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Going Retro

Posted: April 23, 2013

Sidey Limited have just completed the installation of retro-fit windows to 51 dwellings at Lickley  Milne and Market Courts for Perth and Kinross Council.  It is a classic retro-fit scheme; the three nine storey buildings were completed in 1973 built typically for the period with a Bison beam structure, and included what at the time was a pioneering district heating system.

Life in Perth as in many other major towns and cities across the United Kingdom has changed considerably since 1973; for Perth and Kinross Council the biggest change in the later of those intervening years has been a recognition of the effect that genuine and measurable climate change has had on the region, and the impact it is having on the day to day services it provides to its social housing residents.

Perth and Kinross Council is by nature an innovative authority.  The flats were originally built with a  district heating system which became so popular after the war and which is now once again becoming accepted and developed as the most efficient  way to heat multi-occupancy buildings, reduce CO2 emissions and cut carbon costs. The heating system in the flats has now been upgraded to use the latest technologies.

John Cruikshank, Project Manager, Perth and Kinross Council stated,”We are always keen to incorporate the use of modern technology and embrace the latest thinking.  When we started out on a path of looking at the practical application of the latest technologies retro-fitting Lickley, Milne and  Market Courts was an obvious choice for us.  Time had overtaken what was originally a very modern development; and while upgrading the heating system was a logical first step, we knew we needed to go much further.”

It was against this background that Sidey Limited were appointed to design and install a window to work in harmony with the heating system, the acoustic challenges of a bustling road by-pass, and to provide a future proof window which would be complimentary to any other work the authority might choose to carry out on the buildings in future years.

Mike Stevenson Development Director for Sidey takes up the story.  “We knew that what Perth and Kinross Council wanted was not just a replacement window option to fit into these blocks.  What they wanted was a window to work in combination with all the other upgrades they were already doing or planned to do in the longer term.  What they wanted was a window which would work in perfect harmony with these measures and return the block to a specification as advanced as when they were originally built”.

“For us, it was about designing both a unique specification and window designs to achieve that.  Our R&D team set to work to look at all the prevailing site conditions and options which might be available.  In the end it was a pioneering 0.7 (wmk2) U value triple glazed window using our Solartherm Plus ® range of products that they determined was going to be suitable.  Installing this specification of product into a retro-fit environment was unique, it is the highest specification of window we have ever produced, and windows of this type these days are usually installed into Fabric First developments where the aim is to design out the requirement for high usage of carbon fuels in the first place.  We had to adapt the same principles for this development, and it was critical that in doing so that the windows would work harmoniously with other key elements in the building – namely the heating and ventilation systems, whilst also addressing the acoustic requirements of the site”.

For both Sidey and Perth and Kinross Council Lickley Court and Milne Market represents a pioneering step on the retro-fit ladder.  Monitoring the performance of the installed upgrades, and resident satisfaction will form a large part of an on-going review process for the scheme as both continue to monitor technological developments, and to look at other sites in the city which would benefit from such measures.

John Cruikshank continues, “The retro-fitting of this site is an endorsement of our overall philosophy and plans for social housing in the city when it comes to renewable technologies and looking at modern ways of working.  We are delighted with the outcome of this scheme and our partners’ approach to working within it.  We are keen to monitor feedback as a way of proving that what we have done is to make these blocks the most advanced they can be given the building structure we started out with.”

For Sidey, this is the latest example of their working in partnership with an authority to develop bespoke, intelligent solutions to meet the needs of a particular development.  Mike concludes, “It was really interesting for us to get involved in this project, and is gratifying that collectively we have achieved what we set out to do without compromising our principles.  The unwavering determination was to design a window specification which wholly achieves the brief to return the building to a level of advanced performance comparable to when it was originally built.  For us, this is what retro-fitting is all about and we are delighted to have been a part of it.”