Design by Certification11 May. 2022
More than ever, modern building projects can benefit from the use of certified products, writes Daniel May, Director of Consort Architectural Hardware.
The needs of modern building environments have evolved. Throughout the construction process, decision makers are more commonly deliberating on themes such as innovation, accessibility and sustainability. And that’s not mentioning the renewed focus on building safety and performance, succeeding the Hackitt Review.
As the collective commitment towards these topics grows, it’s as vital as ever for design professionals to deliver reliable, quality materials and hardware on their projects.
Architectural hardware for example, is one of the most heavily used elements within a building environment, and a typical busy door can be used 150 times each day. Door hardware plays a pivotal role in a building’s operational network and its fire safety, and so the application of certified hardware solutions shouldn’t be undervalued.
Daniel May of Consort explains:
“While it’s important to deliver on aesthetics and innovation, there is always a clear responsibility to provide safe and secure building environments. The latest in reforms - think the Building Safety Bill and the regulations that has introduced - will continue to raise the standards associated with building design and with that, the benefits of certified hardware will shine.
“Along the supply chain, the durability of hardware products is key, and this is in no way more assured than with independent certifications. For example, for fire doors to operate as intended, they rely on fitted hardware to perform - opening and closing upon demand to ensure the compartmentalisation of smoke and fire.
“Fire door hardware products should, at a minimum, be CE marked, showing they comply with the minimum in regulatory requirements. However, to emphasise the highest levels of performance and durability, product manufacturers will often look towards third-party certifications such as the commonly recognised Certifire - a certification scheme that assures the performance, quality, reliability and traceability of hardware products.
“For architects, specifiers and end users alike, product certifications such as Certifire boost the dependability of hardware choices and make for an easier, less time-consuming selection process. They provide additional confidence that the chosen product will perform when called upon, remaining safe and high performing throughout its lifecycle.
“A building is a network of design choices, all of which must work in tandem for the infrastructure to operate as intended. Should one area fail, for example, the mechanisms of a fire door closer, the infrastructure becomes compromised - heightening safety and security risks for the building’s occupants and visitors. It’s critical that only the most durable products are used in these scenarios and whether using non-standard or standard arm applications, hardware must be compliant - with various areas considered, such as meeting DDA requirements by paying close attention towards the opening forces used in public spaces. And while manufacturers have a responsibility to test, label and supply the highest standard of product, decision makers must then also choose to apply hardware that meets the requirements of the building in question.”
Avoiding Costly Errors
In some cases, design teams will face a choice between the initial costs of certified products and their less reliable counterparts. Although economic considerations are often part of the construction process, durable hardware will continue to perform long after its initial supply period, whereas cheaper hardware alternatives can become counterintuitive, failing to offer that same quality and durability and leading to costly consequences.
Later in a building’s lifecycle, where less durable products have been used, complications can arise. With this, the costs associated with future maintenance and replacements can quickly begin to add up and work against the original decision. Not to mention the expense to building safety.
More recently, sustainability continues to grow into the conversation, fairly asking questions about the environmental impact buildings omit. As was referenced at the recent COP26 conference, the built environment and construction sector accounts for 38% of the world’s Carbon Emissions. For the UK specifically, it’s said that 45% of the total UK carbon emissions are associated to the built environment and changes must now be made to avoid both environmental and reputational costs.
“The time has come for decision makers to do their part to limit the consumption of construction resources too, and certified architectural hardware can play its part here too. Hardware can also gain environmental certifications, such as ISO 14000, which is a set of standards designed to reduce environmental waste and damage.
“Similar to Certifire, BREEAM is a third-party sustainability assessment method focusing on infrastructure and buildings. Hardware products can become recognised under independent standards - providing users with peace of mind that products are more durable, ethically sourced and environmentally resourceful. The aim is to reduce replacement hardware and the amount of packaging that is associated with replacements. And extended durability - represented through certifications - is the way forward.
“The benefit of using certified architectural hardware is now more clear than ever. From performance benefits to dependability, all hardware - even the often-overlooked lever handles and flush bolts - should meet the requirements of their building, and there’s no better way to ensure this than with certified products. Building design will benefit from raised standards, and right now, decision makers can benefit from certification-led design.