World-first hydrogen trials demonstrate pathway to net zero cement

Concrete has strong sustainability credentials and is playing a vital role in meeting the UK’s ambition of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Increasingly, the industry is recognising the importance of measuring the environmental performance of a building over its whole life, rather than simply considering the impact of its construction.

JACKON UK receives daily questions regarding the carbon footprint of the materials we use. This is why discussing the life cycle of the current housing stock and future proofing buildings is so important. JACKON UK is relied on by many customers due to its broad range of climate-friendly, sustainable thermal insulation solutions and it is committed to contributing towards high-quality, energy-efficient and environmentally responsible buildings. 

The UK concrete industry is making great strides in its commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of its raw materials, and recent trials at Hanson Cement’s Ribblesdale plant in Lancashire shine a spotlight on one of many ways the industry is changing.

Led by the Mineral Products Association (MPA), Hanson UK and made possible by Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) funding, the trial used a mix of 100% net-zero fuel for commercial-scale cement manufacture. During the demonstration at the Ribblesdale plant, the proportion of fuels in the cement kiln’s main burner was gradually increased to a wholly net-zero mix consisting of tanker-delivered hydrogen as well as meat and bone meal (MBM) and glycerine. 

If fully implemented for the whole kiln system, nearly 180,000 tonnes of CO2 could be saved each year at Ribblesdale alone, compared to using the traditional fuel of coal at the site.

Dr Richard Leese, MPA Director – Industrial Policy, Energy and Climate Change, says: “Our sector is committed to advancing ground-breaking collaborative research and innovation to meet the industry’s climate change objectives. This world-first trial has demonstrated the potential of using net-zero fuel mixes for the manufacture of cement at commercial scale. 

“Building on the significant steps our members have already taken through the use of waste-derived fuels, in the future we envisage that combining the use of net-zero fuels with Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) technology will enable the production of cement to capture more COthan it emits.”

Energy & Climate Change Minister, Greg Hands, said: “This project, supported by £3.2 million in government funding, is a key example of how we are supporting industry to reduce emissions and move away from relying on fossil fuels.

“Fuel switching and developing hydrogen technology will be vital for decarbonising industries such as cement production and will help us further develop the green infrastructure needed as we drive forward the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution”.

Read more about this trial here

New ICF project near Reading

JACKON UK is delighted to announce that we have been awarded the contract to supply the THERMOMUR® ICF system and JACKODUR® ATLAS insulated concrete raft system to a beautiful American colonial-style project just south of Reading. 

JACKON brings over 60 years’ expertise in EPS and XPS manufacturing to the market. JACKODUR® ATLAS uses XPS (extruded polystyrene) and THERMOMUR® uses EPS (moulded expanded polystyrene) to create the formwork. In accordance with the current trend towards green building and zero-energy homes, the combination of JACKODUR® ATLAS with THERMOMUR® enables more rapid construction and the most energy efficient buildings.

The property will consist of three large retaining walls set back from the substructure (to allow access and aid in the waterproofing design), an ICF Basement along with 2 further stories and a wrap-around balcony.

JACKON participates in Grand Designs Live

JACKON UK recently attended Grand Designs Live at the NEC in Birmingham, promoting the fact that we are Future Homes ready. That means we’re ready for the tough new u-value targets for new builds when they come into effect from 2025 as part of the Future Homes Standard.

Grand Designs hosted an ‘Ask an Expert’ area where attendees could access free consultations with experts, including designers, planning and finance specialists, architects, builders and project managers. JACKON UK are thrilled to have received lots of positive feedback from these consultations. 

The entire perimeter of the ‘Ask an Expert’ area was constructed using THERMOMUR® ICF blocks so not only did ‘Ask an Expert’ provide the panel of experts with a closed-off working space to interact with prospective clients, but it also gave JACKON UK an opportunity to showcase their ICF construction products in an environment where all questions could be answered about this leading insulated concrete form. 

JACKON UK would also like to thank Matthew Worrall for his support and Tudor Beams for the constant supply of beverages and insight into their sustainable and cost-effective alternative to real oak.

JACKOBOARD® signs up as a Gold Sponsor of TTA Awards 2022

JACKOBOARD® is one of the first brands to give its support to the TTA Awards 2022 as a Gold Sponsor. JACKOBOARD® is no stranger to the TTA Awards, having been a Gold Sponsor in previous years as well.

Michael Hailwood, Director of JACKON UK & IRE, says: “I am really looking forward to celebrating the excellence our industry has to offer at the TTA Awards 2022. The association with quality and brilliance provided by Gold Sponsorship is absolutely right for JACKOBOARD® and it also provides a truly unique opportunity to promote our brand in front of a key buying audience from right across the tiling sector”.

Entries are opening soon for the TTA Awards 2022 at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole on 24 June.

Kay Porter, CEO of The Tile Association, says: “We’re pleased to announce JACKOBOARD® as a Gold Sponsor of the TTA 2022 Awards. Having major industry brands on board from the start is a real credit to the awards and we are grateful for the ongoing support of our sponsors, without whom the TTA Awards would not be possible.”

JACKOBOARD® appoints Martin Harragan to further strengthen its commercial team

Martin brings a wealth of experience which has been gathered from many different roles. His career started in 1992 as a Fabrication & Welding Engineer, and he later developed into CAD Design, Quality Management and finally Specification Sales and Key Account Management. 

Martin has worked with industry leading manufacturers who supply into building, tiling, plumbing, retail and dry lining distribution. These accounts were all stimulated by specification and contractor-led projects and Martin has been active in the complete value chain. 

By most recently specialising in XPS-based products and understanding these products’ versatility in many different applications, he lends his considerable skill set to support the technical requirements, sustainability performance and commercial positions in each target market group. 

Michael Hailwood, Director of JACKON UK & Ireland, says: “This appointment shows the intent that JACKON have to continue with our impressive recent growth and increase the presence in the UK specification market with the industry leading JACKOBOARD® brand. Bringing Martin to the company is an exciting opportunity, and we’re delighted to welcome him to the team”.

JACKON Building Systems selected for first ever ‘Passive House Standard’ dwelling in Scarborough

JACKON building systems were chosen for both the foundations and external walls to help achieve Scarborough’s first ever passive house standard private dwelling, achieving a net positive, zero energy home.

Designed by Architects Samuel Kendal Associates, this three-storey sustainable family home is embedded deep into the Scarborough Hillside, and comprises a semi-submerged basement housing a garage and music room, a lower ground floor for three large bedrooms and a top floor consisting of a large open plan kitchen and living spaces.

JACKON Building systems, JACKODUR Atlas raft foundation and THERMOMUR ICF, were the client’s preference and were chosen for their versatility, energy efficiency, speed of construction and cost effectiveness to help them achieve their aims of becoming net zero. 

The specialist ICF contractor Bondmor, working closely with JACKON’s leading approved distributors in the North of England ICF Building Solutions Ltd, utilised JACKODUR ATLAS for the foundation of the build. Bondmor and ICF building solutions worked hand in hand with the architect and the clients prior to construction to design the building around the JACKON systems to minimise wastage and increase on-site efficiency. The JACKODUR ATLAS was the ideal choice, as a zero waste, fully bespoke, cut-to-size foundation system helping achieve U-values of 0.12 Wm²K and a compressive strength of 500 kPa. The innovative design of the XPS system assisted the contractor in constructing the foundation in a matter of days, eliminating all thermal bridges whilst maintaining high performance insulation values with zero waste.

JACKON’s THERMOMUR 350HD blocks were utilised for all the subterranean lower ground floor walls. Selected for its 200mm concrete core paired with its energy efficient properties (U-value 0.22 Wm²K). Bondmor were able to construct the 6m retaining ICF walls quickly without the need for additional structural support from further retaining methods, saving the client time and money. The THERMOMUR 350HD blocks were externally clad with 100mm JACKODUR XPSK300 to seamlessly line up with the THERMOMUR 450 blocks above in order to achieve a U-value of 0.09

Chosen for its high-performance insulation values and its cost effectiveness compared with other similar building systems, the above ground exposed walls were installed with THERMOMUR 450 achieving U-values of 0.11 Wm²K. This wall structure far exceeds the requirements of today’s building regulations and surpasses Passive House Standards (U-value 0.15 Wm²K). 

Bondmor were able to effectively construct the ICF walls and openings to allow for ease of follow-on trades. Pockets were built into the ICF walls to allow for the universal beams to support the block and beam floor structure, openings were squared and formed to pre-determined window dimensions. This allowed the client to reduce the lead time on the window manufacturing and installation. Gable ends were cut to precise angles to allow structural bearing for the SIPS roof panel. Penetrations were installed for all service locations prior to concrete placement. JACKON ICF systems are metric dimensions with internal and external fixing points running vertically through the blocks every 150mm.

The JACKON Building System took just 27 days to construct. The clients were very impressed with the speed and efficiency involved. ICF construction is fast becoming a widely recognised modern method of construction for developers and self-builders. It integrates both insulation and concrete in one permanent formwork solution that provides many offsite, onsite and end-user benefits. These include: high performance insulation values and significantly improved airtightness, leading to reduced heating and cooling requirements, excellent acoustic performance, improved fire resistance, enhanced capabilities in extreme weathers with added benefits of reduced maintenance, as well as being accepted by mortgage lenders, home insurance and planning departments. 

JACKON brings over 60 years’ expertise in EPS and XPS manufacturing to this market. JACKODUR ATLAS is manufactured from XPS (extruded polystyrene), while THERMOMUR uses EPS (moulded expanded polystyrene) to create the formwork. The two systems fully integrate, leading to a reduction in the need for extra on-site labour.

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.”