Understanding Cavity Wall Insulation Will Help Builders Address Energy Performance Worries Of Property Owners

Understanding Cavity Wall Insulation Will Help Builders Address Energy Performance Worries Of Property Owners

It’s widely acknowledged that South Africa is facing an energy crisis. In an effort to make buildings more sustainable, the 2011 SANS-10400 regulation will be updated with Part XA, which focuses on energy use in properties.

Here we speak to Suria Ramnarain, Sales Development Manager at Knauf Insulation about how builders can use the new SANS-10400-XA regulation as an opportunity to add value to their projects by adding insulation to cavity walls.

Under the new regulation, each construction element of new buildings and extensions designed for human occupancy must meet a specific R-value – R-values measure how well a material of a specific thickness resists heat flow. However, the R-value may vary depending on the building use or region.

One of the easiest ways to achieve the required R-value on external walls is to add a cavity (an air gap) between an inner and outer skin. The introduction of cavities improves a building’s thermal performance, reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with heating or cooling the internal environment. This in turn results in savings on energy bills for the rest of the building’s life.

While simply adding a cavity to an external wall may meet the requirements of SANS-10400-XA, builders and contractors should be aware that this alone will not meet the changing expectations of property owners. This is because SANS-10400-XA is not the only regulation focusing on energy use in buildings; Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) will also be introduced and are likely to impact buyer or tenant demand where property specification is concerned.

EPCs will contain information about the energy consumption of buildings in South Africa. As a result, prospective purchasers and tenants of commercial premises will become more sensitive to the expected energy performance, or put another way the annual running cost, of buildings they are looking at.

In the UK, where EPCs are well established, one third of EPC points are awarded to insulation. This is because adding insulation during construction is the most economical way of improving energy efficiency. And, although it is possible to retrofit insulation, it is far more expensive and causes disruption to the tenant or owner. Therefore, adding insulation to properties being built now is by far the most effective way to future proof their value when EPCs become established. It is expected that once EPCs are adopted for commercial premises, they will then be rolled out to domestic properties.

So why is insulation so important? The greatest proportion of energy loss from heating or cooling a property without insulation takes place through its roof and external walls. Adding high performance insulation keeps buildings warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s warm and therefore conserve energy.

Research by the Clay Brick Association and the University of Pretoria has shown that adding a cavity to a property reduces energy consumption by 30%. But maintaining a stable internal temperature by adding insulation to that cavity helps to reduce it by 70% – meaning even lower fuel bills. Where mineral wool is superior to other insulation types is that it is non-combustible. Ceiling Rolls are certified under SANS 10177 parts 5 and 10 A/A1 for fire, and have a Euroclass A1 Reaction to Fire classification. Masonry Cavity Slabs (DriTherm) also have a Euroclass A1 Reaction to Fire classification and gives specifiers added peace of mind thanks to BBA (British Board of Agrément) certification.

Ultimately, a well-insulated building with a good EPC rating is more marketable and mitigates against future rising energy costs, whilst providing more comfortable living and working conditions. And unlike other insulation types, mineral wool gives the added reassurance that it will not contribute to the development or the spread of a fire should it occur. It therefore makes good business sense to install mineral wool insulation into cavities during construction.

Pratley Launches Pratliperl® At The African Construction Expo 2019

Pratley Launches Pratliperl® At The African Construction Expo 2019

Pratley showcased its lightweight, thermally insulating and fireproof aggregate, known as Pratliperl, at the recently held African Construction Expo 2019. The product is ideal for a range of applications, including thermally insulating plasters, screeds, pizza oven liners, bricks, boards and much more. It is best described as a modern solution for energy-efficient building.

Billed as Africa’s ‘must-attend’ construction event, organised by dmg events, and now in its 7th year, African Construction Expo 2019 provided a unique platform for over 9 500 construction professionals from over 45 countries to engage with key industry stakeholders and access valuable network opportunities.

Pratley, marketing director Eldon Kruger

The construction industry is an important market for Pratley, marketing director Eldon Kruger notes, especially when considering the ‘green’ aspects of Pratliperl. “Energy-saving is, and will continue to be, an issue for the world at large.” In South Africa especially, Pratliperl assists architects and construction professionals to comply with energy-saving regulations such as SANS 204.

Pratliperl is ideal for thermally insulating plasters and screeds

The sustainability features of Pratliperl translate into significant growth opportunities, Kruger highlights. “In South Africa, with a constrained power grid and the ever-increasing cost of energy, this is readily apparent. For example, you can literally double the thermal insulation of a two-leaf brick wall by plastering the inside and outside of that wall with Pratliperl. One can also imagine the benefits Pratliperl brings to low-cost housing.”

Pratliperl has excellent thermal insulation properties

Visitors to Pratley’s stand at the African Construction Expo 2019 will get to see common examples of Pratliperl applications, including plastering and screeding. Demonstrations of Pratliperl’s extraordinary fireproofing and thermal insulation features will also amaze our guests, adds Kruger.

Pratliperl is derived from a volcanic glass called Perlite, which is mined in northern KwaZulu Natal. The raw material is then expanded in special furnaces to create millions of small, well-sealed Pratliperl beads. Each bead has a small vacuum inside, giving the product its unique thermal insulation properties.

It’s like having millions of tiny thermos flasks,” Eldon highlights. The expansion furnaces are highly specialised, with much proprietary technology in their design and construction. South African Perlite, unlike Perlite in other parts of the world, is also very hard once it has expanded. This makes the mineral ideal for producing high-strength materials for the construction industry.

In terms of energy-saving and thermal insulation products, Kruger stresses that all claims by manufacturers should be verified. “There’s no doubt that these types of products are essential in ensuring compliance, but do ensure that what the manufacturer tells you makes sense. Consider the fireproofing aspect as well. Remember that many products may have exceptional thermal insulation properties, but what happens in fire conditions when they burn? Toxic fumes and smoke can be deadly. Ensure that the products you choose address this concern,” he concludes.

Established in 1948 by George ‘Monty’ Pratley, the various companies in the Pratley stable rest on a foundation of research and innovation in both the manufacturing and mining sectors. The various Pratley companies, drawing from 70 years of experience, have filed over 350 patents worldwide, and are ISO 9001 certified. Operating divisions are Pratley Adhesives, Pratley Electrical, Pratley Analytical, Pratley Perlite & Zeolite Mining, Pratley Craft & Decoupage, Select Hairdressing Supplies.