Whitepaper – Fabric First Approach to Sustainable Construction

Fabric First WhitepaperKeystone has published an independent Fabric First Whitepaper exploring the benefits of an improved building fabric as a preference to low carbon or renewable energy technologies.

The research paper which was conducted by AES Sustainability Consultants provides a detailed overview of current policy and research on energy conservation and reduction of CO2 emissions. This document demonstrates that a ‘fabric first’ approach can achieve improved CO2 reductions most efficiently.

The introduction of Fabric Energy Efficiency standards into Part L of the building regulations intended to “discourage excessive and inappropriate trade-offs…for example poor insulation standards being offset by renewable energy systems with uncertain service life spans”. NHBC Foundation research also supports this view, with a 2013 report stating “the most robust way to minimise energy use is through the building fabric. Getting the fabric right will save energy for the whole life of the dwelling”. Renewable technologies, on the other hand, have a limited lifespan and risk a significant increase in CO2 emissions from a development once they reach end of life, if not replaced at significant cost to the homeowner.

The findings included in the paper purport that a fabric First approach is found to be technically, environmentally and economically more viable than the installation of low carbon and renewable energy technologies.
Lintels are in most cases the most significant non-repeating thermal bridges. As traditional style lintels interrupt the line of insulation with a continuous piece of highly conductive steel. The Hi-therm lintel utilises a two-piece construction, with a galvanised steel inner leaf supporting the inner blockwork connected to a GRP outer leaf supporting the outer leaf. The GRP component has much lower thermal conductivity than steel – 0.2W/mk as opposed to around 50 W/mK, reducing heat loss substantially.

A review of the Hi-therm lintel, carried out by AES Sustainability consultants found that Hi-therm performs approximately 80% better than standard steel lintels, with calculations demonstrating that overall heal loss through thermal bridging may be reduced by approximately 34% through the specification of Hi-therm Lintel.

1 Step 1
Download a copy
First Name
Last Name
powered by FormCraft

Keystone Group Named ‘Materials Supplier of the Year’

Keystone Construction News Specialists Award

We are delighted to announce The Keystone Group has won ‘Materials Supplier of the Year’ at the Construction News Awards ceremony held at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane on 22nd March. The judges were extremely complimentary about the achievements of the company. In their press release, Construction News commented:

‘The judges were blown away with The Keystone Group, describing the firm as a worthy winner of this year’s award for Materials Supplier of the Year – a brilliant business which ticked all of the boxes. We were impressed with Keystone’s real innovation across a wide range of products. These all led to improvements and cost savings in the businesses that used them. It is clear that Keystone is a company always looking to better itself and the welfare and skills of its workers and those it supplies.’

The Construction News Awards are the only national awards for specialist contractors and the winners represent the best of the best in the UK construction industry. The Keystone Group were praised for their innovation across the group companies, with Hi-therm lintels and the Keylite insulated collar singled out for particular praise. The judges also described IG Masonry Support’s brick slip system as a ‘particularly ingenious solution to a common problem.’ The commitment to health & safety and efficiency was also commended through the use of Smartroof’s pre-insulated roof panel systems and the GRP components provided by IG Elements.

Speaking of the win, The Keystone Group’s CEO Eithne Kelly commented, ‘we are thrilled to accept this award for Materials Supplier of the Year from Construction News. To have been recognised in this way at such a prestigious event has been an honour for us and we are delighted that each of the companies within our group has been singled out for individual praise by the judges. At The Keystone Group we are constantly seeking to innovate, enhance and improve our procedures, manufacturing processes, customer focus and ultimately our products, and this award provides important recognition of each of these.’

Keystone Participate in Inaugural BMBI Roundtable Debate

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) recently hosted the inaugural Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) annual Roundtable debate at its headquarters in Coventry. The debate was organised for BMBI Experts to discuss topical issues such as Brexit, skills shortages, housing, legislation and the potential implications of these issues for our industry.

BMBI Experts that took part included: Derrick McFarland, Managing Director Keystone Lintels; Mike Beard, Merchant Development Director Encon Insulation; Nigel Cox, Managing Director Timbmet; John Sinfield, Managing Director Knauf Insulation; Andy Simpson, Commercial Director Hanson Cement; Steve Halford, Group Managing Director Crystal Direct; Andy Williamson, Group Managing Director IKO PLC; and Steve Durdant-Hollamby, Managing Director Alumasc Water Management Solutions.

The roundtable debate covered 6 main topics:
• Brexit, its implications & what happens next
• Capacity & Skills shortages
• Housing
• Changing customer requirements & impact of technology on merchant businesses
• Changing role of the merchant
• Standards, legislation and regulations

The BMBI Roundtable Debate was chaired by Builders’ Merchants News Group Editor Jennie Ward and included BMF Chairman Peter Hindle, BMF MD John Newcomb and MRA CEO Mike Rigby.

View the debate highlights here:

Keystone Sponsor Arenacross Pro AX Team

Keystone Honda Arenacross Team

The 2017 Arenacross Tour is now underway and Keystone are delighted to sponsor the Keystone Lintels Honda Racing team. The Pro teams’ rider line-up is looking impressive with some of the UK’s top motocross stars ready to do battle with all three former AX Pro class champions.

Florent Richier piloted his Keystone Honda to a superb second in the Pro AX class at round one of the 2017 Arenacross Tour at Manchester Arena on Saturday 7th January.

Despite a limited testing schedule on the all-new CRF450R the Frenchman looked immediately at home, cruising through his heat races with a 3-4 card before lining up for the 14-lap Main Event.

In front of a packed audience he gated near the front and was perfectly positioned to take advantage of mistakes by other riders to make a pass stick for second. Second time out he stayed smooth and came home third for third overall.

Keystone Honda riders battled their way through a challenging second round of the 2017 Arenacross Tour at the SSE Hydro, Glasgow, on Saturday 14th January. Keystone Honda now heads to the Genting Arena, Birmingham, for round three of the series next Saturday.

Keystone Group Shortlisted for Construction News Specialists Award

Construction News Specialists Award Finalist

Keystone Group has been selected by the judges as a finalist in the Materials Supplier of the Year category at the 2017 Construction News Specialists Awards, the only national awards that recognise the best specialist contractors from across the whole of the UK.

Keystone have grown to their present position in the marketplace by establishing a reputation for reliable supply of quality specialist products with a strong focus on customer service and innovation. We make a commitment to introduce new ideas and initiatives to support our customers in winning new business. With a clear focus on service, support and innovation, we are continuously growing and developing our extensive product range and service.

Eithne Kelly, Keystone Group CEO, said of the achievement:

“For over 27 years, Keystone have been delivering customer service excellence with market-leading delivery times, a dedicated sales team on the road supported by our internal contract sales team and an experienced team of engineers. We strive to understand our partners’ needs and deliver the support they require to improve customers’ experiences and help drive sales. It is an honour to be recognised by the Construction News Specialist Awards for our dedication to our customers and we are naturally delighted to have made the short list.”

The winners will be announced on 22nd March 2017 at a glamorous ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel, where over 1,000 of the industry elite will join together for a night of entertainment, celebration and networking.

Keystone Win Major Local and National Awards

The Keystone Group is delighted to announce that it has won the ‘Best Company’ award at the UTV Business Eye awards. Meanwhile, Keylite Roof Windows was named this week as ‘Supplier of the Year’ at the Builders Merchants Awards for Excellence in London, highlighting the company’s dedication to excellent customer service.

UTV Company of the Year 2016

Speaking after picking up the award, Chairman Sean Coyle said that it has rounded off an outstanding year for the company and its staff: “2016 has been an outstanding year for the company, and winning this major award is the icing on the cake. The development of new product ranges and entering new markets is a key factor in the success of the Keystone Group. As well as cementing our position as the leading manufacturer of Steel Lintels in the UK and Ireland, by constantly developing new and unique lintels product lines, Keystone has also focused on diversifying into other non-lintels product areas, and as a result also now includes Keylite Roof Windows, IG Elements, IG Masonry Support and Smartroof brands in the group’s stable. Our philosophy of constant innovation and huge commitment to customer care has seen us in good stead in recent years, where we have more than doubled our workforce to over 1000 people in the last 3 years.”

Speaking after the award was announced, Richard Buckley, editor of Business Eye
Magazine said: “The Keystone Group impressed the judging panel with a detailed entry which painted a comprehensive picture of an extremely dynamic indigenous County Tyrone company. Clearly it has grown in impressive fashion from its roots as a small-scale supplier of steel lintels to become a major employer and one of the most driven and innovative companies in Northern Ireland as a whole.”

Despite a stop-start year for the industry, Keystone Group’s continued growth has outperformed the sector, with sales year-to-date up in excess of 20%, compared to 2015. The Group is multi award-winning, and its most recent accolades include the prestigious Industry Product of the year award for 2016. The company has also recently won the National Housebuilder Award for product of the year for Hi-therm, and Construction Innovation of the year Award in 2015 for IG’s revolutionary Brick Slip Masonry Support systems.

In 2016, the group was also honoured to be the first Northern Ireland based manufacturing company to be singled out for praise by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond through its inclusion in the Parliamentary Review.


Earlier this year, Keylite Roof windows which is part of the Keystone group was named as one of Europe’s most innovative and inspiring companies, according to the inaugural edition of London Stock Exchange Group’s, ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Europe’ report, and is the fastest growing Roof Window Brand across the UK and Europe.

With the development of the 3 younger businesses the group have doubled their workforce in the last 3 years to over 1000 people.

Eithne Kelly, Keystone Group CEO stated: “Since we set the company up in 1989, making one product with a handful of staff, it’s been an incredible experience to see it grow to the level we have reached today. Despite the current economic climate, we believe the opportunities to compete in Europe are considerable and the opportunity to gain market share in the UK offers the prospect of extremely significant sales growth.”


Hi-therm Lintel Shortlisted for the Building Awards

Keystone’s ground breaking Hi-therm lintel has been shortlisted for the Building Awards 2016 in the category of Product Innovation of the Year. The Hi-therm lintel offer specifiers a low cost route to improved Fabric Energy Efficiency and a low cost sustainable solution to CO2 reduction within SAP.

Richard Kinloch, Technical Sales and Specification Manager for the Keystone group explains, “over the past 60 years there has been very little evolution in the lintel industry. The challenge was to find a material that is lightweight, strong and acts as a thermal insulator, our patented design does just that. We are delighted that we have been recognised for our innovation in this way”.

The secret lies in the use of a glass reinforced polymer (GRP) for the outer leaf of the lintel. The GRP acts as a thermal break, preventing heat escaping from the internal leaf of a building across the cavity to the external leaf, meaning that Hi-Therm provides a solution with virtually zero thermal bridging.

Hi-therm is the only thermally efficient lintel on the market that has trusted 3rd party certification from the BBA, which tests the design, strength, performance, durability and fire resistance to ensure the product is fit for purpose. A BBA approval also gives NHBC acceptance for full peace of mind.

Keystone Lintels offer bespoke PSI value certificates or calculations which can be produced for our customer’s specific cavity build up for free via our website. This is a unique service and will ensure energy or SAP assessors can gain the maximum performance benefit within the SAP calculations.

The Building awards are a prestigious event in the built environment that attract 1200 decision makers to the event which takes place on 8th November. We are thrilled that our product has been shortlisted and very much hope to bring home some silverware on the night.

New Brick Slip Feature Lintel Signature Projects

We are excited to showcase some brand new photography of Keystone’s remarkable brick slip feature lintels.

Blenhiem and Highgrove

These one piece pre-fabricated units are manufactured offsite and delivered to site with bricks bonded to them. Keystone receive a consignment of the brick being used on site. This brick is then tailored to suit the client’s design and fixed to Keystone’s galvanised and powder coated structural steel elements. The finished brick feature lintel blends seamlessly with the already constructed brickwork. The patented brick to steel bonding technology is applied in a factory environment which ensures that the bonding process occurs in optimum controlled conditions.

Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, our brick slip feature lintels enable builders to achieve even the most challenging designs. Every brick feature lintel is manufactured bespoke to order, ensuring that each individual unit is customised according to the unique size, shape and aesthetic requirements of the project.

This product represents an industry first, a unique brick feature lintel system which enables complex brickwork detail to be carried out in a controlled factory environment.
With segmental, parabolic, gothic and flat arches, apex and bullseyes, the possibilities are endless.

Keystone Sponsor ‘Best Independent Merchant’ Award

BMN Awards

Keystone are delighted to sponsor the Best Independent Merchant (1-10 Branches) Award at the Builders Merchants Awards for Excellence.

As sponsors of Best Independent Merchant (1-10 Branches) we understand the importance of customer service. Merchants are essentially in the service sector and the judges will be looking for those merchants who endeavour to improve their customer’s experiences. Suppliers who offer true support to merchants can have a huge impact on these experiences.

The quality of a merchant’s customer service will be greatly enhanced by having knowledgeable, well-motivated staff with an understanding of the end user’s needs. The best manufacturers will welcome the opportunity to train merchant’s staff, because they know that investment in this type of partnership will always deliver mutual benefit. Customers will also be influenced by the range of products on offer. At Keystone we strive to understand the challenges facing builders and through an intensive programme of R&D and constant investment in innovation we can offer merchants unique and ground-breaking products which offer solutions to their customers. Backed up by comprehensive specialist technical support including free scheduling and site visits and a free quote conversion service, our aim is to make life easier for our customers.

The BMN Awards is an exciting date in the merchant’s calendar and we are proud to be a part of it. We strive to offer our customers greater support and we are thrilled to sponsor a category which rewards those merchants who share our commitment.

Always Insist on BBA Approved Lintels

Third party certification is extremely important for construction products. Certification means that an independent body has reviewed the manufacturing process of a particular product. It has been independently determined that the final product complies with safety, quality and conforms to British and European standards.

This valuable third party endorsement for a product’s performance gives specifiers and contractors extra reassurance that your products have been rigorously tested to industry standards.

BBA Keystone Lintels

The BBA is one of the UK’s leading bodies who offer approval, certification and testing services to manufacturers of products and systems supplying the construction industry.

Products that receive BBA certification are recognised by building control, government departments, architects, specifiers and industry insurers such as the NHBC. It is a mark of quality, safety and reliability that provides reassurance that a product is fit for purpose. It is therefore crucial for construction products or systems to achieve this certification.

BBA Certification and Lintels

Steel lintels are critical elements and should be made in a factory governed by thorough quality control manufacturing procedures. BBA certificates are awarded only to lintel companies who continuously carry out approved load testing and operate under strict quality control procedures. Keystone Lintels are one of the few companies who have BBA approval for their lintels. The Hi-therm lintel, for example, is the only thermally broken lintel on the market that has trusted third party certification from the BBA, who have tested the design, strength, performance, durability and fire resistance to ensure the product is fit-for-purpose and meets British and European standards.

Like this post? Share it here:

Specifying Hi-therm: The Benefits

Statistics have shown that up to 35% of heat loss in a dwelling is through thermal bridging. Selecting the correct Lintel can be one of the single most influential contributing factors that can improve a dwellings Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) calculation. By improving the lintel Psi value alone, we can significantly improve the SAP calculation, negating the need for more expensive solutions such as wider cavities or costly renewable technologies.

It is essential that specified lintels are backed up by 3rd party certification such as BBA approval to guarantee robust thermal performance, as well as fulfilling their primary function, to provide structural support. The Keystone Hi-therm sustainability lintel provides designers, architects and developers a simple, certified and cost effective solution.

Here are the top benefits in specifying Hi-therm Lintels:

The only one-piece lintel to comply with 2013 Part L building regulations

Standard lintels are made of a highly conductive material: steel. Thus, they contribute significantly to the buildings overall thermal bridges. The GRP component of the Hi-therm lintel means that it has much lower conductivity than steel therefore forming a thermal break reducing total heat loss substantially through the lintel. In fact changing from a steel cavity wall lintel to a Hi-therm Lintel could improve the lintel thermal bridging by up to 80%. The Hi-therm Lintel can achieve Psi value of between 0.04W/m.k – 0.06W/m.K, meaning it is the only one-piece lintel on the market that complies with the Appendix R values within Part L of the 2013 building regulations.

See below graph which shows how much Hi-therm can reduce a buildings total thermal bridging
Hi therm thermal bridging

One-piece lintel, bonding two leafs of a wall together. Negates the need for separate lintels

Hi-therm is a one-piece sustainable lintel solution. The Hi-therm lintel bonds the internal and external leafs of a cavity wall together by spanning the intervening gap, this gives a wall more lateral stability. The patented Hi-therm lintel utilises a hybrid design with a galvanised steel component supporting the inner blockwork connected to a GRP component supporting the outer brickwork.

With separate split lintels, double handling is required as the two lintels are installed separately. This solution also requires temporary propping of the lintels, more wall ties to stabilise the cavity, additional cavity closers, complicated DPC cavity tray details and awkward insulation details to ensure all the voids between the lintels get insulated.

The Hi-therm Lintel, however, is installed exactly as a regular cavity lintel, with no extra components needed and no extra labour.

BBA Certification & Technical Support

Hi-therm is the only thermally broken lintel on the market that has trusted 3rd party certification from the BBA, which tests the design, strength, performance, durability and fire resistance to ensure the product is fit for purpose. A BBA approval also gives NHBC acceptance for full peace of mind.

Moreover, we can offer bespoke PSI value certificates or calculations which can be produced for your specific cavity build up for free via our website here. This is a unique service, and will ensure your energy or SAP assessor can gain the maximum performance benefit within the SAP calculations.

Hi-therm does not require a cavity tray Damp Proof Course (DPC)

DPC cavity trays are a tricky detail to install correctly. Hi-therm Lintel does not require a DPC cavity tray*, saving time on installation and reducing the overall cost of the build. The insulation which is factory fitted within Hi-therm also helps ensure consistent continuality of cavity wall insulation without any thermal breaks.
*Unless in areas classified as severe by NHBC

Outperforms stainless steel on price and corrosion resistance

NHBC recommend that Stainless Steel lintels should be used if building within 500 metres of the coast line. Hi-therm is an excellent alternative to stainless steel lintels and has the seal of approval from NHBC to be used a replacement to Stainless Steel. Not only is it less expensive than its stainless steel counterpart, it is also is more thermally efficient. Moreover, with the Hi-therm GRP outer leaf it is more corrosion resistant than stainless steel, making it ideal for any coastal project.

Like this post? Share it here:

Improving the Fabric Efficiency of Houses

Richard Kinloch, National Technical Sales & Specification Manager of the Keystone Group, looks at the role of innovative new products when improving the fabric efficiency of houses.
Richard Kinloch Specification Manager Keystone

“It is well documented that we have a national housing shortage in the UK, with pressure coming from the government to boost the number of new homes built in the UK. Due to this, it would seem the government have taken their foot off the green pedal with the delay of ‘zero carbon’ until 2020. Even with this reduction in the green agenda, housebuilders still have a challenge on their hands to meet the current, more stringent building regulations, as we strive for more energy efficient new homes.

Improving Energy Efficiency

On the continuous Journey to 2020, housebuilders have needed to review house designs to comply with the higher levels of energy efficiency as set out in Part L 2010 and more recently in Part L 2013 Building regulations. In Part L 2013 (conservation of Fuel & power), Fabric Efficiency standards have been introduced to ensure that building fabric is improved and to discourage the use of excessive and inappropriate low carbon or renewable trade-offs, which have limited life spans.

There is a strong argument that focusing on the fabric of a building is the most cost-effective, reliable and robust method of achieving compliance with future building regulations, as getting the fabric right will save energy throughout the whole life span of the house.

As designers focus on improving the fabric of the buildings by reducing wall, floor and roof U values, the proportion of heat flow through thermal bridging becomes greater and Part L 2013 has much greater emphasis on thermal bridging as these heat losses were often overlooked in the past. Statistics show that up to 35% of the heat loss in a well-insulated house is through thermal bridges. With 41 different potential thermal bridging junction types being identified within the SAP 2012, it is important that designers address the thermal bridging details to minimise heat loss.

Openings for windows and doors are vulnerable to heat loss through thermal bridging so it is more important than ever to pay close attention to the performance of structural elements such as lintels which are installed in these junctions. Lintels are one of the single most influential contributing factors, which can improve a dwellings SAP calculation and therefore improving the Fabric Energy Efficiency.

To help Housebuilders meet Part L’s requirements and deliver consistent quality in a very competitive market, it is imperative that Keystone, as a supplier to the market continues to invest in product innovations which improve the energy efficiency of a building.

Why is Lintel Choice Vital?

Lintels are, in most cases, the most significant thermal bridges due to the fact that traditional style steel lintels interrupt the line of insulation with a continuous piece of highly conductive steel. This could account for more than 40% of the total heat loss through thermal bridging. Housebuilders now have an excellent solution, thanks to the Keystone Group’s patented Hi-Therm lintel with its dramatically enhanced Psi value. The use of this unique Hi-therm lintel in place of standard steel lintels can lead to an 80% reduction in thermal bridging through the lintels. By making these large savings on thermal bridging, designers gain the flexibility to trim back on other more expensive options (such as wider cavities) yet still comply with the latest Part L 2013 building regulations.

It is essential that specified lintels are backed up by 3rd party certification such as BBA approval to guarantee robust thermal performance, as well as fulfilling their primary function, to provide structural support. Keystone’s Hi-therm sustainability lintel now provides designers, architects and developers a simple, certified and cost effective solution to significantly reduced thermal bridging.

The market’s only ‘Fabric First’ Roof Window

Another Keystone Group product helping to improve fabric efficiency is the Keylite Roof Window, with its patented expanding thermal collar. All roof windows require a ‘gap’ between the window frame and rafters or timber trimmers; however when left uninsulated this contributes to thermal bridging and air leakage. Keylite Roof Windows eliminate this problematic area with a patented built in thermal collar, which expands and fills the gap between the window frame and rafters or trimmers, which also contributes to improved fabric performance within SAP.

Smartroof roof panel system

In traditional structures, the junctions between elements of the building fabric often require special detailing so as not to compromise thermal performance, but Smartroof’s ‘offsite’ factory-insulated panel roof system eliminates voids or cold spots. Detailing at gable, eaves and party head junctions, offer industry leading Psi values and U values which contribute to improving the fabric, offering advantages in SAP calculations.

Taking all of these factors into consideration, I do not think we can underestimate the increasing role that energy efficient products will take in the house building market. Historically, innovation in the construction sector has not been rapid. It is essential, however, that products which make up the building fabric are given careful consideration in terms of their energy efficiency. Products that enhance the Fabric Energy Efficiency of the building envelope and which are backed up by the Keystone Group’s ‘in-house’ technical support can only be of benefit to housebuilders. Manufacturers such as the Keystone Group are embracing sustainable, innovative new products and building methods that will offer benefits to housebuilders and provide guaranteed quality and performance.”

Richard Kinloch
National Technical Sales and Specification Manager

The Keystone Group launch online Psi value calculator

Keystone Psi Value Calculator

It is our aim to provide customers with the most advanced technical information in the industry and we are pleased to announce the launch of our new online Psi Value Calculator.

The Keystone Group is the first lintel manufacturer to offer a Psi value calculator designed for energy assessors and architects who specify products and value engineer specifications to meet regulations and code of sustainable home requirements.

The Key benefit of the Psi value calculator is that you can obtain a psi value with a few clicks of a button – FREE OF CHARGE. Generally this information takes a specialist company a few days to turn around with typical costs between £200 and £400 per detail. Energy Assessors can now directly input the lintel psi value into their SAP calculations and view the performance benefit. Specifically calculated Psi values will help lower the y value within the sap calculation assisting Part L compliance.

To ensure accuracy, all Psi-values calculations have been generated by trained thermal modellers using Physical Trisco software which is also by BRE.

If you have any additional queries or problems with working out your Psi-value then please give the Technical Services team a call on 01283 200 150.

For further information please contact:

  • Tel: 01283 200 150
  • Fax: 01283 223 352

Award Winning Year for the Keystone Group

The Keystone Group is delighted to have been awarded the Most Innovative Company of the Year at the annual UTV Business Eye Awards. This prestigious award follows on from two previous innovation awards for the Mid-Ulster company, including the ‘Commercial Innovation of the Year’ at the top UK Construction News Awards.

UTV Most Innovative Company of the Year

The Keystone Group has become one of the UK and Ireland’s most innovative building manufacturing companies, focusing extensively on the needs of house builders both now and into the future, by offering a number of ground breaking thermal innovations, aimed at providing enhanced thermal performance. The Keystone Group now consists of Keystone Lintels, IG Lintels, Keylite Roof Windows, Smartroof, IG Masonry Support Systems and IG Elements. With manufacturing plants in Cookstown, South Derbyshire and Poland and a distribution site in Cwmbran, the Keystone Group is the UK and Ireland’s largest Steel Lintel manufacturer and Europe’s fastest growing Roof Window manufacturer.

The Awards are hotly contested by Northern Ireland’s top companies, Eithne Kelly, CEO of the Keystone states, “We are so thrilled that the Keystone Group has been recognised for innovation as this drives our business. Currently the Keystone Group has 42 patents, 11 product awards and over 30 staff dedicated to design and product innovation. We are delighted with the successes that have been celebrated throughout the past 12 months and look forward to 2016.”

Like this post? Share it here:

Part L Places The Lintel In The Spotlight

The HI THERM LINTEL provides the most cost effective ‘fabric first’ solution to builders seeking out new ways to achieve Part L compliance. This unique lintel won Best Building Fabric Product in the Housebuilder Product Awards for two years running and many of the UK’s regional and national Housebuilders (Barratt Homes, Taylor Wimpey, Crest Nicholson, Jelson and many more) have experienced the benefits of specifying the Hi-therm lintel.

Changes in Part L Building Regulations necessitate the adoption of a fabric first approach to energy efficiency in buildings. Lintels greatly impact the thermal performance of a building due to the considerable effect they have on the crucial issue of thermal bridging. Thanks to the introduction of the Hi-therm lintel, merchants can now offer the builder an excellent solution.

Hi Therm Lintel Part L Regulations

Why is Lintel Choice Vital?

Openings for windows and doors are vulnerable to heat loss through thermal bridging so it’s more important than ever to pay close attention to the performance of structural elements such as lintels that are installed in these junctions. Statistics show that up to 35% of heat loss in a dwelling is through non repeating thermal bridging. Lintels are one of the single most influential contributing factors which can improve a dwellings SAP calculation and Fabric Energy Efficiency.

It is essential therefore that specified lintels are able to demonstrate robust thermal performance, as well as fulfilling their primary function, to provide structural support. Keystone’s Hi-therm sustainability lintel now provides a unique new solution designed to efficiently address thermal bridging, providing new opportunities for merchants to sell higher spec lintels.

Why Hi-therm?

From Keystone’s initial research it was clear that the new Part L requirement would see a major change in the way architects approach house design through the specification of enhanced products which improve the dwellings fabric. This is based on the principle of preventing energy waste by ensuring that the fabric of the building is adequately insulated and airtight. The fabric of the building remains for the life time of the building therefore it will continuously perform as designed.

While steel lintels have previously been produced with various bases to improve thermal performance it became clear to us that their performance fell considerably short of that required in the new regulations. The Hi-therm lintel however is five times more thermally efficient than a standard steel lintel and yet is specified and installed in exactly the same way.

How does it work?

The secret lies in using a glass reinforced polymer (GRP) for the outer leaf of the lintel. The GRP acts as a thermal break, preventing heat escaping from the internal leaf of a building across the cavity to the external leaf.

The new certified Psi value for lintels in the updated building regulations appendix R is 0.05W/m.k. Thanks to its patented design, the Hi-therm lintel is now the only one piece lintel that satisfies these requirements, thus creating strong demand growth for merchants offering this unique solution.

If, for example, standard steel lintels were used in a Part L specification, the designers would have to compensate for the psi value performance deficit elsewhere in the design by lowering wall u-values, upgrading windows to triple glazed, or perhaps the introduction of costly bolt on renewables such as solar panels ultimately adding additional cost.

This creates a strong sales message where merchants can offer builders a maintenance free, fabric first alternative to renewable technologies. Energy assessors are driving these decisions as they seek the optimum outcome from their modelling. Adam Eaton, Purchasing Manager for Thakeham Homes explains; “The assessor was amazed that a lintel with such a low Psi value was available to use, it made an immediate impact to our wall make up and meant we could down spec the insulation to a much more sensibly priced product”

For the first time merchants can offer their customers a one piece lintel solution to address the new requirements. It’s important not to take a backward step and resort to the old method of split lintels to achieve a thermal bridge as a one piece option offers better buildability and site detailing; “Hi therm has the added benefit of utilising existing site practices; it enables trades to continue working in line with our current processes which in turn aids consistency in design and performance” (Redrow Homes).

Thermal Analysis Support

At Keystone we pride ourselves on the level of technical support we offer our merchants and their customers. A full package of technical support enables the building designer to understand and assess the cost saving benefits of Hi-therm at an early stage in a project’s design.

There is no one solution to meeting the new Part L regulations as there are so many different factors that contribute to Part L. It is essential however that products which make up the building fabric are given careful consideration in terms of their energy efficiency. Products which enhance the Fabric Energy Efficiency of the building envelope and which are backed up by technical support can only be of benefit to merchants advising their customers on all of the available solutions.