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The Cladding Conference held at the Building Research Establishment at the start of November proved to be a great success.

The Cladding Conference held at the Building Research Establishment at the start of November proved to be a great success. Over 120 delegates from across the cladding and façade industry attended and were addressed by leading figures in their field on a range of topics.  

The early morning session was taken up with the hot topics of Building Information Modelling and CE Marking of Curtain Wall Systems.  The BIM presentation was given by Graeme Tappenden of the Cabinet Office's BIM Task Group who gave a broad outline of the Government's aim to procure all their contracts via the BIM route by 2016.  There are still many questions on how this will affect the cladding industry and companies that desire more information would be advised to contact the Centre for Window & Cladding Technology (CWCT) to gain an industry perspective.

If you have further questions on BIM contact the CWCT

Stephen Ledbetter of the CWCT gave the next presentation on the CE marking of curtain wall systems. Although the product standard is still in development, CE marking becomes a legal reality for the curtain wall industry from July 2013.  Although many of the big players in the market are ready there is still a lot of work to be done by smaller companies and time is now getting short.

The morning was concluded with a look at cavity fire barriers used to provide compartmentation at the interface of the building's slab edge and  curtain wall façade.  Andrew Kay of Siderise, the major sponsor of the conference, explained the need to accommodate movement and looked at some case studies where failure of the fire breaks had led to loss of life and buildings such as the Torre Windsor Tower in Madrid.  By using products successfully tested to EN1364 part 4, designers and contractors can have confidence that the firestop will meet the requirement.

The BRE did a wonderful job of providing a hearty buffet lunch with one delegate heard saying "do they do weddings?"

The post lunch session was kicked off with a highly informative presentation on the fire testing of rainscreen façades.  This was given by Stephen Howard of the BRE and gave a great insight into the different test methods available for rainscreen systems, particularly the BS8414 full scale test that can be applied to both masonry backed systems and lightweight framed systems.  Anyone wishing to test to this standard should contact the BRE.

Stephen's presentation merged seamlessly into the next one on cavity fire barriers used in rainscreen façades.  Steve Swales of Siderise explained how the need to keep an airflow behind the façade conflicted with the need to put in the fire breaks but went on to show how fire requirements can be met by utilising fast reacting intumescents. The important criteria for designers and contractors to consider when choosing a suitable product are the closure time that the intumescent is able to achieve in a fire test and the longevity of the product when considering the application where it will be installed in a moisture zone for a minimum of 25 years.

Siderise was the first to market with a ventilated façade fire solution

The Association for Specialist Fire Protection have long been advocates of third party certification schemes for both products and the installation of those products.  Their CEO, Wilf Butcher gave a lively presentation explaining the benefit of using such schemes.  For curtain wall contractors, by sub-contracting the fixing of the cavity fire barriers, they are able to get a Certificate of Conformity underwritten by the Certification Body that can mitigate their liability in the event of a fire.  Details of suitable schemes can be obtained from the ASFP.

The day was concluded with a presentation on acoustic treatments of curtain walls.  The acoustic requirement for reducing floor to floor sound transmission is becoming more and more onerous.  This can pose problems to designers, system manufacturers and installers alike.  Mike Carrick of Siderise is a member of the Institute of Acoustics and did a great job in explaining the problems and then showing some of the solutions that Siderise are able to offer to combat these problems.

The day was chaired by Mike Wood of Pilkington whose knowledge of all the topics discussed enabled him to excellently summarise the presentations and elicit questions from the audience.

The positive comments received from delegates have been numerous and based on these, Siderise will definitely be running similar events in the future.  Contact Siderise for a copy of the conference paper.

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