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Housing takes centre stage at CIBSE Conference

The second day of the CIBSE Conference and Exhibition, explored a range of issues around the future of housing, with panel discussions on occupant comfort, overheating and indoor air quality.

CIBSE Past President Andy Ford, chairing the opening session, flagged the seriousness of the issue of indoor temperature control, with the statistic that 10 pensioners per hour died from cold related illnesses in England and Wales in the winter of 2004/5. He argued that tackling the issue of poorly performing homes needed to be a national priority, and that housing should be regarded as part of the national infrastructure just like roads and railways.

CIBSE past president Andy Ford chairs the morning session at Day 2 of the CIBSE Conference CIBSE past president Andy Ford chairs the morning session at Day 2 of the CIBSE Conference

Ford also raised the need to think in terms of systems – for instance, combining buildings which are heating dominated with those that are cooling dominated makes sense if rejected heat is utilised by old buildings. Similarly demand and Supply are two sides of the same equation and must be treated as such in our infrastructure policies, rather than the current emphasis on increasing supply.

Anastasia Mylona, Research Manager at CIBSE, set the issue of thermal comfort into the wider context of climate change. As the world is facing an increase in extreme weather events affecting people’s health and wellbeing and cities will experience more intense and frequent summer hot events exacerbated by the urban heat island effect.

In 2013 CIBSE published TM52: The limits of thermal comfort: avoiding overheating in European buildings and TM49: Probabilistic design summer years for London which offer detailed guidance on these issues and how to avoid uncomfortable conditions for occupants.

The second session of the day explored the Housing Standards Review, the Code for Sustainable Homes and designing for future homes. Nick Cullen, Research and Development Partner at Hoare Lea, set out the challenges for the industry, which needs to rapidly deliver more housing but where sustainability is not a market priority.

Passivhaus encourages integrated design thinking and a rigorous discipline that enables us to deliver buildings that work

Jonathan Hines, Director, Architype

In a thought-provoking presentation, architect Jonathan Hines of Architype offered his views on the shortcomings of BREEAM and the Code for Sustainable Housing, and on ‘the myth of zero carbon’. He argued that by emphasising offsetting, rather than reduction, of carbon, and by encouraging the inappropriate use of renewables, buildings risked becoming less rather than more efficient.

Hines also argued strongly in favour of Passivhaus as a rigorous and proven standard, which ’encourages integrated design thinking and a rigorous discipline that enables us to deliver buildings that work’.

The final sessions in the Conference will explore the implications of BIM and GSL for the public sector and new technologies for improved building performance.

Speaker presentations will be made available at www.cibse.org/knowledge or follow the Conference on Twitter: @CIBSE, #CIBSEConf