Lisa Stephens, Product Manager for the Building Envelope at ROCKWOOL® UK, explains the fire performance considerations for multifunctional roofs.

Flat roofs commonly house not just plant and HVAC equipment but energy efficiency infrastructure, social spaces, and much more. Increasingly, schools for example, and especially in crowded urban areas, are adding rooftop school gardens or playgrounds to maximise outdoor spaces within the footprint they have available.

Safely use as a social space

As the use of flat roofs evolve, and potential sources of ignition increase, consideration towards the way in which flat roof materials react to fire becomes increasingly more important.

While there is no legislative requirement for non-combustible materials (apart from where the roof passes over a compartment wall), specifiers should be conscious of escape requirements where the roof is occupied. Where a roof provides a ‘means of escape’ is one of two examples provided in Approved Document B (ADB) for where a roof should be considered to perform the function of a floor.

ADB provides guidance through minimum periods of fire resistance in Tables B3 and B4 for structural building elements including floors. Fire resistance is measured in REI, a designation that identifies the performance of a building element in terms of its load bearing Structure (R), Integrity (E) and Insulation (I). This is significant for designers working around social spaces where escape routes must be considered and they may find themselves needing to make a judgement on whether a roof requires a period of fire resistance.

Practical applications

While utilising a roof space for practical purposes is more of a well-established concept, complex considerations still apply. Statutory guidance for flat roof fire safety, including ADB, sets out key provisions for some of the practical applications, indicating routes to compliance for the building regulations. These include plant rooms, rooflights and junctions with compartment walls.

There is also guidance in BS 8579:2020 ‘Guide to the design of balconies and terraces’, which discusses the fire performance required by balconies and terraces, and references plant equipment and compartmentation.

However, across these documents there is no specific guidance for the use of solar panels on flat roofs – a practical use that is increasingly common as specifiers incorporate the solution to address energy efficiency and sustainability benefits.

Research and real-world evidence point to solar solutions introducing additional fire risk to flat roofs. There are known incidences of solar panel ‘arcing’ in which electrical energy passes through air gaps and can cause ignition of nearby materials, or the solar panel itself, due to the high temperatures involved (described as “easily hot enough to melt glass, copper and aluminium, and to initiate the combustion of surrounding materials”1).

The government guidance document “Power to the pupils” Solar PV for schools – The benefits2, gives recommendations on maximising the benefits of solar PV installations on schools. The list includes advice on maximising the educational benefits, choosing suppliers and site safety but stops short of including the potential impact on fire safety.

More recent guidance from the insurance industry e.g. the Fire Protection Association (FPA) RISCAuthority Need to know Guide RE3: Rooftop-mounted PV Solar Systems3   recommends that a suitable fire risk assessment should be carried out and to ensure roofing materials are non-combustible or, if installation on a combustible/partly combustible roof is unavoidable, a fire resistant covering be applied.

Simplifying flat roof specification

In England, ADB provides guidance on how designers can meet building regulation requirements for fire safety – but there are multiple routes to compliance, and different ways to demonstrate an appropriate level of fire protection.

Supplements including BS 8579:2020 cover the requirements for specific applications – in this case balconies and terraces. For schools, specialist guidance such as BB100 (Fire safety design for schools), can also influence decision-making.

Against a complex legislative backdrop, one simple way to mitigate risk is to select non-combustible materials throughout the fifth façade. The trend towards increasingly multifunctional roofs only strengthens this case.

ROCKWOOL recently launched the new whitepaper ‘Flat roofs: The functional fifth façade’ will help those involved in the design and installation of flat roofs to make responsible choices when selecting materials to enable a modern flat roof to be multifunctional, safe and long-lasting. It offers practical advice to simplify specification whilst going above and beyond legislative requirements.

For more information and to download the whitepaper go to:

For years, school restrooms have been viewed merely as functional spaces, often underestimated in the grand scheme of priorities. Here, Sophie Weston, Marketing Manager at Geberit, sheds light on why it’s time to take school toilets seriously.

Washrooms, being one of the busiest areas in a school, require thoughtful design with a clear layout, ample space, and a welcoming feel. Choosing the right products, such as wall-hung ceramic furniture, can give school bathrooms a clean and practical appearance, and create a welcoming feel.

While hygiene concerns have always been a key discussion point, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of cleanliness, yet it didn’t address issues related to bathroom anxiety and, in turn, overall well-being.

Targeting bathroom anxiety

Bathroom anxiety is a real concern, with national children’s charity ERIC estimating that up to four children in a class of 30 experience anxiety related to using school toilet facilities. One-third of parents also share worries about hygiene standards at their children’s schools.

With this in mind, innovations like touchless technology, such as Twyford’s Sola Infrared taps, reduce multiple touchpoints in high-traffic areas. Such advancements not only enhance hygiene but also contribute to a clutter-free and streamlined design, reinforcing the perception of a clean space among students.

Beyond innovative technology, design features like Twyford’s Sola rimless ceramic toilet ranges and TurboFlush technology eliminate tricky corners and hard-to-reach areas around the pan, addressing concerns about hygiene and cleanliness.

Meeting high standards

The significance of the washroom space in schools is undoubtedly felt by many pupils. Now is the time to offer students a space where they feel safe, hygienic, private and comfortable which can contribute to a positive and productive learning experience.

Adhering to high standards and regulations is fundamental in the education sector, and schools can now make more informed decisions about sanitaryware and washrooms to control measures and minimise risks.

It’s time to shift the perception of the critical role toilet spaces play in schools. Washrooms can have a huge role to play in how pupils view and feel about their school and, as a result, promote health and wellbeing throughout the facility.

For additional information about Twyford Bathrooms, please visit:

Modular construction stands out as an efficient method for creating contemporary and durable educational facilities. Choosing modular buildings over traditional construction brings numerous benefits, leading to a surge in modular schools nationwide. Whether it’s a single or multi-storey structure required, modular solutions offer adaptable designs, ensuring the creation of an ideal learning environment.

Wernick Buildings serves as a reliable partner for all your educational construction needs. From design and construction to swift installation, we deliver a comprehensive turnkey solution, providing fully fitted buildings in significantly less time than traditional builds. Your project will be overseen by an experienced construction team, offering a smooth transition with inclusive training and thorough aftercare. Additionally, our school buildings boast a remarkable 50-year design life.

Preparing for the next academic year

Our modules are built in our South Wales factory and either stored or delivered directly to clients, streamlining the construction process by up to 50% compared to traditional methods. We offer modern teaching equipment and features, maximising your space’s potential. As part of our turnkey service, we extend support to groundwork and landscaping, encompassing car parks, multi-use game areas, and playgrounds.

Embarking on a new educational development journey is always timely. Our building systems cater to a spectrum of educational levels, from nurseries to universities, emphasising aesthetic flexibility and enhanced building performance. Partnering with Wernick ensures your education facility is operational well before the next academic year which showcases our commitment to efficient and reliable solutions.

How to procure a modular building

Embarking on the journey to procure a modular school building with Wernick Buildings involves a well-structured process designed for efficiency. The initial stage focuses on developing the building’s design and specifications, encompassing surveys, services, and planning applications. Following this, the tender submission and evaluation phase includes project planning, tender submissions, client evaluations, and transparent communication of feedback. Once the design is frozen, detailed planning ensues, and the project is strategically scheduled into the factory manufacturing program. Detailed design covers everything from groundwork to structural, electrical, and mechanical elements, ensuring a comprehensive approach.

Moving forward, the building warrant application is submitted, followed by clarification evaluations and considerations for factory work commencement. The subsequent stages involve manufacturing building modules in the factory, fitting doors, windows, plumbing, and various systems. Concurrently, service applications for water, electricity, and other necessities are addressed. Pre-mobilisation conditions, including approvals and permissions, are met before the mobilisation stage, which involves site preparation and community engagement.

Groundworks follow suit, preparing foundations, services, drainage, and access. The installation phase sees the introduction of building modules and on-site fit-out, ensuring seamless integration. Services such as power, water, and data connections are established, leading to the commissioning, snagging, and finishing stage, where thorough testing of various aspects is conducted. The final steps involve handover, including client training for building operations, key exchange, and the sharing of certificates, manuals, and reports.

Beacon Hill School serves students with high-dependency Special Educational Needs and Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities. The brief from Newcastle City Council was to create a bespoke, stand-alone facility capable of accommodating 60 pupils.

Collaboration was key to the project and TG Escapes engaged in numerous client sessions to gather feedback and insights from all stakeholders to ensure that the design aligned with all their requirements.

The building will provide 10 classrooms including 2 PMLD bases, hygiene rooms, a staff room and a sensory room as well as ample storage for specialist equipment.

The TG Escapes net-zero in operation design follows biophilic principles and is built on a timber frame providing a low-carbon solution. Easy access to the outdoors was an integral part of the proposal and the building features a raised external area giving the students the opportunity to spend time outdoors with ease.

Karl Stokes, Managing Director of TG Escapes says; “We are very proud to have been selected by Newcastle City Council for this important project. It reflects our commitment to providing tailor-made, inclusive and sustainable learning environments. Our in-house design team have been able to create the exact spaces that the staff and students will need which is one of the benefits of using our sectional modular system.”

Work started onsite in the second quarter of 2023 and the building is due for handover in the first quarter of 2024. The value of the 1200m2 project is circa £3.5m.

Special features and additional considerations of the building include:

  • The use of natural materials, such as timber, at every opportunity.
  • Soft pallet pastoral colours on walls where end users require it.
  • Installing state of the art acoustics and lighting solutions to fit the brief.
  • Utilising the best technologies like automatic door systems that work for wider door sets to accommodate large wheelchair access (circa 1250mm auto doors)
  • Secure hoists and access platform lifts.
  • Plenty of storage for equipment.
  • Appropriate flooring solutions.
  • Sensory spaces with fixed swings.
  • An internal climbing wall to support pupil mobility, with a full risk assessment and additional fire treatment.
  • All internal walls are reinforced with additional ply/OSB lining to provide a high impact robustness.
  • Easy access to a secure outdoor sheltered activity space, that is fully DDA compliant.

As the project reaches completion, the TG Escapes team facilitated a student tour of the build. Teacher at Beacon Hill Shaun Whillis says; ‘’The students had a wonderful visit to our new building. By exposing students to real-life building processes, it gave them a valuable educational experience. It helped them understand the various stages involved in construction and gain insights into the future of architecture and engineering.’’

TG Escapes modular eco-buildings have completed over 800 buildings throughout the UK, using modern methods of construction, traditional materials and sophisticated technology, to create stand-alone net-zero spaces.

The innovative, bespoke, architect-designed system provides timber frame buildings to suit most locations and uses, in a variety of finishes including timber, composite cladding or render in a range of colours, and brick slips. Offsite construction minimises disruption, cost and risk.

TG Escapes offer a complete design and build service for permanent buildings specified for a 50 year+ life span. The biophilic designs using natural materials, connect the interior to the outside providing external views and ensure consistent working temperatures, optimum air quality, ventilation and acoustic comfort.

Customers rate them 4.9 out 5 based on 187 reviews and recent awards include Education Estates Contractor of the Year 2021, MMC Awards 2023 Project of the Year and Public Sector Innovation of the Year. TG Escapes are members of Construction Line Gold, STA Gold and Site Safe, and the Pagabo Dynamic Purchasing System.

For more information email or call 0800 917 7726.

For more examples of SEND and SEMH buildings provided by TG Escapes visit their website.


Schools can’t cut corners on security. But in education, budgets are tight. How do you square that circle?

By finding the right supplier. At F.H.Brundle, we’ve helped dozens of schools, colleges, and universities keep students safe and secure.

In our vast and ever-expanding range, you’ll find products that offer outstanding performance at competitive prices. Our RoSPA bow top railings and gates are designed to minimise the risk of clothes entanglement and finger, head and neck traps.

Long-lasting and easy to install, they come packaged together with necessary components, and are priced per metre.

Products like the Nylofor 3-M offer a high level of security, and are difficult for would-be intruders to scale, while remaining almost completely transparent. This makes them perfect for contexts where you want children to be secure, but also need the environment to still be open and welcoming.

What’s more, it’s been specifically designed to be both cost-effective and quick and easy to install – it can be fitted 20% faster, and needs 20% less concrete and posts than other systems of its type.

We also supply a wide range of mesh panel systems to suit all types of perimeter security applications. Whether high-level or low-level security is required, mesh fencing resists impact and vandalism, all without obstructing views.

Pedestrian barriers are another vital part of any safe school site. At school, children can face risks from car parks and busy roads.

At F.H. Brundle, our range of hot dip galvanised pedestrian safety barriers are fully welded and come complete with fixing bolts for optimal strength, longevity and ease of installation. Whatever your school security need, we can help!

For more information, call on 01708 398048, or visit

Middlesbrough College is the largest college in Teesside. The main college building has won numerous design awards as a landmark project in the regeneration of the area.

GM Contracts was hired as the flooring contractor. This project involved fitting 900 metres of stair nosing, which needed to be durable and reliable, in order to deal with the large amount of foot traffic throughout the campus. The design would also need to fit with the modern architectural style of the college.

The stair nosings had to incorporate slip resistant material to help  minimise the possibility of trips and falls. This also meant they needed to fit closely to the gauge of the floorcovering, while contrasting in colour to ensure the step edges were clearly defined.

The Approach

GM Contracts contacted Quantum Flooring, and Q-Range DUO was chosen as the stair nosing for the project. This profile is ideal for specification, as it follows the guidelines in BS8300:2:2018, The Equality Act, and Parts M and K of Building Regulations.

Q-Range DUO measures 55 by 55mm on the tread and riser, which is regarded as best practice for stair nosings. It offers a solid colour over both surfaces, making the step edge highly visible. This is very important in an educational building, where students with impaired vision must be encouraged that they can move freely through their environment.

The Outcome

The stair nosings were fitted with Q-Fix adhesive. This fully bonds stair nosings to most step surfaces, with no need for screws and plugs.

The Q-Range DUO stair nosings look great in Middlesbrough College. They are a specifiers dream, as they adhere to all safety guidelines. Thanks to Quantum and GM Contracts, Middlesbrough College students can navigate the stairways on their campus with confidence.

With wet and windy weeks ahead, it is crucial that your automatic doors operate with optimum efficiency, maintaining smooth flowing foot traffic throughout campus and allowing staff and pupils to access buildings quickly and promptly. Regular servicing and maintenance of automatic entrances helps to ensure reliable operation, whatever the weather throws at them.

With a nationwide team of in-house trained engineers, TORMAX can deliver a full service and maintenance programme, or one-off emergency repairs, for almost any automatic door.

“At this time of the year it is especially important to schedule a service call to make sure your automatic door remains legal, safe and fully operational at all times,” explains Simon Roberts, MD for TORMAX UK.

“A build-up of debris, dirt and leaves, or an ingress of water during heavy rainstorms, can affect the performance of the system or even cause the door to fail entirely.

“A comprehensive service call-out can quickly pick up any potential problems, avoiding long-term damage to the system whilst also providing timely maintenance to maximise the performance of key mechanisms.”

Offering a cost-effective solution, TORMAX offers a Planned Maintenance Contract (PMC) with timely call-outs scheduled throughout the year, minimising the chance of inconvenient down-time of the system.

TORMAX is a division of the LANDERT Group, a Swiss-based manufacturer of automatic pedestrian and industrial door systems with over 500 distributors across the globe. Committed to providing exceptional service with highly qualified technical advisors and engineers, TORMAX has been a market-leader in the UK for more than 60 years.

TORMAX | Automatic Door Systems

ROCKWOOL, the UK’s leading stone wool insulation manufacturer, has launched a new CPD (Continuing Professional Development) module to help roofing contractors and specifiers assess and mitigate potential fire safety risks for flat roofs used as additional functional space of a building.

Flat roofs are a common construction, especially in busy urban environments where space is at a premium. Leveraging flat roof space enables designers, developers and ultimately tenants to make use of the ‘fifth façade’ for a variety of social and practical purposes.

This CPD aims to improve understanding of the role of the modern flat roof, and how to identify and mitigate fire risks above and below the roof and is based on the recently launched whitepaper ‘Flat roofs: The functional fifth façade’.

From building services and HVAC equipment, to solar installations, and even social spaces like rooftop bars and terraces, the role of the roof is changing. This expanding remit, especially for high rise buildings in crowded cities, brings multifaceted challenges to specification and building design.

“By taking part in this CPD module, roofing professionals will learn about the implications of practical and social installations on flat roofs, and their impact on design and build,” explains Lisa Stephens, Product Manager – Building Envelope, ROCKWOOL UK. “The CPD also addresses the situation surrounding solar PV installations and how this is reflected in regulations and guidance.”

Participants in the ‘Flat roofs: The functional fifth façade’ CPD will learn about the requirements of the Building Regulations for flat roofs and the role of guidance documents like Approved Document B, or regional equivalents. The final section of the CPD outlines ROCKWOOL’s range of fire-resistant stone wool insulation products that are compatible with a variety of modern flat roof systems.

The new module is available through the manufacturer’s bespoke learning platform, ROCKWOOL Learning, or as a traditional in-person course. To learn more about the CPD, and to register for a place, visit:

Zentia, the UK’s market leader in complete ceiling solutions, proudly announces the launch of ‘Oplia,’ the latest family addition to its product portfolio. Formerly recognised as Perla, the renaming reflects Zentia’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of design and functionality in ceiling tiles. 

The range, launched on the 10th January, offers a diverse set of visual and acoustic solutions for interior spaces. All tiles within the range have a smooth, laminated finish for a sleek aesthetic. Oplia hA dB, Oplia hA and Oplia hA+ offer excellent sound absorption, Oplia hA dB and Oplia dB offer impressive sound attenuation properties, and alongside Oplia Triangles the range provides the ideal solution for a wide spectrum of communal interiors such as offices and classrooms.

Alongside white, 34 new exciting colours have been added to the range to experiment with design, create defined zones and assist with wayfinding. Each tile has a high light reflectance of 86% and extremely low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content, offering overall enhanced health, wellbeing and productivity for the end user.

The Oplia dB tile delivers an enhanced sound attenuation performance of 41dB, reducing the sound between adjacent spaces, and making it a great addition for private offices and boardrooms, or multi-let buildings. Alternatively, the Oplia hA dB is an ideal solution for flexible working spaces, with excellent levels of sound absorption and sound attenuation in one tile.

Also, within the new product family, the Oplia hA tile provides a Class A sound absorption rating and performs best in open-plan areas such as libraries and cafeterias. The Oplia hA+ tile has the highest possible aw coefficient of 1.00 and has been designed for areas that require enhanced focus and concentration, with the light reflectance improving interior light levels, diminishing artificial light reflectance and enhancing user wellbeing.

Lastly, the Oplia Triangle tile system offers additional design freedom, formed with interlocking isosceles triangles, which when combined with our choice of 34 additional standard colours, can add a very striking and impactful visual element to any project’s interior.

Graham Taylor , Director, Sales & Marketing at Zentia commented on the launch: “The introduction of Oplia signifies our ongoing commitment to redefining the possibilities within ceiling tile solutions. With a renewed focus on amazing aesthetics and acoustic excellence, the new Oplia family offers a great canvas for architects and designers to innovate and create inspiring spaces.”

Complete Ceiling Solutions | Suspended Ceilings | Zentia


Rinnai is embarking on an ambitious and innovative programme of launching several new products within its H1 – Hydrogen and DME ready water heaters, H2 – Hybrid systems and H3 – Low-GWP heat pumps product categories. These new products will ensure the company offers a comprehensive range of appliances and systems for heating and hot water suited to both commercial and residential applications.

The programme will commence with the launch of the new low-GWP air source heat pumps with R290 refrigerant. Following this will be an innovative range of electric cylinders of multiple sizes and instantaneous electric water heaters ranging from 21-27kw. Also there will be the introduction of the KCM and E Series of condensing gas-fired water heaters for light commercial and residential applications.

Later in the first quarter of the year will see the launch of plate heat exchangers for larger commercial and industrial sites.

Rinnai is determined to provide UK customers with cost effective low carbon solutions towards commercial hot water and building heating provision.

For an exclusive pre-launch pack call us on 0300 373 0660 or register your interest at