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Jason Hird, Technical Development Manager, Gyproc

Quick-to-build lightweight wall and partition systems are not only challenging heavy masonry systems in key areas like acoustics and aesthetic performance & design; they also perform better in the increasingly important area of thermal insulation. Gyproc’s Technical Manager, Jason Hird, explains why Gyproc systems are the clever choice for sustainable buildings.

Europe and the US have witnessed a rapid growth in the popularity of lightweight building systems in recent years, thanks to both their speed and versatility of use and their very high levels of performance – in many instances far better than the old traditional heavy weight masonry systems.

Metal framed partition, wall lining and ceiling systems, such as those provided by Gyproc, are easier and much quicker to build due to their light weight, engineered design and dry construction. Today’s Gyproc systems are also capable of providing levels of acoustic and structural performance beyond those of masonry equivalents whilst still easily achieving up-to three hours fire resistance.

Gyproc Solutions also provide significant improvement over masonry in the often overlooked area of thermal performance, and it is in the area of thermal performance that Gyproc sees significant potential for its systems in the future.

The need to reduce building energy usage

Unlike the West, where the majority of building energy goes to heating systems, in the Middle East, it is cooling systems that eat up around 70% of our total building energy use. To give you some idea of the magnitude of the problem we face look no further than the Burj Khalifa – one building that alone is estimated to use around 10% of the total energy output of a modern nuclear reactor. Keeping our buildings cool, therefore, whilst at the same time reducing our massive energy demand is one of the biggest challenges we face today – and the challenge can only get bigger as the current drive towards sustainability begins to gather momentum.

And it’s not only high energy usage that is driving us to minimise the use of air conditioning systems – health is an important issue, particularly when combined with the very high humidity levels common in the region’s buildings. Unless they are maintained to a very high standard, air conditioning systems are known to circulate allergens and mould spores and to exacerbate the growing asthma problem across the region, so minimising their use can significantly improve both living and working conditions.

Abu Dhabi has been one of the first to recognise the importance of building sustainably in the region with its ‘Plan 2030’ – a blueprint designed to drive sustainability as the foundation for present and future building development in the Emirate and beyond. Under Estidama’s sustainability program, the Pearl Building Rating System, energy efficiency will be one of the primary measures of sustainability, with standards already adopted for a whole range of buildings from hospitals and public buildings to warehouses and hotels. In fact, any new building, or building undergoing significant refurbishment, that incorporates air-conditioning, is now required to meet a Pearl rating standard – and the standard is expected to be extended to cover existing buildings in the future.

Wall linings – the versatile solution

Gyproc wall lining systems comprise three basic elements:

  • Robust Gypframe metal framework that is either fixed directly to, or installed independent of, the background structure - which could be masonry blockwork or a steel cladding system for example
  • Strong plasterboard lining that provides fire and acoustic performance
  • A cavity which, as well as accommodating services, is filled with insulation

Depending on performance requirements, the insulation can be either KIMMCO glass wool, which provides excellent acoustic benefits in addition to good thermal performance, or Polystyrene type material (Thermocol). By selecting different polystyrene insulants, the wall lining can be engineered to provide a range of thermal performance levels from expanded polystyrene products that provide a basic level of insulation, through extruded polystyrene for mid-range performance, up to Phenolic foam, which provides the highest level of performance, thickness for thickness.

Choosing the best system and insulation combination for any particular application will depend on overall system performance requirements (whether acoustic performance is required in addition to thermal insulation) and space availability – as independent systems such as GypLyner IWL generally require more space than a direct-fix system such as GypLyner UNIVERSAL, and lower-performing polystyrenes will require greater thickness to meet a particular thermal standard than high performing Phenolic.

The great benefit of a wall lining system such as GypLyner is that it can be used as part of a combined insulation solution with other insulation systems, such as insulated blockwork or external insulation systems, to achieve very high standards of thermal performance for very demanding applications. It can also be fitted after the building has been completed, with minimal disruption, to upgrade the thermal performance of the initial construction.

Benefits start from day 1

Once you’ve chosen to use a Gyproc system, you’ll find the benefits start from day 1. The built cost per square metre for an installed insulated lining system is generally lower than for an equivalent heavyweight solution providing the same level of thermal performance.

The components are lighter and easier to handle than masonry, and are engineered for quick and easy construction on site. Dry build techniques also mean there is no delay whilst the components dry out – once the lining has been completed, it can be decorated immediately.

The site will be safer as there are fewer components, taking up less on-site storage space than with masonry-based systems, and the linings will co-ordinate perfectly with metal partition and ceiling systems – without any awkward detailing problems. The systems will accommodate any imperfections in the background levels and can easily be fitted around pipework and ductwork or protruding buttresses. They can also be used to provide fire protection to structural steel and/or fire resistance where required, further minimising the number of different components and systems required on site.

Equally important for both the contractor and the client is that, like all Gyproc systems, the installation will carry the company’s unique SpecSure® performance warranty, guaranteeing that it will perform to specification throughout its installed life. In other words, it is a lifetime solution that will go on delivering energy savings for the client as long as the installation is in place.

Additional performance benefits

In addition to providing a high quality lining to the wall, plasterboard is comfortable to the touch and its insulating properties help to create a pleasant room environment, and help maintain a constant ambient temperature for occupants. Its known fire protection properties help to make the building safer, whilst it provides unparalleled acoustic performance to reduce intrusive noise penetrating through the structure from outside.

Lining systems, such as GypLyner, will also help to reduce the effects of cold bridging – the phenomenon that occurs as a result of using materials of differing thermal conductivity in the main structure (for instance steel frame with concrete infill panels), or where gaps or cracks in the structure allow warm (or cold) air to penetrate the structure.  As well as the implications on the overall thermal performance of the structure, in extreme cases cold bridging can lead to pattern staining on the wall finish.

The thermal lining further helps to reduce the differential between the wall surface temperature and the temperature of the ambient room air, reducing the risk of surface condensation, and also the risk of interstitial condensation forming within the outer wall structure.

Sustainable systems

Whilst the improved thermal insulation properties of installed GypLyner systems significantly reduce energy demand in the building allowing for smaller or less powerful air-conditioning installations, the Gyproc system components themselves have excellent environmental credentials. Plasterboard and mineral wool insulation are made from renewable natural minerals (gypsum rock and silica sand) and include a high recycled content. In addition, plasterboard site waste and off-cuts are fully recyclable.  Using Gyproc systems therefore, provides a major boost to the overall sustainability rating of the building – which means more credits towards your LEED or Estidama Pearl Rating.

The Universal solution

Gyproc systems provide the perfect solution for a range of new and existing buildings. They are ideal as a lining to all types of masonry structure and have additional benefits when used with modern building methods, such as steel frame and rainscreen technology, which are becoming increasingly popular as building designs become more complicated and sophisticated.

They are ideal for a range of internal environments, such as schools, hospitals, hotels and residential complexes, where they provide a strong and robust finish which, as well as saving energy, will contribute to improved safety and comfort by greatly improving the fire and acoustic performance of the structure.

Help

Would you like some support on your project?  If you would like to discuss some of the thermal solutions discussed here, or would like some design or technical support with your project, in particular for fire, acoustic or impact resistant and robust solutions, then get in touch:

Jason Hird
Technical Development Manager
Tel: 04 450 2300
Mob: 050 6583542
Email: jason.hird@saint-gobain.com

Gyproc Customer Centre Toll free 800 497762