14.6.17 Today a 27 storey block of flats went up in flames in London. The Grenfell Tower was given cladding refurb only a year ago and would have required window replacement to fit over it. The cladding is being looked at as possibly having facilitated this terrible fire. Also to consider is the influence of trickle vents if open (likely) which double glazing going with cladding contains – especially to mitigate the problem of condensation that cladding can cause. These trickle vents would allow smoke to enter flats from external cladding on fire or balcony contents on fire.
***Important new document on External Fires from BRE*** http://sesam-uae.com/safetyauh/presentations/Sarah.pdf
This is a very important moment to re-consider cladding. In Dubai fires the metallic cladding facilitated fires. Was the London cladding the same as was proposed in Hove? Just nail-polish thin render over foam? It certainly looks the same in media drawings, but with added decorative detailing ON TOP. How about cavity wall insulation? Same? Styrofoam balls? Building materials today are mostly foam, plastic and the cheapest ‘other’ that developers can get away with using. See below for a set of references on cladding. Especially recommend journalists contact surveyor/cladding expert, Joe Malone. Have people died at Grenfell Tower because of cladding? It increasingly looks to be the case.
13th July 2015…..The Zero Carbon dream, the Green Deal, eco-positivity and manufacturers – all have contributed to a message that says if you envelope buildings with either silicone or acrylic rendered external wall insulation, you are freeing residents from heating bills, damp, condensation and mould. It’s a hey presto magic silver bullet! Wah-hey! Right? No. As so often happens, the downside emerges into the expensive light of regrets…..and not before.
Increasing numbers of people complain that it is hotter inside than it is outside in warm weather and that they cannot cool their homes down by any means. Having to install air conditioning and use fans to counteract stifling heat buildup that cannot escape at night from behind the EWI is not any kind of zero carbon dream and it means using electricity you would not otherwise have to use. Articles reporting scientists’ findings and concerns appeared recentlyin the Daily Mail and This is Money. Trapped heat putting lives at risk was in May and Homes to ovens – lethal risk last week. Please read them. People in single aspect dwellings already suffer from lack of cross-ventilation and are at greatest risk in buildings clad with EWI, along with those living in high rise flats facing south.
If you wore a latex catsuit out in 25 C or 75F sunshine or wrapped yourself in a duvet coat to sit out in hot summer sunshine, wouldn’t you expect to get wet and damp inside that duvet/catsuit? So it is with buildings. And EWI is, effectively, a duvet; and the render over it is a seal to prevent moisture getting into it – so interior moisture can’t escape through it either. It works both ways. Plus, if the EWI went onto a less than perfect surface, and was not kept bone dry until over-rendered, the trapped moisture can begin to damage the building from within.
Condensation and mould
There have been too many reports of condensation and mould appearing after EWI has been put onto buildings which were previously dry and mould-free. It forced the Scottish Government to commission a report. This was published December 2012, exonerates EWI, speculates about installation issues and blames residents for not knowing how to use their homes. And now BRE Wales has put out a call for evidence for as they find cause to investigate this phenomena in Wales.
There is a growing body of references and literature concerning the downside of EWI.
- The Risky Business of Covering up – Joe Malone, surveyor
- Unintended consequences -Robert Hine, leading building specialist
- Surveying property, guest article on EWI – Joe Malone, surveyor
- The risk to housing from overheating – BRE
- Defining overheating/thermal comfort – BRE
- Indoor Air Quality concerns & issuesin highly insulated bldgs – NHBC Foundation
- Report on Failure Rates and Remediation costs for External Wall Insulation and Cavity Wall Insulation – BRE
Water gets its wicked way