Grenfell Tower Panels Found in US Structures
Brochures from Pittsburgh-based manufacturer Arconic reveal that the same panels used on London’s Grenfell Tower have been used on U.S. structures, such as a professional sports stadium and a high-rise luxury hotel.
According to the Associated Press, the promotional brochures for the Reynobond PE panels boasted the visual effect the panels had on FirstEnergy Stadium, in Cleveland, and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor hotel.
Those panels are the same ones that were used on the Grenfell Tower’s renovation and are suspected of helping the fatal June 14 fire spread quickly up the 24-story building.
The aluminum-composite panels have a plastic polyethylene core. They are intended to improve building appearance and efficiency, though they are not recommended for use in buildings taller than 40 feet because of their combustibility.
The report notes, though, that short of testing the panels, it’s impossible to know for sure that the Reynobond PE is in fact on these two structures in particular because records either don’t indicate the cladding used or have since been destroyed. Some experts, however, say it’s worth looking into because of the buildings’ size and how many people they hold.
“If the materials used on a building appear similar to a known hazard, people need to know that,” said Douglas Evans, a fire-protection engineer from Las Vegas. “Anybody who is inside of these buildings has a right to know.”
No one has declared these buildings unsafe, and Cleveland’s chief building official, Thomas Vanover, pointed out in a news conference after the AP’s story was published that the rest of the cladding system at FirstEnergy is entirely different than what was used at Grenfell.
"The panels are not what caused the tragedy," he said. "The panels were part of a system that caused a tragedy."
Arconic supplied one of our products, Reynobond PE, to our customer, a fabricator, which used the product as one component of the overall cladding system on Grenfell Tower. The fabricator supplied its portion of the cladding system to the facade installer, who delivered it to the general contractor. The other parts of the cladding system, including the insulation, were supplied by other parties. We were not involved in the installation of the system, nor did we have a role in any other aspect of the building’s refurbishment or original design.
Vanover noted that the panels in Cleveland are not backed with any kind of insulation material, but rather mounted onto concrete as a trim covering the structure.
The Marriott is testing the panels, however, and results are expected as early as next week. Spokesperson Jeff Flaherty did say that the hotel passed building inspection in 2001 and that its fire and life safety systems meet all code requirements.
Reynobond PE is also reported to have been used on a high school in Anchorage, Alaska; the Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport, in Dallas; Early Childhood Development Centers, in Detroit; and the top two floors of a nine-story office building, in Denver.