July 1, 2015

Poor Design causes Overheating

Written by Rebecca Clayton


About nine out of every ten hospitals in the UK, and one in five homes, suffer from design flaws that can lead to excessive overheating.


The thermal efficiency of buildings is always a hot topic amongst designers but during the current heatwave, the ability of a building to be able to protect from excessive heat has hit the headlines.

Lord Kerbs, a member of the government’s climate change watchdog committee, spoke to the Financial Times about the inability of buildings to protect inhabitants against rising temperatures.

Research carried out in 2012 by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; showed that temperatures in some hospital wards exceeded 30 degrees C when the temperature outside was only 22 degrees C.

Department of Health guidelines for new healthcare buildings, state that internal temperatures should not exceed 28 degrees for more than 50 hours per year.

Considering the recent heatwave, older and poorly designed hospital wards, with large plate-glass windows, could be facing internal temperatures even higher than this.

The introduction of solar control glazing into any large, sun-exposed windows can reduce the amount of solar radiation entering a space by up to 80%, significantly reducing the amount of overheating in a space due to solar radiation.

But overheating is just not a problem in healthcare, with just over 1/5 homes effected by overheating in the summer months.

Modern residential architecture favours large rear elevations of glazing. If this large glass face is faced with long hours of sun exposure overheating could be a problem internally. To avoid disrupting the minimal internal design of a room external shading solutions, such as automated awnings or louvre systems, like IQ's Umbris patio roofs, are often used to provide shading.

The conclusion of the recent climate change committee was that government agencies should “develop incentives for the uptake of passive cooling in existing homes, hospitals and care homes and include new measures in the next climate change national adaption plan”.