Since the tragic fire in London in 2017 (See photo), the members of the European Union have been legislating to standardize the façade fire behavior of buildings.
Countries such as France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Hungary, and Sweden are among those that, since early 2020, have already implemented regulations for the façade fire behavior of buildings. The other countries will soon have to adapt. In France, from 1 January 2020, if you have not passed this test (called Lepir 2) you are not allowed to build buildings over 3 floors above ground. ISOTEX Srl, which exports to over 13 countries, has immediately adapted to this important legislation, testing a façade wall made with its blocks in a renowned French laboratory called “Efectis”“, accredited for this type of test.
At the Efectis laboratory in France a large-scale wall measuring 5.5 m x 7 m (length x height) was built, simulating a 3-floor building with a façade wall made of Isotex. As it can be seen from the pictures and the scheme reported, the façade has 2 openings at the ground and first floor and has a spandrel without openings at the top.
The wall built with Isotex has a thickness of 44 cm and the blocks have 23 cm of EPS insulation with Basf-Neopor® graphite. It was concrete poured, steel reinforced and plastered.
Inside the only room at the ground floor, 600 kg of pine wood pallets were placed and set on fire. The test had a duration of approximately 60 minutes.
During the test, through temperature detectors, the trends of both temperature variations were recorded both inside the ground and first floor, and outside the building on all levels and throughout the height of the building.
The main objective of the test is to avoid, or at least contain, the spread of fire on the façade, verifying that the wall on the 2nd floor – spandrel – does not suffer damage, detachment of material etc…
The results obtained from the test are excellent, both in terms of fire behavior and in terms of non-emission of toxic gases harmful to human health (see certifications). It is sufficient to notice that in the 60-minute test length, during the exposure to fire, the temperature detectors on the ground floor recorded an internal peak of over 800 °C, while at the first floor they recorded only 35 °C. This test confirms the results obtained with the Fire Resistance tests carried out on ISOTEX® walls and floors (without plasters). After 3-4 hours of exposure to fire, on the flame side there was a temperature of over 1,100 °C, while on the opposite sides it only reached 30 to 35 °C.
As mentioned, soon, all countries of the European Community will have to adapt to this façade fire behavior of buildings, so it will be necessary to change the way we build and insulate the external walls of buildings.
In Italy, while waiting for these new regulations, there are recommendations in the form of a Technical Guide on how to address façade fire behavior of buildings. In particular, on how to solve situations in correspondence of each individual slab and each transverse wall, which must have a fire resistance class E60-ef (where ef stands for “external fire”) o → i (i.e. fire from the inside to the outside). Particular attention is also paid to the use of coating insulation, regarding the type of insulation used and its fixing.
As for the buildings built with the ISOTEX® construction system, in addition to obtaining earthquake-proof buildings, A4 energy class, excellent thermal inertia, 1st class from the point of view of acoustics, respect for green building and environmental sustainability, they will also be perfectly in compliance with the façade fire behavior.
In conclusion, those who will use the construction system in wood cement ISOTEX® will be perfectly compliant with the next legislation on façade fire behavior, and those who will buy these homes will have made an excellent investment projected in time, in terms of safety and living comfort.