29 Jan 2021

In the construction industry, ‘fabric’ relates to the building envelope that separates the indoor from the outdoor, including the insulation in all the structural elements. Here at Kingspan Timber Solutions, we employ a fabric-first approach with both our timber-frame houses and our SIPs houses. This means we maximise the performance of the different components that make up the building fabric, leading to better insulation and minimised heat loss.

1. Reduce maintenance

By incorporating high-quality materials in the building fabric, we put the fabric first. The house we create will require less maintenance than if we had used standard materials, and all the different elements of the building envelope will have a much longer lifespan and work together more cohesively. Future maintenance – for example, installing energy-efficient technology at a later date – might not even be necessary because the overall performance of a building envelope built with a fabric-first approach is so much better.

2. Improve energy efficiency

Concentrating on the materials at a minute fabric-first level also means the thermal performance of the timber-frame or SIPs house is greatly improved. Carbon emissions are reduced because there is less dependence at later stages on mechanical or electrical systems like renewable technologies. This is because aiming for efficiency at the minutest levels is much more sustainable than trying to offset the carbon footprint once you’ve reached the end of the build.

3. Lower costs

By using an integrated approach, build times should be quicker because there needs to be less time dedicated to getting the envelope to a certain level, because it is already at that level. A quicker build means less time onsite which significantly lowers operational costs. For those living in the new timber-frame or SIPs house, the fabric-first benefits of integrating energy efficiency into the building envelope also include lower running costs. The increased insulation, airtightness, and thermal bridging capabilities also save money on energy bills in the long run.