In conversation with Rockpanel on recladding to future proof our skyline

SPEC     Please outline the task facing us now and over the next decades in terms of upgrading our existing built environment.

Rockpanel   Our cities and towns continue to grow, with ever changing needs and expectations. To help meet the challenges of today and tomorrow the building envelope must be able to adapt. Globally, more than 50 percent of existing buildings will be in use in 2050. In Europe alone, it is estimated 97 percent of these buildings need partial or deep renovation to meet the highest energy standards.


SPEC     What does Rockpanel see as its role in helping to bring about the changes required in order to enable these structures to meet the demands of regulators, building owners and occupiers?

Rockpanel   We believe recladding with a durable, fire safe ventilated façade offers an ideal way of future proofing existing buildings, especially in high rise residential properties and others which are considered at increased risk such as those used for education and healthcare.


SPEC   Can you explain how a ventilated façade works.

Rockpanel   A ventilated facade is a construction with an air gap between the insulation and the cladding. This gap is open at the top and bottom of the facade and the cladding panels have small open joints between them. A ventilated facade can be viewed as a raincoat: it protects a building against the elements, while at the same time helping maintain a healthy indoor climate.

Once in place, a ventilated facade reduces the direct solar impact on the building, resulting in a healthier indoor climate. It also offers thermal insulation, which contributes to energy efficiency, and acts to reduce the impact of exterior noise on those within.


SPEC   Can you expand on the main reasons Rockpanel should be considered the solution in terms of updating these buildings which fail to meet modern standards.

Rockpanel   Building owners have several options to consider in bringing their assets up to date, in line with building regulations and modern performance expectations. They might consider complete demolition and rebuilding, but that incurs enormous cost and severely impacts those who might live, work, study or are cared for within. On the other hand, Rockpanel offers them the opportunity to help solve a variety of issues, economically and with the least disruption and inconvenience to the building occupants.


SPEC   What do you deem are the main concerns addressed by installing a Rockpanel external cladding façade?

Rockpanel  Clearly, a main driver behind the surge in recladding projects Rockpanel is undertaking across the UK is fire safety. The recent toughening of regulations in this area mean the need to make changes is urgent. Added to that, necessary improvements to thermal and acoustic performance are key, alongside the desire to transform a building’s exterior, making it as attractive as possible to prospective investors and users. It is also vital any improvements made have a decades long life in order to make economic sense.


SPEC   How does recladding with Rockpanel deliver solutions to the issues you’ve highlighted?

Rockpanel   First, on fire safety, Rockpanel has a core of stone wool made from compressed basalt, a sustainable and readily available volcanic rock, which is bonded with an organic binder to deliver an A2 rated non-combustible panel. Used in conjunction with similarly fire safe insulation such as those offered by ROCKWOOL within a compliant sunbstrate, the installation offers the best protection against the dangers of fire.

From an economic point of view, Rockpanel is a light and versatile product which is easy to install, saving time and money. Recladding is generally carried out while the normal life of the building continues, minimizing disruption.

The hundreads of surface designs available from Rockpanel mean almost anything is possible, from matching the appearance of an existing non-complaint façade to the realisation of the most creative ambitions.

The resulting façade is highly durable, virtually maintenance-free and insensitive to moisture and temperature changes, resulting in savings on up-keep. That added to an offficially confirmed minimum lifetime of 50 years make a compelling argument in favour of recladding with a ventilated façade. Also, in addition to the sustainable materials it is made from, Rockpanel can be fully recycled at the end of it’s life, reducing the carbon footprint of the building.


SPEC   Can you describe a recent project where recladding with Rockpanel has achieved the results both stakeholders and Rockpanel were looking for?


Rockpanel   As part of the complete renovation of a trio of high rise residential blocks in a an area of Manchester undergoing extensive regeneration, we have carried out the complete replacement of non-compliant exterior cladding, matching and improving on the original natural wood finish, saving time on planning while dressing these 1960s buildings in around 9,000m2 of A2 non-combustible ventilated facades.

The positive impacts of this work include increased investement value for owners, improved interior environments for the residents of 186 homes and valuable enhancement to a neighborhood which has witnessed social challenges in recent years.


SPEC   Does Rockpanel have particular aims and guiding principles when it comes to recladding?

Rockpanel   We believe that everyone deserves a safe and inspiring place to live, learn, work or be cared for in. That beautiful and aesthetically rewarding surroundings have a significant effect on peoples’ wellbeing, and that these improvements to everyday life should be easy to bring about and cost efficient.

Since 2017 thousands of buildings have been identified as high risk, with some form of hazardous cladding, insulation or other element within their façade. The issue represents the biggest challenge our industry has faced in many years. It also presents an opportunity to vastly improve the quality and safety of our built environment whilst reducing its carbon footprint.

We continue to carry out many recladding projects across the country and are committed to helping improve life experiences now and for future generations.

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