Quality, fire-safety and sustainability remain key for Rockpanel

Rockpanel Business Manager UK & Ireland, Mark Snowden, explains how the company continually adapts to a changing industry landscape. With an emphasis on product development and maintaining its position as an industry leader, the manufacturer looks to ensure specifiers benefit from its innovative, high quality, fire-safe and sustainable offering on a wide range of projects.

Has recognition of the vital role a robust specification process plays in the long-term quality and sustainability of a development improved in the last five years?

1.   As the industry has adjusted following Grenfell, it is evident from our interactions with specifiers that greater importance is being given to specification accuracy and building in-line with manufacturer recommendations.

2.   It is a welcome development where we hope to see robust, accurate and safe specifications adhered to rather than compromised on the grounds of cost or installer preference.

3.   Our specification managers continue to provide project-specific technical guidance which includes specification generation consistent with the latest legislation.

The Hackitt Review called for a culture change across the whole industry, how have manufacturers like Rockpanel played a part in bringing about such improvements?

1.   The Hackitt review aimed at providing a sufficiently robust regulatory system for the future and to make residents feel the buildings they live in are safe and will remain so.

2.   With that, we offer fire proof  facade panels tested and certified at A2 Euroclass rating.

3.   We support the market and our customers with comprehensive documentation and certification of our products and their characteristics. We also work hard on communication with CPD and training around the interpretation of characteristics like reaction to fire classification. For example, not all architects know that a classification of a rainscreen cladding facade is only valid for the end use conditions it is tested in: a classification of a product tested with mineral wool insulation is not necessarily valid for other insulation materials. It is part of our certification to show this so called Field of Application for which a classification is valid, helping specifiers to use the right materials in the right setting

The changes in building regulations continue to be implemented, how does Rockpanel help keep architects, specifiers and customers up-to-date with the changing regulation landscape?

1.   Ensuring fire safety is not just about choosing the right materials; it’s so much more than that. The complete design and construction of a building consists of many factors that all play a part in fire safety.

2.   It is therefore essential for architects and contractors to be aware of the risks and interactions between all these building components. Knowing the facts is the first step to a firesafe society. That is why we strive to proactively consult and advise. We also seek to clarify local construction legislation regarding fire safety where there tends to be misconception or misunderstanding.

3.   We offer a range of CPD presentations where a Rockpanel specification manager will provide insights on fire safety in  facade cladding and insulation, and host a Q&A answer session around fire safety and the specific situations our customers are dealing with.

Testing, certification and accreditation have always been important to manufacturers like Rockpanel, how has that commitment to quality products increased in the last 5 years?

1.   With stringent fire regulations in place there is a heavy focus on ensuring our products meet or exceed current fire safety standards, including the harmonized Euroclass system of reaction to fire performance of building products which is the leading certification.

2.   Certification by the Euroclass system is mandatory. The fire performance in this system is based on the Single Burning Item, EN 13823 (SBI) test, which makes this the leading test. 

3.   An SBI test simulates the start of a fire to assess the fire behaviour of building products. From this, the tested materials and assembly (kit) gets a classification (Euroclass) based on the parameters that are being measured during the test.

4.   These parameters include the flame spread, ignitability, the amount of heat, smoke and toxic gas release and whether a product melts, drips or chars. The classification is based on a specific end-use situation and field of application.

Fire safety remains one of the key issues within the industry, how do Rockpanel products lead to improved safety for buildings?

1.   At Rockpanel we believe that everyone deserves to live, work, play and learn in a safe environment.

2.   Rockpanel  facade cladding is made from naturally  occuring volcanic stone wool, which is naturally resistant to very high temperatures and therefore offers superior fire-resistancy.

3.   For high-rise buildings and high-risk buildings such as those for education and healthcare, we recommend the use of non-combustible (Euroclass A1-A2) cladding and insulation. Our A2 facade panels meet the highest European fire safety standards and are classified as Euroclass A2-s1, d0: non-combustible.

Can you highlight some projects which illustrate the benefits of a Rockpanel system and the expertise of the company’s teams in helping to create high quality developments?

1.   Riverside Heights is a collection of contemporary six and seven storey apartment buildings in a Norwich riverside setting. We were able to re-clad these buildings using a mixture of five authentic A2 non-combustible natural wood surface designs in randomised planks to closely replicate the original facades whilst protecting the buildings’ occupants from the spread of fire. The resilient nature of Rockpanel facades also ensure Riverside Heights will display the contemporary organic style for years to come.

2.   Merry Hill Shopping Centre in the West Midlands, is a recent large scale recladding project where the owners prioritised ultimate fire safety characteristics while demanding the highest levels of surface quality and visual impact. We were able to utilise a variety of unique surface designs and bespoke metals colours in geometric pyramid, diamond and curved installations to create A2 Euroclass rated facades which not only looked fabulous during daylight but incorporated lighting to illuminate the whole retail location to stunning effect after dark.

To find out more about Rockpanel fire safety click here.

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