Crossing the Thermal Bridge
With Part L of the building regulations set to change later this year, thermal performance and a ‘Fabric First’ approach to construction will be high on the agenda. No doubt the debate on how best to achieve optimal energy efficiency will heat up over the coming months.
It’s well known in the housebuilding profession that a high-spec envelope is one of the best ways to deliver achieve the peak thermal performance, reducing heat lost, conserving energy and ultimately lowering utility bills for the owner/occupier.
There are a number of ways to achieve superlative thermal performance, from the materials specified to installing systems which offer good ventilation while minimising thermal bridging. Ultimately, you’re looking to achieve a robust wall with a low U-value.
As any builder knows, striking the balance is a delicate art, where one seemingly minor error can have significantly impact a property’s ability to retain heat. This can become a major issue in the cooler months, especially in remote locales and areas with temperamental weather patterns.
Filling the gap
In such situations, a properly constructed cavity wall, using the latest and most sustainable products available, provides an excellent option for delivering an energy-efficient, low-impact build.
In the past, housebuilders’ construction options have been limited, but recent innovations in building materials mean they are no longer confined to only using environmentally unfriendly and cumbersome concrete blocks, particularly for backing purposes. These can now be replaced by non-porous, polypropylene sheets which maintain an effective 25mm air gap, an essential element in cavity wall construction. Effectively seals the wall against wind-driven rain and other outside moisture, the sheets keep the insulation within dry and prevent the formation of damp and mould.
The sheet itself allows for a thicker layer of insulation to be used in the cavity, delivering a lower U-value and improved energy efficiency.
An added bonus of using polypropylene sheets, such as the BBA certificated SureCav, is they help reduce embodied carbon, just like improved insulation through the removal of a layer of concrete.
In today’s eco-aware society, it’s crucial we push for more sustainable construction practices hand in hand with delivering more energy-efficient buildings. This is one cost-effective way to do it.
Ultimately, balancing energy efficiency and sustainability needn’t be a zero-sum game and we implore any housebuilder looking at their next development to explore all material options available to achieve this essential equilibrium.
So, if ‘U-value’ thermal performance and you’re looking to get ahead of the changes to Part L, then SureCav should surely be the only option to consider.