Did Part L go far enough?

Posted On 22-05-30

As the window industry prepares to comply with the latest revisions to Part L of the Building Regulations, Owner and Managing Director of aluplast in the UK Keith White asks if the revisions could have been made tighter.

From June 15, windows and doors (with a glazed area of more than 60%) installed in newbuild homes will need to achieve a minimum U-value of 1.2W/m2K. For home improvement, this value raises to 1.4W/m2K (WER B or DSER C).

After a decade with no updates to the Building Regulations, these latest revisions have caused some consternation among fabricators and installers, as they assess their product ranges to ensure they will comply once the revised regs take effect.

For some suppliers, though, there is a surprise that the revisions didn’t go further.

“There is a pressing need for homes to be made more airtight, more energy efficient, and less reliant on carbon fuels for heating,” Owner and Managing Director of aluplast in the UK Keith White says. “We know what is causing climate change, and we know how we can reduce – or even eradicate – it. But these latest revisions barely tinker around the edges of what is needed.

“Even if sustainability isn’t a driving force, then the increasing energy prices should be a cause for concern.”

tighter standards

Keith talks from a position of authority, primarily because aluplast’s products meet the latest revisions:  Ideal 70 and Ideal 4000 both achieve a BFRC Window Energy Rating (WER) of A+ with a 70mm five-chamber design.

But this only tells part of the story, Keith says, who explains that aluplast in Poland has driven U-values much lower to meet tighter standards.

“You sometimes get the sense that the UK fenestration industry is marking its own homework,” he says. “If systems companies in the UK are struggling to get their products to achieve U-values lower than 1.2W/m2K, then we are not going to demand anything better. The fact is that lower U-values can be achieved, and we have evidence elsewhere in Europe that it is possible. Even the 0.8W/m2K target for 2025 in the UK is not that ambitious.

“I don’t think the revisions to 1.2W/m2K (newbuild) and 1.4W/m2K (refurbishment) are necessarily a bad thing, but I think they should have been transitional steps to something more aggressive.”

Keith says that Poland took the bold step of demanding a 0.6W/m2K U-value from windows and doors, which is a challenge that the systems companies stepped up to, providing technical solutions that the UK window and door industry could benefit from.

“We are already seeing examples of window installers looking to continental Europe for design inspiration,” Keith says. “It’s a logical step to take energy efficiency into account as well.”

The enegeto range, manufactured by aluplast in Germany, uses reinforcement made from powderdur, a fibre glass-reinforced plastic that improves the windows’ insulation properties while making them 20% lighter. Further structural improvements come from the glass-bonded construction, and the frames are fully filled with polyurethane foam after welding to lower U-values.

“This is a technology that we can quickly introduce to the UK market because it is based on the Ideal 70 and Ideal 4000 profiles, and they can offer U-values as low as 0.65W/m2K,” Keith says.

ultra-sustainable

aluplast is already a leader when it comes to supplying sustainable products to the UK market.

“ecotech is our ultra-sustainable profile that is supplied as standard across our Ideal70 and Ideal4000 ranges,” Keith says. “It is the result of an advanced, ‘dual-extrusion’ process that uses two extruders in parallel to push recycled and virgin polymer through the profile die at the same time. This ensures that recycled material is only used in the internal webbing, remaining isolated from the external wall, with virgin polymer used to provide the external wall of the profile.

“The recycled element of ecotech may be isolated at the core of the profile, but the quality of that material is extremely important. We know exactly where it comes from, so we can guarantee it only contains calcium organic stabilisers and that there is no trace of lead or cadmium.

“It’s also critical that we can deliver a perfectly flat, non-pitted pristine surface. That gives an optimum quality of finish, but it also means we can confidently offer our range of foils without the risk of delamination.”

This is a powerful message that can be passed through the supply chain to homeowners, who are increasingly demanding sustainable home improvement products.

“So, we are already meeting a consumer demand for sustainability, and we can continue to meet ambitious requirements for energy efficiency as and when the Building Regulations demand them, thanks to the technical innovation available to us.”