Heatwave warning urges use of insulation that keeps homes cool

A call to the government by a climate change research institute to find a way to save lives amid rising global temperatures has prompted an insulation specialist Actis to remind architects of the importance of making sure buildings stay cool in summer and warm in winter

The reminder to make sure buildings stay cool in summer follows a call from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, which is part of the London School of Economics (LSE).

Its political director, Bob Ward, said in a letter to the Prime Minister: ‘The summer heat waves are natural disasters for the UK which have killed thousands of people in recent years, and many lives could have be saved by a better heat risk management strategy. . “

A colleague expert in climatology, Julia King of UK Climate Change Committee (CCC), also said, “A very high proportion of existing homes are already overheating in a normal summer, not to mention those like the summer of 2018 where around 2,500 deaths have been caused.”

King cited a warning that year by the government’s special environmental audit committee that predicted that by 2050 the country could see three times as many heat-related deaths as there are. today.

Bob Ward and Julia King’s comments coincide with an announcement from the Met Office that temperatures have a 40% chance of reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels over the next five years if gas emissions to greenhouse effect continue unabated.

Mitigate extreme heat with insulation

Actis says that while radical changes are needed to reduce the rise in global temperatures, one small element that could mitigate the effects of extreme heat is installing insulation that can cool a building while keeping it warm in the winter.

Actis UK and Ireland Sales Director Mark Cooper said: “In addition to helping homes stay warm in winter, reflective insulation technologies have the specific ability to thwart radiant heat transfer. . This helps reflect solar heat and keep the property at a constant low relative temperature.

“However, no form of insulation can remedy the significant effects of solar gain through windows. This must be solved by judiciously using curtains or placing the windows in strategic positions – a job for the architect.

His comments also relate to the concerns raised by Professor Paul Wilkinson of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who said insulation can exacerbate overeating problems.

Cooper added, “With many types of insulation this can be the case. But not with reflective products. Obviously, using insulation that can cool a building in the summer is not the answer to all of the very serious global warming problems around the world, but it is one of the many steps that can be taken to improve the climate. situation.

“Air conditioning is seen by some as a way to solve this problem. But that only increases the greenhouse gas load (and the energy bill) and puts us in a never-ending cycle of consuming more and more fuel and worsening the situation. So that’s absolutely not the answer. First we need to look at the effectiveness of the fabric.

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Ethel Nester

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