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Building Directive. “Temperatures are rising, the planet is burning.” But why insulate buildings?

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“A beautiful show of ignorance”, “I guess you don't really know how insulation works”, “live in a tent” – these are the reactions of Internet users to the entry of publicist Jan Pospieszalski. He ironized that due to global warming, there is no need to insulate buildings, which is supposedly imposed by the European Union in the Building Directive. We explain what the directive is about, and the expert explains why thermal modernization of buildings is needed.

First, let's explain what the Building Directive is. This is the common name of the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the energy performance of buildings. Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, EPDB). The European Parliament adopted it on March 12, 2024, and the Council of the European Union a month later – on April 12. On May 8, it was published in Official Journal of the European Union and became applicable law.

The aim of the new regulations is to increase energy efficiency and decarbonize buildings by 2050. It contains the next steps: by 2030, buildings are to emit much less greenhouse gases, and by 2050 they are to become climate neutral, i.e. emit as much CO2 as is absorbed, e.g. by nature. For this purpose, among others: new buildings constructed after 2030 are to be zero-emission, and Member States are obliged to renovate a certain number of non-residential buildings with the worst energy parameters. The new regulations also require that new buildings be adapted to install photovoltaic installations.

Numerous untruths about the Building Directive

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The directive itself, during its work and before its final adoption, aroused many emotions. Over a year ago now Confederation politicians threatened it and called it the “expropriation directive.”. According to them, “it will lead to the expropriation of Poles from their own apartments and their own houses” if they do not carry out thermal modernization of buildings.

In March, there was a message that EPDB requires the installation of photovoltaic panels in every house – we showed in Konkret24that this interpretation resulted from an incorrect translation into Polish.

Untruths about her are also used in the ongoing campaign for the European Parliament. At the beginning of May, former Prime Minister Beata Szydło, who is running for re-election to the European Parliament, argued that the directive requires the replacement of gas furnaces, even if they were recently installed with funding from the government's “Clean Air” program. We explainedthat “although the directive includes the gradual phasing out of fossil fuel boilers by 2040, this goal is not binding. Member States only have to present an action plan under which they would like to phase out such boilers by 2040 – but this does not mean that “all of them are to be gone by that date.”

In connection with the directive “Buildings should be insulated…”

The entry on website X is in a similar tone posted May 12 Jan Pospieszalski – musician, journalist and publicist. He co-created several programs at TVP in the 1990s. Between 2016 and 2021, he hosted the program “Warto chat” on TVP1. The program was taken off the air after an episode that included critical opinions about the government's strategy to fight the coronavirus epidemic.

The columnist wrote: “According to the building directive, in Warsaw (my area) the insulating of buildings with a 10 cm layer of Styrofoam has already begun. As you know, temperatures are rising, the planet is on fire and we will all burn soon, so buildings should be insulated…” (original spelling of all posts) . He attached three photos showing the insulation of an apartment block.

A misleading post published on Jan Pospieszalski's account on May 12, 2024.x.com

In his entry, Pospieszalski suggests – using irony – that there is no need to insulate buildings due to climate change, and therefore the Building Directive is groundless.

Internet users: “A beautiful show of ignorance”

So far, the columnist's post has been viewed over 264,000 times. times. It was liked by over 880 users and shared by over 200. It aroused considerable emotions among Internet users and was also met with considerable criticism. “Then why do we need buildings at all? Live in a tent”; “I guess you don't really know how insulation works”; “But do you distinguish thermal insulation from heating?”, “A beautiful show of ignorance”; “Do you really have a problem that residents of a certain block will pay less for heating?! Okeeej” – they wrote.

Many people tried to explain to Pospieszalski that he was wrong: “I think this is technically called insulation. Insulation, as we know, also protects against heat. I'm glad I could help”; “Did you know, you idiot, that you can keep hot tea in a thermos in winter and a cold drink in summer? In the same thermos – magic”; “But do you know that this will simply make heat cheaper?”

Is building insulation useful in summer? Or maybe it doesn't make sense because “we'll all fry soon”? We asked an expert.

Warming is your ally in summer and winter

“'Insulation of buildings' is a colloquial term meaning covering the surface of external walls with an additional layer of thermal insulation material,” notes the professor in a comment for Konkret24 Leszek Pająk from the Faculty of Geology, Geophysics and Environmental Protection of the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków (AGH).

“The thermal insulation material, in winter conditions (when the ambient temperature is lower than the internal temperature), reduces the power lost through the building wall to the surroundings. By reducing the power lost, we are able to limit the amount of energy we need to heat the building. It is worth noting that the thermal insulation material works also in summer, when the ambient temperature is higher than the temperature inside the building,” the AGH professor further states.

“'Building insulation' helps reduce the amount of energy consumed by the air conditioning system, because less energy penetrates inside. 'Building insulation' is therefore an ally of maintaining comfortable thermal conditions inside both in summer and winter,” explains Prof. Spider. “Inevitably, due to the greater temperature difference between the interior of the building and the surroundings in winter, greater effects can be expected from 'warming' in winter. In summer, the effect is also observed” – he adds.

Professor Pająk draws attention to another advantage of thermal insulation of buildings: “a well-insulated building accumulates heat and cold in the massive part of the wall for some time, which we can use to passively (without the use of drive energy carriers) equalize the temperature inside.” This is important in the periods preceding the beginning of the heating season and at the end of the heating season when there are significant daily temperature changes.

“Personally, I think that nowadays (with current energy prices) using a 10 cm layer of Styrofoam is no longer enough,” says the expert. “It is worth noting that the optimal thickness of insulation for external walls depends on the prices of the energy carrier used, and there is a trend: the higher the price of the energy carrier, the thicker layer of thermal insulation material it is worth using. A layer of 10 cm of polystyrene was standard in times when energy was halved. cheaper. Of course, we always have technical problems: accessibility of the area, need to replace sheet metal fittings, recessing of window openings in the façade. Common sense is the most important,” says Professor Pająk.

Pospieszalski's post on X has already received contextual information from the site's community. It reads: “Thermal insulation of a building not only protects the building against heat escaping in winter, but also against high temperatures when it is warmer.” He refers to the material published in June 2019 on the website of the Polish Association of Styrofoam Producers (PSPS) entitled “Why does insulating your house with Styrofoam protect against heat?”

“In summer, thermal insulation plays an equally important role – it prevents rooms from heating up,” we read in the PSPS material. In it, M.Sc. Eng. speaks. Marcin Jaroszyński from the same association. “The flow of heat in the building always takes place from the warmer to the colder side. In summer, the insulation of the partitions inhibits this process, increasing the heat capacity of the structure and extending the heating time of the building,” he explains in the comment.

“Detached from common sense”

The day after Pospieszalski's post was published, science journalist Tomasz Borejza commented on it. IN column Fri “Pospieszalski at war with Styrofoam. 'Detached from common sense'” published on the SmogLab.pl portal, Borejza notes that the columnist's entry is an example of the “disease” that afflicts the right wing. In Poland, “the right wing has gone from rightly criticizing a few strange ideas of EU bureaucrats to a total war on caring for the natural environment, and even – as you can see here – on saving money,” the journalist notes.

He considers this approach unwise. “The natural environment is not in the best condition (those interested in a reliable diagnosis can read the book 'Cancel the Disaster') and there are serious threats to its stability. Not only climatic ones. Also those related to dying insects, food production, artificial fertilizers and the condition of our rivers. When the right wing condemns every thing proposed by the European Union and the Greens, it also throws away those that make sense, such as the house thermal modernization program,” says Borejza.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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