The Zero Carbon Hub has today released its report ‘Overheating in Homes – The Big Picture`
There is concern in the housing sector that as the climate changes, and we get better at building and retrofitting homes to prevent heat losses in the winter, we may inadvertently increase the risk of overheating in warmer months.
Rob Pannell, Managing Director of the Zero Carbon Hub said:
“With expected increases in the number of unusually hot summers as the climate changes, more frequent and intense heatwaves, and continuing construction in dense cities, it will be even more important to consider ways to ensure our homes remain at comfortable temperatures, without automatically resorting to energy-using cooling systems.”
Although action is being taken to tackle this issue, it is clear that overheating in homes is already happening – potentially in up to 20% of the housing stock in England.
“The risk of overheating varies from building to building. Those which have a higher chance of overheating usually have recognisable risk factors, which means the sector can be cautiously optimistic about being able to identify and treat them.”
Over the last year the Zero Carbon Hub has reviewed research on why overheating happens and, working with Government and industry stakeholders, considered what more the housing sector can do to address this risk.
The report emphasises the value and importance of getting better prepared. There are problems with current frameworks which need to be fixed. One example is that overheating risk assessments are often done too late in the construction process to actually influence the design – increasing the chance that the building which is delivered is difficult to keep cool.
Paul Ciniglio, Sustainability and Asset Strategist at First Wessex commented:
“We are not alone among developers in experiencing overheating in some new homes and we are reviewing the causes in the rare instances where this has occurred and responding proactively through research with the Zero Carbon Hub.
We will subsequently aim to design out such problems in new builds as this is far easier than trying to alleviate the problem once the homes are occupied.
As a forward thinking organisation we understand that a new home that is fuel efficient but overheats in summer cannot be classed as truly sustainable. Recognising our responsibility to house our customers in homes that are efficient and comfortable to live in all year round, First Wessex is taking this issue seriously in order to meet the challenges presented in delivering homes which respond to fuel poverty and the effects of a more unpredictable climate.”
Our national and local policy frameworks must support the housing sector in minimising and preventing overheating as far as possible. Dealing with an overheating problem after it has happened can be a difficult and costly experience for all concerned. Overheating can result in people becoming very ill and, in extreme cases, to fatalities. Particularly in vulnerable groups.
The report sets out the types of processes and checks some housing associations and housebuilders already have in place to tackle overheating and why they viewed these as important for their businesses. A second phase of the project will begin this year, aiming to make detailed recommendations about the types of policies and frameworks that could help the sector take a significant step forward in keeping people comfortable and healthy in their homes.
To see the full report please us the following link