Published On: Tue, Nov 21st, 2023

The UK’s drive for sustainable housing  requires a fabric first approach

The Association of Composite Door Manufacturers (ACDM) has proudly endorsed the United Kingdom’s Government’s unwavering dedication to achieving Net-Zero emissions by the year 2050. ACDM recognises the paramount importance of constructing energy-efficient housing to fulfil this ambitious environmental objective while simultaneously reducing the burden of energy bills for homeowners.

Through its extensive membership network, ACDM actively promotes the continuous enhancement of pedestrian doorsets, prioritising the reduction of heat loss through external doorsets in newly constructed properties, including flats. This commitment aligns with the overarching aim of the UK Government to reach Net-Zero emissions and improve the overall energy efficiency of residential buildings. ACDM is steadfast in acknowledging that doorsets must not only meet energy efficiency criteria but also offer aesthetic appeal, security, and safety to their occupants.

In a retrospective evaluation of the initial Future Homes Standard (FHS) consultation conducted in 2021, ACDM notes the proposed U-value or ‘thermal transmittance’ requirements for doorsets and windows, aimed at reducing heat transfer through these construction products to 0.8 W/m².K. While several window systems have successfully developed products to meet this requirement, typically by incorporating high-performance glazing within triple-glazed Insulating Glass Units (IGU’s), this option is generally unattainable for doorsets due to the inherent size limitations of glazing which hinder significant improvements.

To even approximate the original proposal, a comprehensive redesign of the entire doorset, including substantial increases in doorleaf thickness and corresponding doorframe sections, would be necessary. This, in turn, would result in a more complex installation process and the need for enlarging brickwork openings, as mandated by Part M of the Building Regulations. These alterations could potentially pose challenges to occupants by increasing door thickness, requiring additional structural framework, reducing accessibility and aesthetic appeal.

Recent research conducted by another trade association has revealed that lowering the U-value of pedestrian entrance doorsets would yield minimal energy savings, with an estimated annual cost reduction of just £5 for homeowners. Given these modest savings and the considerable costs associated with Research and Development, including additional material expenses and increased carbon emissions during the manufacturing and transportation of larger doorsets, it raises questions about the economic feasibility of achieving the proposed U-value standards.

Russell Day, CEO of ACDM, commented: “We eagerly anticipate the release of the FHS consultation in late 2023 or early 2024, with legislative measures anticipated in 2025. ACDM, working collaboratively with its members, remains committed to supporting advancements in thermal performance for products in England, adhering to the ‘Fabric First’ approach – prioritising the inherent qualities of building materials before considering supplementary systems such as air source heat pumps. However, a judicious legislative perspective must be taken to ensure that any performance improvements do not lead to inflated manufacturing costs, thus maintaining a balance that justifies increased expenses for builders and developers while delivering tangible savings for homeowners.”

As the building industry continues to evolve towards a greener future, ACDM stands ready to contribute to environmentally responsible and economically sensible solutions for the benefit of both the environment and the individuals who call these buildings home.