Risks of Overheating in Building Infrastructure

The sun is (still, somehow) out and the glorious summer days are… long gone. Autumn has started and with it the whispers of a winter holiday are approaching. A recent report by the committee on Climate Change has revealed some startling facts in regards to Global Warming and the inevitability we face.

Hot and Cold

In our current climate it is estimated around 7% of all premature deaths are by cold-related causes however due to global warming this number is expected to fall by around 2.4% by 2050 – as global temperatures are expected to increase by 4°C. In this time period half of all summers in Europe are expected to be as hot, or hotter, than the record breaking 38.5°C found in Kent, UK during 2003.

Adapting homes to handle both the hot and cold extremities is a necessary and readily achievable target – increased insulation alongside passive cooling measures and ventilation can all be easily retrofitted. Addlite refurb kits are an important step forward in recognising this goal. Aimed at replacing old rooflights, particular the single or double layer alternatives with a newer, more efficient triple layer products while allowing retrofit of ventilation for fixed, non-opening units. Refurb kits provide the full suite for improving energy efficiency while allowing ventilation during hotter months. Preparing for climate change now will reduce the costs of an ever changing climate in the future.

Preparing for climate change now will reduce the costs of an ever changing climate in the future.

However, it is not just homes which are prone to overheating, sensitive public buildings such as Hospitals and care homes have also been found to be liable. A recent study even suggested that 90% of hospital wards are of the type vulnerable to overheating. Currently building regulations do not account for health risks from overheating or measures which need to be taken to reduce these, in order to minimise risks in the future steps need to be taken now rather than later.

90% of hospital wards are of the type vulnerable to overheating

Simple Solutions

Simple solutions which can effectively improve the ambient temperatures of buildings such as air conditioning only further increase the carbon footprint, therefore there is a requirement for energy efficient solutions for reducing overheating. Ventilation skylights offer a low cost alternative, operated with a manual spindle they provide daily air ventilation when required while also allowing more light to flow through (Further reducing the carbon footprint by reducing lighting requirements) during the winter months they also provide good thermal insulation while allowing heat from the winter sun to permeate through into the building.

The Greater London Authority have indicated that the growth in the active cooling systems in office buildings could lead to the doubling of CO² emissions by 2030. Council bodies should start expecting development proposals to demonstrate how dwellings will avoid overheating during summer months without reliance on energy intensive mechanical cooling systems. Methods such as orientating buildings to maximise winter solar gains as opposed to summer gains will all eventually provide better living environments, while utilising shading from trees and green roofs will further help reduce overheating.


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