Tom Ogilvie, Chairman of NARM, the National Association of Rooflight Manufacturers, considers its role in the wider construction industry.
“When I first became active with NARM in the late 1990s, it was heavily focused on improving roof safety, addressing the need to reduce or eliminate falls through fragile roof constructions including rooflights.
Since then, ongoing collaboration between NARM member companies, the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) and ACR (Advisory Committee for Roofsafety*) have delivered excellent results in this respect. Recorded fatalities from falls through rooflights have all but been eliminated and to my knowledge there have been none through rooflights manufactured since 2005. This statistic must be largely attributable to that collective effort to establish the non-fragility classifications that are in place today.
This illustrates my view as to why an organisation like NARM should exist.
Disproving the viewpoint that trade associations are often simply self-serving ‘clubs’, my experience as Chairman of NARM over around ten years on and off, has cemented my belief that a well administered community is more effective than individuals in achieving beneficial change.
Getting daylight into buildings is a science as well as an art – and science depends on openness and transparency, principles long-held by NARM and NARM members and which, since Grenfell, have been captured rather elegantly by the Construction Products Association in their new Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI).
The NARM community comprises businesses which in many cases are competing against each other but which all recognise the need for an impartial organisation that represents the rooflight industry as a whole and establishes common standards and a common language – so products and businesses can be trusted and judged on a level playing field.
Today, safety remains high on our agenda at NARM, with a current campaign to support the use of laminated inner panes on glass rooflights, for the protection of building occupants.
In parallel with our work on safety, research commissioned and verified by NARM has resulted in a greater understanding among legislators, construction professionals and the public, of the role that rooflights play in reducing carbon emissions from artificial lighting.
It was NARM-commissioned research that originally determined the powerful effect rooflights can have in reducing a building’s energy consumption and which was built-in to the Simplified Building Energy Model (SBEM) software which helps designers achieve energy efficiency and Part L compliance. We are currently updating this research to reflect the more widespread use of LED lighting technology.
NARM also continues to play a role in highlighting the significant health and wellbeing benefits of daylight in buildings, to inform architects and specifiers as to why daylight delivers much more than simply a ‘feelgood factor’. Even the most energy-efficient artificial lighting is a poor substitute in this respect, so NARM continually reminds developers to include high levels of daylight in their designs and makes sure they have plenty of choice as to how to do it.
In global terms, the UK’s rooflight industry is seen as something of a ‘thought leader’ and innovator and I’m proud that NARM’s contribution to our industry has played a part in this. We remain active members of Eurolux, the European rooflighting trade association so our influence extends beyond UK shores.
So where is the UK’s rooflight industry heading over the coming decades?
Evolving digital information will be a key area for focus so I expect NARM to be involved with the future provision of raw data for building modelling. Another area for innovation, will be in developing easier to use standards for measuring and verifying daylight and daylight quality. A means of measuring ‘whole product’ daylighting performance for rooflights (the same way that we now measure thermal performance) should be on the agenda.
In the meantime, I will be handing over the reins of NARM to a new elected chairperson in March 2022 as I will be taking a sabbatical to pursue my passion for sailing, with a round-the-world voyage. I’ll take this opportunity to wish my successor a productive and rewarding tenure in the role.”