Since the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, we have witnessed a nationwide operation to remove dangerous cladding from high rise buildings. Initially, the Government’s focus has been on those buildings with external cladding comprising aluminium composite materials or high-pressure laminate panels but increasingly, there is a recognition of the need to go much further – to fully consider and mitigate the risks of all combustible components within external wall systems. It is likely that future legislation on fire safety will affect building owners and managers of multi-occupied residential premises of any height, requiring detailed analysis of the potential fire risks within the external envelope and proposals to make the buildings compliant with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.
Cowan are currently working with both private and social landlords on high rise buildings identified as being at risk. Our role involves working alongside project managers to identify existing cladding systems that present a fire risk, then preparing design and specification proposals for replacement cladding that is compliant with existing and likely future legislation. Typically, this will require planning consent and Building Control approval from the Local Authority and may involve liaison with residents on the impact of any measures. We are also well placed to advise on the opportunity that such extensive remedial works presents in terms of concurrent low carbon retrofit measures. We share the view that, as a nation, we must support the long-term goal of dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and this means retrofitting our building stock to be more energy efficient. If buildings at risk must undergo disruptive refurbishment, there is no better time to consider solutions that will also eliminate fuel poverty and improve health and well-being standards for all residents.