With MMC construction a rapidly growing trend in UK construction, it’s no surprise the sector is expanding. But with any building system, safety, and in particular, fire safety, must be the priority.

One MMC that has proved its worth when it comes to fire resistance is Green Life Building’s (GLB) advanced building system, using M2 technology.

Used globally to construct more than one million buildings, the rigid and non-combustible sandwich panels at the centre of the system not only achieve a high level of energy efficiency and strength, but fire safety too.

Using Emmedue (M2) technology, GLB has the capacity to produce 700,000 square metres of panels a year, enough to build more than 3,000 average-sized family homes from its modern Corby-based factory.

The unique and adaptable building technique cuts costs, carbon output and construction time for developers, housing associations and local authorities.

But according to company CEO and highly experienced material scientist Chris Williams, it’s the safety of the system that is its most important facet, particularly when it comes to fire.

Safe as houses

“The tragedy of Grenfell has quite rightly put fire safety in the construction industry under the spotlight and there is of course a much greater sense of responsibility and caution when specifying and using materials on buildings of any scale,” said Chris.

“With any building system, safety is the most crucial aspect, and the overall fire performance and structural integrity, both during construction and throughout a building’s lifespan, must be carefully considered when using any MMC. It’s why we passionately believe in our panel and construction system.”

GLB’s M2 panels are made of self-extinguishing expanded polystyrene, completely encapsulated in reinforced concrete which cover the sides of panels to prevent combustion.

Their fire resistance meets international standards EN 1363-1,EN 1365-1, EN 13501-2 with approved laboratory tests providing a two-hour resistance to fire rating REI120 and a reaction to fire rating of A1 as standard.

“Our panels fully demonstrate high levels of fire resistance and the beauty of our system is the simplicity and the ability to adapt our core material to insulant systems, including EPS, rigid mineral wool, cork and foamed glass if required by client specification or building regulations,” explained Chris. “Different cores allow compliance with new UK fire regulations.”

With the Government considering lowering the building height threshold from its current 18 metres to 11 metres in relation to fire safety, restricting the use of combustible materials in and on the external walls of buildings, GLB is meeting the challenge head-on.

The company is currently working on panels to meet the requirements of buildings above 11/18m relating to fire regulations for walls.

“Our Hybrid panel is being considered a one of a kind for the UK,” said Chris. “The law change would preclude timber and other combustible materials from use in external walls and with some local authorities looking to implement these rules at ground level, we believe we fill a gap in major markets – local authorities buildings, high rise infill panels and roof top expansion. Our new panel will be able to be used without limits.”

With some MMC, by their very nature, new and innovative, contractors may have little or no previous experience of the assembly techniques required, which can lead to more chance of things potentially going wrong with a build and additional fire risks.

But with more than 35 years of Emmedue engineering excellence and continuous technical innovation, the M2 technology has been designed to allow for ease of construction so there is no way of cutting corners.

“The huge benefit of using MMC is that if you do it right then you can do everything better and safer and with less carbon than traditional methods,” added Chris. “Our building system has unique and wide-ranging benefits, including a quicker build time, a robust build quality and a reduction in build costs, while meeting the latest standards on sustainability and environmental performance.

“And it’s also a proven safe and fire-resistant system with almost four decades of experience. As fire safety measures must be a priority in the design and construction phases of any build, the GLB provides complete peace of mind, but the fabric being fire safe is only part of the story.  As there will always be combustible materials (fabrics, furniture, fixtures) inside your property that’s why we also recommend installing a Plumis Automist Smartscan fire suppression system.

“Not only does the system use 90% less water than a traditional sprinkler, tests have shown that it can extinguish a fire more quickly as well.”

GLB’s ultra-light panels, enclosed in galvanised steel mesh with connectors, can form walls, floors, roofs, stairs, and internal partitions to build a complete house, and can also be curved to give architects complete freedom of design. One truck can deliver a family home flat-packed, and there is no need for cranes on site. Once the panels are in position, onsite, a sprayer gives each panel a load-bearing concrete coat. The GLB factory can supply it’s system to suit your needs, and have the capability to perform more steps prior to delivery to speed up the time at the building site.

For more information on Green Life Buildings visit www.greenlife-manufacturing.co.uk. For more information on the Plumis Automist Smartscan system, visit https://plumis.co.uk/automist and  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZLapfcyAQ8

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