Glazing 213 views May 10, 2018
Light and inspiration from above - trends in rooflights

In an ever-changing world of design and our eager desire for the latest products, we often find ourselves reaching for the latest trends and fashions.  Believe it or not, this is also very much the case in the world of rooflights. The want for new, sleek, modern-looking products is forever something that rooflight manufacturers seek to provide and serve. This is particularly the case when it comes to the choice of glazing with many different options, colours and versatilities available from polycarbonate to GRP to glass.

It is commonplace on existing and new builds to find daylight beaming into a building, the benefits of which have been reported widely for many years, particularly in the world of health and education.  While the health, productivity and wellbeing benefits remain, the trends change. Glass has become very prominent within today’s wants and designs, and has become a trendsetter across the rooflight industry.  Many options exist from Flat Glass Rooflights, Curved Glass, Mono Pitches, Dual Pitches and Atria.

Designability

When glass is combined with a quality rooflight system it can look exceptional, work well, be energy efficient as well as offering a whole host of additional features and benefits.  From stunning, jaw-dropping architectural masterpieces snaking their way across a roof to huge atria systems which catch your eye the moment you are beneath them; to the more commonplace flat glass and modular systems available, glass rooflights play a major part in contemporary architecture.

Designed to meet a myriad of project requirements, glass rooflights offer versatility so it’s imperative that specifiers look at the options available to assess the most appropriate product for a project. When looking around for your best solution it is vital to look at all factors or noted ‘benefits’ of the product including thermally broken frames, U-values, acoustic performance and even self-cleaning glass. It’s also vital to consider the safety issue. 

Many of us spend time, often without actually realising it, standing beneath or working on a roof within the vicinity of glass. Glass rooflights may look the same to the untrained eye but there can be stark differences between the costs of these units. There is usually a good reason for this and more often than not, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find significant differences in the glazing specification, which makes big differences to both thermal performance and safety. The most economic solution is often not the best, or as efficient as you first thought.

Safety first

When assessing the options available and whilst trying to find the best product at the best price, it’s important to take time to understand the following: glass rooflights should always be specified to consider the safety of both building users beneath the rooflights, and anyone above who may inadvertently step and fall onto the rooflight.

Industry regulatory guidance (for example see NARM Glass specification guide, at http://www.narm.org.uk/products/glass/specific-guide states that all glass rooflights should have a laminated inner pane to minimise risk of any glass falling into the room if the inner pane should break, even though BS5516 does set out certain circumstances/locations when a toughened inner pane can be used, subject to satisfactory risk assessment.

In addition to using a laminated inner pane to protect building users, rooflights can be specified and designed to be non-fragile to CWCT Technical Note 92, and ACR[M]001. This is intended to ensure the safety of anyone on the roof in the vicinity of the rooflight and to ensure that anyone accidentally walking or falling onto the rooflight will not fall through, even if the glass is broken or the rooflight is damaged.  The preferred specification should always be for rooflights which are both non-fragile and which have a laminated inner pane, protecting both anyone beneath the rooflight and anyone on the roof in the vicinity of the rooflight.

Across the industry, there is now an infinite variety of rooflight shapes, sizes and glazing options to suit flat, pitched and curved roof applications, whether it is a small dome-light in a domestic kitchen or polycarbonate and GRP sheeting used in stadium canopy applications.

To summarise, choose a rooflight manufacturer that provides a great looking product at a reasonable price and one that can back up and support their claims of performance and service. This might appear to be a time consuming exercise, but this is far outweighed by the safe and long-lasting benefits of a great product. Through the synergy between rooflight manufacturers and specifiers working together, it is possible to design, produce and achieve some of the most beautiful ‘daylight enhancements’ ever dreamt of on a building. 

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