Jun 20, 2018 Last Updated 7:43 AM, Jun 6, 2018

Why aluminium fenestration is ideal for sustainable social housing

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Nick Cooper, Technical Director at AluK, explains why aluminium fenestration is ideal for sustainable social housing.


There are many elements that are driving the construction of sustainable social housing. Building Regulations, standards such as Decent Homes and Lifetime Homes, as well as key performance characteristics such as security and energy efficiency, are all considered during the design and specification phase. Together, all of these aspects ensure the main components of a building fit together as necessary, to meet its functional and practical needs.

Fenestration, i.e. curtain walling, window and door systems, can have a significant impact on the energy consumption and security of a building. Research by the National Insulation Association has determined that 20% of heat loss in a home is through uninsulated windows and doors. Further research by the Home Office indicates that around 34% of burglars gain entry by prising open a window or door. These statistics highlight the importance of installing fenestration that meets and exceeds current standards, which is crucial in achieving bespoke project requirements.

Aluminium is the ideal framing material to consider when specifying fenestration as it has many unique properties. In fact, it is the primary profile choice within architecture and the built environment with an 81% market share, due to its other characteristics of durability, flexibility, strength and low cost recyclability.

The best aluminium profiles are thermally broken and feature slim sightlines to meet aesthetical demands. When integrated with the appropriate glazing, complete systems are able to meet very specific energy efficiency and security targets, as well as reduce external noise levels where appropriate.

AluK has been specified for a number of social housing projects that require adherence to both legislation and sustainability targets. One such project is the recent transformation of the former Mardyke Estate in Rainham, East London, to create Orchard Village. Circle Housing invested £80m to redevelop the old housing estate, creating 555 new homes to meet local affordable housing needs. Designed by PRP Architects and developed in its entirety by Willmott Dixon, the project specified AluK aluminium curtain walling, window and door systems throughout all four phases, three of which have been completed.

From the construction phase one in 2010, up until completion of phase three in 2014, the project adhered to the Building Regulations at the time and met Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4. The design brief also required all homes to comply with Lifetime Homes standards which are based on inclusivity, accessibility, adaptability, sustainability and good value. The aim of the standards are to make homes flexible enough to meet the changing needs of current and future occupants.

AluK SL52 curtain walling, 58BW TBT (tilt before turn) window, 58BD balcony door and GT55 TB commercial entrance door systems were specified for each project phase. In the case of windows and doors, Lifetime Homes requires that occupants have a reasonable line of sight from a seated position in the living room, and the use of at least one window for ventilation in each room.

The AluK 58BW TBT window and 58BD balcony door systems were designed with the tilt turn handles below 1200mm from the finished floor to meet accessibility requirements. To meet security requirements, all windows and doors complied to the Secured By Design (SBD) initiative, with the GT55 TB commercial door systems integrating electric strike access with key fob entry. The AluK GT55 TB is believed to be the first aluminium commercial door system to be SBD accredited.

Another project, Tredegar Place, saw the creation of 87 new homes on the former site of a cash and carry in Bow, East London. The Centra Living development brought much-needed family and affordable housing to the area.

AluK aluminium window and door systems were specified for the project, which comprises a mix of studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom flats and four-bedroom maisonettes, with private gardens set across three residential blocks. In addition, Tredegar Place also contains a single three-storey town house with its own private garden and street entrance.

AluK 58BW window, 58BD and GT55 TB door systems were specified for their slim sightlines and profile sizing which matched the developer’s design intent. The thermally-broken aluminium profiles helped the development to achieve a BREEAM 'Excellent' rating due to their energy efficiency qualities, comfortably exceeding the current Building Regulations Part L1A minimum U-value for windows of 2.00 W/m²K. Approximately 2500m² of AluK systems were installed at Tredegar Place over a period of 12 months.

The new homes are in close proximity to the mainline railway line to Liverpool Street, which gave the project teams further challenges to overcome. Enhanced system performance characteristics and acoustic requirements were needed for the windows and doors facing the railway lines. The project fabricator took these needs into consideration and incorporated acoustic glass with the AluK systems, providing the homes facing the lines with adequate sound proofing as required by local planning conditions, Building Regulations and British Standards.

AluK’s innovative and quality products enable architects and project teams to meet bespoke design requirements and deliver the differentiation which will help them to stand out in the market. This is achieved through better service levels, performance guarantees, hardware aesthetics and security and energy performance.



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