Construction Industry Today

Steni panels help with hard-to-heat homes

Three tower blocks of apartments in Aberdeen have been refurbished with Steni cladding panels.
Published 19 February 2014

Work has now drawn to a close on the £3.6million refurbishment with Steni cladding panels of three residential tower blocks in Aberdeen. Morven and Grampian Courts, and the sheltered housing scheme Brimmond Court, which were built in 1969/70 in the Balnagask area of the city, had been identified for a thermal upgrade under the city council’s housing capital programme which provides the catalyst to deliver many of the objectives in the housing business plan.

Over-cladding the three towers comprising 156 rented and privately-owned flats with external solid wall insulation and a mixture of a total almost 8,000m2 of Steni’s Nature and Colour rainscreen panels was carried out by Highrise Solutions for main contractor Lovell. Some 6,865m2 of Steni’s Nature panels were used on the majority of the elevations of the 13-storey blocks. Nature panels feature a surface of aggregated natural stones from Europe and are available in 17 different natural stone colours and up to five grades in many of these colours.

At Balnagask, they were fabricated by panel supplier CEP Architectural Facades, in more than 3,000m2 of beige and the fine grade for the east and west elevations and in almost 4,000m2 of white in the coarse grade for the south and north elevations of the reinforced concrete structure. The 850m2 of matt lilac Colour panels were then rivet-fixed, like the Nature ones on an aluminium rail support system, under new window pods.

These panels feature a smooth surface of 100% acrylic that is electron beam cured without the use of solvents. They are available in 44 standard colours and almost any colour from the NCS-, RAL- or BS- system as well as three gloss levels. Both the Nature and Colour panels are resistant to weather and climate, impact, moisture and water, chemicals, heat and UV light. They also feature excellent fire performance and environment credentials. The report to the city council’s finance and resources committee said: “The proposed over-cladding of these blocks would increase the energy efficiency of hard-to-heat homes in one of the city’s most vulnerable areas. It would ensure that these blocks remain structurally sound for the next 30 years or so, and would, in conjunction with the provision of district heating, reduce the impact of fuel poverty to the residents.” Far from the next 30 years or so, Steni’s Nature and Colour panels are designed to perform for more than 60 years.

In fact, Steni recently marked almost 50 years of manufacturing with the launch of a peerless 40-year functional warranty. This has been extended from 25 years on both Nature and Colour panels, which allow a modern, dry-trade approach to cladding, and dwarfs the typical guarantees of 10 to 15 years that are offered on traditional render systems. A council spokesman said: “Grampian, Brimmond and Morven Courts were built in the early 1970s when electricity was cheap and thermal insulation standards were poor and as the years passed these homes became very expensive to heat. We needed to upgrade them to increase their energy efficiency and help reduce residents’ bills.

“The external walls are now three times better at retaining heat than they were prior to the works. We have also extended our award-winning district heating scheme, which is currently the most cost-effective means of heating high-rise blocks, to these courts.” He added: “The Steni panels play an important part in the project by improving the weather tightness of the building fabric and to protect the existing reinforced concrete structure and precast concrete cladding panels from the elements.” Steni panels were also used to over-clad another three high-rise residential blocks at Seaton in Aberdeen.

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