JACKODUR® ATLAS is the foundation for success

An amazing self-build property built on a JACKODUR® ATLAS foundation slab has won the Small Project Category of the 2021 Passivhaus Awards.

The property, Larch Corner, is located in Warwickshire and predominantly features modern timber engineering in its above ground construction. However, the building is based on JACKODUR® ATLAS foundation system from JACKON.

The JACKODUR® ATLAS Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) insulation and formwork system is an intelligent and efficient thermal insulation system for floor slabs and is ideal for constructing the foundations of energy-efficient houses.

The system comprises an economic interlocking system, which eliminates thermal bridges and has excellent compressive strength properties. Supplied cut to size, rapid and problem-free construction is assured.

In this particular property the floor has a U-value of 0.101 W/m2K and the building overall is claimed to be the most airtight house in the UK and the third most airtight house in the world, exceeding current building regulations 244 times over! 

Thanks to the elimination of heat loss through the floor of the structure, JACKODUR® ATLAS plays a critical role in helping Larch Corner achieve its net zero credentials. The owner and builder says that he was able to turn off the heating system in the house, provided by an air source heat pump and photovoltaic array, in March and hasn’t needed to use it since.

JACKON’S expertise in the creation of building materials for low energy buildings goes far beyond the manufacture of foundation systems. The company has over 60 years’ expertise in manufacturing both XPS and Expanded Polystyrene (EPS). While JACKODUR® ATLAS uses XPS, the company’s THERMOMUR® Insulating Concrete Formwork (ICF) EPS system can be used in combination with it, to create highly energy efficient buildings.

More information about Larch Corner is available on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VoWDIs_bLA&t=14s

U-values and why they matter

If you have been involved in any type of new build or refurbishment project lately, you have probably heard about U-Values. But what’s it all about and why does it matter?

The U-value is a measure of thermal transmittance through the fabric of a building, basically how well insulated it is. The lower the U-value, the better the building is at retaining heat within it, so the less energy is required to heat it (or cool it).

This is one aspect of improving the environmental performance of a building. Historically in the UK more emphasis has been placed on the use of renewable energy technologies to improve the green credentials of a building, for instance micro generation with wind turbines, solar panels and ground source heat pumps.

While these all have a role in helping meet the current environmental targets of the construction industry, their impact is reduced if the building fabric itself has a high thermal transmittance. Indeed the biggest gains in reducing CO2 emissions from buildings and also saving cost with regard to a building’s energy requirement are to be found in improving the fabric of the building itself – enhancing insulation and reducing thermal transmittance.

JACKON therefore very much welcomes the fact that the Government’s new Future Homes Standard is adopting a ‘fabric first’ approach in its drive to secure cuts in emissions of up to 80%. This is set to be a key part of the construction industry’s framework going forward, underpinning the planned green recovery of the housebuilding market in particular.

Achieving the lowest possible U-value is also a key criteria for a building to gain Passivhaus certification, since it is a requirement to achieve a 75% reduction in space heating requirements, compared to a standard UK new build.

Thermal transmittance, the U-value, is the rate of transfer of heat through a structure divided by the difference in temperature across that structure. The unit of measurement is W/m²K. Workmanship and installation standards can strongly affect the thermal transmittance. If insulation is fitted poorly, with gaps and cold bridges, then the thermal transmittance can be considerably higher than desired. Thermal transmittance takes heat loss due to conduction, convection and radiation into account. 

The U-value measurements can be calculated theoretically by considering the thermal transmittance of each layer of the building’s fabric, and there is a calculation method included in the relevant British Standard BS EN ISO 6946: 2017. This takes into account any mortar joints in the construction and also fixing components which have the potential to cause cold-bridging. Post-construction measurements using sensors are however the most robust way of assessing actual U-values, since they are able to take workmanship into account, as well as the actual materials themselves.

The current regulations aim for a target U-value of 0.18 for external walls as a starting point to achieve a well-insulated building envelope. Insulating Concrete Formwork (ICF) constructions have been achieving this target easily for years in their basic configuration, with no “add-ons”, while other types of constructions have had to push their limits in terms of cavities, ties and expensive insulating material in order to achieve the existing levels of thermal performance. 

The Future Homes Standard is up for further consultation, ahead of final implementation in 2025, but it is clear it will be a requirement for housebuilders to build well-insulated homes, in which on-site renewable energy sources cannot be used to offset inadequate insulation at the construction phase. The Government is proposing target u-values of 0.15 for external walls and 0.11 for floors from 2025, and there will be an initial uplift in Standards, coming into effect in June next year, via an amendment to Part L of the Building Regulations which sets the standards for the energy performance and carbon emissions of new and existing buildings.

JACKON is ready for these changes and is in fact arguing for them to be even more rigorous, by setting far more demanding air tightness targets. The new targets are not a problem, since JACKON’s THERMOMUR 350 ICF in its standard EPS configuration achieves a U-Value of 0.17 W/m2K. By using upgraded THERMOMUR 350 Super EPS that figure drops to 0.15 W/m2K. The next step up is THERMOMUR 450 with a U-Value of 0.11 W/m2K, which puts the building on course to become a Zero Carbon build.

JACKON is ‘Future Homes’ ready!

“The UK has set in law a target to bring all its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 – one of the most ambitious targets in the world. Homes – both new and existing – account for 20% of emissions. Despite progress reducing emissions from homes, we need to go much further.” Government introduction to Future Homes Consultation 2019

The Government’s new Future Homes Standard is set to be a key part of the construction industry’s framework going forward, underpinning the planned green recovery of the housebuilding market in particular.

With new cuts in emissions of up to 80% required and a ‘fabric first’ approach, the Standard will be the guiding principle of new housebuilding in the future.

A full technical specification for the Future Homes Standard will be consulted on in 2023, with the necessary legislation introduced in 2024, ahead of implementation in 2025. Following earlier consultation, there will be an interim uplift in standards, published in December 2021, and coming into force in June next year. This will be delivered through an amendment to Part L of the Building Regulations which sets the standards for the energy performance and carbon emissions of new and existing buildings.

It will become a requirement for housebuilders to build well-insulated homes, in which on-site renewable energy sources cannot be used to offset inadequate insulation at the construction phase. The Government is proposing target u-values of 0.15 for external walls and 0.11 for floors from 2025.

JACKON is ready for these changes and is in fact arguing for them to be even more rigorous. The new targets are not a problem, since JACKON’s THERMOMUR 350 Super range – currently the company’s best-selling range in the UK – already achieves 0.15 for walls with no added materials, and the JACKODUR ATLAS system can be designed to achieve 0.11.

JACKON brings its 60 years’ expertise in EPS (moulded expanded polystyrene) and XPS (extruded polystyrene) manufacturing to this market. It has two complementary systems, JACKODUR ATLAS which uses XPS (extruded polystyrene) to create an insulated floor slab and THERMOMUR ICF which uses EPS (moulded expanded polystyrene) to create the formwork.

ICF is a modern construction method, which is widely used in Europe and North America, but is still relatively new in the UK. It integrates insulation materials into the concrete formwork, totally revolutionising the way a house is constructed. 

As well as being easier and quicker to build, an ICF house provides massive advantages during the life of a building. These include: dramatically improved insulation and air tightness leading to reduced expenditure on heating or cooling; excellent acoustic performance; fire resistance; enhanced resilience to flood, extreme weather and seismic activity; rot and vermin resistance; versatility with regard to remodelling; minimal maintenance requirement; mortgage, insurance and planning acceptance.

The new Future Homes Standard surpasses the Passive House Standard in some areas – and the JACKON building systems comfortably exceed this. However on airtightness, the proposed Standard is for an ‘as-built air permeability’ of 5m³/(h.m²) @ 50Pa but JACKON believes a much lower figure is required. 

In Scandinavia, the home of JACKON’s THERMOMUR ICF system, the air permeability standard is 0.6 – almost ten times better than that being proposed for the UK! So rigorous a target would be a challenge for conventional construction in brick and block or for timber frame structures, but this is an easy target for ICF systems and JACKON believes this is a missed opportunity in the development of this new standard.

“Over the coming two years, we expect to see a lot of manufacturers struggling to reach the new target u-values,” says Colin Higham, Managing Director of JACKON UK Ltd. “However, we’re already there and can offer our customers innovative, ready-to-use building systems, which meet all the relevant standards – past, present and future – including the Future Homes Standard. We currently view it as a wasted opportunity that the Standard on airtightness is not being tightened up, as we believe that this is an ideal opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of modern houses still further. In third party testing we achieved 0.4 without significant additional measures around windows and doors so we are confident that JACKON building systems would perform strongly against a more rigorous Future Homes standard.”

New-build Devon house showcases JACKODUR ATLAS and THERMOMUR systems from JACKON

An impressive new house in Devon highlights the benefits of Jackon’s Jackodur Atlas insulated concrete raft system and Thermomur ICF blocks for internal and external walls.

Used together, these systems enable more rapid construction and in this project produced an insulated slab with a u-value of 0.15 and external walls with a u-value of 0.15. On some projects use of the Jackon systems enables even lower u-values to be achieved.

Laing Bespoke Homes developed the property and were amazed by both the ease of use of the Jackon systems and the very high energy efficiency of the completed building.

“Previously we had always built with timber frame,” says Christopher Laing of Laing Bespoke Homes. “However we were becoming disillusioned with this method. The rapidly rising cost of timber, its decreasing quality and worse tolerances were causes for concern. So we began to research alternative methods that suited our processes and aims.”

ICF is a modern construction method, which is widely used in Europe and North America, but is still relatively new in the UK. It integrates insulation materials into the concrete formwork, which can totally change and modernise the way a house is constructed. 

As well as being easier and quicker to build, an ICF house provides massive advantages during the life of a building. These include: dramatically improved insulation and air tightness leading to reduced expenditure on heating or cooling; excellent acoustic performance; fire resistance; enhanced resilience to flood, extreme weather and seismic activity; rot and vermin resistance; versatility with regard to remodelling; minimal maintenance requirement; mortgage, insurance and planning acceptance.

Jackon brings over 60 years’ expertise in EPS and XPS manufacturing to this market. The two complementary systems are Jackodur Atlas which uses XPS (extruded polystyrene) and Thermomur which uses EPS (moulded expanded polystyrene) to create the formwork.

Jackodur Atlas Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) comprises an interlocking system, which eliminates thermal bridges and has stable compressive strength properties. Supplied cut to size, rapid and problem-free construction is assured.

For the most energy efficient buildings, Jackodur Atlas should be used in conjunction with Jackon’s Thermomur. This is a robust pre-formed block with a hollow core manufactured from Expanded Polystyrene (EPS). The empty core in the block is filled with concrete during construction.

Jackon EPS and XPS products have a European Technical Approval and Passivhaus certification. In the UK the products conform to all the relevant British Standards and are approved by various insurance companies.

In accordance with the current trend towards green building and zero energy homes, the Devon house is highly energy efficient and makes full use of renewable technologies, solar PV, MVHR and rainwater harvesting, which together complement the well-insulated structure itself. 

The developer particularly valued the fact that within the Thermomur range Jackon have developed a unique high density EPS cavity closure of a sufficient density to allow doors and windows to be fixed directly to it – thereby eliminating any cold bridging.

Use of the Jackon systems enabled the structure of this large house, including gables and a large detached double garage, to be completed within just a few weeks. The speed of the build programme was made possible by the integration of the building components and a reduction in the need for extra onsite labour, especially in comparison to timber frame.

“Being able to achieve the target u-values for both the foundations and the walls immediately, with no other additions required, was very pleasing,” says Christopher Laing. “We like to provide buildings that are as environmentally friendly and futureproofed as possible and an ICF building provides great thermal mass and zero air permeability on clear wall areas. This new house is A-rated on its as-built EPC and, with exceptionally low air permeability, it is Zero Carbon.”

JACKON brings ICF innovation to the UK market

JACKODUR ATLAS and THERMOMUR, two Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF) systems from JACKON are set to revolutionise UK house construction in the coming years.

ICF is a modern construction method, which is widely used in Europe and North America and is just starting out on its growth trajectory in the UK. The system integrates insulation materials into the concrete formwork, which totally changes and modernises the way houses are constructed.  It is an energy efficient building method which creates insulated structural walls and floors for residential and commercial buildings.

As well as being easier and quicker to build, an ICF house provides massive advantages during the life of a building. These include: dramatically improved insulation and therefore reduced expenditure on heating or cooling; excellent acoustic performance; fire resistance; enhanced resilience to flood, extreme weather and seismic activity; rot and vermin resistance; versatility with regard to remodelling; minimal maintenance requirement; mortgage, insurance and planning acceptance.

JACKON brings over 60 years’ expertise in EPS and XPS manufacturing to this market. The company offers two separate systems – JACKODUR ATLAS which uses an XPS (extruded polystyrene) insulated core and THERMOMUR which uses EPS (moulded expanded polystyrene) formwork.

JACKODUR ATLAS Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) insulation and formwork system is an intelligent and efficient thermal insulation systems for floor slabs and is ideal for constructing the foundations of energy-efficient houses.

The system comprises an economic interlocking system, which eliminates thermal bridges and has stable compressive strength properties. Supplied cut to size, rapid and problem-free construction is assured.

For the most energy efficient buildings, JACKODUR ATLAS should be used in conjunction with JACKON’s THERMOMUR. This is a robust pre-formed block with a hollow core manufactured from Expanded Polystyrene (EPS). The empty core in the block is filled with a concrete pour during construction.

This system facilitates fast and easy installation on site and brings all the advantages of very high insulation levels, elimination of thermal bridging, air tightness, moisture and mould resistance and acoustic insulation.

JACKON’s EPS and XPS products are manufactured in Europe, with European technical and environmental approvals. These include European Technical Approvals and Passivhaus certification. They are proven to perform well and widely used in Scandinavia and other countries which experience extreme climatic conditions. In the UK the products conform to all the relevant British Standards and have BBA certification.

“Our high quality ICF systems make the construction of low energy, and even zero energy homes and commercial buildings, possible,” says Colin Higham, Managing Director of Jackon UK. “We believe that this system is now set for rapid growth in the UK, in view of the interest in energy efficiency and the Government’s green building agenda. JACKODUR ATLAS and THERMOMUR offer so many advantages both in construction and over the lifetime of the building, when compared to brick build, timber frame or any other building technique traditionally used in the UK.”