The reasons for refurbishment vary according to each project and type of construction but will invariably involve leakage or deterioration of the fabric, the need to visually upgrade older buildings’ or health and safety issues for example with asbestos.
Older buildings are generally inefficient in terms of energy. Recent BSRIA research has shown the average air leakage rates to be more than double the current requirements and in the case of industrial buildings more than 3 times the permitted level leading to significant heat loss and excess energy use.
Insulated panels by the nature of their single piece construction are ideal for re-cladding walls and roofs and have been used extensively on refurbishment projects for over 30 years. PIR cored panels have the best insulation performance for lowest thickness and weight and can transform the energy efficiency of a building to current standards with immediate payback on investment. They offer real practical benefits, such as:
- A single piece construction meaning a rapid refurbishment programme
- Minimum disruption
- The built-in insulation offers payback from day one
- Aesthetic options and modern look
- Safe, secure and minimum maintenance
- In most cases, can use existing structure
- Improved external and internal environment
- Low maintenance
- Increased security.
These are just some of the reasons why refurbishment with insulated panels has become the dominant feature of the refurbishment market.
Changes in regulatory requirements
Regulations have also materially changed. Energy is a major issue in terms of cost; its conservation; contribution to emissions that affect global warming; and potential tax penalties. Older buildings compare unfavourably with modern buildings constructed to the latest requirements and their viability can be questioned if action is not taken. Many also raise serious safety concerns with the continued presence of asbestos and other structural safety issues.
The latest requirements of the Building Regulations AD-L2 (England & Wales), Part F (Northern Ireland) and Technical Standards (Scotland) – Section 6 for extensions, material alterations and refurbishment of existing buildings are covered in the EPIC Guide on Energy Conservation – Amendments to the Building Regulations (2013/2014).
Case for refurbishment – an issue for our time
As much as it would be preferable to move into new individually designed premises for a business activity, in the majority of cases it is not practically or feasibly possible in terms of cost, disruption, workforce and geography.
For premises that are old, depressing and cash sinks when it comes to energy and maintenance costs, refurbishment is the only practical option in the majority of cases. Insulated panels have been used to improve the building fabric and the ‘bottom line’ ever since their introduction in the 1970s.
Much of the existing building stock within the industrial, commercial and public sectors was built to different standards and requirements and at a time of relatively low energy costs and life expectancy. Expectations have changed beyond recognition in recent years, both for the working environment – visual and required comfort – and also the external environment and environs.