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STENI Cladding Helps Revolutionise Retailing

Rainscreen cladding panels from Steni are being used on a groundbreaking project that could change the face of retailing in the UK.

Steni UK’s fibreglass reinforced polymer composite Colour panels, which feature a surface of electron beam cured acrylic that is applied without the use of solvents, were specified in high-gloss mid-grey by off-site building company Modular 500 for pioneering sustainable pods operated by Johnson Cleaners at three Sainsbury’s sites.

With the panels pre-cut to bespoke size by Steni, the first three 254²ft pods were constructed in Modular 500’s factory in Carlisle. They were then trucked to Sainsbury’s supermarkets in Basildon in Essex, Stevenage in Hertfordshire, and Hamilton in Scotland.

Johnsons opted for the pod concept as part of a £6million programme to convert its entire UK estate to eco-friendly GreenEarth technology. The pods have been developed using advanced Structural Insulated Panel (SIP) techniques, a sustainable process, and are capable of being powered solely by self-contained renewable energy sources.

The Steni panels were selected for a multitude of reasons including colour and finish range, durability, robustness and low maintenance, according to Modular 500 co-founder David Wadsworth.

Available in three gloss levels (matt, half-matt and high-gloss), two thicknesses and 44 standard colours, the Steni Colour panels can also be supplied in almost any special colour from the NCS-, RAL- or BS- colour system.

Completely resistant to weather, water, chemicals, impact and fire (Class O performance), they also feature a 25-year working guarantee.

To minimise waste on site, and in Modular 500’s case, waste in manufacture, Steni Colour panels are unique in their cut-to-size capability. Panel sizes from 850mm to 3,500mm can be cut automatically to length at no extra cost and in section widths at a nominal charge. All contractors need to do then is attach the panels to the fixing system, either by screws or structural adhesive.

“Planners like the wide choice of different shades of the same colour so the Steni panels were very helpful in us meeting that criterion,” said David. “We have used lots of rainscreen panels over the years and we like the durability of the Steni product. They are also maintenance-free.”

He added: “We were very aware of the robustness of the Steni panels and because the panels are mounted at ground level, this was a very important element. We needed something that wasn’t going to be easy for vandals to damage or remove and the gloss finish also helps resist graffiti artists.”

David launched Modular 500 with fellow chartered surveyor Mike Bathurst with a view to creating viable and sustainable alternative methods of construction to help the commercial property industry meet ever-stringent environmental criteria.

The Johnsons pods for Sainsbury’s, which offer the usual services of dry cleaning, laundry and ironing services, key cutting and shoe repairs, were delivered at 5pm on a Sunday afternoon and were fully operational and open for trade by 10am the following day.

Johnson Cleaners’ managing director Paul Ogle said: “These new pods are environmentally friendly, thermally efficient and another demonstration of our ongoing commitment to the environment.”

Mike Bathurst said: “A flexible alternative to retail development is now available. Our product is both cost- and time-effective and represents a huge leap forward for off-site construction.”

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