A Comprehensive Guide to Cladding Remediation and Building Safety
17th July 2023
In recent years, there has been a growing concern over the fire safety of high rise buildings, particularly regarding the use of unsafe cladding.
The issue of unsafe cladding on buildings has become a critical concern. As a response to the widespread fire safety defects associated with cladding, the UK government has implemented various measures, including the Building Safety Act 2022 and the establishment of the Building Safety Fund (BSF).
Here, we explore the types of cladding that require remediation, the responsibilities of building owners, and the options available to building owners looking for replacement cladding.
Understanding Cladding Remediation
Cladding remediation involves the removal and replacement of any part of a building’s cladding system that is deemed unsafe, particularly in terms of fire safety. The primary aim is to mitigate the risks associated with the spread of fire and ensure the safety of residents. Since the Grenfell Tower Inquiry identified unsafe cladding as the primary cause of the fire’s rapid spread, there has been a heightened focus on reviewing and replacing cladding on buildings across the UK.
Identifying Cladding in Need of Remediation
Unsafe cladding primarily refers to Aluminium Composite Material (ACM), which consists of polyethylene plastic sandwiched between two sheets of aluminium. Additionally, other cladding materials, such as High Pressure Laminate (HPL) panels, have also been identified as posing fire safety risks. To comply with new safety regulations, both ACM and non-ACM cladding must be removed from high-rise residential buildings and replaced with materials of limited combustibility to prevent the spread of fire.
Responsibilities of Building Owners
The Building Safety Act places legal obligations on building owners and landlords to address the remediation of unsafe cladding systems. While the act protects leaseholders from bearing the costs of remediation, building owners must contribute to the expenses associated with fixing their own buildings. The government has allocated significant funding to support the removal and replacement of unsafe cladding through initiatives like the ACM Cladding Remediation Fund and the Building Safety Fund.
The Building Safety Fund (BSF)
The BSF is a crucial financial resource aimed at covering the costs of remediating unsafe non-ACM cladding on residential buildings over 18 meters in height. Originally introduced in the March 2020 with a fund of £1 billion, the BSF was subsequently paused and reopened in July 2022 with an increased fund of £4.5 billion. The fund has been adapted to prioritise buildings with the highest risk levels, ensuring a more efficient and proportionate allocation of funds based on individual building assessments.
Applying for the Building Safety Fund
To access the Building Safety Fund, eligible parties must submit applications detailing the risks posed by fire spread over external walls. This assessment, known as the Fire Risk Appraisal of External Walls (FRAEW), must be conducted by competent professionals in accordance with the new PAS 9980:2022 code of practice. The FRAEW process allows for a more tailored approach to remediation, considering the specific risk level presented by each building. For applicants already registered with the BSF, the choice remains between following the original process or adopting the new FRAEW procedure.
Proteus cladding remediation solution
Where removal and replacement of unsafe cladding is required, it is important that specifiers and contractors choose cladding that meets the latest fire safety requirements set out in the legislation.
That means replacement cladding should meet European Classification A2-s1, d0 or A1, classified in accordance with BS EN 13501-1. This European classification ranks fire behaviour in seven classes: A1, A2, B, C, D, E and F as well as the materials smoke development (s1, s2 and s3) and formation of flaming droplets/particles (d0, d1 and d2).
The A2-s1,d0 classification confirms that the cladding panels are of very limited combustibility and can therefore be used in facades of all heights (including those over 18m) without further testing, provided that all the other materials within the wall (such as insulation) are also A2-s1, d0 classified or better.
We offer a wide range of cladding that meets A1 & A2 classifications, meaning it is suitable for use in remediation projects. It includes Proteus SR our single skin rainscreen cladding system that has been tested in accordance with En13501-1 acheving a fire rating of A1 or A2-s1, d0 depending on the material and finish and Proteus SP, our new insulated spandrel panel system. The full range is classified to EN135001-1, achieving A2-s1, d0.
Cladding remediation is a critical undertaking in ensuring the safety and compliance of buildings. The implementation of the Building Safety Act and the establishment of the Building Safety Fund which demonstrate the government’s commitment to supporting the remediation process. By working with the experienced team at Proteus, building owners can navigate the complexities of cladding remediation and ensure the successful removal and replacement of unsafe cladding systems.