Alumasc External Wall Insulation Meets Challenge on Fife High-Rise

Alumasc’s Swistherm External Wall Insulation (EWI) has been used to improve the energy efficiency and external appearance of a 1960s ‘hard-to-treat’ high-rise tower block in Fife. Ravenscraig stands 18 storeys high and is typical of the no-fines construction methods used during that period.

As part of its commitment to meeting the Scottish Government’s challenge for all social housing to meet Scottish Housing Quality Standards (SHQS) by 2015, Fife Council included Ravenscraig in a programme of works to improve its housing stock, specifically targeting the issues of cold, damp and water ingress commonly found in no-fines properties.

Alumasc put forward the industry-provenSwistherm EWI system for the project to address the aged facade and significantly boost thermal performance. Swistherm allows the fabric of the building to act as a heat store, increasing thermal efficiency. Added benefits are that cold bridging, condensation and mould growth are eliminated and the structural fabric is protected.  

Registered contractor ECL Contracts installed 10,000m2 of the system, which comprised 100mm mineral wool insulation and high performance Silkolitt silicone render.  The refurbishment was funded by British Gas as part of its Energy Company Obligation (ECO) commitment.

The installation presented a number of challenges and by its very nature, required the implementation of Alumasc’s high-rise buildings policy to ensure site safety. The exposed coastal location made working on the site particularly hard during periods of high wind and heavy rain, and furthermore, with other trades on site, logistical challenges in terms of access had to be overcome.

In addition, extra consideration had to be paid to the integrity of the EWI fixings on the project, which were governed by the construction-type of the exterior walls.  Alumasc’s technical team provided ECL with structural engineering reports to address this, whilst maintaining a strong presence on the site throughout the installation.

Ian Dawson, Lead Officer (Sustainability) at Fife Council, is also very happy with the result, remarking:

“We’re delighted with Ravenscraig.  The overall effect is great and we were even able to tailor the finish of the lower storeys in a darker colour, to combat the effects of ground level traffic.  What’s more, we have received positive feedback from residents about their fuel bills already being noticeably lower.”    

Paul Roles, Northern Area Solid Wall Manager for ECL Contracts, commented:

“Despite the challenges, the Ravenscraig install was, on the whole, straightforward. ECL have installed Swistherm on a number of past projects and have always found it a good product to work with.  We have an excellent technical relationship with Alumasc and all parties concerned worked well together on site. The appearance of the tower block has been totally transformed, and residents love the new look.”

The Swistherm EWI system is BBA approved and is certified by the Energy Savings Trust.  It is fully warranted and is available with a range of design and specification options, across many building types.