Nick Cullen's scary claims that "70% of office buildings … by 2030 will be unusable in the summer" and that "many of these buildings do not have the space to install air-conditioning" are bogus. Those buildings will certainly require cooling, but cool air doesn't have to be fed into them by bulky air-handling equipment. For example, Waterloo Air Management has developed a range of what are known as "chilled beams". These consist of slim ceiling-mounted heat exchange panels connected by small-diameter insulated pipes to centrally located refrigeration units. Such panels take up very little space, don't require fans or ducts, operate silently, are easy to install (compared with ducted systems) and are not visually intrusive.
By using thin ultra-efficient superinsulation panels (of the kind developed by Wacker Ceramics in Germany) to insulate ceilings and to line external walls – in conjunction with with triple glazing, heat exchangers in ventilators and sun screens – the cooling load in most of Britain's naturally ventilated office buildings could be cut to very modest levels.
Bill Dunster's sweeping claim that lightweight modular construction methods will be unable to cope with climate change shows he is seriously out of touch with recent developments.
Superinsulation and dynamic insulation used in conjunction with triple glazing, and pile foundation systems, which exploit the enormous thermal capacity of the ground to store (or recover) heat or cold, can make lightweight modular buildings energy and resource efficient.
John Prewer, research and development director, Spaceover Limited, Surrey.