall insulation? Each has its benefits, but neither will be effective long-term without the vital human element, which means specifying the correct system for the appropriate purpose. Visit: http://www.baumit.co.uk
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • Poorly-insulated homes can have an adverse effect on the health of the occupants, particularly the very young or elderly during winter months. The issue becomes more acute in multi-occupancy buildings. With a fair chunk of the UK’s social housing stock having been built in the 1960s, much of it is showing signs of age and disrepair. Ben Warren, Managing Director at global building materials manufacturer, Baumit, considers how improved insulation and internal plaster can tackle issues with mould and damp for the long-term benefit and wellbeing of the building and occupier. Creating better-insulated homes is more than about keeping occupiers warm and dry. It’s equally about facilitating an indoors environment in which residents can live happily and healthily for as long as they remain. Ageing buildings and the UK’s wet, mild climate provide the perfect storm for damp to thrive. This is particularly concerning when multi-occupancy, social housing buildings are affected, as these provide affordable accommodation for many elderly people and young families. Long-term exposure to mould and damp can lead to chronic health issues for the more vulnerable members of society. Big decisions The importance of choosing the right insulation is therefore paramount to creating interiors in which occupants can thrive. When it comes to deciding between external or internal wall insulation, it’s very much a case of horses for courses, as any selection will be based upon what the building’s owner is hoping to achieve or the age and type of brick the property is constructed from. For landlords of privately-owned multi-occupancy buildings, financial considerations might conclude an EWI system is more appropriate, and here’s why: from a rental point of view, if you have a room that is 5m2,to provide a decent level of internal wall insulation would require a minimum build-up of 15cm. This would result in a 6% reduction in floor area, which might not sound like a huge amount, but could equate to a significant incremental loss in buildings containing several properties. Loss of floor space equals loss of income for the landlord, therefore in such instances there’s a commercial argument for choosing external wall insulation. In terms of external wall insulation systems applied to housing association properties, acrylic top coats are very much in vogue. It’s an option primarily based on cost. Local authority funding has been cut to the bone across the board - every pound is being accounted for. It means, although an insulation system specified for a council-owned building might fit the budget, it’s not necessarily best for the property or its occupants’ long-term well-being. Through everyday living, residents create water vapour. Baths, washing, cooking…it all creates steam - even breathing. Now, consider how much vapour is generated in a multi-occupancy building containing, say, 150 tenants. All that vapour will pass through the building’s elements, but in cases where the EWI contains a non-vapour permeable acrylic topcoat, the vapour will be trapped. This can lead to condensation and the dreaded “d” word – damp. Therefore, an external wall solution that might have appeared cost-effective in the immediate-to-short-term could potentially result in unnecessary and unforeseen expenditure. Let it breathe Applying non-breathable EWI to a building causes what might be referred to as the “plastic bag effect” - walls can become cloaked in condensation from non-escaping vapour. To create a breathable outer layer for buildings private or public, a silicon-based finish render, such as Baumit’s SilikonTop, is preferable. Water-repellent, stain and weather resistant, the system provides a robust white or coloured façade. It’s easily applied to mineral renders old and new, providing a decorative, vapour-permeable topcoat that makes for an attractive exterior, whilst optimising occupants’ living environment.  Another benefit of ‘going external’ when it comes to wall insulation? EWI removes the dew-point - the temperature below which water droplets condense – from the inside of a building to prevent condensation forming. Baumit openSystem provides a perfect example of an EWI system that let’s go of moisture and retains airtightness. Its unique perforated Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) façade insulation boards ensure high vapour permeability, resulting in the release, rather than the entrapment, of water vapour. It has the added benefit of having no effect on a building’s airtightness. OpenSystem comprises six, high-quality vapour permeable components. It includes Baumit NanoporTop, an innovative self-cleaning topcoat render which uses ‘photokat’ photocatalysis technology to create optimum protection against contamination using the power of light. The system is also made up of Baumit PremiumPrimer, a superior quality primer for pre-treatment of hard or non-absorbent mineral substrates; and the aforementioned EPS boards. When applied as part of a new-build or refurbishment project, each component helps increase a structure’s ‘breathability’ to collectively offer outstanding levels of insulation. In short: EWI improves the aesthetics on the outside and the building’s thermal performance without affecting the interior space. Successful wall insulation, whether exterior or interior, is largely dependent on the correct system being specified for the appropriate environment. The consequences of getting it wrong could prove disastrous for building owner and occupant. With interior walls, for instance, this could lead to condensation forming on the surface of the inner face, or even worse, interstitial condensation within the wall that may result in material failures. Vapour permeability is as important to internal wall systems as external ones. Baumit’s range of lime-based, thin-coat plasters offers an excellent option for interior walls. Baumit KlimaDekor, for example, is vapour permeable and low in emissions, making it a high-performance, environmentally-friendly, breathable plaster. Whilst internal wall insulation might be viewed as a less cost-effective option, particularly for owners of multi-tenanted buildings, for single projects it could provide the aesthetic as well as thermal solution. For example, when installing insulation to a semi-detached house, it might be that you want to retain a brick façade to ensure it mirrors the neighbouring property. An interior system is therefore a great solution. It’s worth being aware, however, that interior wall insulation will incur some disruption for residents, whereas external systems can be applied without installers requiring access to a property’s interior. External or internal wall insulation? Each has its benefits, but neither will be effective long-term without the vital human element, which means specifying the correct system for the appropriate purpose. Visit: http://www.baumit.co.uk
    Oct 09, 2017 0
  • 29 Sep 2017
    There is no doubting the fact that first impressions count. Our first impressions are generated by an experience and our surrounding environment. This can all happen in the blink of an eye. Office receptions are a prime example of where first impressions count. We walk into a building and get an impression of the organisation we are going to see. So, what makes a good reception and how are they changing the way in which we interact as buildings evolve? Last week the British Council for Offices (BCO) launched a new report entitled ‘first impressions – the evolution of office receptions and hospitality services and what it means for the office industry’. The report looks at how the office reception has evolved and is now an integral part of modern office design, and makes us consider exactly what the function of a good office reception is. In the past, the reception was largely regarded as the place where staff and visitors arrived. It was a functional space. Things have changed.  Arriving is now an experience and it’s not just offices - think of how checking-in at an airport, a restaurant or hotel has changed. It is no longer a functional space, but a space that influences how you are feeling and what you think of a particular company or brand. The BCO report identifies that modern office space is changing – fewer people sit at a desk and there is more emphasis on giving staff and visitors a choice of working and meeting environments. In the same way, the reception has evolved. Property developer Sir Stuart Lipton, founder of Stanhope plc, likens the reception to the town square with a sense of civic identity and communities surrounding it in ‘vertical villages’. The report looks into three different typologies: - office developments in single occupancy; office developments with multiple occupancy and serviced offices/co-working. Including case studies from across the three different types, the qualitative and quantitative approach has led to some interesting discoveries and conclusions. One shining example of how office receptions have evolved is the White Collar Factory. Located near Old Street, it is a brave and bold iteration of architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) five-year research project for developer Derwent London. In creating the 16-storey building, Derwent London launched a competition to design the ‘future reception’. The winning scheme by Studio Seilern dissolved the reception into a free accessible garden space where the access to the office turns into a butterfly enclosure and the garden is the receptionist.  In doing this, they have taken the office reception and turned it into a social space that is an extension of the public realm. Now, this is just a future vision, rather than a reality, but it shows where we are heading – gone are the days of polished marble and Le Corbusier armchairs, in are spaces that create surprise and intrigue whilst being accessible, flexible and multi-functional. Other areas that the report lookED at were issues around delivery and storage such as the inclusion of Amazon lockers, the inclusion of cafés and restaurants, shared meeting spaces, retail, pop-up shops, exhibition and event spaces, bike storage and libraries. The report observed three models of office reception – the inclusive model where the reception area is open to the public; the sheltered inclusive that controls external access and only allows employees and visitors in, and the exclusive model where the security line is outside of the building and where visitors and employees are spatially separated. It is also interesting to note that from the case studies, two design strategies were identified – linear and immersive. Linear is the more traditional approach where there is a reception and visitors enter off the street and check-in, wait in a seating area before proceeding to the main workspace for a meeting. However, many of the new office buildings are featuring immersive receptions where visitors can mingle with staff in an informal setting. This approach creates a buzz and a sense of activity which heightens the impact of the building and therefore influences our first impression. That’s not to say the traditional linear reception offers a bad first impression, but it is one we are more accustomed to and as such expecting. The immersive reception is one of experience and as such leaves a longer impression. In a fast-paced, ever-changing world, something that leaves a lasting impression on us can have a profound effect. So, next time you visit an office, take a look around and ask yourself, what does this reception say about this company and what’s my first impression? By Steven Argent, Construction Director at QOB Group  
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • There is no doubting the fact that first impressions count. Our first impressions are generated by an experience and our surrounding environment. This can all happen in the blink of an eye. Office receptions are a prime example of where first impressions count. We walk into a building and get an impression of the organisation we are going to see. So, what makes a good reception and how are they changing the way in which we interact as buildings evolve? Last week the British Council for Offices (BCO) launched a new report entitled ‘first impressions – the evolution of office receptions and hospitality services and what it means for the office industry’. The report looks at how the office reception has evolved and is now an integral part of modern office design, and makes us consider exactly what the function of a good office reception is. In the past, the reception was largely regarded as the place where staff and visitors arrived. It was a functional space. Things have changed.  Arriving is now an experience and it’s not just offices - think of how checking-in at an airport, a restaurant or hotel has changed. It is no longer a functional space, but a space that influences how you are feeling and what you think of a particular company or brand. The BCO report identifies that modern office space is changing – fewer people sit at a desk and there is more emphasis on giving staff and visitors a choice of working and meeting environments. In the same way, the reception has evolved. Property developer Sir Stuart Lipton, founder of Stanhope plc, likens the reception to the town square with a sense of civic identity and communities surrounding it in ‘vertical villages’. The report looks into three different typologies: - office developments in single occupancy; office developments with multiple occupancy and serviced offices/co-working. Including case studies from across the three different types, the qualitative and quantitative approach has led to some interesting discoveries and conclusions. One shining example of how office receptions have evolved is the White Collar Factory. Located near Old Street, it is a brave and bold iteration of architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) five-year research project for developer Derwent London. In creating the 16-storey building, Derwent London launched a competition to design the ‘future reception’. The winning scheme by Studio Seilern dissolved the reception into a free accessible garden space where the access to the office turns into a butterfly enclosure and the garden is the receptionist.  In doing this, they have taken the office reception and turned it into a social space that is an extension of the public realm. Now, this is just a future vision, rather than a reality, but it shows where we are heading – gone are the days of polished marble and Le Corbusier armchairs, in are spaces that create surprise and intrigue whilst being accessible, flexible and multi-functional. Other areas that the report lookED at were issues around delivery and storage such as the inclusion of Amazon lockers, the inclusion of cafés and restaurants, shared meeting spaces, retail, pop-up shops, exhibition and event spaces, bike storage and libraries. The report observed three models of office reception – the inclusive model where the reception area is open to the public; the sheltered inclusive that controls external access and only allows employees and visitors in, and the exclusive model where the security line is outside of the building and where visitors and employees are spatially separated. It is also interesting to note that from the case studies, two design strategies were identified – linear and immersive. Linear is the more traditional approach where there is a reception and visitors enter off the street and check-in, wait in a seating area before proceeding to the main workspace for a meeting. However, many of the new office buildings are featuring immersive receptions where visitors can mingle with staff in an informal setting. This approach creates a buzz and a sense of activity which heightens the impact of the building and therefore influences our first impression. That’s not to say the traditional linear reception offers a bad first impression, but it is one we are more accustomed to and as such expecting. The immersive reception is one of experience and as such leaves a longer impression. In a fast-paced, ever-changing world, something that leaves a lasting impression on us can have a profound effect. So, next time you visit an office, take a look around and ask yourself, what does this reception say about this company and what’s my first impression? By Steven Argent, Construction Director at QOB Group  
    Sep 29, 2017 0
  • 22 Sep 2017
    The introduction of unisex toilets in UK primary and secondary schools remains a contentious issue, particularly for some parents, but there seems little doubt mixed-gender washrooms will soon be accepted as the norm. There is no official record of the number of mixed-used toilets installed throughout UK schools since the first facility was built at Bramhall High School, Stockport in 2000.  Deemed controversial at the time - government officials had tried to rule the scheme illegal - official research found the facility reduced bullying and made pupils feel safer. Such was its success, the Department for Education and Skills issued guidance encouraging all new schools to feature unisex toilets.  According to research, mixed-gender toilets dissuade students from loitering in the area, behaviour that encourages instances of bullying and antisocial acts. This is due to youngsters becoming more sensitive about their appearance as they approach their teens, making them less likely to present a less-than flattering image of themselves in public areas. Resistance to mixed facilities continues, however. Last year, a 700-signature petition was drawn-up by parents protesting at the planned installation of unisex toilets at Buxton School in east London. The scheme went ahead, but parents argued the shared toilets would ‘rapidly sexualise their children’, as well as disrupting their ‘hygiene, privacy, safety, security and wellbeing’. In backing the scheme, the school’s headteacher, Kath Wheeler, said the toilets provided a ‘safe space where pupils respect each other’ and were in keeping with Department for Education and local council regulations. Typically, unisex toilets comprise full-enclosed cubicles that open into a public washbasin area. In separate-gender areas, partially-enclosed cubicles in a closed-off space are the norm, creating an ‘intimidating space’ for some. In contrast, mixed-use areas are designed to encourage a more open and welcoming sanitary environment. As such, some schools have taken to installing windows in washrooms that overlook corridors to enable staff to quickly spot instances of bullying or antisocial behaviour. Staff intervention when such issues arise is made easier with access to a mixed-gender toilet, compared to the potential discomfort of entering a toilet of the opposite ***. Whilst the idea of our children sharing toilet facilities will never sit comfortably with some, there is enough evidence to suggest we should trust authorities which embark on such schemes, that the unisex option will serve the wellbeing of school and student alike. Vist: http://www.interfixgroup.com/   
    0 Posted by Talk. Build
  • The introduction of unisex toilets in UK primary and secondary schools remains a contentious issue, particularly for some parents, but there seems little doubt mixed-gender washrooms will soon be accepted as the norm. There is no official record of the number of mixed-used toilets installed throughout UK schools since the first facility was built at Bramhall High School, Stockport in 2000.  Deemed controversial at the time - government officials had tried to rule the scheme illegal - official research found the facility reduced bullying and made pupils feel safer. Such was its success, the Department for Education and Skills issued guidance encouraging all new schools to feature unisex toilets.  According to research, mixed-gender toilets dissuade students from loitering in the area, behaviour that encourages instances of bullying and antisocial acts. This is due to youngsters becoming more sensitive about their appearance as they approach their teens, making them less likely to present a less-than flattering image of themselves in public areas. Resistance to mixed facilities continues, however. Last year, a 700-signature petition was drawn-up by parents protesting at the planned installation of unisex toilets at Buxton School in east London. The scheme went ahead, but parents argued the shared toilets would ‘rapidly sexualise their children’, as well as disrupting their ‘hygiene, privacy, safety, security and wellbeing’. In backing the scheme, the school’s headteacher, Kath Wheeler, said the toilets provided a ‘safe space where pupils respect each other’ and were in keeping with Department for Education and local council regulations. Typically, unisex toilets comprise full-enclosed cubicles that open into a public washbasin area. In separate-gender areas, partially-enclosed cubicles in a closed-off space are the norm, creating an ‘intimidating space’ for some. In contrast, mixed-use areas are designed to encourage a more open and welcoming sanitary environment. As such, some schools have taken to installing windows in washrooms that overlook corridors to enable staff to quickly spot instances of bullying or antisocial behaviour. Staff intervention when such issues arise is made easier with access to a mixed-gender toilet, compared to the potential discomfort of entering a toilet of the opposite ***. Whilst the idea of our children sharing toilet facilities will never sit comfortably with some, there is enough evidence to suggest we should trust authorities which embark on such schemes, that the unisex option will serve the wellbeing of school and student alike. Vist: http://www.interfixgroup.com/   
    Sep 22, 2017 0