SPECIFIER NEWSLETTER – ISSUE 11 – DECEMBER 2021

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This is the eleventh issue of The Build-Up! While that means we haven’t quite done a full year, the end of the year and the festive period seems like a good time to reflect on the newsletter’s (almost) first birthday, and to thank you for joining us on this journey.

Whether you’ve been reading since issue one or you’ve started today, we appreciate your time and attention. All that remains is for us to wish you a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year period. We’ll be back with issue twelve at the end of January 2022.

UPDATE

Focus on construction products

A big topic this year has been how manufacturers communicate about their construction products, and how information on performance and certification is presented. A few months ago we wrote a blog post on using manufacturers’ data to inform specification, and looked at a couple of different initiatives that will influence the way that manufacturers make data and information available to you as designers and specifiers.
 
One of those initiatives is the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI). We first wrote about this back in May, and we’ve produced an update blog post to reflect on the subsequent publication of the Code and accompanying guidance.

Getting more from Polyfoam XPS

We usually use this part of the newsletter to feature some aspect of Polyfoam XPS’s technical services. But it’s the end of the year and, let’s face it, we’re all winding down for a well-earned rest! So instead of product ranges and CPD sessions, we would like to wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Design resources

We’re all painfully aware of how commercialised the Christmas season has become, with unrelenting pressure to buy, buy, buy. If you want to do some shopping of a different sort, and browse a range of sustainable construction products that could be used on your next project, why not book an appointment at the EDGE eco product showroom in London?

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SPECIFIER NEWSLETTER – ISSUE 10 – NOVEMBER 2021

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We’re now firmly in the time of year when the cold weather means the heating is on, windows are closed, and clothes are frequently drying indoors. That puts a lot of moisture vapour into the air we breathe, which isn’t always properly ventilated.

As we keep striving to make buildings more energy efficient, the question of how we deal with moisture of all types – not just condensation – remains as critical as ever.

Whether it’s giving construction materials time to dry out, designing building fabric to deal with intense rain events, or addressing other sources of moisture such as the ground, moisture management should go hand in hand with conversations about thermal insulation, airtightness and ventilation.

Questionmark in window mist

Focus on BS 5250 and moisture in buildings

Throughout 2021, we’ve used this newsletter to give you the essentials on various standards and guidance documents. We’ve tried to help you understand what’s important about them and what impact they have on your work.

This month we’re looking at the recently updated BS 5250, whose name has changed from Control of condensation in buildings to Management of moisture in buildings. On this occasion, it’s almost impossible for us to pick out the highlights and parts that are most relevant to your work. It’s all important!

Our new blog post about BS 5250:2021 therefore looks at what has changed and why you should seriously consider buying a copy. We always say that many standards are big documents with a price tag to match, but in the case of BS 5250:2021 the question you might have to ask is: can you afford not to have it?

Design resources

We were interested to recently read this urgent call for a national retrofit strategy. Soon after, the government published its long-awaited heat and buildings strategy with much fanfare but little of the detail that many in our industry hoped for.

Retrofit seems to remain worryingly low on the list of priorities for our government, despite the UK having some of the oldest housing stock in Europe. Making these homes more energy efficient, and healthier and comfortable for occupants (including effective management of moisture!), has so many potential knock-on benefits in terms of meeting net zero goals and reducing healthcare demand.

The London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI, who we have featured in this newsletter before) has sought to fill some of the void left by the lack of government policy. It recently published its Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide. High profile building physics consultancy Enhabit wrote an interesting blog post asking whether LETI’s new guide is more useful than the heat and buildings strategy.

Path and park

Getting more from Polyfoam XPS

What is extruded polystyrene (XPS) insulation? How does it perform compared to other common insulation types? What makes it the ideal choice for below ground, ground floor, and inverted flat roof applications? Our CPD presentation, accredited by the CPD Certification Service, answers all of these questions. View the seminar online or contact us to arrange online delivery to your team.

Whether it’s guidance on designing and specifying XPS insulation, or U-value calculations and condensation risk analyses, we’ve got you covered. Polyfoam XPS’s technical staff have years of experience in the construction industry generally, and insulation manufacturing specifically, and are on hand to offer advice and answer questions at any stage of a project. Contact us through the website or email technical@polyfoamxps.co.uk.

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SPECIFIER NEWSLETTER – ISSUE 9 – OCTOBER 2021

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The 2021 UN climate change conference – COP26 – taking place in Glasgow is big news for obvious reasons.

The event has extra significance for the construction industry due to its focus on the built environment, making it a topic that we had to address in this month’s newsletter.

Man typing

Focus on product data and product information

As part of our ongoing series looking at “What do you need to know about…?”, this month we’re looking at some of the terminology and initiatives surrounding product data and product information.

Much of the current focus is on building safety, but specifiers increasingly require reliable and accurate information about environmental performance in order to make responsible decisions that can contribute to tackling the impacts of climate change.

Read our new blog post on construction product data to find out how better conversations between specifiers and manufacturers can help both parties to achieve better and more sustainable buildings.

Design Resources

With so much talk about increasing renewable energy capacity and the role that hydrogen could play as part of the future energy mix, you’d be forgiven for sometimes thinking that there’s been a loss of mainstream focus on simply making buildings more efficient. And by ‘efficient’ we mean both energy efficient, and efficient in terms of resource use.

For the built environment to play its part in protecting people from the worst impacts of climate change, it’s absolutely essential that we achieve high quality buildings that deliver long-term performance – something that this article from ArchDaily summarises neatly.

A lot of businesses and organisations still talk about using offsetting to address some of their carbon emissions, but it remains a controversial topic. The potential lack of effectiveness of carbon offsetting has been thrown into sharp relief around the world, as forests that are part of offsetting programmes have caught fire as a result of the increased frequency of extreme weather and climate events.

That’s not to say that some carbon offsetting programmes can’t and don’t work. There needs to be more clarity about what programmes actually deliver, however – which is exactly what this integrity initiative aims to provide.

The pace of change in this area remains rapid, and as ever it will be interesting to see how the construction industry adapts its behaviour in response to wider societal change. Equally, the built environment has a significant role to play in demonstrating that net zero can be achieved while keeping the need for offsetting to a minimum.

Zero falls roof

Getting More From Polyfoam XPS

Polyfoam XPS offers extruded polystyrene insulation for use in ground floor and inverted roof applications, among others.

View our complete range of Floorboard and Roofboard products, as well as accessories such as Slimline Zero WFRL for inverted roofs.

Product literature, declarations of performance and BBA certificates are all available online, or you can contact us to discuss which XPS product is best suited to your project

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SPECIFIER NEWSLETTER – ISSUE 8 – SEPTEMBER 2021

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Every building project has to start somewhere. Once the site is prepared, that ‘somewhere’ is usually the foundations and the ground floor.

The performance and quality achieved in a ground floor construction can set the tone for the rest of the build. We’ve come across plenty of projects where something has been done incorrectly in the floor build-up, and it hasn’t been rectified because nobody wants to delay the rest of the work through digging up a freshly-laid concrete slab.

To help with setting the right tone, the focus of this month’s newsletter is ground floors, and some of the advice and information we’ve published on our blog that you might not be aware of.

Of course, if you’re constructing a basement then your project starts below ground, with basement walls and floor. What questions have you got about basement construction and insulation that you’d like our help with? Email technical@polyfoamxps.com to let us know, and we’ll answer them in future months.

Man Screeding

Focus on ground floor insulation

We can probably name all the different performance requirements that a ground floor has to meet, but can we say that we always give them due consideration? Do we select the best type of ground floor insulation to suit the specific requirements of our project?

Thermal performance is usually the focus, with materials often chosen to meet a required U-value. But what loads will be imposed on the floor? What compressive strength does the insulation need to provide? And is the proposed specification ensuring that the floor meets the moisture protection requirements of the Building Regulations?

Follow the links above to read and share our ground floor blog posts, then email us, or reach us via the LinkedIn button at the bottom of the newsletter, if you have any comments or questions.

Design Resources

A vast majority of the construction industry operates in very traditional ways, but are those methods and processes fit for the future? “We’ve always done it that way” can be a mantra for designers and contractors alike, and this fascinating article on the complexity of buildings asks why that is the case.

Challenges like climate change and resource availability mean that some change is inevitable (the BBC recently featured an interesting piece on waste in construction). Back in issue 5 of this newsletter, we featured the House Planning Help podcast, and one of their recent episodes looked at digitally manufactured houses – could this be the future of domestic construction?

There are other examples of where people in construction are looking at different solutions to address needs. One that caught our eye was a modular development, designed to the Passivhaus standard, to help the homeless. What new or innovative solutions are you looking at currently?

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Getting More From Polyfoam XPS

If you’re short on time to read multiple blog posts on floor insulation, or if you prefer to get your learning from an accredited CPD session, then why not view our online seminar about ground floor insulation?

It’s just fifteen minutes long and answers any questions you’ve got about what extruded polystyrene (XPS) insulation is, how it performs compared to other common insulation types, and what makes it the ideal choice for ground floor applications? Our presentation is accredited by the CPD Certification Service, and you can view it online here.

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SPECIFIER NEWSLETTER – ISSUE 7 – AUGUST 2021

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It can be a minefield picking out the differences between construction products, especially with so many competing claims about what is the ‘best’ solution.

Insulation solutions are the perfect example – all offer a low thermal conductivity, but exactly how low do you need to go? Does it automatically follow that the insulation with the lowest thermal conductivity is the ‘best’ solution?

It all depends what you are specifying a solution for. Here at The Build Up, we try to take a broader view of building construction and performance, aiming for the best quality and the best long-term outcomes. This month we’re getting into the correct calculation of ground floor U-values, and looking at a comparison between XPS and PIR insulation. Read on to find out more.

If you’ve enjoyed this newsletter, or if you have suggestions for topics you’d like to see us cover in future editions, send us an email or reach us via LinkedIn.

Demystifying Standards

Architects and specifiers are often told that they need to know all about standards and codes of practice. But many standards are big documents with a hefty price tag, meaning they are not always accessible or digestible. Our blog post series is demystifying some of those standards.
Men pouring screeed on ground floor

What do architects need to know about calculating U-values for ground floors?

Last month we looked at the fundamentals of U-value calculations and what you needed to know about the combined method. This month, we’ve written about the specifics of ground floor U-values. Heat loss through a ground floor is different to any other construction element, and we look at the detail of what information helps us to provide you with the most accurate calculation.

Read our blog post to learn everything you need to know about BS EN ISO 13370

Design Resources

Raw material shortages, international shipping delays and product price increases are all putting a squeeze on the construction industry at the moment. It’s more common than ever for contractors to seek approval for alternative solutions that are more readily available or more cost effective.

If you’re a regular specifier of PIR insulation and you’re finding that price rises and product shortages are hampering your projects, you might be interested in our new article that sets out why XPS could be your new go-to floor insulation of choice.

Read more about our comparison of XPS and PIR floor insulation here.

Technical Support for BS6229

Getting More From Polyfoam XPS

So far in this issue of The Build Up we’ve looked at U-values for ground floors, and comparisons between XPS and PIR insulation.

We’re developing a range of resources about why XPS insulation is the ideal ground floor insulation solution. You can view our accredited online CPD session, and in the next few weeks we’ll publish a new white paper looking in detail at ground floor performance requirements and insulation options.

We are also developing a white paper and other resources looking at the use of XPS insulation in the base of masonry cavity walls, below DPC level.

While we work on these new in-depth publications, you can download our current white paper on inverted flat roof specification, including the assessment and certification of insulation systems

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SPECIFIER NEWSLETTER – ISSUE 6 – JULY 2021

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What makes a high quality building? The style of architecture? The feel of the internal finishes? Or the underlying building performance?

An argument could be made for any of those three things individually, or how they all interact in combination. A strong argument can be made that the highest quality buildings deliver energy efficiency and thermal comfort, with good indoor air quality and acoustic comfort as well.

The experience and knowledge required to routinely deliver high quality, high performance buildings exists – and a wealth of it is available for anybody to take advantage of. That ‘s what this month’s issue is about.

Feedback and suggestions are always welcome by email, or reach us via the LinkedIn button at the bottom of the newsletter.

Demystifying Standards

Architects and specifiers are often told that they need to know all about standards and codes of practice. But many standards are big documents with a hefty price tag, meaning they are not always accessible or digestible. Our blog post series is demystifying some of those standards.
What-do-architects-need-to-know-about-BS-EN-ISO-6946-and-calculating-U-values

What do architects need to know about BS EN ISO 6946?

There are multiple facets to building performance, but the starting point for many is the U-values that different building elements have to achieve to keep thermal transmittance low. How are U-values calculated? Read our blog post to learn everything you need to know about the BS EN ISO 6946 standard.

Design Resources

We’ve never had the pleasure of working on a project with the team at Greengauge Building Energy Consultants, but their newsletter is one we always look out for in our inbox. Each month The Heat of the Moment features Greengauge’s own detailed and authoritative construction-related insights, alongside interesting bits and pieces that have caught the attention of the team. Subscribe to the newsletter at the Greengauge website.

For designers looking to gain a better understanding of energy efficient buildings or to learn more about the Passivhaus standard, the Passivhaus in Plain English blog archive is an ideal place to start. As the name of the blog suggests, architect and Passive House Designer, Elrond Burrell, spent several years posting about building performance in a way that is accessible to all readers.

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Getting More From Polyfoam XPS

  • What is XPS insulation?
  • How does it perform compared to other common insulation types?
  • What makes it the ideal, robust choice for insulating ground floors?

Our CPD presentation, accredited by the CPD Certification Service, answers all of these questions and more in just fifteen minutes of your time. View the session online and claim your CPD certificate today.

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What Caught Our Eye This Month ?

  • Young Indian designer transforms building energy modelling (via CIAT)
  • World’s first 3D-printed steel footbridge and digital twin completed (via BIM +)

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SPECIFIER NEWSLETTER – ISSUE 5 – JUNE 2021

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Welcome to the June edition of The Build Up, and welcome to the increasing numbers of you subscribing. Thanks for reading and choosing to have us drop into your inbox on the last Friday of every month.

We’ve covered some different and varied topics over the last few months, but we’re back on familiar territory in this edition: flat roofing. As ever, please send your feedback or suggestions to us by email, or reach us via LinkedIn. 

Demystifying Standards

Architects and specifiers are often told that they need to know all about standards and codes of practice. But many standards are big documents with a hefty price tag, meaning they are not always accessible or digestible. Our new blog post series is demystifying some of those standards.

This month’s subject is a document called ETAG 031. How does it affect the inverted roof solutions you specify, and how much do you need to know about it?

Standards

What do architects need to know about ETAG031?

For architects and specifiers looking to include an inverted flat roof as part of a construction project, ETAG 031 is a document that is very likely to be referenced in technical literature for inverted roof solutions. But what is ETAG 031, and how much do you need to know about it to help you successfully specify an inverted roof? Find out about ETAG 031 here.

Design Resources

A few newsletters ago we mentioned Passive House + magazine, and their excellent in-depth coverage of low energy construction. In June they hosted their first online roundtable event, with an impressive array of expert speakers discussing the topic of thermal bridging. The event is free to view online here.

With over 300 to choose from, it’s impossible to single out one episode of the House Planning Help podcast as being the best place to start listening. The podcast covers every aspect of self-build and low energy design and construction. Many of the huge variety of subjects are of interest to designers and specifiers, and the guest is always an expert with lots of practical experience. Our recommendation: look for a topic that interests you, and start from there!

Technical Support for BS6229

Getting More From Polyfoam XPS

Whether it’s guidance on designing and specifying extruded polystyrene (XPS) insulation, or U-value calculations and condensation risk analyses, we’ve got you covered.

Polyfoam XPS’s technical staff have years of experience in the construction industry generally, and insulation manufacturing specifically, and are on hand to offer advice and answer questions at any stage of a project. Contact us through the website or email technical@polyfoamxps.co.uk.

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What Caught Our Eye This Month ?

  • Willmott Dixon maps waste firms to reduce carbon emissions (via bimplus)
  • UKGBC launches new Solutions Library to enable sustainable buildings (via CIAT)
  • Three new tools to reduce embodied carbon (via bimplus)

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SPECIFIER NEWSLETTER – ISSUE 4 – MAY 2021

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Welcome to May’s edition of The Build Up. In the spirit of being clear and unambiguous, let’s get straight down to business. As always, if you want to get in touch, you can contact us here or reach us via the LinkedIn button at the bottom of the newsletter.

Demystifying Standards

Architects and specifiers are often told that they need to know all about standards and codes of practice. But many standards are big documents with a hefty price tag, meaning they are not always accessible or digestible. Our latest blog post series sets out to demystify some of those standards.

Classroom

What do architects need to know about the Code for Construction Product Information?

This month we’re focusing on the Code for Construction Product Information. What is it and how might it effect the way you work? Although not yet officially launched, a recent consultation on a draft version has shone a spotlight on how designers and specifiers might interact with product manufacturers in the future. Find out what you need to know about the CCPI here.

Design Resources

Following on from the theme of this month’s featured blog post, the two resources we’re highlighting both do an excellent job of making complex information more accessible and clearer to understand.

The Designing Buildings Wiki is a crowd-sourced hub of construction knowledge, backed by high profile associations and organisations. There is an existing wealth of information, to which anybody can contribute in accordance with the site’s guidelines.

Building Regulations are a notoriously complex set of documents. The third edition of Guide to the Building Regulations sets out the structure of the regulations, their requirements, and the technical guidance of the Approved Documents, in a way that is easy to navigate and is arguably more logical than the ‘official’ publications. Approved Document B has been updated a number of times since the book’s publication date, but it remains a useful reference.

A construction office

Getting More From Polyfoam XPS

On the subject of making information about construction products clearer and more accessible, why not book one of our CPD sessions?

What is extruded polystyrene (XPS) insulation? How does it perform compared to other common insulation types? What makes it the ideal choice for below ground, ground floor, and inverted flat roof applications?

Our CPD presentation, accredited by the CPD Certification Service, answers all of these questions. View the seminar online (coming soon) or contact us to arrange online delivery to your team.

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What Caught Our Eye This Month ?

  • Tallest modular building in the world completes construction (via CIAT)
  • Building insulation: Is hydrogen our get out of jail free card? (via Energy Monitor)
  • Concrete batteries could create rechargeable buildings (via CIAT)
  • Building Services Design and Energy Modelling for Local Authority Housing Scheme (via GreenGauge)

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SPECIFIER NEWSLETTER – ISSUE 3 – APRIL 2021

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This month’s edition of The Build Up focuses on product manufacturing. We’re nearing the halfway point of the year, which means we’re also nearing the halfway point of the transition period from CE marking to UKCA marking.

What does that mean for the products you specify? We’ll try to answer that question, as well as give our regular round-up of news stories and useful design resources.

If there are any topics you’d like to see us cover in the newsletter, or if you have any feedback on what we’re sending out each month, you can contact us us at any time, or reach us via LinkedIn.

Demystifying Standards

Architects and specifiers are often told that they need to know all about standards and codes of practice. But many standards are big documents with a hefty price tag, meaning they are not always accessible or digestible.

Our new blog post series is demystifying some of those standards. We’re explaining how we apply them as part of providing you with extruded polystyrene (XPS) insulation products, and technical services such as U-value calculations. This month, we’ve chosen to focus on BS EN 13164 – what it is, how it relates to CE marking, and the transition to the UKCA mark.

Standards

What do architects need to know about BS EN 13164?

BS EN 13164 is one of a number of harmonised European Standards relating to the manufacture of thermal insulation products for construction. It covers extruded polystyrene (XPS) specifically. Read More.

Design Resources

The Get It Right Initiative, known as GIRI, is working to promote a culture within UK construction of learning from mistakes and seeking to eliminate error. Making improvements in this area would reduce waste and potentially save billions of pounds.

One of their resources is the Guide to Improving Value by Reducing Design Error, produced by the GIRI design working group.

At the end of 2020, GIRI hosted a webinar featuring the co-founder and director of the Designing Buildings Wiki. The session focused on knowledge sharing, and how better knowledge sharing can help to reduce error.

Technical Support for BS6229

Getting More From Polyfoam XPS

As this month’s new blog post looks at manufacturing standards for thermal insulation products, it’s worth recapping what Polyfoam XPS produces at its Hartlepool plant.

We manufacture extruded polystyrene insulation, in accordance with BS EN 13164, for use in ground floor and inverted roof applications. You can view our complete range of Floorboard and Roofboard products, as well as accessories such as Slimline Zero WFRL for inverted roofs.

Product literature, declarations of performance and BBA certificates are all available online, or you can contact us to discuss which XPS product is best suited to your project.

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SPECIFIER NEWSLETTER – ISSUE 2 – MARCH 2021

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Welcome to The Build Up, the Polyfoam XPS email newsletter. This month we’re focusing on flat roof design and specification, including how to achieve inverted flat roofs that perform as intended. As well as the usual round-up of news stories that have caught our eye, this month’s resources include a new white paper we’ve put together.

Demystifying Standards

Architects and specifiers are often told that they need to know all about standards and codes of practice. But many standards are big documents with a hefty price tag, meaning they are not always accessible or digestible.

Our new blog post series is demystifying some of those standards. We’re explaining how we apply them as part of providing you with extruded polystyrene (XPS) insulation products, and technical services such as U-value calculations. This month it is the code of practice for flat roofs, BS 6229.

guidelines folders

What do architects need to know about BS 6229:2018?

Design Resources

    • Inspiration to achieve better buildings doesn’t come much better than Passive House + magazine. Every issue features multiple in-depth case studies telling the stories of low energy new-build and retrofit projects. Each is illustrated with site photos and supported by in-depth technical detail of how the end result was achieved. Comprehensive news articles, enlightening expert columnists, and technical examinations of current building performance issues complete each highly readable edition.

 

  • Although focused on helping to put London “on the path to a zero carbon future”, the London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI) is creating resources that any construction professional can apply to their work, wherever they are based. Their Climate Emergency Design Guide is helping architects to approach a topic for which no formal standard currently exists, while documents like this Net Zero 1-Pager give a useful summary for anyone looking to engage with this complex topic.

Getting More From Polyfoam XPS

We’re excited to launch our new white paper, which is a detailed look at how the performance of inverted roofs is assessed and certified. If buildings are going to perform as they were designed to then it’s essential that designers and specifiers have confidence in the products and systems they select. This white paper explains everything you might look for in an inverted roof system.

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