Housing Specification Blog

Will Green Deal Retrofits Ruin our Housing Heritage?

June 29, 2012 Alexandra Blakeman Planning & Legislation

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To comply with the forthcoming Green Deal initiative, 3.5 million solid wall homes will be fitted with external wall insulation. Solid wall housing is the least thermally efficient of all housing stock in the UK because heat is quickly lost through un-insulated flooring and single glazing.

As the only viable retrofit option, external wall insulation is cheaper and less intrusive on interior space. Concerns have arisen however as to the best way of protecting the buildings’ original facades and features. Changes to property appearance are often resisted by planners.

External retrofits have the potential to dramatically alter the aesthetics of a house or street. Exacting design methods will have to be employed so as not to ruin original characteristics.

When combined with other methods, external wall insulation can achieve a 68% reduction in CO2 levels. Even just 60mm of insulation can produce significant reductions in energy consumption.

Particular debate lies with the methods used to finish the insulation installations. Leading cladding manufacturer, Steni are championing the environmental benefits of using a rear-ventilated rain screen cladding system.

Applied to solid wall insulations, a traditional render finish is subject to chipping and degradation overtime. A rain screen cladding system can be expected to last for over 60 years. With a range of colours and finishes to choose from, the rain screen cladding can be supplied to mimic original facades and features.

Steni UK managing director Ian Anderson explains: “render may be more cost-effective than cladding to initially install but over the life of a building that temporary saving will come back to haunt the specifier and the client.”

As our most effective method to achieve low-carbon targets, what price do we have to pay to retain the original character of our homes? Perhaps our aesthetic heritage is being threatened in our strive towards carbon reduction. More appropriately, the Green Deal could offer us a valuable  opportunity to upgrade the thermal efficiency of some of our poorest housing stock.

In next month’s Housing Specification magazine look out for our article on cladding specialist Steni. They further discuss the merits of rain screen cladding over render finishes.  In the meantime, if you’ve got any comments on this topic, please post them below.

 

 

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    External wall insulationGreen DealhousingHousing legislationSolid wall insulation


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