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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
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  1.  
    These emails are all quoted by the newspapers without full context. They may or may not be damming. In every case I'd want to understand the full conversation.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeFeb 3rd 2020
     
    So would I, but we might not get that context unless the sender's are a granted immunity from prosecution. Should they get it?

    Just info documents submitted are available at..
    https://www.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk/evidence
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeFeb 3rd 2020
     
    Posted By: CWattersSome companies have said they won't give evidence unless given immunity from prosecution, because by giving evidence they might implicate themselves.

    I know the victims won't be happy but I think the evidence presented in the first few days of part 2 is sufficiently damming that the public inquiry should be paused to allow the police to finish their investigation and prosecute those responsible. It should then resume asap.

    and then later ...

    we might not get that context unless the sender's are a granted immunity from prosecution. Should they get it?

    I agree with the concerns, but the way I look at it is different.

    72 people died in Grenfell Tower and it wasn't an unforseeable accident. So somebody, probably quite a lot of people, are responsible for those deaths and society expects them to be punished.

    So I don't believe potentially guilty people should be given immunity. If the best way to achieve a 'good' conclusion is to suspend the inquiry until the police inquiry finishes, then so be it.

    For the most part though I think what we're talking about are emails and other written or otherwise recorded communications rather than people's recollections of unminuted conversations. So what we're talking about is the production of existing evidence. I think it is reasonable to require that to be produced, and I think the law covers that case, and destruction of evidence and suchlike. So while I don't know the detail of those laws, I'm hopeful they are sufficiently robust to deal with this case.
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeFeb 3rd 2020
     
    The person/people that deserve to be in prison are those that were responsible for the buildings overall fire safety, they’ll be within the management organisation.
    The disaster did’nt occur purely because the cladding failed, much had gone wrong before then. Yet even with the cladding the design in itself was compromised by the standard of installation. Then there are the problems within the building in terms of fire separation and containment, fire fighting equipment and the buildings other changes and adaptions over the years.
    There will have been many decisions made on the basis that the rest of the building was compliant and works over the years were done to standard, inspected and maintained. Which may well be why Studio E constantly refers back to “reasonable” as its and decisions of others will have been based on information provided by others.
    So ultimately it’ll be down to the responsible person who should have been monitoring all the buildings documents, works and compliance.
    But by the time the spotlight focuses on the management organisation , the finger of blame will be pretty well worn out and exhausted.
    The criticism of the fire service ( rightly or not) was an odd way to approach the disaster, looking at the response to something that at that point was not understood. The response of the fire service may well have been found lacking, but they were trying to deal with an incident which was not behaving as it should have done because the planning and procedures were based on incorrect information.
    Like the fire service , it’ll not be surprising to see a string of individuals ( approaching the end of their careers) step forward and offer their resignations. Conveniently deflecting attention.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeFeb 3rd 2020
     
    Posted By: Artiglioa string of individuals ( approaching the end of their careers) step forward and offer their resignations

    Stepping forward and resigning doesn't cut it in terms of 72 people dead, IMHO.

    I agree that the focus on the fire service was somewhat unfortunate, but I think that first focussing on and establishing what actually happened was important before looking at how that situation occurred.

    One point to add to my previous comments. I'd expect anybody who worked on the project who considered themselves not at fault would have taken care to get something in writing demonstrating their innocence/concern when the design was proposed/constructed, and be willing to produce that evidence. One thing I'm not sure the law does do well enough is allow people to produce that evidence against the wishes of their employer, without suffering negative consequences. Closely related to 'whistleblower' law.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeFeb 3rd 2020
     
    The person/people that deserve to be in prison are those that were responsible for the buildings overall fire safety, they’ll be within the management organisation.


    A building owner is ultimately responsible for ensuring a building complies with Building Regulations including fire. In the case of Grenfell that would be Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council but I doubt they are the most guilty of all the parties involved.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeFeb 3rd 2020 edited
     
    Few will have time to watch all three hours of this coverage but perhaps a worth dipping in around 38:45 when Arconic are mentioned..

    https://youtu.be/98XQPYAaSFQ

    To paraphrase... Don't blame us, it should have been obvious to everyone that our panel was unsuitable.
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeFeb 3rd 2020
     
    Watched that and the section on Celotex, who also have a lot to answer for. If the whole industry behaves in such a manner, the safest way forward would maybe to test a significant section of a design ( say 3/4 stories) and have it ( the entire system) certified by BRE or similar, certified ( by the results of the test )for use if they pass. Only certified systems could be used and no deviation from the tested system allowed.
    Possibly much safer , but would have many downsides, in terms of cost, innovation, limited choice, effective monopolies created etc.
    • CommentAuthorvord
    • CommentTimeFeb 4th 2020 edited
     
    It concerns me a lot that when something goes wrong there is always a blame game and we want to see the culprits punished. For me the objective ought to be to figure out what went wrong and try to fix it and that often doesn't happen. I don't like watching the enquiry for that reason - too defensive, no positive ideas.

    It seems clear already that PIR insulation burns really well once it gets going. There is a guy on YouTube who put some on a fire and it went up nicely. In this case there was a good air gap all the way up the building and then the unsurprising happened.

    But it's nice to have an air gap somewhere. If we legislate for no air gaps anywhere then the next problem will be damp. There is going to be water and it needs to go somewhere. People more clever than me will need to figure that one out.

    I wouldn't rely on testing. Look at VW and the diesel tests - everything these days can be designed to get past tests and that can even compromise function in real life.

    I suspect that behind the scenes there are a bunch of people who want to improve things for everyone who will take some learning from this. I imagine building regs will be influenced. Personally it made me think a lot about how to bolt a consumer unit to a celotex internal insulated stud wall that is kind of ventilated to the roof.

    The public side of it just feels like a witch hunt so that we can have someone to blame and I'm not getting a lot out of it.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeFeb 4th 2020
     
    The point of punishing people, apart from providing some relief/closure for victims and their relatives, is to encourage other people working in similar situations in the future to behave better. That is, to make decisions for the greater good rather than individual or corporate benefit when the two conflict, to influence the decision makers to that end, and to speak out publically if necessary to stop such disastrous situations. i.e. to prevent situations like dieselgate as well as Grenfell and Hillsborough (and Lakanal and ...).

    The people behind building regs are as guilty as the rest. They have ignored warnings and evidence from previous fires for many years.
  2.  
    Posted By: djhThe point of punishing people, apart from providing some relief/closure for victims and their relatives, is to encourage other people working in similar situations in the future to behave better.


    I don't know if it necessarily would have that effect. Potentially just leads to people covering themselves with even more paperwork and pushing responsibility for decisions to other people, with bad results for the general quality of design and costs of construction. Instead of making people, who aren't confident/qualified to make certain judgements, terrified of deciding anything, much better to invest in a system where people can feel confident that they will make the right decisions as long as clear, unambiguous guidance is there.

    That's why the best possible outcome of the enquiry, in my opinion, would not be a load of people going to prison, but a major overhaul of the building regulations, and the system in which everyone operates, so that lines of responsibility are clear. By that I mean, if you are part of the design team, then there is a clear process by which you check whether something is ok. So, for fire safety, it's clear who ultimately approves the design, and the person who approves it has a clear overview of the project and has the necessary expert knowledge to make the right decision.

    At the moment, that responsibility is smeared around the place. Building control will OK it with various disclaimers. Product manufacturers will say their product is ok without full knowledge of the context of its use (perhaps willfully so). Maybe there's a fire consultant who is focussed on escape strategies and assumes others have checked the detail of the facade. Architects have an overview but rely on guidance from others because they can't have expert knowledge of every aspect of building design, might be working in any number of ill-defined contractual relationships where they have more or less design say, and furthermore are often unclear about who ultimately has the say and what the status of a building control plans approval is. Installers follow someone else's spec, and manufacturer's guidance and might have their opinions but little power in the contractual process to challenge decisions, and a big commercial disincentive to do so.

    The whole thing is a horrible mess (and almost certainly very difficult to change) but I dunno if making everyone more scared about their potential liability is a great solution. Identify clearly who *is* supposed to be responsible, and for sure, hold them to account, but make sure those people are fully competent to actually make good decisions (and good decisions aren't ones that simply minimise risk at the expense of everything else).
    • CommentAuthorvord
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2020 edited
     
    Having been exposed a little to the building industry I expect they could find a fair number of people guilty for gross negligence, but I doubt they will find anyone who really made a consious desision to put lives at risk just to make a bit of money. A risk assessment done in the same way as other areas of engineering might have picked it up, but that makes the person doing the risk assessment responsible if they miss something so if they find an engineer bright enough to do a good assessment they will probably also be bright enough to refuse to do it.

    The stipping of cladding from similar buildings (presumably some of which were updated by other architects and contractors using materials from other manufacturers) might suggest this is just something nobody had really thought through until it went disasterously wrong. Hopefully there will be some learning.

    And to counter my own argument, building rubbish without caring just to make money seems endemic in the modern building industry so maybe thinking is no longer considered necessary. Houses are so scarce that people will buy cheaply made and poorly insulated houses which they will find very difficult to maintain.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2020
     
    Posted By: vordmight suggest this is just something nobody had really thought through until it went disasterously wrong

    Except that the problem was known and change had been requested several times already, most notably after the Lakanal fire. Nobody can claim ignorance of the problem or risks. Everybody should and indeed probably were well aware of the problem.
    • CommentAuthorborpin
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2020
     
    Posted By: vordIt concerns me a lot that when something goes wrong there is always a blame game and we want to see the culprits punished.
    It is interesting that in the aircraft industry, there has historically been a no blame culture - you simply learn from mistakes. Blaming pilots means they would not own up to the mistakes they made but got away with so the systemic reason for the error is never removed.

    There is an argument that, even when it is discovered that a building design is wrong or dangerous, it is in the best interest of the company not to admit it and simply hope the worst doesn't happen. In a no blame culture, you'd put your hand up immediately, others would then look at similar designs, design out the issues and mitigate the risks of those that exist.

    Apportioning blame doesn't actually help as can be seen within this process.

    I don't believe anyone (in general - psychopaths excluded) deliberately set out to design a building that is dangerous - or do anything to cause harm. Mistakes happen - human error. Work on a process to eliminate the errors not blame those that made them. The errors will then come to light and appropriate action taken.

    You will argue that morally they should have owned up - it isn't human nature to put your neck in a noose.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2020
     
    737max
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2020
     
    +1

    on here we tend to be more interested with solar gain...
    whereas this Boeing business is about commercial gain...

    https://www.vox.com/business-and-finance/2019/3/29/18281270/737-max-faa-scandal-explained

    gg
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2020
     
    Posted By: borpinI don't believe anyone (in general - psychopaths excluded) deliberately set out to design a building that is dangerous - or do anything to cause harm. Mistakes happen - human error.

    They're not 'mistakes' though, they're deliberate attempts to cut corners to save/make money by putting people's lives in danger by ignoring/cheating/conspiring regulations.

    Here's another word: dieselgate.
    • CommentAuthorgoodevans
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2020
     
    In the event of an aircraft crash the pilot and other flight personal can easily be penalised with their lives - it is in the personal interest of the whole flight team to ensure systems and procedures are followed. With that in mind an accident due to "pilot error" can best be dealt with as a failure of the systems or procedures.

    For the manufacturing industry a grounded aircraft series causes massive costs - as seen with the length of time 737 Max has been grounded for. The cost to Boeing for this problem will probably such that they will change their procedures so that it does not happen again - it may have also woken up other manufactures.

    For Grenfell none of the 'pilots' or 'crew' were at personal risk and,if immunity is given to the companies, I'm not sure that sufficient costs will fall on the companies concerned to change the behaviour of the industry as a whole - I think any change will be limited to 'cladding' products only when the underlying problem extends far and wide and beyond the building industry. Lets be clear: There are/were regulations in place that should have been followed and various parties allowed those regulations to be breached - until the penalties for failure are severe enough to cause businesses/organsiations to self police themselves we will always have a serious problem every few years or so.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeFeb 10th 2020
     
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/grenfell-tower-fire-inquiry-hearing-cladding-insulation-rydon-harley-facades-studio-e-exova-a9306191.html

    “There is no point in ‘fire stopping’, as we all know; the ACM [aluminium composite material] will be gone rather quickly in a fire!”

    “It is difficult to see how a fire-stop would stay in place in the event of a fire where external flaming occurred as this would cause the zinc cladding to fail.”

    “This was my point as well – metal cladding always burns and falls off, hence fire-stopping is usually just to the back of the cladding line”.
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeFeb 10th 2020
     
    Posted By: CWattershttps://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/grenfell-tower-fire-inquiry-hearing-cladding-insulation-rydon-harley-facades-studio-e-exova-a9306191.html" rel="nofollow" >https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/grenfell-tower-fire-inquiry-hearing-cladding-insulation-rydon-harley-facades-studio-e-exova-a9306191.html

    “There is no point in ‘fire stopping’, as we all know; the ACM [aluminium composite material] will be gone rather quickly in a fire!”

    “It is difficult to see how a fire-stop would stay in place in the event of a fire where external flaming occurred as this would cause the zinc cladding to fail.”

    “This was my point as well – metal cladding always burns and falls off, hence fire-stopping is usually just to the back of the cladding line”.


    Again these are quoted out of context. While some of the emails might indeed be incriminating to some extent - the commentary alongside them in news articles does nothing to explain what they were actually talking about (as I understand it) which was the difference between fire stopping and cavity barriers.

    Fire stopping is when you continue compartmentation across a gap, and permanently seal across that gap. It's intended to stay there for as long as the structure it connects between is rated.

    Cavity barriers are a bit different - they are to stop fire proceeding within cavities unseen. They leave the cavity open until there is a fire at which point they have some intumescent material and closes off the cavity. As I understand it, this is to do with preventing (a) fire progress that can't be seen by firefighters or occupants and (b) accelerated fire progress resulting from chimney effects.

    Fire moving unseen behind or into a cavity is one thing, and can be moderated with cavity barriers. Once things have got to the point where the external cladding has gone, then you're dealing with something different, and cavity barriers become redundant. And it would make no sense to put fire stops in a rainscreen cavity in any case.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeFeb 11th 2020
     
    Posted By: lineweightAnd it would make no sense to put fire stops in a rainscreen cavity in any case.

    I agree with what you said, but I'm curious about this bit. Why wouldn't it be possible to put weep holes just above a fire stop? Like weep holes above a lintel?
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeFeb 11th 2020
     
    Posted By: djh
    Posted By: lineweightAnd it would make no sense to put fire stops in a rainscreen cavity in any case.

    I agree with what you said, but I'm curious about this bit. Why wouldn't it be possible to put weep holes just above a fire stop? Like weep holes above a lintel?


    I'm not a big expert on rainscreen facades. But I imagine it would become rather complex to detail; you'd have to have a weathering over each fire stop that reliably directed any water out to the weepholes. And you'd have to have special cladding panels with weepholes in, at the right level, probably where you don't want them visually. And they'd probably need to provide sufficient ventilation too.

    With masonry you stick your cavity tray into the conveniently horizontal and mostly continuous mortar joints. Not especially a precision process. The weep vents go in the vertical joints that are there anyway. The whole game is different if you're dealing with metal framing and panels that are screwed or clipped into it.

    The concept of a rainscreen is really that you keep the 'screen' independent of the main wall - and the waterproofing on the main wall is fairly continuous (and doesn't have to look pretty). If you start repeatedly bridging the gap between them then you've pretty much destroyed the concept I'd say.
    • CommentAuthorborpin
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2020
     
    Posted By: djh737max
    Not a systemic problem with what the pilot did. It was a systemic problem with letting Boeing self-certify and that has come back to bite all parties with a vengeance.

    One aspect of the cladding being alight that I feel has been lost, is the role of the UPVC windows that replaced the metal casement. I wonder if UPVC fails before the glass does?

    I also wonder if you could fit rainfall type 'sprinkler' on the exterior so if the cladding did ignite it would be possible to quickly extinguish it.

    I suspect that, once the fire is going, any cladding/insulation will burn. When it the key method to meet heat loss regs, that is an issue.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeFeb 15th 2020 edited
     
    Posted By: lineweight
    Posted By: CWattershttps://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/grenfell-tower-fire-inquiry-hearing-cladding-insulation-rydon-harley-facades-studio-e-exova-a9306191.html" rel="nofollow" >https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/grenfell-tower-fire-inquiry-hearing-cladding-insulation-rydon-harley-facades-studio-e-exova-a9306191.html

    “There is no point in ‘fire stopping’, as we all know; the ACM [aluminium composite material] will be gone rather quickly in a fire!”

    “It is difficult to see how a fire-stop would stay in place in the event of a fire where external flaming occurred as this would cause the zinc cladding to fail.”

    “This was my point as well – metal cladding always burns and falls off, hence fire-stopping is usually just to the back of the cladding line”.


    Again these are quoted out of context. While some of the emails might indeed be incriminating to some extent - the commentary alongside them in news articles does nothing to explain what they were actually talking about (as I understand it) which was the difference between fire stopping and cavity barriers.

    Fire stopping is when you continue compartmentation across a gap, and permanently seal across that gap. It's intended to stay there for as long as the structure it connects between is rated.

    Cavity barriers are a bit different - they are to stop fire proceeding within cavities unseen. They leave the cavity open until there is a fire at which point they have some intumescent material and closes off the cavity. As I understand it, this is to do with preventing (a) fire progress that can't be seen by firefighters or occupants and (b) accelerated fire progress resulting from chimney effects.

    Fire moving unseen behind or into a cavity is one thing, and can be moderated with cavity barriers. Once things have got to the point where the external cladding has gone, then you're dealing with something different, and cavity barriers become redundant. And it would make no sense to put fire stops in a rainscreen cavity in any case.



    I think you miss main point - which is that the emails show they knew the cladding panels burn.
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTime5 hours ago edited
     
    Posted By: CWatters

    I think you miss main point - which is that the emails show they knew the cladding panels burn.


    The emails show they knew the cladding system would fail, if and when there was fire spread externally. That's not the same thing as knowing the panels will burn (or being aware of the ferociousness with which they would burn or the consequences). NB one of the emails is talking about the originally specified zinc panels.
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