2016_SWALOW_PARK_19_AWP_DLTR_UKThese days few people can take advantage of ‘the great outdoors’ as often as maybe they would like to. This is typically due to commitments that result in as much 90% of their time being spent under the harsh glare of poor electric lighting. The main issue of this lifestyle is the effect on mental health and productivity. But, with summer fast approaching, there is no better time to think about the benefits of bringing good lighting to indoor spaces. So, how do we create these sufficient levels of natural light inside?

The UK currently does not have any legislation or Building Regulations to dictate healthy levels of daylighting in either commercial or residential settings. Assessing adequate levels of light, and deciding the best course of action, is a complicated task with issues such as building location, occupancy, façade orientation, and glare requiring careful consideration[1]. Nevertheless, including good levels of daylighting in our buildings is essential for the occupants’ well-being and helps to save energy by reducing the amount of artificial lighting which, in turn, will keep energy bills low. Using less electric lighting also helps to tackle climate change through the reduction of carbon emissions.

Vertical windows will generally only allow daylight to travel as far as 6 m inside so, for large buildings such as distribution warehouses, rooflights are the only practical way to introduce natural light into the building. Products selected for the task must meet the required target emission rates (TER) as set out in Part L2A, whilst maintaining ambient indoor environmental quality. The Notional Building specification offers a basic route to compliance, and states that a U-value of 1.8 W/m2.K is required for rooflights in a toplit building with a 15% framing factor, and 1.6 W/m2.K for windows in a side lit building with a 10% framing factor.

Some polycarbonate rooflight products are now capable of achieving U-values as low as 0.8 W/m2.K, and 1.3 W/m2.K as commonplace – well within the regulatory requirement. The material also helps to limit solar gain, making it possible to maximise the benefits of natural light without affecting the overall energy efficiency of the building.

Fully integrated roofing systems are now available on the market, making it not only easier for the roofing contractor to install, but also helping to ensure that the performance meets the design. Whether installed as part of a roof refurbishment, or as a new building design, rooflights provide opportunities for both cost and energy savings, making them a great solution for letting in more light.



The clocks go forward on Sunday 26 March, and suddenly the world seems a brighter place. There has been plenty of research around the benefits of daylight on our health and wellbeing, but we don’t need scientists to tell us that we all enjoy the longer days that the Spring Equinox heralds. For some, it is a much more significant event than a simple lifting of spirits, with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)[1] a recognised and potentially debilitating condition that is thought to affect 1 in 3 people in the UK to some degree.

With our largely indoor lifestyle, getting access to enough natural light can be a challenge, especially in the winter months. Getting out for a walk during lunch breaks can help, but is not always possible. The design and construction of buildings has a major impact on how much daylight we can absorb in the course of the day. So why is so little attention paid to the proven fact that providing good levels of daylight (or in some cases, any level) makes people happier, healthier and more productive?

It isn’t rocket science. As human beings we have some fundamental needs, and access to daylight is one of the things that enables us to function at our best. Natural light is better for the eyes, improves cognitive function, and has been proven to reduce the number of days that employees take off sick.

From a commercial point of view, if looking after your workforce and improving their output is not reason enough to consider increasing daylight in the workplace, it can also significantly reduce lighting energy costs. And if you’re concerned about climate change, reducing energy consumption also reduces your carbon emissions – everybody wins, including the planet!

However, as in all things in life, it is important to strike the right balance. Exposure to too much sunlight can carry its own risks, and buildings with large areas of window or roof lights could end up with poor thermal performance, over heating in the summer months and eating energy in space heating in the winter.

In the next blog we will explore how to get this balance right, and some of the different options that are available to introduce more living daylight into our places of work and leisure.



It is March 8th, 2017 – International Women’s Day #IWD2017. All around the world women are uniting to assert their right to be heard, to be treated with respect, to have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. But how well does the construction industry measure up on these issues? According to UCATT[1], women make up just 11% of the construction work force. In some areas, such as roofing, their numbers are so low as to be unmeasurable by the Office for National Statistics.

The problems facing women on site range from practical issues such as inadequate facilities or protective clothing not fitting properly, to lower pay than male counterparts, lack of promotion prospects and harassment.

The situation is not much better off site, with one in five women in the 2016 worldwide Women in Architecture survey[2] saying they would not recommend a career in architecture to other women.

If the moral issue raised by these statistics and other concerns is not enough to galvanise companies into action, there is also a practical incentive. The well documented skills shortage is going to be one of the greatest stumbling blocks for the future of the construction industry in the UK. With obstacles like conditions and general attitudes remaining a problem, it is going to be very difficult to convince young women entering the job market that construction is a worthwhile career. That means that the talent and ability of half of the potential work force will not be made available to help deliver the pipeline of work.

The campaign theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Be Bold for Change”. Where better to make that bold change than in construction?

We can all help to bring about change, by challenging perceptions, dealing fairly and providing support.

The next blog in this series looks in more detail at the skills shortage, and how it could impact on the future of the construction industry.

Proud sponsors of the Women in Roofing Conference.




Location: Weston-super-Mare, United Kingdom

Wall/Façade products: BENCHMARK Karrier

Finishes: Aluminium cassettes

Barton Willmore Architects, Knightstone, Weston Super Mare

Knightstone, a leading housing association in Somerset and the West of England, commissioned a new, 40,000 ft2 office in Weston Gateway Business Park in Worle, to accommodate 300 Knightsone staff. The new building, designed by Barton Willmore architects and built by Midas Construction, replaced six of Knightstone’s existing offices, enabling the organisation to make significant cost savings for reinvestment in new homes and improved services for its communities.

Meeting the design challenge

1,000m2 of BENCHMARK Karrier Engineered Façade System with Aluminium Interlocking Plank cassettes and Ceramic Tiles were specified for the building’s façade. The Aluminium cassettes were powder coated in Driftwood, Anodic Ice and Toledo, alongside the Ceramic Tiles in Smokey Blue, giving the building a colourful and striking look. The choice of the BENCHMARK Karrier System allowed the building to be made weathertight quicker, thereby minimising the overall construction time for the project.

“The BENCHMARK Façades were both simple and quick to install, and we found the input from BENCHMARK’s in-house technical team invaluable throughout the course of the project.”

  • John Meehan, Senior Site Manager, Midas Construction.





Location: Glasgow, United Kingdom

Wall/Façade products: BENCHMARK Evolution Axis & BENCHMARK Karrier

Finishes: Corten Steel and Aluminium cassettes


Eastwood High School in Glasgow was one of two exemplar secondary schools to be built as part of £1.25bn Scottish Futures Trust Schools for the Future programme. The award-winning pilot project, designed by Cooper Cromar architects and built by BAM construction, now serves as a blueprint for new schools across Scotland.

Incorporating form and function

This unique project aimed to deliver an innovative, cost effective and inspiring learning environment for pupils. To achieve the demanding thermal efficiency targets, and give the new building a suitably impressive appearance, Prater installed a range of BENCHMARK façade systems.

Meeting the design challenge

1,000m2 of BENCHMARK Evolution Axis premium, sleek unprofiled insulated panels in Kingspan Spectrum Onyx and Silver colours were specified with nearly 2,000m2 of BENCHMARK’s Karrier Engineered Façade System with 1.5mm Corten Steel, Athracite Grey and Grey Metallic Aluminium Interlocking Plank Cassettes.

benchmark-by-kingspan-40-spot-gold-2013-202x90                                             eastwood-high-school-2


INSIGHT SERIES: The unarguable business case for improved lighting in warehouses


Too many of the UK’s commercial properties are currently lit by low-quality, inefficient, costly lighting. When you consider that lighting makes up 43% of total electricity consumption in the Warehouse sector, it’s clear that building owners and occupiers stand to benefit enormously from a rethink on commercial lighting. We believe there are two compelling reasons, in terms of both an opportunity and a threat, for businesses to improve their lighting now and realise this benefit.

First, the carrot. Kingspan Insulated Panels recently conducted a study on the potential cost savings that better lighting systems could generate for UK businesses. The study showed that the adoption of improved lighting systems alone could result in a potential annual electricity cost saving for businesses of £3.7bn, with the average business lighting electricity cost falling from £25,583 to just £3,837.

So the opportunity to warehouse building owners and occupiers is enormous. Just by improving the way their properties are lit, they can benefit from drastically reduced electricity bills. That is not to mention the other associated benefits in terms of increased productivity and wellbeing of the building occupants, higher asset values, and lower carbon emissions.

That is why we launched Kingspan ZerO Energy Lighting, a bespoke solution that achieves the optimum balance of natural and artificial light in large buildings. At the heart of the ZerO Energy Lighting solution is a holistic approach, based on rigorous design principles, that utilises the best of lighting, building and energy technology to achieve unprecedented performance. It combines intelligent LED lighting with smart controls, and high-quality polycarbonate roof light products to deliver a typical lighting electricity cost saving of 85%. We complete the solution with the addition of Kingspan Energy Rooftop Solar PV to deliver the remaining 15% cost saving, and ultimately, ZerO Energy Lighting. The combined solution, which brings together these technologies for the first time, has been shown to pay for itself within just 30 months – well within the return on investment threshold required for most businesses.

But, in terms of motivating change, there’s a stick too. From 2018 it will be mandatory for all buildings with an F or G EPC rating to be upgraded to a minimum of E. In fact, landlords will not be able to agree new tenancy agreements until this improvement is made. The ZerO Energy Lighting solution alone will improve a typical G grade building to a D grade, thereby protecting rental yields for property owners.

The business case for improved lighting is unarguable. Through the launch of Kingspan ZerO Energy Lighting, we are helping building owners and occupiers to create better, brighter and more cost-effective buildings.

INSIGHT SERIES: Making roof replacements work for the public sector

We need to talk about roofs.

The nation’s public sector roofs are in a parlous state, particularly on some of the more functional buildings that underpin the public sector, such as school halls, council depots and departmental offices. Many of the roofs on these buildings are life-expired, and have been patched up more times than they were ever designed to be.

This is understandable. Years of austerity have had a drastic impact on refurbishment budgets. More often than not, what remains of budgets has been channelled into covering only the most pressing of building concerns, with estate maintenance reduced to the bare minimum.

Of course, this situation is not sustainable, and as such, many local authorities, primary care trusts and other governmental organisations are now having to look into options to replace roofs. But this does not have to prove a financial burden. Indeed, by taking into account certain important considerations, it is possible to undertake a roof refurbishment that reduces building operating costs, is guaranteed to last, and can even earn money for the organisation.

Make it save

The first consideration for a new roof, or any part of the building envelope, ought to be energy efficiency. Put simply, a new roof ought to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions drastically, especially when compared with older roofing technology.

There is clear direction from the Government for the public sector to reduce carbon emissions, supported by both public statements of intent and changes to legislation and regulations. But there is also a strong financial imperative for improving the energy efficiency of public sector buildings. Despite recent small falls, energy costs are still predicted to rise by a cumulative annual rate of 3% every year between now and 2030. Measures to reduce consumption will therefore have an enormous impact on running costs.

A new roof needs to perform to the highest thermal standards, taking the orientation, location and operations of the building into account. Similarly, it needs to be planned, managed and installed properly, preferably without too many different parties involved, to ensure that all elements of the building envelope perform to their utmost. Failing to manage a roof installation properly can lead to imperfect or even failed junctions, which lead to greater air leakage and reduced thermal performance.

Beyond this, the installation of a new roof can be an opportunity to dramatically reduce lighting electricity bills, improving the ambience and working environment of the building in the process. Installing modern rooflight technology as part of an integrated envelope solution can help to maximise natural solar lighting inside, without compromising on the envelope’s thermal performance.

Make it pay

The second consideration for a new roof ought to be the earning potential it offers. Linked to the above point about energy savings, installing a bespoke rooftop solar PV system on a roof generates electricity that can be used to offset existing costs, earn incentive payments, or be sold back to the grid.

The cost of rooftop solar has fallen in recent years, and it now offers a rapid return on investment for most building types. There are even options for organisations that lack the capital to invest in rooftop solar PV, with some companies offering fully-funded packages to help unlock the benefits of solar power.

Make it last

The final consideration in specifying a new roof ought to be longevity. With building stock expected to last longer and longer, it is vital that the products used in the refurbishment are guaranteed to last for as long as they need to.

This is important not just in terms of their structural integrity, but also in terms of their performance. Related to our first point about saving energy, the best new roofs will have their thermal and air leakage performance guaranteed alongside the structural guarantee.

Single manufacturer component systems will always have an advantage here, as they are covered by a single guarantee with one point of contact and responsibility. If something goes wrong with these systems, the manufacturer is very likely to take responsibility. While multi-component systems can still have long-term, comprehensive guarantees attached, there is more scope for potential grey areas.

The vast majority of product guarantees will never need to be used, but occasionally components do fail within their guaranteed lifespan. To plan for the potential of this happening, it is important to be confident that the manufacturer will still exist to rectify the problem in future years, especially as guarantees begin to exceed the average age of many manufacturing companies. While there is no firm rule for establishing the likelihood of a company’s existence 20 or 30 years in the future, looking at the size, success and history of the company provides some assurance.


The above list may seem simple when you break it down into three pithy titles, but it’s remarkable how often these factors are overlooked. With the products, technology and solutions on the market today, every new roof should achieve at least two of these fundamental aims.

Get it right, and the opportunities are enormous. Last year, the public sector (Education, Health and Government) spent almost £1.4bn on electricity alone. Saving just a fraction of this amount (and rooflights and solar PV systems could reduce this cost by 90%) would make a massive difference to public sector finances. At these times of reduced overall budgets, and with energy costs one of the few remaining areas that can be cut without necessarily impacting services, this is an opportunity the sector cannot afford to miss.

INSIGHT SERIES: The business case for sustainability

Innovation Centre

The draft agreement from the COP21 summit has brought building sustainability into sharp focus once more. But while the industry awaits news on subsequent legislation, Kingspan Insulated Panels has released a sustainability report incorporating progress on its net-zero energy programme to date. This report is proving the clear economic benefits of acting now on sustainability, highlighting the opportunity for the construction industry to secure a profitable future as the driving force behind our energy goals.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the drive for ever-improved building energy efficiency had paused recently, given the Government’s review of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) scheme and the demise of the Green Deal. However, these short-term factors belie the long-term truth; the reality of achieving the targets agreed in Paris means the focus on building energy efficiency will only increase.

With buildings accounting for 40% of energy consumed in Europe, the only way we will achieve the relevant carbon and energy targets will be to dramatically improve the way we construct, renovate and occupy buildings. This presents an enormous opportunity to the sector. By demonstrating the value of better buildings, contractors, installers and manufacturers can unlock new revenue streams, and position themselves to reap the rewards as owners seek the best solutions to the inevitable rise in energy costs and upcoming legislative deadlines.

This opportunity arises through innovation in construction products and systems, making it possible to improve building energy performance and the business bottom line at the same time. At Kingspan Insulated Panels, we’ve shown how this is done through the launch of our most recent sustainability report. ‘Walk the Talk – Our Responsibility and Performance’ sets out the environmental, social and economic performance of the business for the period 2012 to 2014, as we embark on a journey to become a net-zero energy business in the UK & Ireland by 2016, and worldwide by 2020.

Among the main headlines of the report was 15GWh of energy saved by the Kingspan Group between 2013-14, and the circa €1 million added to net profit by our measures undertaken in the period. This occurred against a background of organic growth.

We contributed to achieving this through a range of measures that that have included a £2m renovation programme at our facilities in the UK & Ireland to reduce their operational energy use and associated costs. Measures also included promoting employee awareness, energy metering, building management systems, lighting upgrades with Kingspan Smartlite LED with digital addressable lighting interface (DALI) control systems, motor replacements, compressed air system upgrades, process heat control, fan optimisation measures and improved insulation.

In addition to the financial benefits of energy efficiency we have reduced our carbon emissions by 50%, sourced 34% of our energy from renewable sources in 2014, and made our sites in the UK and Ireland zero waste-to-landfill. All of which has shown that, with the right approach incorporating a review of insulation, energy use, renewable generation and supply sourcing, it is possible to make a robust business case for sustainable buildings.

So why should contractors care, beyond the obvious reasons of compliance and corporate responsibility? Because new energy efficiency solutions, like our IPN-QuadCore insulation technology or ZerO Energy Lighting, these help create more opportunities to add value to client relationships. With the changing regulatory landscape, building owners, developers and main contractors will begin to seek expertise beyond the traditional skills usually associated with specialist contractors and installers.

Those companies able to offer valuable advice on energy efficiency, sustainability and the performance merits of different products will be able to shift their customer relationships beyond the purely transactional. And those contractors able to install the wider range of products required to meet new standards of energy efficiency will find themselves best-positioned to capitalise on a growing market. Put simply, high-performance buildings represent the future of our sector; we must all play our part in making that future reality, or risk being left behind.

INSIGHT SERIES: Getting the right guarantee

Blog Pages.indd

A decade ago, a 25-year guarantee would have been considered the gold standard, with many products guaranteed for far less time than that. Today, some of the industry’s leading manufacturers are offering guarantees of up to 40 years.

The reasons for this change are two-fold. Partly, it has been driven by improvements to product performance and resilience in recent years. Manufacturers are more confident offering long-term guarantees on products that stand up to rigorous longevity testing.

More than that, though, this shift towards longer guarantees has been driven by market demand. End users, whether they are building owners, occupiers or developers, have become increasingly aware of the importance of guarantees, and have higher expectations of the products specified on their buildings.

This uplift in market demand is partly because of a greater focus on the energy and carbon performance of buildings. Building owners are now much more aware of the total cost of ownership of their premises, especially given the change in energy prices over the past decade and advances in energy management systems. This greater awareness has also been driven by legislation and government incentives, with many businesses now financially impacted by the performance of their buildings.

On the whole, this increased demand for guarantees is good news for the industry. It highlights ways that the best suppliers and contractors add value to a project, and ought to drive overall standards higher. But there are still potential pitfalls out there for everybody involved in the construction industry, especially if the wrong guarantees are chosen.

What is covered?

To begin with, the guarantee must cover the most important aspects of the product’s performance. Many guarantees currently being sold as comprehensive actually only cover coatings. The coating is significant, but a guarantee that doesn’t cover performance is barely worth the paper it’s written on, especially given the market context driving guarantees today. Put simply, clients now expect the thermal and structural performance of the products to be guaranteed.

Mind the performance gap

Where a product has been chosen with a guarantee that covers performance, it is important to mind the potential gap between the figures the manufacturer guarantees and the actual in-situ performance of the product.

For example, a certain U-value may be guaranteed for a particular insulation product, but if it is installed improperly, the value will not be achieved. If later performance testing identifies this, it can cause problems between the contractor, installer, end user and manufacturer, with no simple way to determine responsibility.

Is the installer to blame if the product was not used in accordance with stringent installation guidelines? Or, with multiple manufacturers’ products in a system, which manufacturer is responsible? In the worst-case scenario, it can significantly devalue the asset, and lead to lengthy wrangling between contractors, installers and manufacturers.

Single manufacturer component systems have an advantage here, as they are covered by a single guarantee with one point of contact and responsibility. If something goes wrong with these systems, the manufacturer is very likely to take responsibility. While multi-component systems can still have long-term, comprehensive guarantees attached, there is more scope for potential grey areas.

Will the manufacturer be around in 30 years?

A final important factor to consider when assessing product guarantees is the likelihood of fulfilment should something go wrong.

The vast majority of product guarantees will never need to be used, but occasionally components do fail within their guaranteed lifespan. To plan for the potential of this happening, it is important to be confident that the manufacturer will still exist to rectify the problem in future years. This is especially pertinent now as longer guarantees mean that, in some cases, the length of warranty offered with a particular product can exceed the current age of the company offering it.


So, there are many excellent manufacturers offering product guarantees to the market, but some protect installers, contractors and building owners more than others. It is wise not to assume that your current preferred products offer the protection you expect. Take the time to check, and compare with other products on the market. Doing this, and knowing how to interrogate product guarantees across the board, could save a huge amount of hassle, company reputation and in many cases, a lot of money.

Queens University

Queens University Frontal.jpg


Location: Belfast, United Kingdom

Wall/Façade products: BENCHMARK Karrier

Finishes: Corten Steel Hook-on Cassettes

Architects Burwell Deakins designed a new extension that both complements and contrasts with the original 1950s university building. The deep copper-brown tones of the façade work well with the brick palette of the original, while the sharp, angular lines of the new structure contrast against the symmetrical regularity of the rest of the building.

Through this, they have managed to create a new space that feels designed for several future generations of students, without compromising the architectural and aesthetic heritage of the venerable university campus.

Incorporating form and function

“Fundamental to the design of the new Student Hub at Queen’s University, was the creation of a building with a strong visual identity befitting of its status as the new ‘heart’ to the existing 1950s building.”

“It was also important to provide a low carbon building, which would be able to meet the needs of both current and future students. Working with Kingspan enabled us to achieve this vision, resulting in a visually striking and high quality building envelope and a highly energy-efficient building, which will hopefully be enjoyed by generations of students to come.”

  • Burwell Deakins Architects

Queens University Top.jpg

Meeting the design challenge

Working closely with Kingspan’s technical team, a product solution was found to meet all of the design requirements for the building. The project design team faced a significant challenge to meet the required shape, style and performance in the specification, all within a tight construction schedule which made specifying the right products for the job vital.

Corten Steel is a weathered steel façade that naturally rusts over time, creating a highly durable, protective coating with a striking finish reminiscent of Belfast’s shipbuilding past. This made it the ideal choice for the project, as it met both the aesthetic and the functional requirements of the brief.