We’ve had a great summer so far haven’t we? Weeks of uninterrupted sunshine for most of us and balmy evenings watching England almost bringing it home.
But it’s not all good news. The soaring temperatures have provided a timely reminder about the continuing impact of global warming and how it will affect the way we live in the future. The Committee on Climate Change (the CCC) estimates that current figures of 2000 heat wave-related deaths per year in the UK will rise by two thirds by the 2020s. As a result, we need to push towards design and specification approaches that reduce carbon emissions, during both the build and operational phases, and prioritise the use materials that lock up carbon to impede the progress of global warming. We also need to consider strategies for keeping buildings cooler to maintain wellbeing and avoid the unnecessary use of cooling energy, while still keeping them comfortably warm with minimal heating energy in the winter.
These are not small challenges, particularly in light weight structures such as timber, steel and concrete buildings. A building envelope that uses low mass insulation traps hot air inside during hot weather, once the sun’s energy has driven itself through the wall or roof; a process that can take as little as two hours for a new build home or office. This will, inevitably, lead to a need for increased use of cooling systems in the future in order to meet recognised levels of safety and comfort for habitation.
So how can swapping a conventional, synthetic insulation product for a woodfibre insulation like Pavatex help to square this circle? For starters, woodfibre insulation provides an improved indoor climate all year round. Not only does it keep the interior space warm in winter with excellent thermal performance; it also protects against heat in summer, as it has much greater thermal, mass which makes it particularly effective at buffering the high levels of heat energy the sun throws at a building during warmer months. This means that buildings constructed, or retrofitted, using woodfibre insulation are less likely to require comfort cooling such as air conditioning.
Secondly, the Pavatex range of woodfibre insulation is manufactured from renewable sources of natural timber so it actually locks up CO2 as carbon – at a rate of approximately 10 tons for the average UK dwelling – thereby actively contributing to reducing the major cause of global warming.
No doubt the warm weather – like our dreams of footballing glory – cannot last forever. However, just like Gareth Southgate, we have to look to the future and what can be achieved with the right strategy and knowledge.