Fire, insulation and climate change – the challenges facing roofing contractors
Every building needs a roof, but in today’s green environment it is not enough to simply provide the waterproofing. New levels of insulation are needed to meet updated regulations and in the case of flats there is the added requirement to insulate party walls and other sensitive areas while also taking fire risk into consideration.
Insulation levels are 10 times higher than they were 50 years ago. However, while fire regulations have not changed dramatically in recent years, amendments have been made following the Grenfell tower fire, in particular the ban on the installation of combustible materials in external walls on buildings with a height of 18 metres or more, introduced in October 2019.
The Climate Change Act 2008 set in legislation, the UK’s approach to tackling and responding to climate change. It introduced the UK’s long-term legally binding 2050 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% relative to 1990 levels.
Since 2012 there has also been a need for all commercial buildings to have EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates). These include buildings used as places of worship and for religious activities, stand-alone buildings of less than 50 m2. industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings with low energy demand including temporary buildings, offices, pubs, shops – the list is endless. The lower the energy use, the more attractive the building to potential end users.
With this kind of pressure, it means that the roofing sector is crucial in achieving Britain’s energy and environmental goals. The good news is that following the introduction of energy performance rules in national building codes and the increased levels of insulation, buildings today consume only half as much as typical structures from the 1980s, but the rules continue to become more stringent and that in turn squeezes budgets.
This all adds up to increased pressure and with fire and energy savings setting the agenda, more and more roofing contractors are asking companies such as Proteus to help them remove unnecessary costs from all parts of the supply chain. On face value this means offering the most competitive prices on product, but it is a much bigger story than that when set against the much greater challenge of energy savings and fire risk.
In response Proteus has developed a system and product offering to enable them to offer roofing contractors a complete design roofing package incorporating living roofs (green, blue or brown), solar roof options, safety fall arrest systems and wind uplift calculations alongside their established waterproofing, insulation and fire protection system solutions.
This ‘one-stop shop’ approach has allowed the company to provide a more competitive quality to their clients, whilst supporting them through the entire design and installation process. This has resulted in the removal of unnecessary costs and other overheads.
In spite of these challenges, upgrading roofing and the waterproofing of other public areas can be incredibly disruptive and unpleasant for residents or office workers who have to remain in the building. There is also the risk of fire when torch on or molten materials are used.
The good news is that the development of cold applied, odour free waterproofing systems has significantly reduced this problem and when used in conjunction with plans to increase insulation levels and reduce fire risk, they offer an incredibly cost-effective solution.
It all adds up to major changes in the way that contractors should be dealing with end suppliers. Closer collaboration with everyone involved in the supply chain means that the end user gets the best possible job.
It is also the most cost-effective solution for contractors when they are prepared to work more closely with suppliers and installers by letting them take the strain in terms of design advice, risk assessment and all the other factors which now dominate the modern construction industry.
It is no longer about fighting for the best product price so why let roofing and waterproofing be a challenge when all the expertise you need is on the doorstep.