As we look ahead to 2023, Andrew Cooper, National Specification Manager from Senior Architectural Systems, one of the UK’s largest privately-owned manufacturers of aluminium windows, doors and curtain walling, discusses some of the ways specifiers can balance creativity with compliance and why collaboration will never go out of style.
Summer of change
Although it was preceded by many months of discussion and product development, 15th June 2022 was a date circled on the calendar of many architects, contractors and manufacturers across the UK as changes to the Building Regulations came into effect. With new tighter restrictions brought in to minimise the amount of heat and energy loss through doors, windows and curtain wall systems, Part L compliance, in particular, has dominated discussions about fenestration over the last year.
With the UK facing a major energy crisis, choosing more efficient systems has never been more important, and as we look ahead to 2023, achieving lower than stipulated U-values remains one of the most effective ways to design fenestration packages that reduce the financial and environmental cost of a building. But it’s not just about Part L and U-values. As well as reducing heat loss, fenestration systems play a key role in achieving design schemes that are compliant, cost effective and comfortable for the building’s users and occupants. Here, strategies such as improved natural ventilation and daylighting are becoming increasingly important and require specifiers to take a more holistic approach by considering how each product or system contributes to the overall efficiency of the building envelope.
Taking a new view on window styles
When it comes to specifying windows, aluminium systems are a firm favourite for the commercial sector, and the material is widely recognised for its sustainable credentials in terms of its recyclability, durability and thermal efficiency. With Part L compliance now a pre-requisite, design flexibility is set to come to the fore in 2023, with specifiers enjoying more choice and more benefits, in terms of thermally-efficient window styles. The popularity of Part L-compliant parallel push-style windows, which offer controlled and discreet ventilation, looks set to continue, as does the use of thermally-efficient reversible overswing windows, which offer ease of maintenance in high-rise buildings.
Choosing a system that has the potential to offer lower than required U-values, like Senior’s patented PURe aluminium windows, not only helps to ‘futureproof’ a scheme but can also bring flexibility to other areas – specifically the layout of rooms and furniture. By choosing a more efficient system, there is less need to install radiators in the conventional position underneath the windows. The flexibility that this brings to maximising floor and wall space has been widely embraced on many of our PURe contracts across the education sector and is something we expect to see more of in 2023.
Creative curtain wall choices
Aluminium curtain wall systems can be seen across a wide range of commercial projects, and the aesthetic appeal of large expanses of glazing is a popular design trend.
The use of curtain wall systems to boost daylighting has seen a rise in projects that incorporate seamless glazed facades and our architectural partners are increasingly asking us for solutions that will provide an attractive flush finish. Here, a capless curtain walling system is ideal. Also referred to as silicone sealed, this type of system can create a ‘frameless’ look as there are no face caps to interrupt the exterior view.
Although aesthetically pleasing, large amounts of glazing can potentially contribute to overheating via solar gain. This has led to an increase in the use of creative solutions, which look set to continue into 2023 and beyond, particularly after the record heatwaves of the summer. As well as collaborating closely with both the frame manufacturer and glazing supplier to find the best combination of products, savvy specifiers are also incorporating frameless window vents into curtain wall facades to offer effective yet discreet ventilation. Similarly, the use of feature louvre systems can boost airflow and provide extra weatherproofing in terms of offering protection against high winds. They also make a great design feature.
Big ideas for commercial doors
From schools to healthcare facilities, commercial office spaces to retail outlets, specifiers are always looking at ways to make entrances both accessible and aesthetically pleasing so that they complement the overall facade design. This has led to commercial doors getting bigger and bolder in both height and width. These larger entrances not only look stunning but when slim-framed aluminium systems are specified, there are additional benefits, such as improved daylighting. Owing to the need to tighten up on U-values, choosing a thermally-enhanced commercial door is a must, and a solution such as our PURe commercial door, itself the biggest and strongest door we offer, is a popular choice for a variety of different project types.
Tying up loose ends with the golden thread
There are many challenges currently facing the construction industry, and working with a sole supplier can bring numerous benefits. We are increasingly working with customers to provide the complete fenestration package for a project, and the popularity of this ‘one-stop shop’ approach already forms most of our order book for the new year. The reliability and transparency that comes from having all warranties and guarantees in one place contribute to the ‘golden thread’ of specification and encourage early engagement within the supply chain. Not only is this type of close and early collaboration best practice, but it’s also a pretty good New Year’s resolution to have and something that we hope to enjoy with more of our clients working across the commercial sector in 2023 and beyond.