IHBC welcomes Colin King’s BRE publication on solid wall insulation and its ‘Unintended consequences…

bre_websiteThe IHBC has warmly welcomed the publication by BRE of current and ground-breaking research into solid wall insulation (SWI) and its unintended consequences, by BRE Director Colin King

Acting Chair of the IHBC’s Policy committee, Roy Lewis, was pleased to note the headline conclusions that:

  • ‘The research available consistently shows that the actual savings achieved as a result of solid wall insulation are far less than those predicted, and
  • There can be a number of unintended consequences of installing solid wall insulation, in particular that solid wall insulation can disturb the complex systems of heritage buildings that exhibit a delicate equilibrium between thermal mass, air leakage, building envelope properties and heating regime, as well as result in loss of historic detail.’

‘This confirms what many of us have said for a long time’ he observed.

John Preston, IHBC Policy Committee vice chair, and Heritage Chair, STBA said: ‘It’s great news that Colin King’s research is finally published.  This is the first really large scale assessment of solid wall insulation issues in traditional buildings, encompassing some 1,800 properties. It highlights a wide range of unintended consequences, and points the way to wide-ranging reforms which are urgently needed.’

‘This research is part of a major BRE research project for DECC, and we must hope that, as with the Solid Wall Literature Review which preceded, it will be subsequently published on the DECC website.’

‘One caveat, though: Colin King’s work has been published by BRE as a technically focussed ‘Route-map for Change’; what the published report does not make clear, and IHBC among others needs to take forward, is the scale of the problem in terms of

  • buildings (total number of traditional buildings awaiting retrofit)
  • skills (in traditional building construction, not just in relation to ventilation and moisture management), and
  • training needed.

Together these amount to a large-scale and radical change, which has to be delivered over a very short time if Climate Change Act targets are to be met. But at last we have the solid industry (as opposed to heritage body) evidence of the need for change: now the challenge is to build on it and make the case!’

UPDATES: IHBC’s Wales Branch trustee John Edwards, and Colin King, will speak at the Federation of Master Builders annual conference in Brighton on 22 April where Colin will talk about his work and John will cover the competencies required from builders and others.

John Preston will be covering this area in his lecture workshop to the IHBC Yorkshire Branch AGM on 7 May.

You can see more background and download the report via the BRE website (download menu at right)

Download the report

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