NARM, the National Association of Rooflight Manufacturers, offers an authoritative independent source for advice and support on compliance with Part L – as well as other standards covering Fire, Health & Safety and Product Quality. This article provides an insight into UK rooflight legislation.
Climate change, globalisation and countless other local factors are continuing to drive huge change and innovation across the construction industry. This is particularly true in the UK’s rooflighting sector, where recent and forthcoming revisions to Part L of the Building Regulations have an important bearing on rooflight specification.
NARM, the National Association of Rooflight Manufacturers, offers an authoritative independent source for advice and support on compliance with Part L – as well as other standards covering Fire, Health & Safety and Product Quality.
NARM is a highly active and influential industry association, currently comprising fifteen member companies and representing a complete cross-section of currently available rooflight technologies, including glass, thermoplastics and GRP profiled sheets. The membership of NARM* accounts for the majority of rooflights manufactured in the UK, as well as high quality imports mainly from Europe.
Established over thirty years ago, NARM is a member of CPA, the Construction Products Association and represents the rooflight industry in consultation with the Government and its subcontractors, CIBSE, AECOM and the BRE, on issues relating to Part L. NARM plays a key role in providing information to ensure that legislation is based on best practice.
NARM is also represented on relevant BSI committees for all rooflight product standards and through this position the association also represents the UK industry with reference to European standards.
On matters relating to Health & Safety of roof workers, the contribution of NARM is far-reaching. NARM is a founder member of ACR, the Advisory Committee for Roofsafety and has played a major role in working with ACR and the HSE in interpreting and clarifying Health & Safety regulations.
NARM commissions independent research into rooflight-related issues, via authoritative sources including De Montfort University and Oxford Brookes University. Research findings are available free of charge on NARM’s comprehensive website at www.narm.org.uk. The website also contains a mine of detailed information for specifiers, plus profiles on all member companies.
NARM and NARM member companies also represent the rooflight industry when dealing with other roofing disciplines or trade associations including: • LIA, the Lighting Industry Association • MCRMA, the Metal Cladding & Roofing Manufacturers Association • NFRC, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors • ACR, the Advisory Committee for Roofwork • SPRA, the Single Ply Roofing Association • GGF, the Glass & Glazing Federation • CWCT, the Centre of Window and Cladding Technology • RIDBA, the Rural & Industrial Design & Building Association • GRO, the Green Roof Organisation.
All of these leading industry bodies look to NARM – or more accurately, NARM’s highly influential Technical Committee, for authoritative and objective guidance on all aspects of rooflighting.
The NARM Technical Committee is headed up by Chairman Bill Hawker, Technical Director of one of the UK’s leading rooflight manufacturers and a rooflight industry ‘lifer’. Bill draws on over twenty years in the industry and is a qualified Mechanical Engineer with a Masters Degree in Polymer Technology.
He said: “Over the last few years, the membership of NARM has increased, enabling the Technical Committee to draw on an ever wider bank of knowledge. Recently, we have created Sub-Committees to tackle technical issues specific to rooflights manufactured using glass and thermoplastic/thermosetting materials, and issues relating specifically to both domestic and non-domestic applications, as these disciplines are subject to different criteria and legislation. With a wide range of member companies represented across the Sub-Committees, this broader representation also plays a part in ensuring that our position as an industry body is always neutral and advice offered to third parties is objective.”
Among current technical issues receiving attention from NARM is compliance with Building Regulations Approved Document L2A. Rooflights can make a major contribution to reductions in CO2 emissions and it is widely accepted they can be an essential element of compliance with Criterion 1 of the Regulations. Criterion 2 requires rooflights to have a U-value of 2.2W/m2K, but the status of this criterion is complex and has been subject to much debate and variation in interpretation – often as a means of justifying lower-spec, lower-cost rooflights which are not compliant. NARM’s stance on this issue is simple and unequivocal, and supported by DCLG: rooflights should comply with this criteria, which means plastic rooflights must be of at least triple skin construction.
Bill Hawker said: “Specifiers in any doubt about this issue can get more details from our website at www.narm.org.uk, or contact can be made with our Technical Committee through the website.”
Non-fragility and the CDM regulations are another topic which has been subject to some debate recently, including the variability of single test results, guarantees on long term non-fragility, and particular requirements for glass rooflights. Again, the advice from NARM is clear on each issue, fully supported by ACR. Non-fragility classifications to ACR[M]001 when new must be based on sufficient testing to ensure results are statistically significant and would always be achieved or exceeded. And whilst long term durability of high quality rooflights can be guaranteed, guarantees should not extend to non-fragility, which is dependant on factors beyond the control of a manufacturer. A NARM guidance note on this topic is available from the NARM website. NARM also provides written guidance on recommendations for expected long term non-fragility of in-plane GRP rooflights. NARM has also worked closely with CWCT and ACR on the specific issues surrounding non-fragility of glass, resulting in both publication of CWCT Technical Bulletin 92, and revision to the ACR[M]001 guidance.
On the subject of fire regulations and thermoplastic rooflights, NARM also continues to receive queries arising from the fact that thermoplastic materials cannot be tested directly to BS476 Part 3. In fact, the Building Regulations define an alternative classification method for these materials, which can be provided on request. As a general rule for thermoplastics, only polycarbonate or PVC can be specified to acomply with UK Building Regulations. Acrylic should never be used in this application, although it is still found in some imported products. Thermosetting materials (GRP) can be tailored to achieve the fire ratings but should be selected carefully, as there is again clear evidence that some imported product does not comply with UK Building Regulations. If in doubt, full details can be obtained at www.narm.org.uk.
NARM can also provide support and advice in relation to quality standards affecting the UK rooflight market. This is another field in which recent changes and the influence of European standards is making standards compliance less than clear cut in some cases. For example, CE marking can be applied to a wide range of standards but does not necessarily guarantee non-fragility to the UK’s ACR safety standard. NARM publishes on its website specific guidance on CE marking, including a summary of the current status of all relevant European Standards and which rooflights should, and should not, now be CE marked.
A simple and easy way to ensure relevant UK quality standards are met, is simply to specify rooflights from NARM member companies. A prerequisite of NARM membership is that rooflights must be fully compliant with UK standards and legislation.
For further information about NARM, or any of the issues raised in this article, please visit www.narm.org.uk. If you’re interested in your business becoming a NARM member, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org