Airtight residential buildings: good for the environment but bad for our health?

Posted by Laurence Cockman on 18/03/14 11:30

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The push for energy-efficient zero-carbon residential buildings, supported by the very exacting standards of Part L of the Building Regulations, is leading to increasingly airtight flats at high risk of overheating. A Good Homes Alliance report launched in March at Ecobuild and covered in an informative article on Building magazine raised the alarm with findings that 30% of overheating occurred in flats and elderly care homes built after 2000. Overheating has long been linked with health issues, and it is happening in buildings housing elderly and vulnerable residents, who are bound to suffer the most. (image:

The report identified inadequate ventilation, single aspect flat design, large areas of full-height glazing and fixed windows as frequent causes of overheating in these new-builds. Care homes appear to be at particular risk as the units are often small. Pete Halsall, chair of the Good Homes Alliance, highlighted the importance of looking at flats “with the level of design sophistication that we would do for commercial buildings.”

This issue highlights the importance of involving smoke and natural ventilation specialists early in the design phase. This would help ensure adequate ventilation is built into the design, even where large glazed areas are used or where flats and residential units are small. Ventilation experts would be able develop the best solution, which could be to use the building’s smoke ventilation system to provide sufficient day-to-day ventilation, identifying any additional equipment or modifications that may be required to create the desired comfortable internal climate.

If you are working on a new residential building design and wish to be sure it will provide adequate ventilation to prevent overheating, why not contact our experts for a free consultation?

Webinar - Ventilation solutions for overheating corridors in apartment buildings

Laurence Cockman Laurence Cockman is a Senior Consultant for Colt UK and specialises in the design and product application of energy efficient HVAC systems.

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Topics: Natural ventilation, Webinar, Smoke ventilation, Overheating