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Our extensive industry experience means that we hold a lot of valuable knowledge and we would like to share this knowledge with you.

Here you will find blog posts from the SIDERISE team including articles written by our technical experts. Find out more about our products and what’s going on in the industry for acoustic, fire and thermal insulation.

Chris Hall, Commercial Develop Officer for SIDERISE, considers the future of European Standards in a post-Brexit Britain.

Europe has led the world in improving building standards with the UK having played a key role in their development. But after the momentous day that was June 23rd and the UK economy appearing now to have weathered that initial vote-to-leave shock, where does that leave the construction industry in terms of EU regulations?

The British Standards Association (BSI) is one of 33 voting members of CEN (European Committee for Standardisation). However CEN rules state that you can only join CEN if you are a member of the EU or about to become a member. In the case of non-EU countries including Norway and Switzerland, their membership in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) qualifies them as well. When the UK finally leaves the EU it will therefore be essential for the UK to rejoin EFTA otherwise the BSI will have to argue for a change in statutes of CEN so that they can continue their membership of this organisation. And in that scenario, there may well be a lot of political pressure to keep us out.

But then what does that mean for the UK and what is the scenario of the UK walking away from the EU standard table? Any product intended for sale in the EU must meet the relevant EU standard. Non-compliance will clearly restrict markets. One of the key things about EU standards is that they do ensure a level playing field and are considerably better than each country having a different standard and system of compliance.

To add to this, the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) has, since 2014, mandated that all products produced for sale in the EU provide a declaration of performance and visible CE mark. In their BREXIT negotiation, the UK Government would be able to ignore the CPR and revert to BS standards instead of BS EN standards. This scenario seems unlikely as this would complicate matters with the possibility of two-tier standards. And that might a have a knock-on effect for manufacturers with variable production runs and increased stock levels.

And how does an EU standard compare to BS? Some BS testing is outdated and not as relevant to real-life scenarios. We tend to cling to some out of ‘habit’ when more representative standards exist. One such example is the adherence/preference of the UK to BS476 testing regimes for curtain wall perimeter fire barriers, when a specific EN test standard EN1364 offers a far more representative test option. The BS 476 standard tests curtain wall perimeter fire barriers in a static assembly, whereas the EN1364 tests simulate the dynamic movement of the curtain wall façade, which we would contend is a far more sensible and robust option. SIDERISE is amongst a very few suppliers who have opted for the EN1364 test, as we see it as far more representative of “real life”.

At the moment the UK has a vote and we can influence EU standards, and on occasion we could in theory ‘block’ standards that we did not like or at least modify them. One scenario is that we can go to meetings post-BREXIT, provide technical input, but in the end not have a vote – unless of course we negotiate some arrangement whereby we are allowed to vote. But that would appear to be fraught with difficulties. Whatever the outcome, we must not fall out of step with Europe. The costs to industry of totally abandoning EU standards are so vast as to be too horrible to contemplate.

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Chris Mort, Technical Officer at Siderise, believes that despite being a life safety issue the juncture between the supporting structure and external façade is quite often wrongly specified, or completely misunderstood.

Chris Mort, Technical Officer at Siderise, believes that despite being a life safety issue the juncture between the supporting structure and external façade is quite often wrongly specified, or completely misunderstood. This has become even more of an issue with CE Marking in place.

The ‘Construction Products Regulation’ (CPR) came into force on the 1st July which in effect makes it mandatory for construction products to be CE Marked prior to sale on the market, however this only applies to products with a ‘Harmonised Product Standard’ (hEN).

Curtain Walling external facades are covered by hEN13830 and therefore the final product being sold or installed must be CE Marked. Direct responsibility for this rests with the manufacturer or fabricator, with supporting Initial Type Testing (ITT) carried out by system suppliers.

Whilst there is ITT data available for all extruded aluminium elements, glazing, fixings etc., there is one critical element of ‘Life Safety’ that tends to be overlooked when estimating and designing a project. This element is the linear gap seal juncture between the compartment floor and the curtain wall where a suitable ‘Passive Fire Protection Product’ (PFPP) is required.

Lack of hEN’s

With PFPP constructions being ‘Life Safety materials’, albeit they come in a variety of forms, one would have reasonably expected these products to be amongst the first to be CE Marked. However, the reality is that there is currently no hEN that covers them. Consequently there is no formal route for CE Marking. A further reality is that the publication of any relevant hEN is also a number of years away due to the complexity of products and testing requirements.

Alternative Route to CE

PFPP companies can obtain a voluntary CE Mark by using the European Technical Approval (ETA) route and following a European Technical Approval Guidance (ETAG). For the linear gap seal at edge of the slab for Curtain Walling there is ETAG 026 Part 3. This document gives a prescriptive route to the correct test standard for this type of linear gap seal. Curtain Walling is covered by EN1364 Part 3 & 4. Part 3 is for full Curtain Wall screens typically 4.2m x 4.2m and is normally a test for ‘Fire Rated’ systems, whilst part 4 is a test of the ‘Linear Gap Seal’ and Curtain Walling which would occur at floor slab locations. Part 4 tests ‘Fire Rated’ and ‘NON Fire Rated’ systems.

Curtain Walling Designer / Fabricator

How does this affect you, with the majority of Curtain Wall systems being ‘NON Fire Rated’?

The hEN13830 for Curtain Walling section 4.10 ‘Fire Propagation’ calls for fire resistance to accord to EN13501-2 the ‘Fire Classification of Construction Products and Building’. The fire test standards for various construction products, and PFPP products that are installed into other elements of construction, fall within this classification. For Curtain Walling section 7.5.3 Classification of Curtain Walling states “Curtain Walls shall be tested in accordance with EN1364-3. Parts of Curtain Wall shall be tested in accordance with EN 1364-4” which is replicated in ETAG026-3.

Section 6 of the Curtain Wall hEN13830 however, allows for ‘No Performance Determined’ and only considers fire propagation from inside to outside, outside to inside and in both directions. It does not call for the inside to inside requirement, which is where the linear gap seal is required for life safety, as detailed in ETAG026-3.

Although it is apparent that there is no mandatory requirement for the Curtain Wall in conjunction with the Linear Gap Seal to be CE Marked, it is correct test procedure for all Curtain Wall Linear Gap Seals to be tested to EN1364 Part 4. This supersedes the BS476 requirement, which is now accepted as a minimum within the UK only.

Fire and Façade Consultants in the UK are starting to require compliance with the EN1364-4 test. This is a sign of change within the market that has been influenced by the CE Mark requirements for Curtain Walling.

The ETAG026-3 is part of the current work in Europe to produce a hEN for Passive Fire Protection Products. It is expected that this will be published within the next 2 years at which point the CE Marking of such products will be mandatory.

Siderise Position

Chris has been part of a research and development team at Siderise that has considered all of these requirements and has successfully tested a ‘NON Fire Rated’ Aluminium Curtain Wall to EN1364-4 with 210 minutes insulation and integrity on the full system, using the Siderise CW-FS180 linear gap seal and Siderise CW-FB protection system for the Curtain Wall. The team is currently engaged in further testing to EN1364-3.

Chris said that Siderise are interested in forming partnerships with façade companies that want to test their ‘NON Fire Rated’ and ‘Fire Rated’ systems. Contact facades@siderise.com for further information.

Laquisha
17 January 2015

What a joy to find such clear thinking. Thanks for posting!

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