The supply chain is the lifeblood for offsite and MMC construction. So how can manufacturer partnerships help drive the industry forwards? Clive Reeves, Business Development Manager – Offsite, MMC at Knauf UK & Ireland explores how manufacturers like Knauf are working to develop solutions for the industry.

300,000 new houses a year was our government’s target for levelling up the country. The results so far are a little off the mark, but the ambition remains the same. We need more houses and that target isn’t shifting despite a predicted immediate slowdown in construction output of 7%*1.  MMC and offsite manufacturing offer the potential to deliver more houses at speed and scale. Something of a remedy to the current output trajectory. However, even this specialised industry is experiencing slower than anticipated growth. The Offsite Construction Market Report – UK 2021-2025 highlights how the market for offsite housing has only grown by an estimated 6%*2.

It doesn’t paint a particularly positive picture when combined with news of modular house builders like Ilke Homes and L&G Homes going into administration. Their collapses brought about by a struggle to fill order books to match factory output and ensure a sustainable business. Further delays in planning also contributed to this struggle while also delaying the building of much needed housing.

Despite the challenges faced by all, we at Knauf firmly believe offsite and MMC methodologies offer real advantages and benefits to the industry. The solutions just come with some immediate barriers we collectively must overcome.
So where are those pain points?  Put the problems first.

Our approach at Knauf is to start by identifying where the problems or challenges are and provide solutions. Every project carries a level of challenge and offsite or MMC manufacturing is no different.  Interestingly, when we engage with offsite and MMC builders and contractors, the challenges faced are similar to those experienced in the wider industry. It’s easy to think of this different methodology as having mysterious or complex issues which require nothing short of bespoke solutions. However, when engaging with the market we tend to note three common challenges: efficiency, sustainability, and knowledge.  Improving efficiencies across the board.

Sitting at the heart of offsite manufacturing is efficiency. By moving construction into a controlled location such as a factory, supply chains can be optimised, disruptions kept to a minimum, and build times reduced. But achieving this level of optimisation is hard.  Offsite factories operate on the basis of speed and a ‘just-in-time’ principle. Large production sites need a smooth operation of products into the production line to produce modular houses out the other end. Knauf works with volumetric housebuilders to create key supply lines which ensure a steady flow of product into the production facility. Productivity and efficiency are key to a quality product being delivered to site on time.  Where Knauf can add value is in the reduction of time spent in the building process. Modular builders can’t afford to have large commercial or residential ‘modules’ sat waiting for product to dry or sections to be installed. Here, product choice can have a huge impact on the overall efficiency of that production line.

Structural components such as the Knauf ThroughWall system provide a unique, BBA Approved solution. The all-in-one system is comprised of steel framing components (SFS), internal insulation, plasterboard, external sheathing and insulation.  The ThroughWall system delivers a panelised solution using rolled steel frame to provide certified performance levels. In addition, the system allows for a range of external finishes such as rainscreen cladding or brickwork to be added in the factory or on site.  Systematic approaches are gaining traction in traditional and offsite construction. This shift is driven by the need to provide proof of compliance or performance, particularly in areas of fire safety. Systems such as ThroughWall provide this level of reassurance for contractors and housebuilders. The Knauf System Performance Warranty is an extra level of protection afforded when a systematic approach is taken.

Another area where product choice can improve lead times and efficiency is in drying times for plaster. Even with all the temperature controls available, plaster takes time to dry before it can be painted. However, one of the biggest advantages Knauf can offer is its spray plaster alternative, Knauf Ready-Mixed Airless Finish.

Knauf Airless Finishes can be applied significantly faster than traditional plaster methods. Its full potential is best realised at scale, where there are multiple rooms or units which can be plastered in a short space of time. This means more rooms can be finished at a greater pace than with traditional plastering. Combined with its reduced drying times, contractors are able to move on to the next stage far sooner.

Additionally, Airless can achieve a faster finish with less manpower needed. Whereas a large contractor might employ several sub-contractor plastering firms to complete the work, Airless Finishes can be used by smaller, more agile teams to achieve the same effect.  GIFA Flooring, a high-density screed panel provided in a tongue-and-groove interlocking flooring system, is another solution which offers similar speed and efficiency benefits. The easy-to-install, structurally stable board make it an ideal alternative to traditional wet floor screed, effectively eliminating drying times.

In addition to its benefits versus traditional chipboard, Knauf GIFA flooring’s low thermal resistance and high conductivity make it an excellent choice when paired with underfloor heating systems.  Sustainability on top of the agenda.
When engaging with offsite house builders, there is always the objective of reducing waste and consumption in the production line. There’s no set approach to achieving this, instead requiring Knauf to work with customers to identify where excess can be cut back. Whether that’s through reducing offcuts from plasterboard or minimising water usage on site, Knauf work to provide solutions which aid these objectives.  The water usage factor is one area where product choice can again make real savings. Both Knauf Airless and GIFA systems utilise significantly less water than their traditional alternatives which offer modular and offsite housebuilders an immediate saving.  In aiding housebuilders reach net zero, Knauf are making changes to their own supply chain to improve sustainability. From using more sustainable fuels in delivery fleets, to increase recycled plastic content in packaging, Knauf have set ambitious but decisive net zero goals.  Knowledge is everything.

Building volume properties at pace is a challenge to say the least. It requires a workforce which provides pin-point precision and speed to production. It also needs designs and specification skills to ensure the brief is right at the very start as once production begins, minor errors at scale can be costly.  In addressing skill issues, Knauf offers training in its MMC products to enable constructors to quickly and effectively upskill their employees. For example, Knauf offers training for the Airless product, allowing labourers to easily get to grips with the system. Whereas GIFA Flooring and Corridor 400 are both easy to assemble systems which eliminate the need for specialist knowledge.

In aiding MMC and offsite designers, Knauf has recently launched a new and improved version of Planner Suite. This online tool is a three-in-one solution for simple product and system searches, immediate supporting data and Drywall Specification Documentation. It can be used as a digital hub for data and to enable easier designs through importing Knauf products into Revit and ArchiCAD. In effect, Planner Suite gives designers the tools to not only get it right first time but manage their specification from start to finish.


Proof in partnerships.

Offsite and modular building is an innovative and growing market. Whether it replaces traditional housebuilding or not, we at Knauf believe it’s the future of construction. It shows real promise in solving our immediate housing needs and fast tracking health and education projects.  Knauf product systems and solutions are already being used by large scale modular housebuilders. Through collaboration and partnership with volume builders like Modulous, who offer a digital solution for modular construction, we’re committed to supporting the industry innovate and develop more sustainable buildings.


CLICK HERE for more information on MMC and Offsite




Situated seven degrees west of the Greenwich Meridian, and exposed to some of the harshest weather conditions anywhere in the British Isles, the Hebrides present a challenging location for building projects, prompting a recently-established building company to adopt offsite construction technologies which make full use of the technical and environmental benefits of West Fraser’s SterlingOSB Zero.


70-22’ Systems was established in 2022 by three business partners whose experience encapsulates architecture, education and manufacturing amongst other skills, and who decided to develop their own highly-insulated, modular timber building system.  Growing organically by providing bespoke packages to clients of parent business, Fraser Architecture, 70-22’ has already delivered properties on the Outer Hebrides; and has more than half a dozen schemes of different sizes in the pipeline for the coming year.

The trademarked system has been designed specifically to avoid the need for craneage, due to the inaccessibility of many sites, while the cellular component modules take the form of wall blocks, lintels and beams to span larger openings.  The SterlingOSB Zero is CNC machined and assembled in the workshop before being filled with Warmcel recycled paper insulation.

Significantly, the 70-22’ Systems design personnel were determined from the outset to utilise the West Fraser board because of its formaldehyde free formulation and the fact the material is manufactured in the North of Scotland, using mainly locally sourced softwood from well managed forests.

70-22’ Systems’ co-founder and Commercial Director, Alex Durie, commented:

“We use West Fraser’s SterlingOSB Zero to construct our ecological building components, that are prefabricated in our workshop utilising CNC technology to achieve 0.1mm tolerances for each beam and block.  It is the ideal material to use as the shell for our components, which are then filled with recycled insulation to achieve a building system that can achieve market leading thermal performance, with a U-value of 0.1 W/m²k, and excellent air-tightness, while maintaining a breathable floor, wall and roof construction. The added bonus of being formaldehyde-free, OSB enables us to build ecologically, utilising timber grown and processed in Scotland as we aim to limit the travel miles in each of our builds. The OSB produced by West Fraser has performed very well in our structural testing, with our system proving to be 1.6 times stronger than a traditional timber frame – and as our system arrives on site as a component that is pre-fabricated, pre-insulated and designed for manual handling, it is much quicker to assemble.”

Not only do all of the 70-22’ Systems structures exceed the thermal requirements of Section 6 to the Building Standards, Scotland, but can also be delivered as a Passivhaus compliant solution where the client or planning consent demand it.  In the medium to long term, the business is building a pattern book of standard house types and has plans to establish a pilot plant on the mainland.  The company will also be showcasing its system at the Self-Build and Renovation exhibition in Aviemore this autumn.

SterlingOSB Zero is available in a range of sizes and thicknesses up to 22mm as well as a T&G version ideal for flooring and decking applications.  The high performance panel product, free of added formaldehyde, has also earned BBA approval and meets the requirements of NHBC Technical.

As is always the case, West Fraser’s experienced technical team is available

to aid with product specification

CLICK HERE for downloadable data sheets



JACKON by BEWI has two construction systems, the JACKODUR® Atlas insulated raft system and THERMOMUR® Insulating Concrete Formwork (ICF), which integrates insulation materials into the concrete formwork, totally revolutionising the way a house is constructed. 




JACKON by BEWI Building Systems exceed the u-value targets of the latest Part L building regs. JACKON by BEWI’s THERMOMUR® 350 Super Block is one of the most energy efficient building systems currently available. It has a U-value of 0.15 straight out of the box, ahead of the required maximum of 0.16 U-value on external walls – part of the requirement that new homes emit 31% less CO2 under the Part L Building Regulations.

ICF constructions have been achieving the new targets for years in their basic configuration, with no “add-ons”, while other types of constructions have had to push their limits in terms of cavities, ties and expensive insulating material in order to achieve the existing levels of thermal performance.

JACKODUR® ATLAS uses XPS (extruded polystyrene) to create an insulated floor slab, while THERMOMUR® ICF uses EPS (moulded expanded polystyrene) to create the formwork. JACKON by BEWI has 60 years of expertise in manufacturing these products, which, in addition to the thermal efficiency benefits, also enable a house to be constructed more quickly and with less waste than other techniques.

The company also offers the market-leading JACKOBOARD® range of waterproof, weight-loading and thermally insulating construction boards for wetrooms and showers.  There is no need to tank wetrooms constructed using either with a waterproof membrane or a paint-on solution, because JACKOBOARD® is manufactured from 100% waterproof XPS. This saves the installer both time and money, since a separate tanking system is not required and only the joints where the boards meet need to be taped.


In recent years, there has been a growing focus on the impact of embodied carbon in all areas of construction, with the Environment Audit Committee calling for the Government to introduce mandatory whole life carbon assessments for all buildings¹.

Whilst addressing this area will be key to achieving the country’s Net Zero ambitions, it is important that project teams understand the relationship between embodied and operational carbon emissions. In some cases, changes to specifications designed to reduce embodied carbon emissions, can notably increase operational emissions. This is especially true when it comes to insulation for building fabric and services. New calculation tools are now available which can help specifiers to balance these objectives and achieve an optimal outcome.

Understanding Insulation Emissions

Phenolic pipe insulation products are a popular solution for both on- and offsite building services specifications. A key reason for this is their thermal conductivity, which can be as low as 0.025 W/mK. The lower this value is, the more effective the insulation is at preventing heat transfer. This means building services are able to perform more efficiently (with lower operational carbon emissions) at a given thickness of insulation when compared with insulation materials with higher thermal conductivities, such as mineral fibre.  As with all insulation materials, when specifying phenolic pipe insulation, it is possible to further reduce heat transfer by using greater thicknesses of insulation. However, this will also raise the embodied impact of the product as greater quantities of raw materials must be used, produced and transported to insulate a given length of pipework.
It is important to have a clear understanding of this trade off in order to minimise a building’s overall carbon emissions. In the case of pipe insulation, properly installed measures will deliver operational carbon savings across a building’s lifespan. This means that whilst increases in insulation thickness will marginally raise embodied carbon emissions, the savings in operational carbon emissions will typically be much greater.

Carbon Calculator

To support project teams, the Kingspan Kooltherm Pipe Insulation Carbon Calculator tool has now been launched.  The tool is designed to be quick and easy to use, helping
specifiers to gain a better understanding of operational and embodied carbon emissions, along with the payback period for the specified insulation.
Users need to enter a few project conditions, such as energy price and operational hours, along with factors specific to the system design including pipe lengths, diameters and materials, and system operational temperatures. The calculator will then generate results for different pipe insulation thicknesses based on the following key industry standards:

BS 5422 – this sets out minimum insulation thicknesses for a range of systems and scenarios;
Energy Technology List (ETL) – this provides enhanced pipe insulation specifications designed to raise system performance;
CIBSE CP1 Heat Networks – Code of Practice  – this includes recommended thicknesses for internal building pipework used as part of heat networks.


There is also an option to input your own custom thicknesses of Kingspan Kooltherm Pipe Insulation to see how these may impact results.
The tool provides a range of outputs in clear graphs. The embodied carbon of the relevant size and thickness of insulation will be calculated, and this will be combined with the carbon associated with the lost heat over a specified period of time.
You will also receive the results for system heat loss on an annual basis, the costs associated with these losses along with the expected capital cost of the insulation product (not including installation, pipework or other fittings).
As shown below, the graphs are designed to allow different specifications based on the three industry standards, or those from custom pipe insulation thicknesses, to be easily compared. This can help to understand the time it will take for the additional capital cost and embodied carbon from enhanced specifications to be offset by the reduction in the carbon from lost heat and associated costs. These results can then be generated into a project specific report.


If you would like more information on our new tool and how it can help your project,


Kingspan Technical Insulation’s team





Rise of timber driven by carbon reduction and improving building performance 


High performance timber windows and doors manufacturer, NorDan UK Ltd, has announced a record 34 percent increase in turnover for a single year for 2022.

NorDan’s turnover has increased year-on-year since 2016 and has grown more than 85 percent in the last five years.

Sustained growth across private and public customers is further evidence of changing priorities in the construction industry, with an increasing focus now on the whole life carbon reduction of buildings and the lengthening the lifespan of products and materials.

Originally conceived to withstand the harsh rigours of a Nordic maritime winter, NorDan’s timber and aluminum-clad timber windows and doors have been known as a niche product, offering some of the industry’s highest standards in thermal performance and durability.

But with architects and specifiers now seeking materials that meet the changing demands of developers and housebuilders, NorDan’s products are now becoming a mainstream in UK building.

This is being heavily influenced by the Future Homes Standard (set to come into force in 2025), with numerous big social landlords and local authorities already specifying and building to that standard – including the likes of NorDan customers Reading Council and Clarion Housing Group.

The sale of timber products has also been driven by an increasing need to reduce whole life carbon of buildings, including the embodied carbon emissions generated from the manufacture, transport, installation, and eventual disposal of building materials.

NorDan is one of the few construction suppliers that has Environmental Product Declarations (or EPDs) on virtually its entire product range, proving third-party validated audits of all the carbon in its products.



Alex Brown, NorDan UK Managing Director said: “Last year’s record growth is obviously very pleasing, but 100% consistent with the wider direction of travel in construction and the built environment.

“People have long known that NorDan’s timber products are carbon negative and offer a 60-year lifespan but have maybe in the past needed a reason to specify what were perceived premium windows or doors.

“What we now see is low carbon, durability, and high-thermal performance becoming the new mainstream, and this is taking NorDan’s and other quality timber products with it.

“Architects and developers are now seeking incremental gains across buildings to meet raising industry standards, as well as the expectations of the public, and NorDan can give them the low-carbon, high-performance guarantees sought.

Alex concludes: “Looking ahead, NorDan UK’s priority is to continue developing its people and infrastructure to maintain anticipated accelerated growth over the coming years.”


Mat Clarke, Contracts Manager at contractor Henry Boot Construction comments:


“Sustainability, and reducing the whole life carbon impact of building, has become an increasing priority for Henry Boot Construction in recent years, and we now routinely seek out sustainable suppliers and partners.

“As a result, we are increasing the amount of timber we use in our construction projects, and this has made NorDan a natural choice, as it places sustainability at the heart of its operations and products.

Mat continues: “A recent example of this can be found at our marquee development at The Cocoa Works in York, where NorDan’s products have the specification to achieve a high environmental and energy performance.”


Ayo Allu, Director of Design, Technical & Innovation at NorDan customer Clarion Housing Group comments:


“Material costs and the impact of embodied carbon calculations on business performance is increasingly driving the way Clarion is constructing its buildings, as is our familiarity with the timber products on the market, and the vast increase in testing data compared to previous years.

“Embodied carbon is already a development consideration within major cities, and the GLA how has an embodied carbon tool which has to be completed for each new development – with other cities set to follow suit.”

Ayo concludes: “As a development business, we’re now benchmarking our embodied carbon for development and construction activities for the second year running, so we can set reduction targets for ourselves and our supply chain.”







Both Henry Boot Construction and Clarion Housing Group are working with NorDan on the iconic Cocoa Works refurbishment project in York.



NorDan UK is the British arm of the Norwegian founded NorDan Group, a multinational business that operates in seven European countries, employing 2,200 people across 12 factories and 35 sales offices. 


For more information PLEASE CLICK HERE


For more information on the Cocoa Works, York, PLEASE CLICK HERE




Kingspan unveils new QuadCore Lower Embodied Carbon range – QuadCore LEC


QuadCore LEC has been developed specifically to help reduce the carbon footprint of the buildings it is used on. Using comparative Lifecycle Assessment Data (LCA) data to the EN15804-A2 standard, this breakthrough in insulated panel technology demonstrates a 41% reduction* in embodied carbon in modules A1-A3 (product stage) for QuadCore AWP in a 100mm thickness. The first products in the QuadCore LEC range will be in available in Q1 2023 in the UK and Irish markets.

Further reductions in the embodied carbon of the QuadCore LEC range are expected between now and 2030 and are underpinned by the business commitment to Net Zero Carbon manufacturing by 2030, the introduction of an internal carbon charge, and the investment in H2 Green steel – a company pioneering the manufacture of steel using hydrogen instead of fossil fuels.

Mike Stenson, Head of Innovation for Kingspan Group explained “As a business we are committed to developing high performing, energy efficient, building envelope solutions that help minimise the carbon footprint of buildings over the whole life cycle. Creating products with reduced embodied carbon and enhanced potential for circularity is key to achieving this.

QuadCore is already one of the highest performing insulation technologies in terms of thermal efficiency (underpinned by a 25-year thermal warranty) which could enable higher energy and carbon savings through the operational life of the building. This is the first step on our journey to reducing the embodied carbon of our products and we anticipate some major milestones by 2030 to drive that down even further.”

The new QuadCore LEC insulated panel range will have all relevant independent testing and certification for UK & Irish markets.



*Quadcore AWP LEC LCA shows a 41% reduction in LCA modules A1 – A3 (product stage) when compared to existing Quadcore AWP LCA to the EN15804-A2 standard for a 100mm thickness. The LCAs for QuadCore KS1000RW and QuadCore Coldstore are currently going through the verification process and EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations) will be published ahead of the products launching in Q1 2023. The 41% reduction is achieved through raw material changes. When comparing modules A-C (product stage, construction process stage, use stage, end of life stage) the overall reduction is 17%.




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