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A Home, somewhere between Wadi Halfa and Dongola, Sudan.

A Home, somewhere between Wadi Halfa and Dongola, Sudan.

Yes, it is that day of the year when there should be a blog about overheating in homes, so here goes.

The temperature in Watford looks to be getting to 32c, which is warm but it is days like today when I think about my travels in Africa, particularly Sudan where temperatures over 40c is common.

A typical Sudanese home is designed to help you cope in hot temperatures.  No real windows (so no solar gain), lots of shade from courtyards, and a flat roof so you can sleep on it at night.

Sadly, for the odd day or two that we get temperatures like that of Sudan in the UK we can’t copy all of the design features.  Having no windows would be very bleak in the cloudy months, and the courtyards that traditional Sudanese homes have are a nightmare when it comes to security, with lots of “external” doors.  I also suspect passing a SAP on the house pictured would be very unlikely; bungalows with lots of external walls are notoriously difficult.  The flat roof also isn’t ideal in the snow or rain (and to be honest, the star gazing is much better in the Sahara desert than it is in the south east of England).

So we need to find a different solution, one that takes into account all the other challenges of building a home in the UK.

The Home Quality Mark takes a split level approach to temperature, helping designers reduce the risks of uncontrollable temperatures, in today’s climate and future climate scenarios. Helping to reduce the risk of occupants “overheating”.

The first assessment takes data from the SAP assessment, and then asks a serious of additional questions.  This includes information around the surrounding area including the amount of materials that absorb the sun’s rays rather than reflect it. The assessment also looks at details about the building, the ventilation system, the heating system (if there are communal heating pipes), the dwellings geometry and the ability to open the windows, taking into account security, noise and pollution concerns.

This relatively simple approach is likely to suffice as an assessment for the vast majority of homes being built in the UK.  Where there are complex buildings (i.e. dense urban, high rise with communal heating) then a dynamic thermal modelling might be required (which is the second assessment).

Using the Home Quality Mark and gaining certification against the standard helps future occupants of the building have confidence that you have done as much as possible to make them comfortable (and ultimately healthy) on days like today.

For more information on the Home Quality Mark please visit www.homequalitymark.com

Want to read more about Sudan? go here; http://www.overlandinthesun.com/sudan/ 

Gwyn Roberts
About the Author
Homes and Communities Leader, at BRE Global. I lead the team who works on Home Quaility Mark, BREEAM Communities, BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment and the Code for Sustainable Homes. Ex DCLG civil servant consultant and independent traveller; crossing Africa in a Solar powered Landcruiser in 2009/10. @homeqm and @overlandsun

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