Award-winning scheme benefits from membrane

The Saffron Acres development

PROTECT Membranes has been involved in the supply of construction membranes to an award-winning timber frame affordable housing scheme in Leicester.

The 68-home Saffron Acres development, delivered by housebuilder Westleigh Partnerships and designed by architects rg+p, is the largest affordable housing scheme in Europe to achieve the levels of airtightness required to meet the Passivhaus energy performance standard.

The Saffron Acres scheme won Social Housing Project of the Year and Timber Frame Project of the Year at the Structural Timber Awards 2017 and was also the winner the of the 2017 East Midlands Residential RICS Award.

Protect’s BarriAir air barrier membrane was installed in the homes. John Mellor, product manager at Protect Membranes explained, “We market a range of different products such as construction membranes, roofing underlays and accessories.  Products are designed and developed under ISO 9001 and the environmental standard ISO 14001.

“Our involvement in the project was securing the specification and supplying volume material of membranes for the scheme, BarriAir being the one that was used internally within the walls and the ceilings to create the required airtightness.”

John said that the BarriAir membrane is capable of meeting the “stringent” airtightness levels demanded by the Passivhaus standard.

The material also offers vapour control properties. It is installed on the warm side of the structure, adjacent to the insulation and aiming to reduce heat loss and improve the thermal performance.

“All the building elements need to be high performing in terms of energy retention within the structure so that energy isn’t lost to the environment, thereby minimising the impact on carbon emissions. Not every structure is built to Passivhaus standards but we believe there will be more of a demand for this type of performance in the future.”

John added, “The Passivhaus standard is gaining momentum more and more now, we’re seeing U-value targets coming down and down. For example, the Notional Dwelling Specification (part of Building Regulations) states a target of 0.18W/m2K in terms of U-value for walls, whereas the upper limit required by Building Regulations is 0.30W/m2K – so actually there is an on-going drive to improve energy efficiency.”

Alongside the provision of the BarriAir product, Protect TF200 external breather membrane and Protect VP300 vapour permeable roofing underlay were installed.

Kyle McCabe, assistant site manager at Westleigh Partnershipscommented, “The BarriAir product from Protect Membranes has delivered outstanding performance at our Saffron Acres development and testing was a key contributor to improved airtightness, resulting in the last home tested achieving 0.22 ach-1 at the first time of asking.  The product was very reliable and good to work with, helping the scheme to achieve Passivhaus standard.”

Protect Membranes is a subsidiary of Cheshire-headquartered construction products manufacturer Building Product Design (BPD).

John explained, “Other subsidiaries include Glidevale, which is a company that offers a range of building products such as cavity trays, gas protection membranes, roofspace and building ventilation products as well as building accessories; we also have a company called Passivent and they offer ventilation systems for care homes, student accommodation, schools and commercial buildings.”

BPD also has an office in Perth to support the Scottish market and a network of merchants and distributors able to service immediate requirements.