Tackling Overheating in Buildings


As we get better, as a country at building and retrofitting homes to prevent heat loss in the winter, we may be inadvertently increasing the risk of overheating in the summer months. Throw into the mix likely increases in the number of unusually hot summers as the climate changes then more people could find they are living in homes which reach uncomfortable or excessive temperatures for periods of days, weeks or months.

There is evidence that overheating is already occurring in certain types of buildings, and that this can lead to a loss of well-being, ill health, and in extreme cases, fatalities. At present, thankfully the phenomenon of dangerous overheating is not as widespread as the problem of cold homes. However, there is increasing concern that the balance could start to tip. Similar to homes which are too cold, the elderly, young and ill are most vulnerable.   

The big challenge for both the New Build and Retrofit sectors going forward is to consistently provide energy efficient homes for their customers which are warm in the winter, but stay cool and comfortable in the summer. For new homes, this will mean reducing the risk of overheating through good planning, design and construction. For existing buildings, support and advice must be available to building managers and contractors on the most effective adaptation measures.

The Hub's Response

Working with government, industry and academic experts, our ambition is to translate what is known about the problem of overheating in homes into recommendations on the types of framework and actions which could be needed to address the issue in a systematic way.

To achieve this ambitious objective, the Overheating Project will:

  • Summarise the evidence on the potential scale and severity of overheating risk and how risk is changing over time;
  • Summarise why action is needed to tackle the issue in new and existing buildings;
  • Review research and case studies (including from other countries) which explore how to define overheating, the causes of overheating and the practical solutions which can be adopted to avoid or tackle it;
  • Identify which people and buildings are likely to be most at risk, why, and when;
  • Describe any institutional, legislative and practical barriers to tackling overheating and analyse the costs and benefits of a range of options for addressing those barriers in a systematic and concerted way - including those which can only be addressed by government or by the industry as a whole;
  • Review the practical tools and methods for predicting and assessing overheating risk and evaluate whether industry will need more support;
  • Utilise practical and innovative methods to raise awareness of the evidence base on overheating, dispel myths and share good practice. 

We will produce a Interim Report in June 2015, in time to feed into the Committee on Climate Change’s (Adaptation Sub-Committee) progress report on overheating actions in the National Adaptation Programme for the New Build and Retrofit sectors. The final report will be published in Spring 2016.

Our publications and outputs will, where appropriate, be tailored for audiences, such as central and local government and its agencies, as well as a range of professions including planners, specifiers, architects, housebuilders, installers and consumer groups. This ‘stakeholder’ focused approach will be critical in helping to turn our findings into action. One of our first actions will therefore be to identify key stakeholders and to understand the opportunities they have to influence overheating risk. 

Evidence Review Reports 

Working together with industry the Hub have now produced and published the findings from detailed Evidence Review Reports. These publications each provide a summary of relevant evidence and concepts relating to a specific theme. The reports can be found below:


Basline Report

The Hub have now produced and published our baseline report.

Overheating in Homes - The Big Picture 


The Hub is extremely grateful to our project partners and those organisations who are contributing to the project through our steering and technical groups, workshops, interviews and those who have provided evidence. We will produce a full list of contributors in due course:

To keep updated as to the progress of the workgroup please join our Hub mailing list.

Steering Group

As part of the overheating project the Zero Carbon Hub meets with a number of leading industry experts on a quarterly basis to advise on the project direction and objectives. Presentations given in these steering groups can be accessed using the links below:

April 2014

August 2014

October 2014