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UQ unveils combustible cladding database

The University of Queensland (UQ) has developed a database of building materials to help the construction industry assess the risk of combustible cladding.

The University of Queensland (UQ) has developed a database of building materials to help the construction industry assess the risk of combustible cladding.

The cladding database, which UQ said is the first in the world, contains flammability data for a range of materials used in the state’s publicly-owned buildings.

UQ Research Fellow Martyn McLaggan said the database was free and publicly available to fire engineers worldwide.

“UQ’s Fire Safety Engineering group has also developed a continuing professional development course to provide engineers with the skills to confidently and conservatively use this data in support of a fire risk assessment,” McLaggan said.

“Risk assessments must only be performed by qualified fire safety engineers, who can then make informed decisions on whether remediation is needed in existing buildings and in what form.”

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Work began on the database directly after the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London, 2017, which claimed 72 lives.

The approach can be applied to all cladding materials, including insulations, sarking materials and high-pressure laminates.

“Flammability tests are normally expensive and time-consuming, and so it’s often not feasible to run them on every building,” McLaggan said.

“Now, building owners and engineers only need to run affordable and easy small-scale tests, which can then be cross-referenced with the library.”

Researchers worked closely with the Department of Housing & Public Works, the Queensland Fire & Emergency Service, and the Queensland Building & Construction Commission on the database.

“This collaboration has been key to ensure that nothing is left unaccounted for and appropriate legislation is in place to ensure practitioners will make the most of the Cladding Materials Library,” McLaggan said.

The database is the first step of the School of Civil Engineering’s work on conducting larger-scale research on façade system behaviour and how different components interact.

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