29 Jun 2021

Construction Sector Must Manage Building Overheating Through Healthy Design

Construction Sector Must Manage Building Overheating Through Healthy Design

Following news from the Climate Change Committee that infrastructure is unprepared for rising temperatures, polymer specialists are warning that that consultants and contractors must ensure future buildings are resilient against hotter conditions.

Energy efficiency measures mean more residential and commercial buildings are sealed and insulated, yet few measures are in place to mitigate the warmer weather facing the UK each summer.

However, taking account of these changing weather conditions comes as part of a wider challenge for construction professionals to ensure'wellbeing and occupant comfort'are built into a development through "healthy design".

Sustainability as a Design Issue

Action to improve the nation's resilience is failing to keep pace with the impacts of a warming planet and increasing climate risks facing the UK. That is the conclusion of a comprehensive independent'assessment'led by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) which considered a catalogue of risks and opportunities affecting every aspect of life in the UK.

The CCC identifies eight priority risk areas that need immediate attention, at the latest in the next two years. This includes:

  • Risks to human health, wellbeing and productivity from increased exposure to heat in homes and other buildings
  • Multiple risks to the UK from climate change impacts overseas

Research of 520 M&E contractors and architects in polymer specialist REHAU's latest report'"Designing Healthy Apartments" found the majority of respondents felt sustainability would be the most important design issue over the next ten years.

However, with climate change likely to result in ever hotter summers, Steve Richmond, Head of Marketing and Technical at REHAU Building Solutions, warns that sustainable design must include cooling measures to deliver suitable conditions for occupants.

'In the drive for sustainability, the focus for many consultants and contractors has been on driving energy efficiency for heating,' says Richmond. 'Yet when it comes to the summer months, occupants can face unbearably hot conditions as a result of steps put in place to better insulate building stock.'

'As we continue to see fluctuations between colder winters and hotter summers, consultants and contractors must design buildings to be able to cope with these contrasting conditions. Crucially, occupant wellbeing should not be impaired during either season as a result of design and specification decisions.'

Sick Building Syndrome

REHAU's report also found that 44 per cent'of respondents felt wellbeing was "value-engineered"'out of projects later on, further putting into question the longevity and sustainability of buildings being constructed in the current boom. With this in mind, Richmond'is highlighting the importance of identifying innovative building services during the design stage, so structures can better cope with the ongoing effects of'climate change.

Richmond'says: 'As health and wellbeing, particularly in the work environment, are under the microscope at the moment, consultants and contractors are under pressure deliver healthier buildings. Reducing the risk of''Sick Building Syndrome''by using circulating water to heat and cool, Thermally Activated Building Structures (TABS) are an efficient solution for residential and commercial buildings. Using water circulating through pipework the concrete, the quick-to-install solution can reduce air exchange in conjunction with ventilation systems resulting in better air quality for occupants."

Source: This Week in FM

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