Moisture and breathability: the key to building performance and healthy buildings

  • by Simon Corbey
  • /
  • 2017-10-13 14:49:02
  • /
  • International
  • /
  • 3153
Moisture and breathability: the key to building performance and healthy buildings

Buildings should be considered not as standalone discrete entities, but as part of a system in constant and dynamic interaction with people and the environment. This interconnectedness means benefits, problems, solutions and consequences cannot be effectively addressed in isolation.

As we build ever more air tight buildings and refurbish existing ones, often with energy efficiency as the main driver, the case for delivering effective moisture control becomes ever more paramount. This must be alongside good detailing, quality installation and an effective ventilation strategy.

Consideration of product impacts should be an essential component for sustainable and healthy buildings and NOT an afterthought. With staff costs amounting to 90% of most office based business operating costs and because we spend so much time indoors, it is essential that the industry delivers healthy buildings. This is especially important for vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly; so buildings such as schools, housing and medical centres.

The task of retrofitting our entire building stock to enable zero carbon buildings by 2050 is a daunting one, which requires an estimated 781,250 homes to be refurbished every year – or 1.5 homes a minute. There is emerging evidence highlighted by Peter Rickaby at STBA/SPAB conference June 13th 2017, that some homes that have been retrofitted to such a poor standard, that they have been wrecked.

Most buildings built roughly before the first half of last century are vapour open and inappropriate materials applied in a retro-fit may prevent the passage of moisture through the building. However the concept of breathability and moisture control is poorly understood. This seminar brings together leading practioners, academics and suppliers to share their knowledge and learning.

There will be drinks from 17:00, so please join us.


13:30 : Registration

14.00 : Chair’s introduction

14.05 : Speaker TBC

14.25 : Dr Callum Hill, ISOBIO and JCH Industrial Ecology Ltd; Breathability – Back to basics

  • Breathability ; what is it, why is it important and how do we enable it?
  • Vapour open is not the same as breathable.
  • Air tightness and breathability are complimentary strategies (not mutually exclusive).

14.45 : Mark Lynn, Thermafleece

  • The benefits of natural fibre insulation
  • Moisture and natural fibre insulation
  • Hygroscopicity is not the same as breathable

15.05 : Caroline Rye - The SPAB Building Performance Survey

  • An overview of the SPAB Building Performance Survey, commenced in 2011, measuring moisture movement through solid walls.
  • What we measured and the tools
  • Results and next steps

15:25 : Refreshment Break 

15.40 : Chris Brookman, Back to Earth

  • The range of natural fibre products available
  • Woodfibre and moisture
  • Other health and wellbeing benefits – VOCs and overheating

16.00 : Ian Mawditt, Four Walls

  • The importance of source control and good ventilation
  • An overview of research into ventilation rates
  • Air-tightness, moisture and appropriate ventilation strategies

16.20 : Leigh George, Allergy UK

  • An overview of allergic disorders In the UK
  • A summary of the 800 calls a month to the Allergy UK helpline
  • Allergy UK Approved Products

16.40 : Discussion and next steps

17:00 : Close and networking drinks


Fees: ASBP, The Green Register, STBA and SPAB members – £65; Non-Members – £99


Book now via The Green Register.

This event is supported by STBAISOBIO and SPAB.

The CREATE Centre, Bristol, UK BS1 6XN
09/11 - 09/11/2017
 indoor air quality
 green buildings

Author of the page

  • Simon Corbey

    Associate Director


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