Eurocell’s market leading PVC-U window profiles, technical expertise, and commitment to a sustainable future, is helping to underpin the success of a major ongoing property maintenance and refurbishment project in Birmingham.
As a result of the work undertaken in tandem with project lead, construction company, Wates, and fabrication partner, Shelforce, many of Birmingham’s social housing tenants are now benefiting from improved property insulation, lower energy bills, and aesthetically pleasing building exteriors, thanks to the specification and installation of new attractive windows with a minimum design life expectancy of 35 years.
Wates, one of the UK’s largest construction and property services companies won the tender to deliver a programme of property refurbishment for Birmingham City Council in 2016. The programme is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of over 31,000 low- and high-rise properties currently under the control of the council.
Among the primary elements of the overall project - which has now run successfully for over five years – has been to address the need to replace a large volume of windows in properties across some housing estates, as well as refurbish those situated in tower blocks around the city.
From a technical perspective, some of the key challenges Wates faced were to ensure that the window replacement solutions would overcome issues such as wind driven water access and have the proven ability to withstand wind pressures generated by the height of the tower blocks, as well as being able to meet the council’s aesthetic and sustainability objectives with a flexible, proven, and long-lasting window replacement solution.
Wates brought in its long-term fabrication supplier, Erdington-based Shelforce to oversee the manufacture of the window solution required to support the extensive and ongoing refurbishment programme.
To ensure the secure supply of the quantity, quality and finish of profiles as stated in the council’s original window specification, Shelforce joined forces with Eurocell in what has been a highly successful material supply and technical collaboration that has supported the overall refurbishment works in recent years.
Gary Driscoll, sales & commercial director at Eurocell, explains how the partnership works: “Eurocell supplies Shelforce with the Logik70 profile in an anthracite grey colour, as well as in standard white, in line with its material orders on a weekly basis. We also collaborate on technical aspects of projects around the window design. This, for example, can often be due to the challenges of dealing with the wind pressures exerted on high-rise tower block building windows that necessitate the inclusion of additional reinforcement within the window design. We supply all items to Shelforce in PVC-U apart from the reinforcement components or couplers which are provided in either aluminium or steel dependent on requirements.”
The joint desire of Eurocell and Shelforce to work together to create solutions to some of the technical challenges on the maintenance programme, has resulted in the development of a hybrid system, as Howard Trotter, business manager at Shelforce, highlights: “Any window runs over five metres need expansion joints, which is not something that is readily available in PVC-U. We have therefore developed a hybrid system using aluminium and Eurocell PVC-U which has been tested to BS 6375 for weather proofing and passed all regulatory standards.”
Building for the future
With much focus on the delivery of sustainable construction solutions that reduce the impact on the environment, having a green perspective has also been important for all partners as the refurbishment project has unfolded in recent years. With the original tender secured by Wates stipulating sustainability objectives such as the need for zero non-hazardous waste going to landfill, it is clear that caring for the environment has been crucial to the success of the programme.
Eurocell has been able to make a significant contribution in this regard. With its own recycling plants that transform old waste plastic products into new and reusable PVC-U profiles, all extrusions sent to Shelforce for fabrication come from a recycled source. In addition, the partnership approach across the programme now sees Eurocell work with Wates to collect and recycle the old windows being replaced. Such waste materials are then reused for making the new window profiles that Shelforce fabricates, which can also support the future needs of the ongoing maintenance and replacement project across the city.
Howard Trotter concludes: “Without doubt, we have seen a lot of benefit from our relationship with Eurocell across this important and significant city-wide refurbishment scheme. It has provided excellent technical support when required, including the provision of in-house training, as well as maintaining material supply despite the operational difficulties brought on by the pandemic. This has enabled Shelforce to continue to optimise fabrication production and supply to Wates and kept the project on track.”
Birmingham’s residents are enjoying improved housing conditions as new high performing window solutions remove draught-related problems and help to better insulate their living spaces. Not only are the Eurocell-profiled windows underpinning the practical benefits the refurbishment programme is designed to deliver, but the subsequent attractive aesthetic appeal of the newly installed windows is also making a positive contribution to local community landscapes across Birmingham.
Finally, all stakeholders recognise that important sustainability objectives are also being met through the specification of the new windows that emanate from a recycled source and are set, according to the Building Research Establishment, to deliver long-lasting design life expectancy into the middle of this century.