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What building regulations apply to brise soleil projects?

The safety and sustainability of buildings is covered by detailed guidance manuals – the Approved Documents of the Building Regulations. They’re based on ‘Eurocode’ standards, which have been adopted into GB law.

In a nutshell:  

  • Brise soleil projects are covered by the UK Building Regulations
  • The key building regulations relate to structural design, fire safety, resistance to sound, ventilation and conservation of energy and power
  • Façade companies work with structural engineers from Day One to achieve structural safety on every brise soleil system
  • The use of non-combustible materials and coatings is vital for brise soleil projects
  • Brise soleil specialist have a deep understanding of all relevant building regulations
  • Façade specialists will combine product expertise with advice, modelling and engineering calculations from specialist consultants

As you’d expect, understanding building regulations is an important part of the job for people in the construction industry. But many clients, architects and contractors still have specific questions about brise soleil regs.

Why is that? It comes down to the fact that pretty much every brise soleil project is bespoke, and is subject to many of the 16 areas of the UK Building Regulations:

Part A – Structure

Structural calculations are critical in every brise soleil system – and are the reason façade companies work with structural engineers from Day One. For example, how long can the blades be and what are the effects of imposed loads?

As we said, the UK building regulations are based on Eurocodes. Three have particular relevance to brise soleil systems:

EN 1990: Basis of structural design Establishes overarching principles and requirements for new structures ‘safety, serviceability and durability'.

EN 1999 – Design of aluminium structures - Covers fire resistance but is mainly concerned with metal fatigue, stress and damage to aluminium components under loads(including wind).

EN 1993 – Design of steel structures - Provides basic design rules for the construction of buildings and other civil engineering works in steel.

Part B - Fire safety

The Grenfell fire disaster is a tragic reminder of the importance of fire safety. The regulations were updated in 2018, when combustible materials in high-rise buildings were banned. Although Grenfell was a cladding project, the guidance is just as relevant to brise soleil. Today, architects and contractors want to understand the fire rating of different materials and coatings, and work with façade companies, fire marshals and safety consultants to find the safest and cost-effective option.

Part E – Resistance to sound

Will your brise soleil system make a noise? Don’t worry – this isn’t a silly question. So-called ‘harmonic resonance’ is an important consideration in brise soleil design and is covered in Part E of the Building Regulations documents.

In short, no one wants to hear the noise of the wind whistling past the blades. It could be a bigger issue in exposed or maritime locations. Brise soleil specialists will use 3D modelling, test mock-ups in a wind tunnel and engage with acoustic consultants to ensure the best solution.

Part F – Ventilation

You’ll often find brise soleil systems on car parks, where Part F of the Building Regulations includes sections on dispersing exhaust fumes and reducing light pollution from car headlights. When used instead of ventilation louvres (although the components are often similar), brise soleil blades can do both – letting clean air in but preventing ‘light spill’ from affecting neighbours or other motorists.

Once again, every situation is different. And although brise soleil standards are set in law, applying them to specific projects needs close collaboration between façade experts, engineers, main contractors and specialist consultants.

Part L – Conservation of fuel and power

It’s never been more important to consider the core purpose of brise soleil systems, and their ability to reduce energy use in times of soaring prices and global climate concerns. In short, while the sun can provide natural light and heat for buildings (reducing energy use and emissions) too much solar radiation can result in glare or over-heating, which may in turn need to be controlled by energy-intensive cooling, such as air conditioning.

This is where brise soleil comes in – by taking the sting out of high summer sun. But the sun shines in winter too, right? And at different times of the day. What’s more, many architects use brise soleil purely as a design feature.

So, while Part L of the Building Regulations may point you in the right direction, every brise soleil system will have different requirements. As a result, you’ll need to engage an experienced brise soleil specialist and M&E consultant to align energy conservation legislation with design intent, and the unique characteristics of the building location and aspect.

The role of the façade expert

Your brise soleil specialist will have a deep understanding of all the relevant building regulations. But, ultimately, their expertise lies in the design, manufacture and installation of the system. At Maple, we know that the best way to help clients is to combine our product expertise with advice, modelling and engineering calculations from structural engineers and specialist consultants. And it’s the same across the industry.

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