Seven steps for survival: How stay cool in buildings in the heatwave

With the current 2018 record-breaking summer heatwave stretching on into August, BSRIA has created a seven steps to surviving in buildings, factory, office and workplace alike guide.

The tips are by no means prescriptive – but even adopting a couple of the suggestions could help keep staff cool and, as such, more productive.

These are:

  • Installation of external solar shading – technicalities, practicalities and location allowing.
  • Installing glazing that reduces solar gain – possibly “green” foil that reflects high levels of radiant heat.
  • Leaving thermal mass exposed as part of major internal refurbishment of concrete or masonry buildings.
  • Making use of night-time free cooling, either using a building’s existing ventilation system, or some kind of “manual” method (security should be taken into account if leaving windows open at night).
  • Reducing internal gains by installing energy efficient lighting and ensuring all lights and other electrical equipment are switched off when not in use.
  • Installation of energy-efficient air conditioning (although this should be seen as a last resort and it may be a trigger for Consequential Improvements under Building Regulations): https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Consequential_improvements_in_construction
  • Use of “old-school” fans.
  • And finally-
  • Giving out free ice cream and ice lollies on hot days and maybe allowing staff to leave early (with flexible working of course)!

David Bleicher, Publications Manager, BSRIA, said: “The UK, and in fact all of Europe, is currently experiencing a sustained heatwave – set to break records of 2003 and, indeed, 1977. Ergo – employee wellbeing in buildings, and the ability to keep staff output high, BSRIA, has formulated such how to stay cool tips and tricks and quick wins.

Drinking water should play a big part – with water coolers available for staff to keep hydrated and reminders for staff to drink more. One should be aiming for over the recommended two litres per day in hot weather. Tea and coffee are dehydrating but if staff can’t live without their morning caffeine fix, iced latte is an alternative.

Another idea is to unplug electrical devices once they’re charged. Indeed: chargers, iPads et al all produce unnecessary heat while they’re plugged in – and every little bit helps when you’re trying to cool down.”

BSRIA is a non-profit distributing, member-based association, providing specialist services in construction and building services. More information at www.bsria.co.uk.

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