BLOG: Product innovation means sustainability and choice

From new standards to product innovations, cutting carbon emissions and investment in apprentices, the roofing sector has made massive progress in the last decade or so. And, the area that has arguably seen most progress is product innovation. It’s certainly an area that we find really exciting, stretching the limits of what can be achieved and bringing greater choice to the market.

Suppliers and materials manufacturers are leading the charge in the creation of these new and innovative products. Often we find that materials innovation is driven by a real desire from those across the industry to make construction as sustainable as possible. For the roofing and cladding industry in particular, there is very good reason to push this agenda hard.

As anyone in the trade will know, climate change has had serious impact on weather patterns in recent years, with the UK experiencing 17% more rainfall than in the previous 10 years. That means the demands placed on roofing and envelope systems are greater than ever. But, materials manufacturers don’t just want to create high performance products better suited to this increasingly turbulent weather system; they want them to be kinder to the environment. The result? A range of high-tech products focussed on performance and sustainability.

Here at Barclay Roofing, everyday is a learning curve as these exciting new products come to market. And, always learning, we’re keen to pass on our knowledge and make recommendations to our customer base as to their use. A couple of products and projects we’ve recently been involved with spring to mind, both of which used really exciting, innovative materials.

Abbey Hill School in Stockton-on-Tees was a massive 4000 square metre refurbishment that used a really innovative product in IKOSlate, a composite roof tile manufactured from mineral reinforced 99% recycled and re-engineered materials. That’s right – 99% recycled. Not only does this product have serious eco-credentials, it also looks fantastic, is 80% lighter than traditional slate, can be installed on pitches as low as 22.5 degrees, and it’s unique structure makes it easier to handle and faster to install.

Recently, we were also involved in the roofing, cladding, fascia and soffit works at Ramside Hall’s Treehouse development, a truly outstanding cluster of opulent structures nestled in the grounds of the Durham based hotel. As you would expect, the Treehouses blend five-star luxury with beautiful rustic finishes to the exterior, including various cladding types. A real feature, in our view, was the charred Accoya cladding. Not only does this cladding deliver serious aesthetic appeal, it’s also extremely high performing and sustainable to boot.

The interesting thing about this product is that it’s origins actually go way back, and manufacturers have cleverly picked up on its potential in a modern environment. Shou sugi ban is the traditional Japanese art of charring cedar, originally a way of preserving wood to make it more durable. Delivering incredible levels of stability, durability and sustainability, the product withstands the most extreme external environments. This makes it the perfect material to withstand our increasingly turbulent weather system here in the UK. In addition, the charring process is far more sustainable means of preserving the wood than other methods, making it a savvy environmental choice too.

All of this product innovation gives consumers so much choice and makes our industry a really exciting place to be. With more projects that use innovative systems and products in the works, including an epic domestic green roof complete with a cutting-edge slate cladding system, here at Barclay Roofing, we’re looking forward to doing what we do best – combining knowledge of traditional materials and techniques with cutting edge innovation – for many years to come.