British Homes Were Built to Retain Heat. That’s Becoming a Problem.

For generations, homes in England were designed to retain heat, making cold winters bearable.

Keeping them cool during mild summers is often an afterthought, if at all.

But in recent years, each new heatwave offers a new reminder that buying a fan or two doesn’t always cut it. There is growing interest among builders and designers, with some encouragement from activists and governments, to ensure that new homes are built to limit summer overheating. summer.

The new regulations, called Part O, which came into effect in the UK in June, requires new homes to be built with some measure to combat overheating. Regulations aim to reduce solar energy – the rise in room temperature caused by sunlight – ensuring occupants’ safety, even if it may still be uncomfortable.

The rules “will help designers, architects and engineers make more informed decisions that can reduce the risk of overheating in new properties,” said Mark Siddall, principal at Low Energy Architectural Practice said. Typically, rooms get a lot of heat through large windows oriented in certain directions, he said — the kind of design decision that future homes might consider more fully.

Susie Diamond, founder at Inkling LLP, says designers in the UK don’t worry too much about overheating.

“We don’t need protection from heatwaves, so it’s not a priority,” she said.

But with Climate change makes heatwaves more commonand the summers are getting hotter and hotter, that’s not the case anymore. Ms. Diamond said good design that tackles overheating – including wider windows and adding ceiling fans – can fix many problems without using air conditioning, this is very rare in the UK and is generally considered environmentally unfriendly and unnecessary for all but a few days per year.

Over the past decade, the Climate Change Commission, an independent group that advises the UK government, has calls for stronger building regulations to combat overheating, along with a retrofit program to tackle older homes. Report June 2021 calls for better shading, reflective surfaces and green coatings, warning that failing to build new homes without taking into account overheating could “make many existing and new homes uninhabitable when the heat gets worse.” increase”.

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