Demand for triple glazing is increasing right now, argues Cornwall Glass Manufacturing’s Joint Managing Director Mark Norcliffe.
“One volume housebuilder in the South West is installing triple glazed windows into all new starts from the summer,” Cornwall Glass Manufacturing’s Joint Managing Director Mark Norcliffe reveals. “So we should expect an increase in demand by the end of Q3, beginning of Q4.”
This revelation came to light as Mark was explaining how window companies appeared to be burying their heads in the sand when it came to triple glazing, even though all the evidence is pointing to increased use of triple glazing as homeowners and developers were seeking the most energy efficient building materials, to keep running costs low and to meet expected changes to the Building Regulations.
“Windows going into newbuild homes from 2025 onwards are looking to achieve U-values of 0.8W/m2K, according to the proposed Future Homes Standard (FHS),” Mark explains. “While the FHS doesn’t apply to refurbishment projects, we can confidently expect the values to drop much lower than the 1.4W/m2K they are at the moment.
“There is nothing to suggest that current window designs can meet those new levels with double glazed units, so triple glazing is a given.
“So why is no-one talking about it? With legislative change like this, we usually get our customers phoning us to ask about it, but we are having to go out to the market to start the conversations ourselves.”
Mark explains that Cornwall Glass Manufacturing has seen orders for triple glazing increase at one of our sites by almost 100% over the last quarter. The IGU manufacturer’s Plymouth site is geared to making high value products, including technically challenging and oversized units. Since triple glazing falls into that category, those orders are often fed through to that site.
“When I spoke to journalists late last year, triple glazing made up 5% of our order volume at Plymouth,” Mark says. “Today, that figure is closer to 10% – and by sales value it is even higher than that.
“However you slice it, orders for triple glazing are increasing now. People think that because the implementation of the FHS isn’t until 2025, then orders for triple glazing are going to remain flat until then, which means there is no need for urgency.
“I disagree. If you look at other trends that have happened over the last decade or so, production techniques appear to adapt overnight.”
Mark points specifically to the increased use of laminate glass, and how it began life as an optional extra, to being widely specified to meet the requirements of Part Q.
“Six years ago, we had one colleague cutting laminate out of sheets of glass at the end of a bench,” Mark says. “Now we’ve got an automated laminate line running over two shifts. Demand can rocket quickly.”
Cornwall Glass Manufacturing is already geared to making triple glazed units, and we have invested in machinery across our sites in Plymouth and St Austell to meet increased demand, and to maintain high levels of quality.
This include a £1.5 million Bystronic Sealed Unit Line at our St Austell site, which replaces a similar line that was installed 20 years ago. Our new line is designed to manufacture triple glazed units, incorporating online silicone and polysulphide application, alongside gas filling, speeding up the process and maintaining high quality standards, according to Mark.
And a new heat soak oven recently installed at Plymouth, supplied and installed by Peter Lambert, helps the regional unit manufacturer guarantee its products against spontaneous breakage. It can handle units up to 4.2m x 2.7m.
“We are going to promote this to our existing customer base initially, because spontaneous breakage on high value jobs – with oversized units – can cost thousands of pounds to remedy,” Mark says. “So, for relatively little cost, we can take away this risk.
“It will also help us to win new business where heat-soaked products are a prerequisite. I can also see this being key for triple glazing, where large heavy units can be unwieldy to replace if they spontaneously break.”
The single thing that appears to be holding back the widespread use of triple glazing is a perceived lack of preparedness, according to Mark.
“In some cases, window companies believe that today’s window systems can’t handle triple glazed units, either because of weight or size,” Mark says. “But the reality is that you can’t achieve a 0.8W/m2K U-value without a triple glazed unit, and systems companies are designing deeper, more accommodating profiles all the time.
“The fact is, I am seeing the green shoots of a new trend in sealed unit manufacture, and that is triple glazing. Cornwall Glass Manufacturing has already invested in machinery and people to manage that increase, and we encourage our customers to do the same.”