RUSH TO INSULATE 25 MILLION HOMES BY 2050 WOULD CREATE A TIME BOMB FOR OLD BUILDINGS

Statement from SPAB (The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings)

28/2/2017

Rush to Insulate 25 Million Homes by 2050 Would Create a Time Bomb for Old Buildings

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) warns that a report to Parliament today urging the Government to take urgent action to insulate 25 million homes by mid-century would set up a time bomb causing severe building defects in older, pre-1919 solid-walled properties and jeopardising the health of their occupants.

Use of the wrong type of insulation in older buildings constructed using traditional materials can be worse than adding no extra insulation at all. It causes dampness and rot, as well as discomfort for occupants, and increases incidences of respiratory conditions such as asthma. In addition it saves little, if any, energy.

SPAB’s Technical and Research Director, Douglas Kent, says: “Older buildings need to ‘breathe’ – they should not be ‘sealed’. The wrong type of insulation does just that. Breathability is compromised when standard modern insulation, for example, foam boards or sprays, is used.

A different approach is needed with older buildings, an approach that employs appropriately breathable materials, such as wood fibre insulation. The SPAB is deeply concerned that this has not been adequately recognised in today’s report.”

The SPAB’s comments are based on research that it has been undertaking since 2011, the latest findings of which were published yesterday. This shows that it is possible to successfully upgrade the energy efficiency of older, solid-walled buildings where the appropriate materials and methods are used. The construction industry must learn from past mistakes, however laudable its objectives are to achieve greater carbon reduction.

For SPAB research to date see https://www.spab.org.uk/advice/energy-efficiency/

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Notes to Editors

For more information contact: Kate Griffin, SPAB press office, 0207 456 0905/ Alison McClary SPAB press office, 0207 456 0908