24 May 2023

Commercial building envelope system guarantees: what should they be about?

At first glance, it might seem as though building envelope guarantees are all about the number of years for which the guarantee is offered. However, if the aim of a guarantee is to provide reassurance to building owners, then there are a host of factors to consider beyond how long it lasts. A guarantee must actually work for it to be useful.

If a building envelope guarantee is caveated to the point that it is useless, then it has no value. In addition to the number of years offered, a good guarantee should also be linked to the building and transferable to other owners; take a pragmatic approach to annual maintenance; and be backed by full system testing.

System testing in building envelope guarantees

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Guarantees are the perfect means by which to capture the reduced risk of a system solution. Designing a specification around the requirements of the building and its function adds certainty about how the building will perform. It also virtually rules out the ‘race to the bottom’ attitude of a contractor coming in and undercutting on price.

When a manufacturer offers a system with a guarantee, it represents a more comprehensive and all-round offer. It represents a level of support that includes things like design and specification advice, on-site checks during installation, and clear communication regarding what is needed to ensure the validity of the guarantee.

Traceability has always been an important part of building envelope systems. Few, if any, manufacturers have the capability to produce every component that forms the system they supply. Instead, they work with trusted partners who can prove their own quality processes.

As a result, they can offer systems with a choice of components to suit individual project needs. Combinations are tested by the system manufacturer and assessed by an independent third party, all of which is captured as part of the guarantee.

As well as providing reassurance about the responsible and reputable sourcing of components in the system, traceability is increasingly essential for aiding sustainability decisions.

Through environmental product declarations (EPDs) that report on the complete life cycle of components, for example, it’s possible to compile more accurate data regarding carbon emissions and other environmental impacts for a given project.


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Long-term benefits from building envelope guarantees

Building envelope guarantees deliver additional value to commercial projects for the entire span of the guarantee period. A slightly higher capital cost might be incurred by choosing a guaranteed building envelope system, but this is outweighed by thought out design solutions which result in efficient installation during the construction phase (reducing delays and making contractor call backs less likely), and lower running costs during the operational phase (thanks to the system performing as intended).

Benefits such as removing the need for unnecessary annual inspections deliver extra value. Such an approach saves cost and, more importantly, reduces future health and safety risks by avoiding work at height when it isn’t necessary.

Essential maintenance remains, of course, a necessary part of diligent and proactive building ownership. From the perspective of offering a building envelope guarantee, however, manufacturers can take a pragmatic approach. If specifiers and building owners are taking a sensible approach to risk management by selecting building envelope systems, then system manufacturers can do the same by removing the need for annual inspections.

Value also comes from attaching the guarantee to the building. If the building then changes hands, it is simple to transfer the guarantee from one owner to the other. This is a key feature of Tata Steel’s Platinum® Plus guarantee. There is no reason not to make a guarantee transferable and it makes the guarantee a real asset as a result.

About building envelope guarantees from Building Systems UK (A Tata steel enterprise)

Building Systems UK, A Tata steel enterprise, offers building envelope systems for commercial building, all of which are manufactured and coated in the UK. It manufactures, and directly supplies, steel faced insulated panels (including Trisomet® and Trimapanel®) built-up systems (the Trisobuild® range), ComFlor® composite floor decks and structural RoofDek.

Responsible sourcing certification, supply chain auditing, life cycle assessment (LCA) and EPDs, and extensive product testing all help to demonstrate the performance and environmental impact of system solutions backed by the Platinum® Plus guarantee.

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When specifiers choose a Platinum® Plus-backed system, Building Systems UK helps to create a complete building envelope specification and advises on the selection of components to deliver the necessary performance.

Building Systems UK also operates and maintains a fully integrated, local supply chain. Steel is transported between different manufacturing sites within the Tata Steel UK group by existing rail links, with systems in place to demonstrate exactly what materials have been used, and where.

Pre-finished Colorcoat® products like Colorcoat Prisma® or Colorcoat HPS200 Ultra® also provide access to the 40-year Confidex® Guarantee, to complement the Platinum® Plus system guarantee. The Confidex® Guarantee now includes cover for PV systems mounted on Colorcoat HPS200 Ultra®, whether the panels are clipped or fixed over the pre-finished steel.

To find out more, view the Building Systems UK range of solutions, or contact the building envelope team.

For further information