Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Levolux makes it cool to refurbish



The refurbishment of existing public sector buildings is becoming increasingly common, partly due to the public sector spending cuts that were introduced in 2010 and 2011. 

In most cases, demolition and subsequent rebuilding is not an option in terms of logistics or cost. Estates Management Statistics (EMS) research indicates that in England, over 40% of the university estate was built between 1960 and 1979. The fate of these buildings hangs in the balance, as the UK Government is committed to delivering carbon reductions of 80% by 2050.

Notable problems with buildings from this period include the application of single glazing, inflexible and poorly insulated cladding systems and the lack of adequate external solar shading. 

While the financial case for refurbishment might look poor, with costs in some cases as high as 80% of new build and increasing competition from new, more attractive facilities, there can be significant benefits in following the refurbishment route. Fewer planning restrictions, a shortened construction programme and not least, the benefit of a reduced environmental impact. 

In the past, the benefits of applying external solar shading could be offset by the increased risk of cold bridging, acoustic transmission and interstitial condensation. To overcome these problems, Levolux developed a unique curtain walling bracket which features a thermal and acoustic break. The Triniti bracket and Triniti RF bracket are ground-breaking innovations from the UK's leading solar shading specialist. The application of external shading for new and existing buildings is now possible without compromise.

As a case in point, we can look at the refurbishment of the University of Derby’s Kedleston Road site. Dating back to the early 1960’s, the site comprised of three multi-storey towers which were typical of the architectural style from this period. The single glazed, poorly insulated envelope resulted in high energy bills and poor environmental conditions. This was felt most during the summer, when solar heat gain would make rooms with south-facing windows uncomfortably hot.

The iconic towers have helped establish the University as a centre of excellence for developing talent, which has contributed to economic growth in the East Midlands region. As part of a £13.5 million refurbishment project, Levolux was invited to help improve the energy efficiency and internal comfort levels with the application of an attractive Timber Fin Solar Shading System.

Adjacent to the University’s main entrance, the South Tower is a dominant focal point of the campus, occupying a prominent south facing position. It provides almost 3500m2 of administration, meeting and teaching space over five floors. 

To combat the risk of excessive solar heat gain, through south facing, lower level windows, Levolux developed a custom solar shading system, comprising four rows of 450mm wide by 80mm deep, external Timber Fins. Installed horizontally along the building’s south east and south west elevations, the Timber Fins are fixed at an angle of 90 degrees and have a combined length of more than 52 metres. 

The finger-jointed, laminated, aerofoil shaped Timber Fins reflect and absorb direct sunlight, before it passes through windows. This significantly reduces solar heat gain, which helps to maintain comfortable internal temperatures, with less need for expensive, energy-sapping air conditioning equipment.

Levolux secured the attractive Timber Fins to the structure using its patented Triniti Bracket. It is the only known bracket to have an integrated thermal and acoustic break and has been proven to be 70% more effective at reducing heat loss, than conventional curtain walling brackets*. The exposed fixings and support arms have been given a dark grey powder coating, to complement the overall scheme.

The Timber Fins are engineered from Western Red Cedar, which is a lightweight, durable timber, requiring no application of a finish. Over time, the Timber Fins will adopt a silver-grey patina providing long-lasting good looks.

All timber used on this project was sustainably sourced and the Timber Fins, like all Solar Shading systems from Levolux, are backed by the company’s design, manufacture and installation package.

Combined with other energy efficient features, such as low E glazing, the Levolux Solar Shading system is helping the University of Derby to achieve a significant reduction in its energy consumption, which will consolidate its status as one of the most highly rated higher education institutions in the country, for environmental performance. 

*Results of independent tests carried out by the Centre for Window and Cladding Technology (CWCT) at Bath University.

For more information, visit www.levolux.com.

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