Weekly Email News – the future of the building industry


Stove sales up

More householders than ever before are looking forward to a ‘green’ Christmas thanks to the growing popularity of wood burning stoves, according to Shropshire-based Broseley Fires which has seen a dramatic increase in sales of its stoves and it has been working hard to meet demand in the run-up to the festive season.

The company recently experienced it busiest ever week, selling 227 stoves in the five days from November 7. During the same week last year it sold 183 stoves, an increase of nearly 25%. What’s more, compared with sales in 2009 it marks a staggering rise of 95%.

According to the firm’s managing director, John Reeves, the increase in popularity of wood burners has been driven by rising fuel costs and fears that another cold winter is on the way.

“Environmental concerns are also a major factor,” John said. “An increasing number of people are recognising the fact that using a wood burning stove can have significant environmental benefits.

“Unlike fossil fuels, wood burners rely on renewable resources and thanks to advances in stove technology they are extremely efficient.”

The latest range of wood burning products are more than 80% efficient, compared to an open fire which is less that 30% efficient. Most gas fires, meanwhile, only achieve efficiencies of between 30% and 50%.


Switch to energy saving

Energys Group is launching Save It Easy ‘Eco-Switch’, a replacement starter fuse for switch-start fluorescent lamps.

It works with Energys’s existing Save It Easy range to save even more energy by giving the option of lighting different parts of the room to different levels.

In the past, lighting was either switched ‘on’ or ‘off’, but now the Save It Easy ‘Eco-Switch’ offers a carbon-saving third option. This simple replacement starter fuse allows non-vital lamps within a room to remain switched off unless staff choose to switch them on. Unlike some of the more complex control systems, the Eco-Switch is controlled directly by the building’s users and offers them both flexibility and choice, which in turn ensures that the best use is made of the energy saving options.

Many organisations waste energy by keeping parts of their buildings ‘over-lit’. A workspace close to a sunny window has no need of a light directly above it, for example. Previously, the only solution to this type of energy waste was to invest in expensive and sensors and building control technology.

However, the Eco-Switch provides a new solution that doesn’t require any wiring modification or expensive capital investment. The Eco-Switch, which works exclusively with the Save It Easy range of retrofit fluorescent lighting converters, simply replaces the starter fuse. The device is designed to suit switch-start fluorescent lamps and is simple enough to self-install.

When staff enter a room and flick the light switch, the Eco-Switch in place allows the lighting system to automatically power up in ‘energy saving mode’. This means that only lamps that have been specified to be ‘always on’ (those in areas where a high level of illumination is always required) switch on, while the rest remain switched off. If a staff member decides they require more lighting, they simply flick the switch once more and all the lamps in the room light up.

Natural ventilation partnership

A natural ventilation combination from Passivent and Rehau can provide a low energy cooling solution for the commercial market.

The Passivent/Rehau solution combines the former’s passive stack natural ventilation with the latter’s Awadukt Thermo ground-air heat exchanger, and is particularly appropriate for buildings with deep floor plans and/or restricted external facades.

Passivent’s natural ventilation uses inlets on exterior walls and/or windows to draw fresh air into the building, exhausting the ‘used’ internal air through high level facade ventilators and/or roof mounted terminals. Where fresh air is required but there is no suitable exterior facade, the Rehau ground-air heat exchanger draws fresh air into the building through the ground and pump it into the depths of the building via a low energy fan, simultaneously using the earth’s constant temperature of between 7ºC-12°C to pre-heat or pre-cool the incoming air, and relying on Passivent’s extracts to ensure a background ventilation requirement in line with Regulatory requirements.

In domestic environments, a Co-efficient of Performance (COP) of up to 50 can be achieved, with 20 realistic in commercial buildings.

And the strategy is already being proven in ‘real life’, in Carclaze School in St Austell, Devon, a BREEAM rating of ‘excellent’ was attained. The two storey school was set into a sloping site, limiting available facades. M&E contractor EIC designed the ventilation so Passivent Aircool units in the walls and windows optimized air flow in classrooms, complemented by an Airscoop providing both fresh air in and ‘used’ air out on the upper ground floor; the Rehau ground-air system providing fresh air into the ground floor areas with limited or no external facades. The whole ventilation is integrated into 18 zones for temperature and CO2, monitored and flow rates adjusted as required by Passivent’s iC6000 controller.

Passivent ‘commercial’ natural ventilation systems already qualify for credits under the BREEAM verification system and contribute towards achievement of Building Regulations Approved Document L (Conservation of Fuel & Power). Further, they reduce energy consumption over air conditioned buildings by up to 50%, yield 15% savings on capital costs, 75% savings on maintenance costs, and eliminate the need for a separate plant room. Natural ventilation is further proven in research to reduce incidence of ‘sick building syndrome’, and improve occupant performance in all environments.

Solar-powered blinds

Sunbell has introduced an external solar photovoltaic option for their range of battery powered interstitial blinds.

The solar panel is designed to improve the performance of the battery by extending to up to six months the period between recharging.

Sunbell has also launched a ‘remote’ control option allowing the user to control up to 12 blinds individually or as a group.

Sunbell blinds are powered by a low-voltage motorised system with control technology that varies from the simple ‘up and down’ rechargeable battery unit with optional solar cell, to more sophisticated ‘hard wired’ options with remote activation for up to 12 blinds.

For manual control Sunbell offers a tilt-only solution operated by a rotating knob linked by a steel cable allowing complete privacy without the need for cords or magnets.

Blinds are designed to provide enhanced privacy, low maintenance and a reduction in sound intrusion and solar glare. Designed for all types of windows, doors and glass partitions, the Sunbell range includes a choice of aluminum and fabric finishes including total blackout options.

Sealed from dirt, dust and moisture, integral blinds are a hygienic and safe solution; by controlling the diffusion of natural light, they can help to reduce the effect of direct sunlight and heat loss, offering protection from overheating in the summer and thermal insulation in the winter.


Showing the way

Cutting energy bills for customers is boosting business for one Essex electrical contractor so impressed with the trial installation of a domestic voltage optimisation system that it has invested its own money in marketing the power saving solution to customers.

Map Contract Services, based in Woodford, installed a Marshall-Tufflex Voltis Home unit in the home of an employee to assess its performance, ease of installation etc. The optimiser proved straightforward to install, taking less than an hour, and returned savings of more than 10% as soon as it was turned on.

MAP is now offering Voltis Home HD to all customers with a single phase electrical supply of up to 60Amps, both domestic, social housing and light commercial users. The company has invested in its own marketing material, backed up with information from Marshall-Tufflex, and already has a number of interested customers.

Company spokesman Jack Creed said: “We’re expanding the MAP portfolio to include ‘green’ solutions to help reduce customers’ energy bills and had heard about domestic voltage optimisers. We compared several systems on the market and selected Marshall-Tufflex’s Voltis Home as our preferred choice. The system is much like an isolator to install – it’s very simple and took less than an hour.”

Voltis Home uses a transformer to step down voltage to a lower level. Pre-programmed control parameters enable it to self-manage, monitoring mains supply and domestic electricity demand. As appliances are switched on and off Voltis Home reacts accordingly to maximise savings. If the unit detects a problem with mains supply it switches into bypass mode and monitors mains until it returns to normal, at which point it returns to power saving mode.

The system is suitable for all single phase electrical loads of up to 60Amps. For domestic users electricity savings of up to 18% are possible. This equates to as much as £150 per year for the average three-bed semi occupied by a family of four people, based on today’s average electricity prices.


Recycling company of the year

FM Conway has been named as Recycling Company of the Year in the Construction Recycling Alliance (CRA) awards 2011.

The company was selected by a panel of judges, comprising academics, journalists and government policy makers who said that FM Conway’s work was deemed ‘commendable throughout’.

Michael Conway, CEO of FM Conway, said: “Being named as recycling company of the year is a fantastic achievement for the company and makes everything we do worthwhile.

“We try to demonstrate a commitment and embedded approach to improving our sustainability within the organisation and promoting an environmentally aware ethos across the company.”

FM Conway has invested £25 million on in-house recycling infrastructure over the past five years and now has the ability to recycle a wide array of materials in-house including; 100% of highways arisings into new aggregates and 100% of asphalt into new 95% recycled content asphalt.

With the only gully waste recycling plant in the UK, 95% of gully waste is recycled as well as all kerbs, paving, concrete, asphalt, sub- base, sand and granular materials.

In 2010, FM Conway saw more than 250,000 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill, 220,000 tonnes of recycled products supplied to sites and more than 220,000 tonnes of virgin aggregates saved.

The company’s new asphalt plant, which opened in 2010, incorporates the latest automated technology and is the UK’s only asphalt recycling solution and recognised as one of Europe’s most innovative construction recycling plants.

FM Conway has developed a 95% recycled binder and surface course which exceeds the 40% recycled content of the material used by its competitors, at a similar cost. This recycled product has already been successfully used in resurfacing contracts for its clients in London Boroughs.

Figures also show in 2009/201 that 5,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions were saved and it is estimated that in 2011/2012, there will be a further reduction of 7% in energy use and a commensurate reduction in CO2 emissions, saving more than 8,250 tonnes per year.

More than seven million litres of water were recycled in 2010, reducing the company’s water needs. The newly constructed Thames-side jetty, which will open later this year, will enable materials to be delivered and dispatched by river, saving more than 15,000 lorry movements per year.

Michael Conway added: “We are working hard to develop and deliver innovative products that meet our client’s growing needs for green solutions, and being recognised for our hard work shows we are in the right direction.”

Sustainable drainage guide

A detailed and informative Guide to Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) in the Urban Landscape has been published as part of the Engineering Nature’s Way initiative by Hydro International.

The guide can be downloaded for free by visiting www.engineringnaturesway.co.uk, the web-based knowledge resource for SuDS and flooding in the UK. It is jointly authored by Prof Richard Ashley of EcoFutures, Sue Illman of Illman Young Landscape architects and Alex Stephenson, Stormwater director of Hydro International and chair of the British Water SuDS focus group.

The Guide considers the issues surrounding the development of SuDS techniques in urban settings. Topics considered include SuDS and ecosystems services, green infrastructure, water sensitive urban design and retrofitting SuDS, including in highways applications. The Guide also provides practical advice on component selection from the full SuDS toolbox.

“Sustainable surface water management measures can help create a more balanced and natural ecology in our towns and cities. For too long, we have paved over green spaces and treated the resulting surface water runoff as a problem or waste,” said author Alex Stephenson.

“A creative approach to planning for water above ground – in which stormwater is seen as a resource providing multiple benefits – can help make the urban landscape a more balanced, healthy and enjoyable place to live.

“The Guide demonstrates that a correct interpretation of SuDS is one that can be applied to every development. It’s simply no longer acceptable to have an ‘either or’ choice between SuDS or ‘not possible’. A range of techniques, natural, manufactured or combined are available to recreate (or improve on) natural drainage paths.”


Halving landfill waste

Staffordshire manufacturer, Instarmac Group, has recorded a 51% reduction in its waste to landfill.

Instarmac, incorporating Ultracrete, Ultrascape, Ultra Tile and Ultra Floorbrands, has more than halved its waste to landfill as part of its dedication to reducing its environmental impact.

The company has a list of environmental programmes that have included transparent waste stream development, investment in solar and wind powered energy, and providing shredded paper for use at local Twycross Zoo to keep the animals warm in winter.

Instarmac has received recognition for its environmental and sustainability schemes, as well as its projects to boost lean efficiency. The most recent accolade comes from UK’s FeRFA (Resin Flooring Association) where it was shortlisted for an ‘Environmental Initiative’ award. For two years running the company won the same award presented by The Tile Association, for its waste stream processes, recycling and green ethics.

Darren Gough, QHSE manager said: “I am delighted we have reduced our landfill waste by such a huge percentage in a short space of time. We are now looking towards achieving zero waste to landfill.”


Passiv Haus range

Internorm claims to be the only window manufacturer in Europe with nine Passive House certified components.

Thomas Hagen from Internorm said: “The window in a Passive House plays a key role. It can reduce heat loss while optimising thermal gain. In order to achieve this, there are a number of essential principals that need to be met. Firstly, the system requires highly insulating glazing, with a U-value less that 0.80 W/m2K, and should have a g-value of 50% or more.”

The newest addition to Internorm’s Passive House certified range, Thermo Passiv, is a PVCU or PVCU/aluminium window system, which is available with an aluminium attachment cover on request. The system is fitted with new triple glazing as standard and achieves heat insulation values up to 0.69 W/m2K. The product’s sash in ‘Vetro’ design allows frameless, modern glass architecture and narrow view widths up to 87mm.

Internorm also offers Dimension 4 and Passion 4, which are composite PVCU/aluminium clad window options. This system offers integral blinds for privacy and sun protection and is available in both Premium and Softline design.

For a timber/aluminium Passive House certified window, Internorm offers many designs – Premium, Softline and Classic. For a timber/aluminium composite window, there are three options – Varion 4 in flush design, the Varion 4 in Vetro design and Edition 4, which is available in Premium and Softline design. All three windows have integral blinds for privacy and sun protection. The windows feature excellent energy performance and outstanding sound reduction of 45db (with standard glazing).

The PVCU/aluminium clad and the timber/aluminium-clad can be used in the same project as both systems use the same aluminium cladding on the outside. Visually there is no difference – even if one is a PVCU window.

For Passive House entrance door specification Internorm offers its Selection and Selection 2. Both are timber/aluminium house entrance doors with the capacity to deliver a thermal insulation value of 0.79W/m2K. Each comes in a wide selection of designs to suit different architectural styles. There is also a range of balcony and side entrance doors available.


Aiming for net-zero energy

Kingspan Insulated Panels’ head office in Kingscourt, Ireland has installed the Kingspan Roof PowerPanel System.

1000m2 of photovoltaic modules were installed by Northeast Electrical to more than offset the total annual electricity usage of the Group offices in what is thought to be one of the largest PV installations in Ireland. The 130kWp system, which comprises of five hundred and fifty three 235Wp Yingli crystalline PV modules, is expected to generate circa 100,000 kWh per annum.

Similar systems have already been installed at Kingspan Insulation’s manufacturing facility in Pembridge and Kingspan Insulated Panels’ plant in Holywell. At 800kW and 406kW respectively they are currently two of the largest roof-top PV arrays in the UK, the company claimed. At both plants the PV systems were designed to supply a significant proportion of the site’s lighting and manufacturing electricity needs.

Gilbert McCarthy, managing director of Kingspan Insulated Panels, said: “There are so many ways we can take action towards achieving net-zero energy, and it is important to lead by example. We are planning to roll out a basket of measures across all of our operations, and are already working on the next phase to move our own manufacturing sites towards net-zero energy. It is a real challenge for manufacturers, but one that is well worth pursuing, both in terms of cutting energy costs, reducing our reliance on power from the grid and exceeding customer expectations in managing our own environmental impacts.”

Commissioned and approved by ESB on the 10th October, the Kingscourt system took just two weeks to complete, and is predicted to save around 52,500Kg/CO2 per annum. The installation will make a significant contribution to reducing carbon as well as generating energy.

The addition of a Kingspan Safetraxx off-ridge fall arrest system, which was designed and installed by Skyway, means that the ongoing maintenance of the Kingscourt PV system has been made both safer and easier. Safetraxx complies with BS EN 795 and, when installed in conjunction with Kingspan insulated panels, is available with the Kingspan 25 year Total System Guarantee.

‘Eco’ infill panels

Panel Systems has released an environmentally friendly window infill panel – the Aluglaze eco.

This new addition to the company’s range of architectural panels comprises a tough, double skinned polyester-coated aluminium bonded to a core of Styrofoam LBA insulation.

Aluglaze eco is predominantly specified where aesthetics and sustainability are required.

Danny Phelan, sales manager for Panel Systems, said: “Aluglaze is widely used for many projects and we expect this latest addition to the range will enhance its popularity even further. Specifying Aluglaze eco infill panels can help building designers to achieve the highest performance and sustainability requirements on BREEAM projects.”

The insulating properties of Aluglaze eco are provided by its Styrofoam LBA core, designed for projects that require high standards of environmental performance. This is because the material uses carbon dioxide as the blowing agent, which has an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of zero and Global Warming Potential (GWP) of less than five, therefore meeting the requirements of BREEAM.

Concern about ozone depletion in the stratosphere has led to international agreements to phase out the use of such depleting chemicals, making Styrofoam LBA a popular choice.

The new Aluglaze eco panels can achieve very low U-values, down to 0.15 w/m2K with an increased thickness of Styrofoam LBA over the standard 28mm panel, which achieves a minimum U-value of 1.12w/m2K.

Aluglaze eco is available in the full range of Interpon D and Syntha Pulvin powder coating colours, for use in architectural applications, where aesthetics and long term low maintenance are all important

All Aluglaze eco panels are supplied cut to size to the contractors’/specifiers’ own dimensions. Customer sizes are optimised using the latest ‘Magicut’ software to minimise the amount of material wasted. All panels are vacuum-pressed with a two part polyurethane adhesive.

Panel Systems is a holder of Bureau Veritas certification and manufactures all products to standard BS EN ISO 9001:2008.

0114 249 5635

‘A’ for efficiency

Altecnic’s fully accredited Ecocal thermostatic radiator valve has achieved the European ‘A’ efficiency rating.

Altecnic’s patented Ecocal has been tested against the stringent requirements of the European Valve Manufacturers’ Association, ‘Thermostatic Efficiency Label’ (TELL).

The rigorous process classifies the energy rating of individual valves by examining the extent to which the user can detect immediate cost-savings and how easy the device is to fit and operate, all valves must also be BS EN 215 certified.

Engineered for both retro-fit and new installations, Ecocal is available in 8mm, 10mm and 15mm and is designed with a serrated sliding tail piece allowing easy installation by helping to prevent alterations to pipework and ensuring PTFE sealant bonds securely.

The straight or angled device has a fully reversible body for either vertical or horizontal fit that is suitable for on flow or return pipework, providing installers with ultimate flexibility.

The Ecocal is available in a white and chrome finish with matching lockshields and are liquid filled to instantly react to changes in ambient temperature. A positive off position also allows the radiator to be removed without the need to be drained.

Green award

Homeline Building Products has been awarded ISO14001 for its green credentials and environmental responsibility.

The company also attained recognition as the UK’s first roofline manufacturer to launch a BBA accredited recycled roofline system.

The ‘Core’ range of fascias and soffits are virtually indistinguishable from Homeline’s standard range but are manufactured with an inner core of recycled PVC-U encapsulated within a virgin shell to produce the perfect finish.

Julian Allen, Homeline’s group manufacturing manager said: “It has always been our firm intention to drive forward with our goal of producing a range of environmentally friendly PVCU building products to distribute across the UK, meeting the demands of both retail and commercial customers.

“Achieving ISO 14001 – in addition to a further investment in our mixing plant to produce our recycled roofline – demonstrates our commitment to environmentally responsible manufacturing.

“This achievement is testament to all the hard work and dedication shown by our team at Homeline Building Products, and emphasises the company’s commitment towards continuous improvement in everything it does”.


Future proof?

A premium range of windows and doors that is future-proof to 2019 has been launched in the UK by Kawneer.

The AA720 series comprises a tilturn, inward-opening side-hung and bottom-hung, tilt slide, vertical and horizontal pivot, top-hung casement, inward and outward-opening doors, folding/sliding door and a fire-rated door and fixed light.

The range, with U-values as low as 0.9 W/m²K, is expected to outperform the anticipated requirements of the 2013 and 2016 Part L amendments to Building Regulations.

The windows are available in four levels of thermal performance – the AA720, AA720 HW, AA720 HI and AA720 HIPlus. The series of wider 72mm profiles incorporates the very latest thermal technology including extruded polyamide and ABS thermal breaks, insulated centre seals, foam isolators and foam core insulation.

The doors are available in two levels of thermal performance – the AA720 and the AA720 HI. Here, the series of wider 72mm profiles incorporates extruded polyamide thermal breaks and foam core insulation.

Expected to supersede the AA600TE series as Kawneer’s flagship range, the AA720 series is based on a range that has performed in Germany, an even more onerous market, regulations-wise, for several years, becoming Kawneer’s best-seller there. Its launch in the UK has required the largest-ever investment in new dies at Kawneer’s factory in Runcorn, Cheshire.

The windows encompass a wide variety of configurations – the standard window with traditional straight contours, and five new variants – the softline with rounded contours particularly suitable for residential applications, the integral (concealed vent) with narrow sightlines and visible aluminium facets on the vents, the renovation with angular or chamfered contours, a narrow sightline window for the replacement of steel heritage windows, and a curtain wall lookalike.

The doors comprise a standard door with straight contours that is available in open-in and open-out variants, a design door with rounded and angular contours to suite with the softline window for residential applications, and the AA720 FR fire-rated system for doors and fixed screens which has been tested to 30 minutes for integrity and insulation.

All the windows and doors offer extensive hardware configurations including new concealed hinges and barrel hinges for entrance doors as well as a wide variety of handle and locking options.


Move over Movember

Movember is a time when men grow moustaches to raise money for men’s health charities. However, this year, Knauf Drywall’s Beardtober beat it to the charitable finish by a hair’s breadth.

The company renamed the tenth month ‘Beardtober’ and sought to bristle with facial hair from the first and until the beginning of that boring old Movember in order to raise money for Prostrate Project. And that objective was met in whiskery style, with the company raising over £7,000 for the charity.

“The idea was that anyone in the business who can grow facial hair should do so and donate £25 to The Prostate Project for the privilege, while raising sponsorship from friends and family, as well as ‘non-growing’ colleagues, customers and suppliers,” explained Ian Dean, sales and marketing director.

To best judge who produced the best beard in Beardtober, all Knauf Drywall participants participated in a controlled ‘shave off’ on September 30th – with David Riddell, national account controller, receiving an award for sprouting the most prolific set. There was also an award for the worst beard and this was given to Dan Dixon, flooring business development manager.

Ian continues: “We were in a pretty dishevelled state during Beardtober and it sure was an itchy month, but it was all for a very good cause.”


Bright idea

Mitsubishi Electric is using the roof of its three-storey headquarters in Hatfield to significantly lower its carbon footprint by generating electricity and earn income from the Government’s Feed In Tarriff (FIT) scheme.

The company has installed a photovoltaic (PV) system with a net install capacity of 49.4kW using the latest hi-efficiency, monocrystalline PV modules – the MLT255HC – and these are now expected to deliver over 42,000 kWh per year with a CO2 saving of over 22 metric tons.

The two roof sections of the L-shaped building are typical flat roofs with a waterproof membrane covering and in order to avoid penetrating this membrane, Mitsubishi Electric has used a ballasted A-frame system designed and supplied by Big Foot Systems.

The installation was completed by Mitie Energy, the strategic outsourcing and energy services company and the modules are pitched at 10° and orientated at 30° east of due south – a configuration which maximised the use of the available roof space. A Fronius CL48 three-phase central inverter, which has a nominal ouput of 48kW, links the PV array to the building.

As a major player in the PV industry, we thought we should take advantage of the huge flat roof we have here at our Hatfield headquarters to highlight how simple these systems are to install and just how much carbon can be saved and how much electricity generated,” explained Perry Jackson, general manager of the company’s photovoltaics division.

The company is monitoring the performance of the PV system using a Fronius Datalogger web monitoring system. This displays real-time and historical data on a web page that can also be accessed by Mitsubishi Electric’s customers.


New call centre

Quotatis has opened a new UK based call centre to cope with the growing volume of leads and subscribers the company now handles.

At present 15 staff work seven days a week to qualify the leads received from homeowners seeking the services of the qualified trades people registered with Quotatis, a number that will be increased in the New Year.

Every enquirer is contacted and asked key questions about their enquiry, after which the leads are passed on to subscribers.

The opening of the call centre, which is based at the Quotatis offices in Norwich, follows an increase of more than 40% in the number of leads received by the company. There has also been significant growth in Quotatis’s subscriber base as more tradespeople and contractors are experimenting with online lead generation, finding that the costs and quality improve upon their alternative methods.

Quotatis offers a 'pay-as-you-go' system of providing business leads with no join up fee or contract. This offers subscribers control, with businesses paying for as many leads in their area as they require and without any commitment.

Quotatis has also promoted Janet Small to the post of national sales manager with a replacement team leader being recruited to head the customer service and sales team. Scott Wilson will be responsible for 12 staff in this area.

“We are delighted with the volume of sales leads we are receiving from homeowners,” Quotatis’s sales director Teresa Gizzi said. “Business is really booming in a number of home improvement sectors, especially for photovoltaic panels and boiler replacement and the new call centre is essential to qualify and pass on the leads whilst they are still current and effective.”

Efficiency award

Rehau won the Energy Efficiency Initiative of the Year award for its Rehau Geneo Passivhaus certified window system and 0.8 triple glazed window with Rehau Thermo insert at the recent G11 awards.

Wolfgang Gorner, business unit director at the Rehau Window Division, said: “Rehau Geneo is a really exciting innovation – not just a new profile design but also a new composite material which showcases the very best of Rehau’s product design expertise.

“Over the past year, we’ve successfully introduced Rehau Geneo into the UK, established a network of fabricators in England, Scotland and Wales and completed a number of high profile contracts in both domestic and commercial projects.

“It demonstrates perfectly the benefits to our customers in the UK of Rehau’s strategy of applying successful product platforms across several markets and of using our experience in one market to inform our development in others.

“Alongside our new 0.8 window and other initiatives such as our online U-Value and WER calculator, it confirms Rehau’s commitment to ongoing innovation in the energy efficiency sector. I was delighted that Rehau come out on top in what was a very competitive category.”


Green credentials

Synseal was nominated and shortlisted for the Green Manufacturer of the Year Award at the ‘Insider Made in the Midlands Awards’, a scheme that rewards the work of the region’s manufacturers.

The Awards Presentation Dinner was held at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on Tuesday November 2nd.

“Synseal are delighted to have been nominated alongside such a respected group of manufacturers that included Jaguar Land Rover, Morgan Motor Company, AGA Rangemaster Group, Wade Ceramics and SI Group to name a few,” production director Robin Byron said, who attended the event with HS&E manager Glenn Evans.

Synseal was shortlisted on the night, but narrowly beaten by Alumet Group for the Green Manufacturer award. CEO David Leng said: “We are very proud of our carbon reducing ethos which, via our processes and products, stretches to all corners of the UK and beyond.”

Synseal impressed the judges with its environmental strategies that include: a year-on-year reduction in energy consumption of 8%, producing an average saving of 600 tonnes of carbon; a 30% reduction in vehicle emissions through the introduction of 34 new delivery vehicles; and the on-target achievement of zero waste to landfill by the end of the current year.

Solar calculator launched

The recent headline grabbing changes to the Feed In Tariff has left the consumer in the dark, and it is now more critical than ever to restore consumer confidence and provide an accurate calculation of the financial benefits of installing Solar PV, Ecovision has claimed.

Ecovision has developed a Solar Calculator, which should put to a rest any ‘false’ calculations that some companies have been claiming. “Inflated savings and inaccurate installation costs have left many disappointed,” the company said. “Ecovision provides the only service on the internet which quickly and simply works out how much a roof can earn and at what cost.

“The Solar Calculator enables the consumer to click on a Google map image of the house, mark the size of the roof, select the pitch, fill out details and the results are then submitted to applicant’s inbox.”

A quote for two systems will be generated:
• The largest possible solar panel system that can fit, what it will cost and the income it will generate.
• The most efficient solar panel system that can fit on the roof, what it will cost and the income it will generate.
• The quote will include the installation cost, annual tax free payment to you and totals that figure over 25 years at an index linked inflation rate of 3%. The income is made up of the annual FIT, the annual export benefit and the annual savings benefit.

Ecovisions have reacted to the Government’s revised Feed In Tariff with a measure to ensure that consumers committed to reducing carbon emissions and electricity bills can still get maximum benefit from the FIT. With a significant £5,000 reduction in the installation costs to £9,495, the payback is 10 years with 15 years of tax free profit.

“I wanted to create an online tool that could calculate the cost and return from solar panels, of the total or part portion of an individual’s roof space offering the most beneficial solution not just the largest,” Jeff Ryder Ecovision project manager said.

“No-one else did this. It took the full weight of the company's extensive expertise to achieve, from creation of the customer journey to fine tuning the extremely complex formula involved! I encourage anyone considering going green to use the Solar Calculator, it's free to use and backed by the friendly expertise of Ecovision.”

Four panes

Fakro’s FTT pivot roof windows offer exceptional heat transmission co-efficients, having been designed to meet the requirements of energy-efficient buildings such as those built to Passivhaus standards.

Glazing units are set in specially designed wider sash frames which minimize the potential for thermal bridging. With a 50mm thick glazing unit, the FTT U8 Thermo quadruple-glazed roof window has a U-value of 0.68W/m2K, while that of the triple-glazed FTT U6 is 0.81W/m2k. Both have a glass U-value of 0.3W/m2K.

Though of pivot design, the axis of rotation of some FTT sashes has been raised to enable even a tall person to stand comfortably by an open roof window. FTT windows benefit from a quadruple-sealing system using flexible thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) which limits air leakage. As a result, when closed both the U6 and U8 provide a 38 dB acoustic performance.

FTT roof windows can be installed in pitches between 15º and 70º and the sash can be positioned at any point between 0° and 45°. Unlike the relatively open-grain whitewood pine used by some manufacturers, the timber used to manufacture the FTT is exclusively slow growing, close-grain, redwood pine which is guaranteed to be knot-free.

With the additional benefits of vacuum pressure treatment and use of a three-coat matt lacquer finish the timber keeps its appearance for years. Through use of a modified locking mechanism which secures the sash either side of the frame, the patented topSafe system provides an exceptional standard of security and safety – Class 4 EN13049.

Awards trio

Litchfield Group’s Sheerframe, Masterdor and ICF Tech products were successful in the 2011 Housebuilder of the Year Awards.

The trio of low-carbon building products form the structural envelope of homes at Brookwood Farm – the Code level 5 social and private housing development in Woking. The scheme, by the William Lacey Group for Woking Borough Homes, won best low or zero carbon initiative at the Housebuilder of the Year Award which were presented by comedian Alexander Armstrong earlier this month at the Millennium Mayfair Hotel in London.

In total there are 12 homes at Brookwood Farm, of which ten are ‘affordable’.

The combination of ICF Tech walls, Sheerframe zero carbon HED windows and high performance Masterdor entrance doors, all designed and produced by the Derbyshire-based Litchfield Group of Companies, provides the structural framework on which the new homes’ code level performance is based.

Litchfield Group managing director James Litchfield said: “There’s still plenty of talk in the industry about the best ways to meet zero carbon specifications. Our system is already helping to deliver new homes to this standard.

“The fundamental principle to successful delivery is getting the envelope fabric right, and that means well thermally insulated walls, windows and doors which allows for the application of green technologies to enhance the building’s performance.”

The three-step building system from The Litchfield Group, which brings together the proven technologies of thermally superior ICF Tech walls, Sheerframe windows and Masterdor doors for the building envelope, is easy to construct, even in challenging weather conditions.

Walls can be clad or faced to look exactly like a standard red brick and block construction from the outside but they’re dual skinned with ICF Tech’s insulated concrete form walls, which offer U-values as low as 0.11W/m2K, air infiltration performance which meets Code level 6 standards, and a Y value as low as 0.013.

Sheerframe PVC windows with a low 0.8 W/m2K U-value and Masterdor door sets – which are all UK-designed and manufactured specifically for British homes – integrate with the walls to maximise thermal efficiency, air tightness and security.

Multi-occupancy efficiency

Sirius SAT from Potterton Commercial is a range of Heat Interface Units (HIU) for the provision and control of heating and hot water within each dwelling of a residential block of flats that is served by a centralised plant room.

Suitable for use in local authority building stock, a centralised system removes the necessity for individual boilers within each dwelling, allowing quick and easy access for maintenance. This method of heating also results in reduced installation costs, no flues or visible plumage and reduced annual appliance service charges.

Furthermore, it is easier to integrate Low/ Zero Carbon (LZC) energy solutions, like the Andrews Solarflo solar thermal system, the benefits of which can be distributed to all the residents.

The Sirius SAT HIU range includes eight models, depending on the size of the residential block and whether domestic hot water is required in addition to heating. No matter what size they are, the units are all compact and can be installed where space is limited, ensuring ease of installation.

For dwellings with larger hot water loads, HIU models are also available for integration with hot water cylinders.

One of the technologically advanced benefits of this product is its heat consumption meters that have the option of being able to transmit data by wireless, allowing the local metering of heating and hot water consumption in each dwelling to take place from one single position. This reduces meter reading costs and avoids possible reading mistakes. The direct consumption reading is also shown via the clear, digital display on the HIU, which helps to encourage efficient use of heating and hot water by individual residents.

Sirius SAT comes with a range of optional extras, including a programmable room thermostat, aerial/receiver, radio modules, weather compensation module and DHW/ cold water meter and pipework loop.

WiFi enabled

Heatmiser UK has launched its new WiFi Enabled Thermostats that can be controlled via any web browser and the company’s free iPhone app.

Four models have initially been launched, including non-programmable, programmable and time clock versions. All are 230v powered and all offer volt free switching, catering for most types of boilers.

Heating comfort levels, holiday program and temperature hold functions can all be operated and, apart from a wireless router and broadband line, no other equipment is required to gain access to the system remotely.

This range will be extended further in the coming weeks with the release of a wireless switching model – compatible with the UH1-W wireless wiring centre.


Deluge of responses

Nu-Heat is delighted with the response to its rainwater harvesting offer, introduced just over a year ago.

Nu-Heat stocks a selection of Roth systems with the best seller currently being the 5,000L package; 3,500, 7,000L, 10,000L packages complete the range. Nu-Heat believes that the Roth tanks are among the best available due to overall quality and two features in particular.

Firstly, the tanks are low profile so don’t require such as deep installation pit as other models that have more of a goldfish bowl shape. This also means that the tank can be installed in locations with a higher water table. Secondly, the tank is made from a single moulded piece without seams, ensuring integrity and making installation more straightforward as the pieces don’t have to put together on site. The tank is still relatively light for manoeuvring into position.

There is no requirement for a break tank, so no water is stored in the loft, and the only internal installation required is the control unit. Nu-Heat’s unit is comparable to other high spec systems on the market, and pumps water round the system at mains pressure of 3-4 bar.

One major advantage of the control unit is that it measures what is in the tank, so when there has been no rainfall and the level reaches a pre-determined limit, the unit automatically switches to mains water. The control unit includes a 9L storage tank, so unlike other models that flood the rainwater tank with mains water, Nu-Heat’s system only holds 9L of mains water in store, so that if there is sudden rainfall, mains water isn’t used unnecessarily. When there is sufficient rainwater in the tank, the control unit will automatically switch the system back to the tank supply. The display on the control unit indicates the status of the rainwater levels and what mode the system is in.

Nu-Heat has recently added a number of useful accessories available for purchase to widen the potential for installation. The first is a stronger lid which is suitable for tanks being installed under a drive. The lid is able to withstand a 600kg wheel load. As with any tank installation on a drive, a concrete ring must still be put around the lid so that it doesn’t get pushed down when driven over.

A second accessory is a periscope extension. This is for use in situations where a tank needs to be deeper than normal, such as where water needs to travel further from the gutters. The existing periscope is 700mm and the extension is 500mm.

Roth’s rainwater tanks are exclusive in the UK to Nu-Heat.