27 July 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
The Environment Audit Committee has warned that the United Kingdom is totally unprepared for regular heatwaves of the kind currently being experienced.
In a report, the committee singled out "overheating workplaces and lower employee productivity" as concerns following the recent high temperatures in the UK.
Mary Creagh MP, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: "Heatwave warnings are welcomed as barbecue alerts, but they threaten health, well-being and productivity The government needs to do more to warn the public of the health risks of heatwaves, particularly when they fall outside of the summer period, and should appoint a minister to lead work across government.
"The government's new adaptation plan promises no effective action to prevent overheating in buildings. It must change building regulations and planning policies to ensure homes and transport networks are able to deal with extreme heat, and that local authorities and cities have green spaces and heat-resilient infrastructure."
Jeff Alden, director of operations at SPIE UK, said technology is key - especially smart sensors - in creating a working environment that promotes productivity.
Alden said: "As the report points out, many of our buildings and infrastructure haven't been fitted with the solutions needed to cope with the temperatures we're experiencing now and are likely to experience in the future. In the case of offices, installing air conditioning may seem a straightforward solution, but if these systems are not managed properly then cooling ourselves down may well contribute to excess energy usage, which has been implicated in contributing to the increasing temperatures.
"Those that are upgrading office space, or are building new space, need to ensure that they use smart technology alongside temperature controlling solutions to maximise efficiency and increase sustainability. Sensors coupled with intelligent automated controls can ensure that office space is kept at the optimum temperature whilst using minimal energy. Moreover, these same systems can continuously collect and integrate data across a number of different data points, measuring the number of people in a room, for example, reducing output or switching systems off when they're not needed."