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Government watchdog demands reformed Building Regs tackle overheating

Recent CCC update report for parliament demands regulations and policy are introduced to prioritise national push for passive cooling alongside building safety and decarbonisation agenda

A new Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report for parliament has called for the urgent publication of a clear strategy to tackle overheating in both new and existing properties.

This overheating plan should set out preparations for the possibility of both a 2 deg C and 4 deg C increase in average global temperature. The strategy should be integrated with government efforts to fully decarbonise heating by 2050, the CCC added.

The committee’s latest report stated, “Following our recommendation in 2017 to introduce a standard or regulation to reduce the risk of overheating in new homes the government has commissioned research to provide a better understand the overheating risk in new dwellings in England and the effectiveness of adaptation measures to help industry and others mitigate risk.”

Among a wide range of findings within the group’s ‘progress in preparing for climate change’ publication are concerns about how to tackle the threats posed by increases in average temperatures across the UK that potentially pose health and welfare concerns for residents. At least 20 per cent of the UK housing stock is prone to overheating, even in the case of “relatively cool summers”, according to the CCC.

Concerns about overheating in the report are identified not only for homes, but also across public sector estates such as prisons, schools and the NHS.

The Building Regulations challenge

Building Regulations, which are presently undergoing review through a series of planned consultations, are seen by the CCC as inadequate with regard to addressing overheating. The committee said present provisions around overheating in the existing regulations were focused largely on conserving fuel and power for the purpose of AC use.

The CCC added, “This approach is not adequate for identifying current or future levels of overheating.

Reviews concerning Parts L and F of the Building Regulations, which relate to power and ventilation respectively, are being planned by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) over the course of 2019. An additional consultation will also be held to look at methods for curbing the risk of overheating in homes that the CCC said should introduce a vital change in policy.

The committee added, “The risk of overheating in terms of minimising risks to health and safety of occupants should be enshrined into regulations for new build homes and retrofits. This should be considered alongside an integrated review of energy efficiency and ventilation, and be included in the government’s planned Future Homes Standard, to include improvement in themeasurement of current and future overheating risk and prioritise passive cooling measures.”

Another core recommendation of the report’s findings on overheating was to scale-up retrofit programmes in homes. This proposed work would look at major overheating risks and different means of reducing the need for more active cooling, such as air conditioning systems, in favour of passive measures.

Improved data collection and the development of new indicators to monitor domestic overheating were also favoured in the findings.

The CCC also cited a 2018 inquiry by parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee into heatwaves that warned that the wellbeing of vulnerable people such as the elderly were at risk by failing to address further and more frequent rises in temperature across the UK.  A lack of coordination between government departments and a failure to rethink funding for modular homes were identified by the audit committee at the time as hindering efforts to curb overheating in UK buildings.

 

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