Lead: An old dog with new tricks?

  • 27 Nov 2013

Lead – the new eco material
As sustainability targets become more and more important in the construction sector, the LSA has worked with BRE Global to examine lead’s green credentials. Lead has a very low carbon footprint, unmatched by most roofing materials and is also 100% recyclable. This resulted in lead’s inclusion
in BRE’s Green Guide earlier this year, with ratings of A or A when used in most standard roofing and cladding applications.

This defines lead as an important component in the sustainability agenda and is something which will be key for the material’s continued use and specification into the future. In particular, it also helps future-proof buildings as climate changes impact on the UK. Due to the consistency
of its thickness, secured by British Standard 12588, the performance of rolled lead sheet is predictable and capable of moving in harmony with a building as it expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations. This, together with its malleability makes it less susceptible to cracking
and helps protect against water ingress and costly insurance claims.

A new, 50 year warranty
Most architects will confirm that lead is an excellent building material that provides consistency of performance over many years; some might also say that it will probably outlast the building itself in many cases. But, for absolute assurance of performance, it is important to use material manufactured in compliance with British Standard conditions.

Only rolled lead sheet is manufactured so as to comply with the British Standard and, in particular, the guarantee this provides in respect of consistency of thickness and chemical composition; factors that are not assured by other manufacturing techniques. These characteristics provide tremendous peace of mind for architects, contractors and insurance companies, not to mention a building’s owner, as to the predictable performance of the material protecting a building from the elements.

The longevity with which the LSA has been working with lead and the control provided through British Standard 12588 also means that very accurate forecasts of creep and fatigue can be predicted. In turn, this has helped define the type, size and fixing details with a high degree of precision, for almost any situation where lead is being considered for use on a project.

The fact that the LSA details and British Standard lead have been tried and successfully used over many years also provides for a reliability that cannot be equalled by other manufacturing techniques or the more modern, man-made products that still remain largely untested.

Manufacturing members of the LSA are so confident about the performance of their material that they are now able to provide a new, 50-year warranty to purchasers of BS lead sourced from them and installed in accordance with the LSA’s Manual and BS 6915. This far outstrips any other guarantees on the market, particularly in relation to man-made products that have a much shorter life span.

Rolled lead sheet manufactured to BS EN 12588 is also included within the European Union’s list of Harmonized Materials, making it eligible to carry the CE quality mark when the Construction Products Regulations came into force on 1 July 2013.

Supporting the industry for decades
Being able to predict the performance of any material has to be advantageous, and the work of the LSA over the last eighty or so years has given rise to the production of installation and design details that have evolved from real on-site situations. These details have been derived and converted from the records of the historic performance of lead, on many projects over countless years, and are fully illustrated in the LSA’s Rolled Lead Sheet Manual.

In response to feedback, the LSA has now made the manual available in an electronic format as a PDF flip-page e-book. It contains all of the up-to-date technical information needed to specify or install rolled lead sheet manufactured to BS EN 12588. The e-book gives the benefit of easy one-click indexing; page, or page range printing; zoom function and Cloud access, from anywhere with an internet connection which will continue to be updated regularly.

As well as the manual, the LSA provides a range of services to anybody involved in the roofing and cladding sector of the industry. Whether the need is for training, a condition report or survey, an installation or specification query, we are here to help.

At our head office in East Peckham we also have a fully equipped training centre that delivers certified training courses and apprenticeships to those wishing to gain a qualification or craftsmen wishing to refresh their existing lead working skills. The LSA also has arrangements with six satellite training centres around the country for the delivery of its training courses.

Alongside the training, the LSA’s technical team handles around 300 calls a month advising on detailing and installation queries, as well as visiting sites to offer advice or carry out condition reports for a range of organisations in both the public and private sectors.

The LSA also provides, via FastTrack AutoCad, a range of details which are free to access and a number of BIM details which will be expanded over time.

This is all underpinned by a programme of free, RIBA-approved CPDs that regional LSA representatives carry out across the UK.

The LSA has also recently teamed up with the Lead Contractors’ Association to create a new e-learning training course – The Design and Specification of Rolled Lead Sheet. Specifically designed so that busy people can study in their own time, this new course uses a mixture of video and slide presentation to enable specifiers, specialist contractors, metal workers, surveyors and conservationists to understand the manufacturing, economic, technical and environmental characteristics of lead.

So, I hope you will agree, there is much more to lead than meets the eye and what it has to offer is much more than just a material for heritage projects.

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