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Windows That Let Light Into Developments

3 November 2008

How to create aesthetically-pleasing developments that are comfortable and appealing for the elderly is high on the priorities of many local authorities. Here Eurocell takes a look at one recent care home development in Humberside and how the windows were specially chosen to bring benefits in terms of general health and well being for residents.

UPVC Windows are often the most important element of a building, because they allow residents to make a connection with their surroundings. The designers of the latest UK Residential Care Home at Lakeside in Scunthorpe understood this principle, which is why they paid particular attention to the specification of these elements within the development.

The care home, which was built by Manor Homes (Yorkshire) Ltd., is one of the largest of its kind in the UK and will provide services to the elderly and critically ill across the Humberside and East Yorkshire regions. When our fabricator, Barton Windows, originally saw the plans for the development they noticed immediately that the designers understood the benefits of letting as much light into the building as possible – many of the windows were increased in size, where possible and positioned to maximize natural sunlight.

Research has shown that buildings with a high level of natural light are perceived to be healthier than those that are more reliant on artificial sources. In all environments, the eye and brain functions respond better in these conditions.

Natural light can help people to get a sense of well-being, too, which was particularly important for the residents in this care home. In hospitals, studies have proven that the recovery rate and general health of patients is accelerated where levels of natural light are increased.

Designers on this project achieved this effect by careful specification of the window systems, which also had to meet their strict environmental requirements. Barton Windows considered our Eurologik profiles best suited to meet this brief because it has a fully bevelled design that enhances sight lines and which therefore makes the glass appear visually larger in proportion to the frame. PVC-u as a material has also recently been awarded an ‘A’ rating for sustainability for domestic properties and an A* for commercial developments in the BRE’s latest Green Guide. This means that it has now been recognized as an integral element of a sustainable build and many more specifiers are therefore using it to achieve BREEAM and Code requirements.

As well as sustainability of the frame material itself, UnitedHealth UK, which works with the Primary Care Trust and Local Authority, also wanted to ensure that the windows achieved adequate thermal efficiency. Clear Soft Coat glass was specified to achieve the required U-values. This is where a metallic 'sputter' coating is applied to the glass as a secondary process, usually to enhance low-emissivity or solar control benefits. This enabled the designers to make full use of natural light without the problem of excessive solar gain during the summer months, which can cause buildings to become uncomfortably hot and stuffy.

The new care home has been welcomed by residents and the mix of owned, rented and nursing care facilities reduces the institutionalised feel, which is sometimes a concern in these types of schemes. The development consists of over 150 nursing care places, along with private residence bungalows and apartments. Already many of these have been sold.

The UnitedHealth UK Residential Care Home is an excellent example of what can be achieved by careful selection of building components. Thermal performance and minimal maintenance are now taken as a given within the window and door industry. The focus on these areas will remain. However, there is an increasing emphasis on using natural sunlight to create healthier buildings. Equally as important is that the windows should be made from a sustainable material and many designers are now using PVC-u because of its proven environmental credentials, as demonstrated by the ‘A’ rating in the Green Guide.

For more information on Barton Windows, telephone: 01652 633897, or visit the website at www.bartonwindows.com.

For more information on the Eurocell Eurologik system, fabricated by Barton Windows, along with other fabricators nationwide call our Customer Care Team 0300 333 6525. Alternatively, fill in our quick contact form here

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