UK Centre for Moisture in Buildings launched at UCL
An initiative aiming to increase knowledge and understanding of the issues moisture can cause in buildings old and new, was launched in London on 26 May. The UK Centre for Moisture in Buildings (UKCMB), backed by University College London and other academic institutions plus the BRE, plans an ambitious programme of research, public engagement, policy work and training to improve moisture safety.
Speaking at the launch, UKCMB director Neil May explained that, compared to the extensive research into energy performance, there is very little research into moisture in buildings.
The centre had been set up to change this, and, importantly, to increase understanding of the real-world impact of moisture issues – not only to challenge practices and assumptions that lead to moisture damage, but importantly, also to quash scare stories: “It’s about balance,” May said.
Neil May is especially keen to engage with both regulators and, importantly, insurers. “They are the drivers, the ones who can make change happen.” An early output of the centre will be a white paper to be published by the British Standards Institute, proposing a wholesale revision of the approach to moisture risk assessment.
The UKCMB is taking its lead from the equivalent body in Sweden, the FuktCentrum (“Moisture Centre”). Representatives from FuktCentrum attended the launch, and described their work on a number of Swedish building moisture issues that are shared in our cool, wet climates, including construction moisture, damp crawl spaces, and the challenge of evaluating moisture safety with new and unfamiliar materials.
The Swedish delegates also described the construction moisture safety protocol they have developed. In it a moisture safety champion is appointed who checks and, crucially, documents moisture safety aspects of the entire build – including for example measuring the moisture content of materials on site – to demonstrate that attention has been paid to moisture risk throughout the build. The UKCMB hopes to develop similar protocols for adoption in the UK: “What is needed is not so much hard, prescriptive guidance, as intelligent procedures that can tackle a range of situations,” May said.