From the Volkswagen emission scandal (dieselgate) in 2015 to the catastrophic cladding scandal of Grenfell Tower, it is no surprise that consumers now can’t believe everything they read. Many industries rely on their marketing material to promise their customers what they can do. But, what assurance do customers actually have? In this article, we’re uncovering whether there is a better way to help increase honesty when it comes to performance values and statistics used by construction companies promoting their products.
Lies, Damned Lies And Statistics
In the construction industry, it is worryingly common to see misleading statistics and data in marketing materials. One particularly important aspect to us at Stella Rooflight is the U-Value, the thermal performance measurement used for windows and rooflights. Whilst Stella Rooflight always acts with integrity; many of the U-Value figures promoted by some other companies are confusing at best, and at worst, simply made up! Either way, there is a lot of misleading information out there that can be difficult to decipher.
What’s A U-Value?
A U-Value is a measurement of thermal transmittance. In construction, especially in terms of properties and housing, it is crucial to have the lowest levels of thermal transmittance. If a U-Value is high, it shows there is a high level of heat loss. Ultimately, consumers are usually looking for the lowest U-value to increase thermal efficiency.
There are various forms of testing which companies can use to arrive at this U-Value although, strange as it may seem, there is no specific test for rooflights. They are in fact tested to BS EN ISO 10077-1:2017, which is a thermal performance test for windows, doors and shutters.
The costs associated with such testing is often enough for companies to limit the number of products tested or to forgo this process althogether!
It is also important to note that the U-Value (and thermal performance ) of a rooflight will be impacted by various other factors, such as the quality of the installation or the pitch of the roof into which it is installed. Of course it is impossible to measure and test for these factors, so it is important to be aware that the U-Value can sometimes be more of a starting point.
However, it is this starting point that is often more fabricated than the frame to which they are referring! Indeed some rooflight companies will quote the U-Value of the pane of glass rather than the whole frame value. Others will simply make up a number in the hope that they will never be questioned on this.
However, a new initiative from the Construction Products Association’s Marketing Integrity Group is hoping to change that with a new scheme designed to promote more openness when it comes to product marketing.
Introducing The CCPI
The Construction Products Association’s Marketing Integrity Group has recently launched their new initiative, the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI), which aims to improve the standards of marketing material across the construction industry through honesty and clarity.
By signing up to the CCPI, businesses will be promising not to lie, cheat, obfuscate or seek to confuse in their marketing materials. Furthermore, construction product manufacturers will have to provide information that passes five tests:
The information must be:
- Up to date
With this code, it hopes that consumers will have the reassurance that the figures stated are reliable and that the business is trustworthy.
Across the industry, there is a wide consensus that something needs to happen to improve honesty regarding performance values. However, is having an industry code enough to stop the less discernable businesses from lying about their product information?
What The Law Says
The new CCPI is goes some way to show that the industry recognises the issues and is trying to rectify the matter to restore consumer confidence. However, in reality there is no reason why a business would observe industry guidance through a fee-model system over the actual law designed to prevent such issues from occurring.
Indeed there are already UK laws in place to prevent this kind of misrepresentation. The Misrepresentation Act 1967 is there to help protect consumers from entering into a contract or making a purchase based on false or fraudulent claims. If a company is found guilty of this, then the consumer may be entitled to seek damages or unwind the contract as necessary.
However, as mentioned earlier, sometimes it can be hard to know if a business is publishing fraudulent claims, partcialurly when it comes to the U-Value of a rooflight. It is simply not possible to prove or disprove the U-Value of a rooflight once its been installed.
So, what can consumers do to put their faith in a company and trust their product information?
Putting Faith In U (Values)?
We fully support the construction industry doing more to crack down on fraudulent claims and to make the industry a much more honest and trustworthy sector. However, there are other ways that consumers can check and validate product information.
Ask For The Test Performance Report
For a company to provide a U-Value, they must have put their products through a test. By asking for this report, consumers can check if the figures they state are accurate and calculated correctly.
For example, the rooflight could be tested at a 90-degree vertical pitch or a 0-degree horizontal pitch. Both of these pitches are outside of what is recommended for rooflights, so we would recommend asking for both results for the vertical and horizontal positions to check the integrity of the product information you are given and whether they are fit for purpose.
You should also ask your rooflight supplier if the U-Value they are quoting is for the whole frame or just the glass. This will make a big difference!
Naturally, all construction companies want to promote the lowest U-value to attract customers, so understanding a bit more about what these mean and how they are obtained will help you determine whether you are dealing with a reputable firm or one which will tell you anything you want to hear to win your business.
Is U-Value Your Priority?
Another aspect that you may need to consider if whether the U-value is actually the be-all and end-all of your project. For example, suppose the aesthetics or working in a conservation area or listed building is the priority. In that case, you may choose to focus on a slimmer profile than perhaps the more thermally efficient chunky quad-glazing rooflights and look to increase thermal efficiency in other aspects of the project.
Similarly, when looking to increase the light, you may feel comfortable sacrificing the U-value somewhat in order to access more light. For example, chunky but more thermally efficient frames can actually mean that 40% less light enters the building.
So, while we always recommend checking the credibility of the U-value and other performance measures stated, we would also recommend you consider what the ultimate goal is for your rooflights.
Whether you’re looking for the most thermally efficient, aesthetically pleasing or conservation-compliant rooflights, Stella Rooflight is here to help.
To find out more about how we work or for further information on our technical information, get in touch with our team by calling 01794 745445 or visit www.stellarooflight.co.uk