Overheating – how can we avoid it?

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There is a lot of concern that modern, airtight, well-insulated buildings might be more prone to overheating than older, leakier ones. However, the worst-offending buildings for overheating (and there are some shockers) are as often old as they are new. Overheating buildings just tend to be all-round bad buildings: often cold in winter, as well as hot in summer.

It looks as though buildings with too little insulation, too much glazing, not enough shading, and inadequate provision for purge ventilation are at risk of overheating – as are buildings with badly designed and inadequately insulated heating/hot water/community heat systems. Extravagant use of glazing, in particular, seems to have a great deal to answer for.

But there are ways round these dangers, and if designers take all these factors into account, and also use thermal mass carefully (its no good of it sits in the sun all day!)  overheating ought to be less of an issue. However, its important not to skimp on the calculations and modelling during the design process – and equally important not to lose sight of common sense.

Article first published in Green Building, Spring 2014.

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