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August 2017 Newsletter

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Phenolic foam board cladding system fails fire test

A fourth aluminium cladding material system has failed the Government’s fire safety testing regime set up after the London Grenfell disaster.

The latest cladding system using phenolic foam board insulation with an ACM system filled with a fire retardant polyethylene material has failed the large-scale fire test.

Already 22 buildings have been reported with this type of cladding system, bringing the minimum tally of residential towers failing Building Regulations fire performance guidance to 228.

Results are now in from six of the seven planned large-scale fire tests on different combinations of cladding and insulation systems. The final test on the least combustible combination of elements is expected to pass.

Each of the three common types of aluminium cladding material panel, using either core filler materials of unmodified polyethylene (PE), fire retardant polyethylene (FR) or limited combustibility mineral (A2) are being checked.

These are being tested in combination with two insulation materials – rigid polyisocyanurate (PIR) foam or non-combustible stone wool. The seventh test, later added to the testing programme, examined the performance of commonly-used phenolic foam insulation board with ACM with a fire resistant filler (FR).

Cladding system tests Result 18m-plus buildings
ACM with unmodified polyethylene filler (PE) with PIR foam insulation Failed 82
ACM with unmodified polyethylene filler (PE) with mineral wool insulation Failed 111
ACM with a fire retardant polyethylene filler (FR) with PIR foam insulation Failed 13
ACM with fire retardant polyethylene filler (FR) and phenolic foam insulation Failed 22
ACM with fire retardant polyethylene filler (FR) with mineral insulation Passed 13
ACM with a limited combustibility filler (A2) with PIR foam insulation Passed 0
ACM with a limited combustibility filler (A2) with mineral wool insulation Not published N/A

Even with the latest test information the Government still advises that building owners need to continue to take professional advice regarding remedial work that takes into account the specific circumstances of their building.

The way materials have been fitted and maintained can also affect the safety of the cladding system.

The Government said it will provide more definitive advice for building owners once it has the result the final test.

But the finding that over 200 buildings over 18m have failed fire resistance tests ask big questions about the present building regulation and enforcement systems at work in the industry.

Last month the government announced an independent review of building regulations and fire safety, focussed on the regulatory system around the design, construction and on-going management as well as related compliance and enforcement issues.

Phenolic foam board cladding system fails fire test

Phenolic foam board cladding system fails fire test

Source: Construction Enquirer

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Are you prepared for ErP changes?

New changes to the ErP Regulations come into force next month, removing lower efficiency water heaters from the market

Two years since the last round of energy efficiency improvements, The Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Regulations (ErP) will enter its next phase on 26 September 2017.

From this point onwards, the minimum rating for standard size domestic direct water heaters will be C, or B for size 3XS and 2XS units. This means that manufacturers will no longer be allowed to introduce models beneath this efficiency level into the market, although merchants will be able to sell remaining stock that is compliant with the current regulation requirements through.

Furthermore, indirectly heated water storage tanks, which previously had no minimum class requirement, will be obliged to meet a minimum of band C. While the efficiency of these products is measured by different criteria to direct water heaters, they will be held to the same stringent regulations, and those which do not meet class C or higher will no longer be compliant.

The energy label itself will also be changing to encompass a new A+ rating, while the G band will be removed. Although the colours associated with each rating will change, the actual efficiency parameters per band will stay the same.

For installers, it’s worth paying close attention to how these energy ratings have been calculated, to ensure they work in practice. For example, it’s not unheard of for manufacturers to rate a unit based on a test conducted when the unit is only partially heated, or when the water is only heated to a relatively low temperature, which would not actually be the temperature required in practice. By checking through the technical fiche of a product, installers can feel confident they are choosing a unit which genuinely reaches the rating advertised.

Alan Clarke, technical support manager at Heatrae Sadia, said: “As we approach the latest phase of ErP, it’s vital that installers stay up-to-date with upcoming changes to ensure they choose compliant products.

“While the energy label is a helpful starting point, it is by no means infallible, and it is important that installers refer to the technical fiche – which is required by ErP Energy Labelling regulations – in order to determine whether a product will reach the necessary level of performance when it is in-situ.

“Heatrae Sadia has invested in appropriate testing equipment and takes its ErP responsibilities very seriously. We are committed to being open and honest about the performance and efficiency of our products, and are happy to answer any installer queries around the new ErP requirements.”

For more information, visit

Are you prepared for ErP changes?

Are you prepared for ErP changes?

Source: HVP Magazine

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Security will be key for the new Smart Home revolution

Home security is a top priority for homeowners investing in Smart Home technology, a new census reveals.

The research, provided by OnePoll and commissioned by online electrical retailer shows that if money was no object, UK residents would invest in a smart security system for their home (37%). This beats products such as virtual digital assistants, which only 1 in 8 of the population would buy (12%), robot lawnmowers (18%) and remote controlled heating for the whole house (29%).

Of the 2,000 respondents, 68% see positive factors in owning smart technology such as ‘convenience’ and ‘saving time’. 18-24 year olds believe that this form of technology could benefit the elderly, whilst 25-34 and 45-54 year olds think that a Smart Home would help save money in the long run.

Smart Homes start in the living room

39% of respondents said they currently own a smart TV and a further 15% say they will buy one in the next 12 months, with 75% believing they will have a smart TV in the future.  38% of 18-24 years olds that don’t own a smart TV said they don’t feel the need to buy one, as they already own a plug in or accessory to make a standard TV smart.

Our viewing habits are also changing, as 32% of the nation don’t frequently consume live TV and instead opt for on demand services, subscriptions or streaming, which increases the demand for smart TVs or accessories. 5% of the population now watch TV while commuting, with this figure rising to 11% in London.

Top smart products the UK plans to buy in the next 12 months

The most desired Smart Home products, (listed below) shows that whilst we’re not quite ready for advanced Smart Home technology such as robot vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers, we are happy to embrace smart products such as laptops, tablets and smart TVs.

  • Laptop (17%)
  • Tablet (17%)
  • Smart TV/4K/OLED (15%)
  • Smart TV accessory (11%)
  • Turn on heating remotely (9%)
  • Virtual digital assistant (5%)

We love being connected

Over 1 in 3 people aged below 35 could not cope without access to their phone, laptop or tablet for more than 3 hours, with the majority of this age group not being able to last 8 hours. 29% of 18 to 24 year olds would rather leave the house with their mobile phone than their spouse, children or money.

Commenting on the census results, Andrew Kirkcaldy, Group Brand Director at said:

“The research suggests that the Smart Home revolution has already started with Smart TV’s and audio, and we haven’t even noticed it. For many homes, smart home security and heating will take this technology out of the living room, leading to a Smart Home that will help save us money and time, while making our lives easier”

Read the full AO Smart Living Census Report here:

Security will be key for the new Smart Home revolution

Security will be key for the new Smart Home revolution

Source: Electrical Trade Magazine

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APHC calls for industry to champion quality plumbers

The Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) is calling for the industry to pull together to champion the diverse skills of plumbing and heating engineers and celebrate the important role they play in keeping people healthy and safe.

APHC is organising Quality Plumber Week 2017, which will run between 2-8 October. This aims to build upon the success of previous years to unite the industry in shining a spotlight on the vital role plumbers play in our communities.

APHC would like the whole industry to come together during the week and is calling for manufacturers, suppliers, plumbers and heating engineers to pledge their support and get involved over social media using the #QPW17 hashtag. During QPW17, APHC will be asking the industry to take part in Twitter Polls, to answer a daily plumbing question, to showcase their work by sharing photographs of their quality installations and plumbing work and by sharing images of their accreditations, qualifications and membership certificates.

Last year, APHC receive more support than ever before for the 2016 campaign, where they also received a record number of entries for a ‘Mega Trade Giveaway’ which included an AKW Wet Room Kit, Bosch Professional Cordless Hammer Drill, BeSMART Thermostat, Klober Wakaflex flashing roll, Intatec Puro bar shower and overhead kit, Iconic by Merlyn Express two-door quadrant shower enclosure, Baxi branded soft shell jackets and a Reliance SharkBite starter kit.

APHC is currently looking for support from manufacturers and suppliers to donate prizes for a social media competition aimed at plumbers and heating engineers.

John Thompson, APHC’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Quality Plumber Week aims to unite the plumbing industry to showcase the important work that we do in keeping society healthy, warm and safe. As part of our efforts to highlight the importance of continuous skills development, we will have 25 £150 Training Reward Vouchers to giveaway. I hope that everyone will come together to celebrate our industry and help raise the awareness amongst consumers of the many highly qualified and proficient professionals that we have in our industry.”

A range of promotional resources available from the APHC are free to download at

More information about Quality Plumber Week will follow later in the year, along with information regarding a prize draw for people using #QPW17 in their social media messages.

To pledge your support you can contact John Giazzi at APHC on 0121 711 5030 or via email at

APHC calls for industry to champion quality plumbers

APHC calls for industry to champion quality plumbers

Source: HVP Magazine

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A third of Brits choose LED lights to save energy

LED lights have become a viable option for UK households wanting to make energy and cost savings, reveals a new survey by reichelt elektronik.

Lasting significantly longer than conventional lamps, a third of respondents say energy savings are the biggest influencer when it comes to buying an LED light but upfront costs remain a barrier to purchasing.

Spotlight on efficiency and design
The survey presents interesting findings for domestic contractors as it revealed that the benefit of these energy savings is of greater concern than luminosity (21 per cent) and colour (nine per cent).

The findings also show that energy efficiency is the most important factor for a quarter of Brits when buying any lamp, as consumers seek the long-term cost savings on offer versus conventional bulbs.

Efficiency is of particular concern to over 35s, with 37 per cent of over 55s saying it influences their choice of lighting. Design with a wide range of lighting options (23 per cent) is the second most important factor for Brits.

Price only ranked the third most important purchasing factor overall. This shows consumers are becoming more concerned with qualitative aspects such as energy savings and design when choosing lamps.

Consumer needs have shifted as they look for ways to become as energy efficient as possible instead of being primarily influenced by upfront pricing.

UK households making the switch
73 per cent of UK consumers is already reaping the benefits of using LED lamps in their home, with 17 per cent of respondents having already switched to LED lights completely.

Over a quarter of Brits (28 per cent) already use LED lighting in more than half of their household and 29 per cent have converted a few lamps (less than half) to LEDs. However, costs are still cited as the biggest barrier to switching to LED lighting with 27 per cent finding it expensive to do so.

A third of Brits choose LED lights to save energy

A third of Brits choose LED lights to save energy

Source: Electrical Times

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Virtual reality set to spread across construction sites

Virtual reality systems developed on Crossrail are set to be implemented across construction in a bid to cut costs by up to 25%.

Innovate UK is pumping £1m of funding into a programme to develop an Augmented Worker System (AWE) for the industry.

A consortium led by visualisation specialist Soluis is developing the wearable virtual reality equipment which was first used on Crossrail by Laing O’Rourke.

Soluis is working alongside an industry steering group of AECOM, Doosan Babcock, Laing O’Rourke, Autodesk and Microsoft.

The firm said: “The Augmented Worker System will provide the construction industry with augmented and virtual reality to improve the construction process at every stage, meeting these standards.”

Martin McDonnell, Chairman of Soluis Group said: “The proof of concept project with Crossrail showed how this technology could be applied and add incredible value to the industry.

“Our vision was to develop this concept much further and create a set of tools that would form the augmented worker of the future.

“For a business like us, we could only drive this innovation a certain amount and working with the consortium and receiving funding from Innovate UK will help us achieve this much faster and more effectively.”

The AWE system will be designed to drive greater certainty, safety, efficiency and sustainability through five key areas – co-design, digital job guidance, progress monitoring, safety guidance and asset management.

David Philp, BIM Director at AECOM said “Construction technology is reshaping how we deliver and maintain our built assets, it is increasingly helping us place digital information into the real world in the right context supporting and augmenting the decision-making process.

“Real time access to individualised data, analytics and instructions during the construction and operational stages will greatly improve productivity, quality and also help worker well-being.

“Creating a framework and guidance around the augmented worker is critically important if we are to successfully unlock this value proposition.”

Virtual reality set to spread across construction sites

Virtual reality set to spread across construction sites

Source: Construction Enquirer

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BESA welcomes planned review of building regulations

The commissioning of an independent review of Building Regulations has been welcomed by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA).

Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair of the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF), has been commissioned to lead the review as part of the government’s continuing response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

BESA Chief Executive Paul McLaughlin said BESA had been flagging up weaknesses in the regulatory framework for many years and had long been a champion of tighter enforcement.

Reports suggest that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is planning to look again at how building components achieve compliance with the regulations; possible ambiguity in supporting guidance; and whether testing regimes are sufficiently rigorous and consistent.

Paul said: “It is hugely depressing that, once again, it requires a catastrophic incident to force changes that many in our industry have been urging for years.”

He pointed out that, while the focus at Grenfell had fallen on the cladding, the failure of one building component was often symptomatic of wider weaknesses in the process.

“Inappropriate and unsafe specifications contribute to the ‘performance gap’ our industry has been flagging up to authorities for years,” Paul continued. “For example, we have often argued that poor energy performance is a ‘canary in the cage’ that should alert those responsible to other failings in the design and operation of the building. If we are missing energy efficiency design targets then what else is wrong?”

A review of fire safety regulations (Building Regulations Part B) was recommended following the Lakanal House fire in 2009, but has still not taken place. The DCLG is now expected to focus on all parts of the regulations and consider how weak enforcement is exploited to cut project costs. However, no timetable has yet been announced for the review.

“Repeated delays to the revision of regulations and the history of incidents are symptomatic of a wider culture of neglect and under valuation of the expertise of building engineers,” Paul said.

BESA said it is encouraged by the broader focus of this DCLG review, looking at current building regulations and fire safety with a particular focus on tall buildings, compliance and enforcement and international regulations.

Recent events have once again highlighted that existing building regulations are not fit for purpose, and calls have grown for an urgent review that is long overdue. Part B of Building Regulations, which include fire and safety, and Part L, which includes energy efficiency, represent one of the key systemic failures in the construction industry, and will now hopefully become a priority for reform.

The review will examine:

The regulatory system around the design, construction and on-going management of buildings in relation to fire safety

Related compliance and enforcement issues

International regulation and experience in this area.

Dame Judith has said: “I am honoured to be asked by government to lead this important independent review. This review will look at building regulations and fire safety to see what changes can be made for the future to make these more effective. I am keen to engage widely with industry and the public to inform the recommendations from the review. I want the recommendations to lead to any necessary improvements in the system being made.”

The BESA has already been in contact with Dame Judith’s office to offer technical and industry expertise, signalling our readiness to work together towards updated building regulations that are safer, more efficient and fit for purpose.

BESA also believes that many of the approved documents, which provide the technical details needed to comply with the Building Regulations, encourage a culture of ‘box ticking’ and corner cutting because they leave too much room for interpretation.

Paul McLaughlin also called for DCLG to make sure the review included the opinions of experts from right across the construction sector, and particularly from building engineering, in order to produce a “well balanced and positive future course for regulation”.

BESA welcomes planned review of building regulations

BESA welcomes planned review of building regulations

Source: HVP Magazine

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BIM in training

Whilst BIM has become a major talking point, there is still a lot of confusion and misinformation around what it is and how it works.

And, as is the case with any new concept, there is a queue of ‘experts’ looking to offer their knowledge through training programmes. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s hard to tell the genuine specialists from those just getting to grips with the topic, so it’s important to do your research first.

Whilst there isn’t a formal accreditation to point to, consider the provider – what is their experience?

Do they have any links to well-known industry organisations, for example, CIBSE or BEAMA?

And, finally, speak to the course leader and get a feel for what their level of insight is before signing up.

The second factor to consider is the breadth of BIM as a topic. From different platforms to the number of possible applications and compatible secondary programmes, there is a huge amount to cover – and not all of this will be relevant across the board. This means that when searching for a training scheme, it is vital to ensure that the course chosen is tailored to your specific needs.

The need-to-know information for a contractor may be different from that of a specifier, and receiving training which isn’t actually applicable to your business could only confuse the issue.

If all else fails, take a look at informal forums. For example, industry discussion pages and articles in the trade press which are likely to be able to provide guidance, if not specific recommendations, for well regarded courses. BIM is here to stay, and it’s positive news that there is an appetite to learn more about it.

However, it’s well worth doing the homework beforehand to make sure you get what you pay for when it comes to getting the lowdown on BIM for your business.

BIM in training

BIM in training

Source: Electrical Times

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Don’t ignore the age of a house when replacing the boiler

Installers are being reminded of the impact improvements to the fabric of a building can have on the efficiency of a heating system.

Martyn Bridges, Director of Technical Communication and Product Management at Worcester, Bosch Group, is calling for heating engineers to consider the age of the entire heating system, and the heat loss of the property, when replacing a standard efficiency boiler with a modern, condensing appliance.

Martyn explained: “Given that around 80% of houses in the UK were built before 1960, the majority of our properties have been designed during a time where energy efficiency was not at the forefront of homeowners’ minds. Modern improvements such as adding double-glazed windows and fibreglass roof insulation significantly improve a property’s heat loss, and this can have a knock-on effect for the most suitable water temperature inside the radiators.

“When a heating system is first installed, the radiators in the property will be sized on the original heat loss of the property. However, as homes are improved to be more efficient, fewer kilowatts of energy are required to heat the building and the radiators in place could then be considerably larger than actually required.

“With this in mind, the flow temperature of the boiler to, and return temperature from, the radiators can often be reduced accordingly – allowing the boiler to condense fully while still heating the living space to the desired comfort level.”

Martyn continued: “It’s important for installers to remember to check the age of the system when changing a boiler in the property and if possible, trace back the history of heating system. In the event this isn’t possible as the house has changed hands since the original heating system was specified, it would be advisable to undertake a full heat loss calculation for the property. From this new calculation, installers can determine whether the radiators are now larger than needed and if they are, can take the necessary steps to replace or run them at a lower temperature to ensure homeowners are provided with a highly efficient heating system.”

For more information on Worcester, Bosch Group, visit

Don't ignore the age of a house when replacing the boiler

Don’t ignore the age of a house when replacing the boiler

Source: HVP Magazine

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IKEA to help homeowners with solar battery storage

Home furnishings expert IKEA has teamed up with solar firm Solarcentury to launch Solar Battery Storage to help homeowners make huge savings on their electricity bills.

Designed to work alongside existing solar panels or as part of a brand new combined home Solar Panel and Battery Storage system, the new offering will make it much easier for homeowners to save on their electricity bills by enabling them to use more of the electricity that is generated by their solar panels.

Solar Battery Storage allows users who have solar panels installed on their homes to store the electricity generated by the sun and use it whenever they like.

Hege Saebjornsen, country sustainability manager, IKEA UK & Ireland said: “With energy bills already going up 15% this year, there’s never been a better time for customers to take back control of their electricity bills and maximise their savings by switching to solar and solar storage.”

Susannah Wood, head of residential solar at Solarcentury commented: “We believe IKEA and Solarcentury are bringing the most competitive package to the market yet so more people than ever before can profit financially and environmentally by producing their own energy.”

The IKEA Solar Battery Storage starts £3000 (5% VAT included), whilst prices for homeowners who already have solar and want to add a battery start from just under £5000 (20% VAT included). This includes a 15% discount available to IKEA Family members.

Solar Battery Storage is available to purchase online via the IKEA UK website. Customers can get a free estimate by visiting Ikea’s website and completing a Solarcentury calculator to see how much they can save.

Ikea says installation can take as little as three weeks from receiving an estimate to installation.

IKEA to help homeowners with solar battery storage

IKEA to help homeowners with solar battery storage

Source: Electrical Times

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