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Despite the enduring popularity of steel windows amongst large sections of the architectural community and their unparalleled performance in terms of strength and security, these are still challenging times for manufacturers and installers.

However, the Steel Window Association (SWA) can assure architects and contractors that steel frames, with their slender sight-lines and extended life-cycle, remain as relevant as ever to a wide range of construction projects. Its membership is reporting strong activity across the sectors and new members continue to join the ranks, seeking strength in numbers as well as access to the association’s wealth of technical information. These include the well established Specifier’s guide and a series of Fact Sheets explaining different aspects to the performance of steel windows and related components, including the glazing systems and ironmongery.

Fact Sheet 2 explains the manner in which steel windows can contribute to the conservation of heat and power, with modern weather-stripping and IG units containing soft-coat low-E glass and argon filling, offering significant energy savings.

SWA members are regularly carrying out upgrades to properties within conservation areas or specific historic buildings; as well as supplying windows for a variety of commercial and public new-build projects.

The most recent company to join the SWA is Fabco Sanctuary, which is based in Littlehampton, and offers a full selection of services to clients across the UK.

These include the restoration of existing frames in historic and Modern Movement buildings, as well as the design, manufacture and installation of steel windows for contemporary building projects.

Fabco Sanctuary’s David Cane : “Two of the main reasons we joined the SWA were due to the challenges presented by both the economic environment and the changes to Part L. We realized that the only realistic way we can keep up to date with all the new requirements was to become members. The SWA punches well above its weight and we’re now much better equipped to face all these changes as part of a group, rather than on our own.

“The SWA is also a well-established organization which has a respected reputation: setting standards for manufacture and specification. We wanted to be able to state we comply with these standards to ensure customer confidence in our products.

“For the future we look forward to working alongside all the other members, to being part of new window development programmes; and contributing wherever we can to make sure steel windows continue to meet the needs of the construction industry.”

Amongst the notable contracts Fabco Sanctuary has undertaken in recent times are the restoration of windows at Christ's Hospital School, and a series of sensitive interventions to conserve metal casements at Walpole's Villa, on Strawberry Hill. The company also produces architectural metalwork.

As well as high performance double glazed units featuring the latest glass, gas and spacer bar technology, steel frames are also often fitted with laminated or armoured glass to offer the best possible resistance to physical attack. It is for these reasons that they are routinely specified for situations such as secure psychiatric units, prisons, police custody suites and banks.

In addition to its collective technical capabilities, The Steel Window Association can also assist member companies with guidance on such issues as training, health & safety and legal matters.