Temperature and air quality-controlled facilities, such as cleanrooms and coldstores, have specific design requirements which are essential for maintaining a consistent internal environment and preserving unstable products being manufactured and stored within.
Specifying materials for constructing this kind of environment can be complicated, with the products and systems selected needing to have demonstrated that they can meet strict standards for:
- Regulations compliance
- Thermal performance and airtightness
- Air quality
- Fire safety to insurer approvals (e.g. LPS1181 Part 1 – External, Part 2 – Internal and FM 4880)
Insulated panel systems that contain high performance insulation, such as polyisocyanurate (PIR), can meet all these requirements, whilst also allowing a quick and straightforward installation programme, helping facilities to get up and running sooner.
It is essential that perishable goods, such as food and medical supplies, are preserved in peak condition for as long as possible so that both the quality of the product and the safety of the end user is assured. The high thermal performance and airtight joints of EPIC-member insulated panel systems provide a structure which limits heat transfer, prevents air movement, and helps to ensure humidity and air quality levels are consistent.
The closed cell structure within the PIR core prevents moisture absorption or dew-point condensation in the panels themselves. This makes them preferable to products such as mineral wool as they prevent moisture becoming trapped and frozen within the core, risking the structural integrity of the facility.
In addition, the core is HCFC free, zero ODP and fibre-free which makes PIR-cored insulated panels a great fit for controlled environments where high levels of hygiene and excellent air quality are essential.
Whilst many insulated panels are specified for controlled environments primarily to maintain consistent temperatures, they can also be used within facilities where the risks of contamination need to be tightly regulated, such as within hospitals or the food industry. EPIC-member panels are available for walls, ceilings and building envelopes and the steel facings can be manufactured with appropriate coatings to:
- Meet strict safety standards and regulations
- Be easy to clean
- Be resistant to staining
- Be dust resistant
- Be anti-static
- Be corrosion resistant
The steel’s robust nature, coupled with the required coatings, make them ideal for aggressive environments, such as pharmaceutical and food production, where cleaning with abrasive materials is necessary to maintain high levels of hygiene.
In addition, many EPIC-member systems are supplied with warranties which guarantee aspects such as their coatings, structural and thermal performance for up to 40 years.
Structural and Aesthetic Flexibility
No two projects are the same and insulated panels provide excellent flexibility and offer a variety of benefits to be considered during the design and specification of controlled environments.
EPIC-member insulated panels are, by their very nature, self-supporting and allow for single spanning capability. This means they can be used for large areas with no need for supporting pillars, increasing storage capacity and improving the ease with which personnel and machines navigate storage areas.
Thermal breaks and rebates can be incorporated into walling to suit ceiling thicknesses.
Insulated panels can be supplied with a variety of finishes depending upon requirements, including food-safe finishes, which means no further materials or labour are required to build your structure. This saves time and money, as well as increases the internal space available.
A typical insulated panel will resist fire from between 30 and 60 minutes, and this allows organisations to demonstrate required compliance with the fire safety regulations demanded of them. There is no single certification that applies across EPIC, so it’s important to gain a copy of the individual fire certificate(s) appertaining to a specific controlled environment structure from your preferred supplier/manufacturer.
Insulated panels also tend to be excellent sound barriers and accredited testing ratings are available from individual member companies. Tongue and groove joints achieve excellent acoustic barriers, as well as vapour resistance, hygiene seals, thermal and fire performance.
The food and drink industry is one of the main specifiers of temperature controlled rooms and coldstore buildings, but insulated panels can be suitable for a variety of controlled environment uses, including:
- Chilled storage, often between 0 to 5°C (eg. food, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies)
- Frozen storage, often between -1 to -50°C
- Food processing and preparation
- Technological and electrical manufacturing
- Data centres
Insulated panels have been installed on many projects, successfully delivering and maintaining the desired temperatures and standards. Some examples of controlled environment projects that EPIC-member panels were specified for can be viewed in the benefits and applications of insulated panels gallery.
If you would like more advice or information on creating a bespoke solution, you can access our members’ contact details here.