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Minimise risk of commercial buildings overheating with guidance from CIBSE

10 July 2013

The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) has released a guide to provide greater understanding and improved prediction of overheating in commercial buildings. ‘TM52: The limits of thermal comfort: avoiding overheating in European buildings’ will be published on the online Knowledge Portal, to be followed by ‘TM49: Probabilistic design summer years for London’.

Both Guides offer information to help avoid uncomfortable conditions for occupants. These support the existing publication ‘KS16: How to manage overheating in buildings’ which gives guidance for building managers and owners about the causes of overheating and how to mitigate it.

Fergus Nicol, lead author of the Guide TM52 said: “Overheating has become a major problem in building design. The rising cost of energy combined with global climate change has reduced the options available for building comfortable, low-energy buildings. Research has been directed towards methods for increasing indoor winter temperatures but this can lead to lightweight, highly insulated buildings that respond poorly in the summer. CIBSE responded by forming the Overheating Task Force.”

The CIBSE Overheating Task Force explored what is needed from building designers, service systems, ventilation and facilities management in order to maintain comfortable living and working conditions, especially in summer. Occupant comfort is particularly important as it directly impacts productivity and health which in turn affects employers. Only recently it was quoted that Mark Zuckerburg, founder, Facebook, keeps his offices at 15°C as it is believed to increase productivity. CIBSE’s recommended temperature is 20°C.

CIBSE President George Adams also emphasised the importance of designing buildings fit for a changing climate due to global warming in his inauguration speech entitled ‘Whole Life Thinking’. The subject was also discussed further at the CIBSE Natural Ventilation Group event, Passive Building Technology in Practice, 21 June at UCL.

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