Claire, the ‘illumina’ lighting expert

Yesterday I had a site visit by Claire Pendarves from Illumina ( www.illuminalighting.co.uk) to look over the room sizes etc. to refine her lighting ideas and suggestions.

It’s crazy, I expect to go out and buy a light that fits my taste. The more I read up and spoke to others about lighting, the more I realised it would transform or potentially waste all the amazing work to date (and planned).

Claire dives straight into considering every space, the different planned uses, the links between areas, the circuits, the lighting limitations (eg size of ceiling voids, or exposed coastal location for outside lighting) and used my lighting scrap book to show me installed work she’s done, photos of lights and a plethora of fittings from her Tardis car boot.

Even though Claire arrived at 10am, and left at 3:30pm, I think she let me off lightly in terms of toning down the talk of lumen’s, the level of white and a bunch of other technical considerations that are second nature to her.

Have a look at her Websites for work she’s done for others:

YPRADO GRP Windows and Doors

This week, one of the senior chaps from YPRADO came to the ARCO2 / ecofab offices to do a presentation on the YPRADO company and their Pultec®  GRP Windows & Doors.

Great to see a full sample window and a corner cross section.

GRP goes under several names:
GRP = Glass Re-enforced Plastic = Fiberglass Reinforced Plastics (FRP) = composite

Great to have the presentation and then discussion with Chris Dixon from YPRADO and the ARCO2 ecofab team.

  • Manufacture.
    • The GRP is pulled through the pulleys etc. The even and controlled drying out / curing of the GRP means that if damaged (like a GRP surf board) you don’t exposed glass fibres and un-cured resin that can give osmosis star crazing.
  • Maintenance needs (super low, just the metal hardware)
  • Lifespan (75 years plus, ease of replacing any glazing units that fail).
    • Outlasting PVC, Alu clad wood etc. means ends up being cheaper and lower environmental impact as one set of GRP windows and doors = 1+ sets if PVC, wood or Alu clad wood.
  • End of life recycling (theoretically possible, but nobody is currently doing this, but how much are Alu clad timber frames etc. properly recycled? Sadly, few if any).
    • In Europe their seem to be only 3 factories who can recycle GRP. ERCOM in Germany, MCR in France and Miljotek in Norway. They struggle to find markets for their recyclate.
    • Current end of GRP life is landfill (relatively cheap), incineration (50% becomes ash which is landfilled) or into cement production (energy from incineration and ash into the cement).
    • There is currently no market value for waste composite in the UK as recyclate. Other than a few firms which grind production waste and use it as filler. At the moment the recycling cost is too high. As the price of landfill goes up or the raw material price goes up, this could change.
  • Cost.
    • Outlasts alternatives, so over 30 years apparently cheaper than PVC.
    • Wood required re-painting every 3 or so years. Factor that cost in and the shorter life and more expensive.
    • Initial outlay can be lower. Current GRP quote from Pultec is a LOT less than the quote for Alu Clad wood doors and windows (that don’t have as good a thermal U-value !)

Photo of the sample window brought to the meeting. Focusing on the handle!

YPRADO - window handle

Pultec GRP Windows Specification

  • Triple glazed
  • Krypton fill
    • Argon has a thermal conductivity 67% that of air,
      krypton has about half the conductivity of argon.
    • Krypton is an inert gas, heavier and denser than Oxygen. It is colourless, odourless, tasteless and harmless. The Earth’s atmosphere is made up of approximately 0.00011% krypton. It is obtained by separating air into its constituent components by fractional distillation.
  • Warm edge spacers
  • Double Low ‘E’ softcoat.
    • This metal coating reflects heat (keeping heat in during the winter and sun heat out in the summer)
    • Soft coat Low E glass is more reflective than hard coat Low E glass.
    • Soft coat Low-E glass,  involves the application of silver, zinc or tin to glass in a vacuum. The glass enters a vacuum chamber filled with an inert gas which is electrically charged. The electricity combined with the vacuum allows molecules of metal to sputter onto the glass. The coating is fairly delicate or “soft.”
    • A “hard-coat” low-e application is done when the glass is in a molten state. The process results in a durable coating that can be used on storm doors and windows. A “soft-coat” low-e application happens after the glass is made. The soft coat is more efficient at reflecting heat energy, but also more delicate. This low-e coating always faces the insulating airspace in double or triple-pane glazing. Since soft coat emissivity can oxidize when exposed to air, argon or krypton gas is often used in the insulating airspace to help preserve the coating.

Summary of advantages of GRP Windows:

This summary is from an email from YPRADO.

Sustainability:

  • “A” Rated in BRE Green Guide to Specification for Sustainable Construction (UK)
  • BREEAM: 4½ extra credits potentially available.
  • 22% is from a recycled source. Product 100% recyclable upon disposal.
  • 65% glass content, (silica/sand, the most abundant substance on the planet)
  • Sensitivity Report (emailed to me), quantifying environmental credentials by sustainability consultants Price & Myers, London.

Energy Efficiency:

  • “U” values 0.8 – 1.6 “U” W/M2K on the total window. 1.2 U value achieved with double glazing only, no need for triple (thus cheaper and less wear on hinges)
    • I’ve asked for triple glazing, so even better U Values.
  • Low embodied energy in pultrusion manufacturing process (confirmed by GreenBuildingForum threads, where there was however some discussion regarding the embodied energy of the raw materials).

Durability:

  • Twice the strength to weight ratio of mild steel – cannot deform like aluminium
  • 75 years service life + 12 year Warranty.
  • Negligible coefficient of expansion, even if coated black
  • Performance unaffected in temperatures between +100C and -100C
  • Impervious to UV degradation
    • But the paint will slowly fade in colour.
    • The paint is over the white GRP frames. The paint chemically bonds to the GRP (unlike paint on Aluminium frames).
  • Impervious to salt corrosion and sea water.
  • Impervious to the harshest weather – effectively, indestructible by natural forces.

General performance:

  • Robust! – used on Young Mental Offenders Secure Units – Meets MOD anti-terrorist glazing requirements – DMG2 “Normal”
  • Secured by Design accredited – Police preferred specification – including both BS 7950 and PAS 23/24
  • Zero maintenance required – however, surface damage, structural repairs and re-painting can be easily undertaken on site, with no consequential liability for future applications.
    • You can just use surf board resin or similar.
  • High resistance to impact damage – will not deform under impact.
  • Highly price competitive with aluminium and timber/alu composite windows.
  • Any RAL colour available (200+ options)
  • Impervious to all chemicals and most acids.

Mats

In addition to the main front door having a flush inset door mat (see below), this probably also makes sense for the entrance to the boots & coats room

flush-inset-door-matt

 

flush-inset-door-matt-02

 

For general floor mats, these “eco mats” look good:

Eco barrier and door mats to keep your home clean and looking great. We’ve got fun door mats, mats for dogs, for keen gardeners and for doing your laundry. Super absorbent and durable, the mats get softer the more they’re washed and are made of 100% recycled materials by UK manufacturer Hug Rug.

 

 

Thermal Scanner

There are a lot of conversations on the GreenBuilding Forum:

That include using a thermal scanner for during and post build use of thermal scanners to check for thermal efficiency (leaks, bridging, U-values).

Wait for the heating to be working, so that it’s warmer inside than outside by 8C or more (so probably winter !) and start using a scanner.

From inside, to look in all directions (floor, walls, ceiling) and from as many external aspects as you can. You could find where (for example) insulation in the wall has perhaps sagged and left a less insulated section.

Yes you’ll possibly find problems when it’s too late (ie not during the build) but better late than never, as you may still be able to improve where these problems are.
– if it’s during the build, but post final hand over, you can get the builder(s) in to sort out the problems.

It’d also be interesting to 2, 3, 5, 10, 20 years on to do the same and see how the building has held up.
– yes it’d be good to also get an air test several years in.

Cost Implication / Problem

One problem with this plan is that an air test is about £300 at the moment. That’s a lot, unless you believe there is a big reduction in the building efficiency and you want to check, to confirm (and if the case) resolve what has failed over time.

FLIR Thermal Image cameras start at around £1,000 and what training / learning do you need to use one properly?

 

FLIR i3 / i5 / i7 camera model comparison

From http://www.flir.com/cs/emea/en/view/?id=42844

 FLIR i3 FLIR i5 FLIR i7
Thermal image quality:
60×60 pixels
Thermal image quality:
100×100 pixels
Thermal image quality:
140×140 pixels
Field of View:
12.5°(H) x 12.5°(V)
Field of View:
21°(H) x 21°(V)
Field of View:
29°(H) x 29°(V)
Center spot Center spot Spotmeter, area with max./min. temperature, isotherm above/below
Thermal sensitivity: 0.15°C Thermal sensitivity: 0.10°C Thermal sensitivity: 0.10°C

“Modern” kitchen elements

From http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/1393668

“Contemporary” typically means of the moment or current, the design of right now. “Modern” refers to a specific design style from the early to mid 20th century that broke with the traditional styles of the days before the Industrial Revolution.

When I think of modern kitchen designs, I think of frameless cabinets, sleek and simple hardware, strong horizontal lines and a lack of ornamentation, with the natural beauty of the materials shining through.

Looking at the Houzz page on Contemporary kitchens, I’m biased to their definition of “modern”.

Back to the Modern Kitchen look and feel:

Flat panel door style (aka slab-door)

modern-kitchen_flat panel doors

Full overlay door, ie the door overlays the cabinet box.

modern-kitchen_full overlay door

 

Lack of ornamentation. ie no patterned tile shapes or multiple materials with textures. So sleek hardware, full height glass splashback. No patterns or veining on coutertops.

Emphasis on horizontal lines.

The picture below is also from Houzz.  Long clean lines.
– but on the detail, I want the hob elements on the island, not the sink. It’s more social to cook around the hob and putting the sink on the back wall means dirty dishes and dishes that are drying are more out of sight.

contemporary-kitchen

 

The picture below is from the Remo Alabaster Linear Second Nature kitchen. They have Falmouth and Wadebridge offices.

Pro’s and Con’s of kitchen counter top options

From http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/1623075

USA and US$ figures, so likely to be a bit different in the UK:

Granite

Pros: Granite’s beautiful mottling and the host of colors and patterns found in nature make each piece one of a kind. It stands up well to splashes, knife nicks, heat and other wear and tear.

Cons: Like most stone, granite must be sealed every so often to avoid stains. And its heaviness means you’ll need very sturdy cabinet boxes to support the weight.

Cost: $35 to $100 per square foot, installed

Solid Surfacing

Made primarily from acrylic and polyester, solid surfacing first was sold under the brand name Corian, which is often (erroneously) used as a generic term for it. Today, it’s made by a host of manufacturers and has enjoyed steady popularity over the years.

Pros: Because solid surfacing is nonporous, it’s virtually maintenance free — no sealing or special cleaning required. Although it can be susceptible to scratches and burns, those are easy to sand out. Color and pattern options are extensive, and because you’re not trying for the look of a natural material, you can experiment with vibrant hues such as turquoise or tomato red. Seamless installation means there are no cracks to trap dirt and debris.

Cons: Solid surfacing can have a patently artificial look and feel, yet can approach the price of natural stone. As mentioned above, it doesn’t stand up to hot pans or sharp knives as well as other materials.

Cost: $35 to $100 per square foot, installed

Quartz Surfacing

Crafted of resin and quartz chips tinted with color, quartz surfacing (also called engineered quartz or engineered stone) is a good compromise between the beauty of stone and the easy care of solid surfacing.

Pros: Quartz surfacing has the same advantages as solid surfacing with regard to maintenance. As an engineered product, it’s available in a far greater range of colors and patterns than natural stone.

Cons: This material doesn’t have the natural variegation of granite, so it may be evident that it’s an engineered product. It’s relatively pricey, although its durability can make it a worthwhile investment.

Cost: $40 to $90 per square foot, installed

Marble

Is there anything that looks and feels more glamorous than a marble countertop? Peerless in terms of its luminescence and distinctive veining, it’s an ultratraditional choice.

Pros: Nothing beats marble for sheer elegance. It stands up to heat well, and because it remains perennially cool, it’s a traditional choice for pastry and baking stations (read: Dough won’t get too soft).

Cons: Marble is very susceptible to stains, even with sealing. For that reason, it’s not often used throughout an entire kitchen — most homeowners limit it to one or two small areas. It can also scratch and chip.

Cost: $40 to $100 per square foot, installed

Tile

Modular and inexpensive, ceramic and porcelain tile offers nearly limitless options for colors and designs. Tile works with almost any kitchen style, from country to majestic Old World.

Pros: It holds its own against heat and sharp blades, and resists stains. If one or two tiles chip or crack, they’re fairly easy to replace.

Cons: Tile’s uneven surface can make it difficult to balance a cutting board or roll out a pie crust. Unsealed grout is prone to staining; standing moisture can damage it and contribute to bacterial growth.

Cost: $10 to $80 per square foot, installed

Laminate

Made of paper blended with resins and fused to particle board, laminate has been a kitchen mainstay for decades. In the past, it hasn’t always had a reputation as stylish, but that’s changing: The latest designs on the market mimic stone, butcher block and other pricier surfaces.

Pros: Laminate is one of the most affordable countertop materials, so it’s a good choice if your budget is tight. It’s low maintenance and easy to clean. Its light weight doesn’t require the support of a thick cabinet base.

Cons: Laminate is prone to scratching, burns and, in some cases, staining. With wear and moisture exposure, the layers can peel. Because of the raw particle board core, you can’t use laminate with undermount sinks, and it’s also difficult to repair if it gets damaged.

Cost: $10 to $30 per square foot, installed

Soapstone

Although it’s in no danger of overtaking granite, soapstone has come into its own as a countertop material. It offers subtle, nuanced beauty yet feels humbler than granite or marble.

Pros: Soapstone has a natural softness and depth that fits very well with older and cottage-style homes. Although it usually starts out light to medium gray, it darkens with time. (Most people enjoy the acquired patina, but you may consider this a con.)

Cons: Soapstone needs polishing with oil to keep it in top shape. It can crack over time, and it can’t handle knife scratches and nicks as well as some other types of stone. The natural roughness of its surface can scuff glassware and china.

Cost: $70 to $100 per square foot, installed

Stainless Steel

Once found mostly in commercial kitchens, stainless steel has slipped into vogue within the past two decades. These countertops are custom made to fit your kitchen, so you’re guaranteed a tailored look.

Pros: There’s a reason stainless steel is used in restaurants and other high-traffic kitchens: It’s nearly indestructible, and it resists heat and bacteria. It also provides a very distinctive look that feels appropriate in contemporary and industrial-style kitchens.

Cons: Fingerprints show and must be wiped off frequently, and stainless steel can also dent. It can be loud as pots, pans and dishware clang against the surface. Chemicals can affect its color and cause unwanted etching. Stainless steel is extremely expensive due to the custom fabrication.

Cost: $65 to $125 per square foot, installed

Concrete

Think concrete is just for floors? Think again. Slightly edgier than other materials, concrete countertops have an industrial chic that fits right into a loft or adds interest to an otherwise traditional space.

Pros: Concrete is extremely versatile: It can be cast in any shape and custom tinted any shade you wish. You easily can add unique inlays, such as glass fragments, rocks and shells. Concrete stands up well to heavy use, although it isn’t as heat resistant as some other surfaces.

Cons: Because it’s porous, concrete will stain without frequent sealing. With time and settling, small cracks can develop. Concrete is extremely heavy and will need strong support beneath. Like stainless steel, its custom creation ups the price tag.

Cost: $75 to $125 per square foot, installed

Butcher Block

Butcher block has a classic appeal and always looks fresh. It’s especially fitting for traditional, country and cottage-style kitchens.

Pros: Many homeowners like butcher block’s warm, natural appearance and variegated wood tones. Although knives scratch it, many people like the shopworn look it develops — after all, it’s what chopping blocks have been made of for years. But you can also sand scratches down with ease.

Cons: Wood swells and contracts with moisture exposure, and butcher block is no exception. It harbors bacteria and needs frequent disinfecting. Oiling is a must to fill in scratches and protect the surface.

Cost: $35 to $70 per square foot, installed

Paper Composite

Paper countertops? You read it right. Created from paper fibers mixed with resin, this surface is ecofriendly and a whole lot more durable than it sounds.

Pros: Paper composite evokes the look of solid surfacing or laminate but with a warmer sensibility. It’s surprisingly hardy and can withstand heat and water admirably. It’s also a great deal lighter than natural stone or concrete.

Cons: The material isn’t scratchproof and is susceptible to chemical damage. It needs an occasional rubdown with mineral oil, and even sanding, to refresh it. Although it sounds as though it would be a lower-budget option, it isn’t (unless you install it yourself).

Cost: $85 to $125 per square foot, installed