The Concrete Block Association (CBA) has launched its part of the Modern Masonry ‘Better Built in Blockwork’ campaign, to educate the construction industry on benefits of concrete block construction.
The CBA has created an online portal, backed up with an events programme which focuses on the benefits of using concrete blocks. The portal includes guidance aimed across the construction industry, with everything from datasheets to support design, supplier choice advice and guidance as to the benefits of concrete blocks.
From ultra-lightweight to dense, concrete blocks are said to achieve the highest levels of fabric energy efficiency in the long term. Their attributes include:
- Fire and flood resistance
- Good acoustic performance due to mass and damping qualities
- A thermal mass that naturally keeps temperatures cool in the summer and warm in the winter
- Cost-efficiency; minimal need for ongoing maintenance
- Resistance to currency fluctuations as concrete blocks are manufactured locally in the UK.
To launch its ‘Better Built in Blockwork’ activity, the CBA is unveiling a free online U-value calculator. This tool provides interactive help in choosing block and insulation combinations to achieve required U-values. In addition, the CBA will offer a set of thermal bridging construction details which will be available free to download. These have been designed to help designers and SAP assessors optimise projects with accurate psi values for each thermal bridge.
Thermal transmittance, or U-value, is the rate of transfer of heat through a structure (which can be a single material or a composite), divided by the difference in temperature across that structure. To calculate a building’s U-value, you have to consider the different elements layer by layer.
The CBA’s online calculator will, therefore, help people decipher this equation and make the right material choice. It aims to simplify the process of finding the desired U-value, to ensure greater efficiency and accuracy.
The highest level of fabric energy efficiency can reportedly be achieved with concrete block construction. This will ensure long-term airtightness, minimal thermal bridging and gives different options for locating insulation.
UK building stock is reportedly, gradually becoming more airtight through the use of higher performance materials. During construction greater attention is said to be paid to the junctions and sealing between different materials. As a result, thermal bridging becomes of central concern as its relative effects are heightened. Especially in a cold climate such as the UK, any break in insulation can significantly add to heat loss. Thermal bridging can be responsible for up to 30% of heat loss in a modern building.
Andrew Minson, Executive Director of Modern Masonry, explained: “The U-value calculator is a really simple tool that makes a big difference for specifiers to help them make the right choice. Together with the extensive thermal bridging details and calculated psi values designers can ensure they optimise the thermal efficiency of masonry construction to meet regulations or even exceed them if desired.”
He continued: “Energy efficiency has been a core consideration for the construction industry for some time. However, consumers are also becoming increasingly aware of the impact their energy usage has on the climate, and realise better insulation means lower heating bills. According to an Energy Savings Trust survey, nearly 90% of UK homeowners completing a home improvement between 2013-2016 made energy efficiency upgrades.”