Need any more proof that overheating in UK buildings is a risk to health and wellbeing?

In July 2018, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee released their latest publication exploring how heatwaves affect people and infrastructure in the UK.

The report looks in detail at the impact overheating has on health and wellbeing and productivity, as well as making suggestions for change and encouraging better preparation.

‘The 2017 Climate Change Risk Assessment Evidence Report found that warming
UK temperatures may lead to an increased risk of overheating. Overheating in buildings
causes risks to health and well-being and links have been established with lower workplace productivity and worsened indoor air quality.’

Although many don’t see the UK as a typically hot country on the 26th July 2018, just 12 days after this report was released, a temperature of 35.3C was recorded in Faversham, Kent.

Numerous sources, including Public Health England, have released their advice for reducing overheating and improving comfort. Simple measures such as installing external or internal blinds and shutters, which reduces solar gains, can drastically reduce internal temperatures. Blinds are a simple, low-energy solution that has the added benefit of keeping heat in, in the winter whilst also keeping the heat out in the summer.

Looking back at the headlines, statistics and reports that have been released relating to overheating this summer show it is becoming a key concern in both commercial and domestic properties. However, headlines, such as the ones below, show overheating isn’t just affecting productivity and comfort – it can be life or death for some.

‘Deaths spiked during UK heatwave’ – BBC News

‘Hundreds more people died during England’s April and June heatwaves than expected and ‘overheating’ buildings could be to blame’ – Daily Mail, UK

‘Dealing with uncomfortably high – and low – temperatures in buildings: an increasingly common problem’ – Mary Louise Schembri, Building

‘MPs: Heat wave resilience ‘a matter of life and death’’ – BusinessGreen

‘Planning has ‘matter of life and death’ role in adapting to heatwaves’ – The Planner

‘Building regulations must change to prevent overheating deaths’ – PBC Today

‘Eco living: preventing overheating in summer’ – The Telegraph

 

Conclusion

The report concludes by discussing recommendations and risk areas. In relation to overheating in buildings, and of note, is that the health and future health of occupants should be a key priority of building regulations, particularly considering the fact that severe heat events have become more frequent. And finally, ‘…the Committee on Climate Change has repeatedly recommended a standard or building regulation to prevent overheating in new buildings, however thermal comfort is still not addressed in the building regulations.’

Now, do we need any more proof that overheating in UK buildings is a serious problem that needs to be recognised before more preventable deaths happen?

Resources:

House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, Heatwaves: adapting to climate change. Ninth Report of Session 2017-19

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/826/826.pdf

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