The Grenfell Tower Fire Would Not Have Happened Without EU And Climate Regulations

Christopher Booker, The Sunday Telegraph

When, amid all the millions of words uttered about Grenfell, are we finally going to focus on the real cause of that fire? A comment on my column last week said that “only Booker could get a link between Grenfell, the EU and global warming into a single article”. But that is precisely the point. Without those two factors, the fire could never have happened.

As I had written, all this talk about “cladding” has been looking in wholly the wrong direction. The cause of the conflagration was less to do with the “rainscreen” cladding: it was the combination of 6in of combustible Celotex insulation foam behind it with a void creating a “chimney” effect, sending the flames roaring up the building.

In 1989, after a fire in an 11-storey block in Knowsley, the Building Research Establishment was asked to devise a means that could have prevented it.

It found that this should be a new “whole system test” covering all the materials used on the outside of buildings to see how they interacted when installed together.

But in 1994 the European Commission called for a new EU-wide fire test which was exactly what the BRE had found so inadequate with existing practice: a “single burn” test applied only to each material separately.

But after 2000, when a Commons committee investigated a high-rise fire in Scotland, MPs recommended that the BRE’s “whole system test” should be adopted as the British standard, BS8414.

By 2002, however, the EU had adopted its inadequate test, incorporating it in a European standard using EN 13501. Under EU law, this became mandatory, leaving the UK’s BS 8414 as only a voluntary option.

The EU had also become obsessed with the need for better insulation of buildings to combat global warming, which became its only priority. All that mattered was the “thermal efficiency” of materials used for insulation, for which none was to prove better than the polyisocyanurate used in Celotex, the plastic chosen in 2014 for Grenfell.

Fire experts across Europe have pointed out that the lack of a proper whole system test was ignoring the risk of insulation fires, not least in Germany, where there have been more than 100.

Strangely, the maker of Celotex has stated on its website that the material used in Grenfell has been tested by the BRE as meeting fire safety requirements. But the BRE has tartly responded that this test referred to a different installation; and that “Celotex should not be claiming that their insulation product can be used generically in any other cladding system”.

Had the Grenfell installation been properly tested under BS 8414 it would not have met the standard, and thus the fire could not have happened. The ultimate irony is that China and Dubai are now adopting mandatory systems based on BS 8414. They can do this because they are not in the EU. But, because Britain is still in the EU, it cannot legally enforce the very standard which would have prevented that disaster.

Full post

HT/The GWPF

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219 thoughts on “The Grenfell Tower Fire Would Not Have Happened Without EU And Climate Regulations

  1. There is indeed an argument that “but for” the failure to use BS 8414 the fire would not have happened, but the “but for” test does not necessarily identify all of the causative factors or provide a prescription for the future.

    But for the source of ignition, but for the fuel for the fire, but for inadequate fire extinguishing and suppression systems, but for the absence of a person who could have extinguished the initial fire before it caught hold. It goes on and on.

    The European standard is inadequate. Climate alarmism is rife in the bureaucracies, but the assertion that it was climate alarmism which caused the standard to be inadequate remains a stretch.

    The only hope is that out of this tragedy comes adoption of a range of measures including but not limited to the widespread adoption of BS 8414. Otherwise the victims and their families have suffered and lost in vain.

      • Thanks Lewis, I was unaware that the replacement coolant was a flammable hydrocarbon. How dumb is that.

        “Hydrocarbons were almost universally adopted by manufacturers after the phase-out of CFCs in the 90s. “

        Most of the ozone depletion came from two volcanic eruptions and attributed to CFCs. Another eco-mess portrayed as science.

        This crap is killing people, it MUST STOP NOW.

    • I disagree.

      It appears that the Grenfell Towers was a concrete structure.
      Concrete in itself has considerable thermal mass and in this case was probably quite adequate.
      In other words the $millions spent seem to be spent on some sort of competitive insulation factor, (the global warming/sustainability factor), which very likely had little thermal effect until such time as it caught alight.

      I am not a believer in standards. Although perhaps the intent is good, standards not only simply provide a minimum requirement but they most certainly do not promote common sense.

      Cheers
      Roger
      http://www.thedemiseofchristchurch.com

      • Roger,
        “Not a believer in standards”? In which case you are a fool. Living in Christchurch you should
        be aware of the importance of building standards for earthquakes and the deadly consequences
        if they are not met. Do you check the quality of every building that you walk into or do you rely
        on government standards to keep you safe? When you buy food do you test it for bacteria or
        adulterants or do you rely on government standards to ensure food safety? If you go to a restaurant for dinner do you check the cleanliness of the kitchen and staff or do you rely on government standards to keep you safe? And if you drive do you check the safety features not only of your car but also the brakes of every car you might pass or again do you rely on government standards to keep you alive? I could go on and on about how standards keep you safe
        and stop you being taken advantage of by other people. Standards are a vital part of modern life and have been since governments first passed laws regulating weights and measures and coinage. Commerce would be impossible without them.

      • Geronimo

        If you believe in standards, you are the fool. Standards are routinely inappropriate, ignored, badly written, uninformed, subject to corruption, out if date, fighting the last war.

        They often prevent innovation and better and safer ways if doing things since there is no incentive to go beyond them.

        I eat in places where people don’t get sick, not where a government inspector in one morning has said it is safe. I fly on airlines that don’t crash and drive cars that have good safety records. But planes still crash, cars still crash, banks still crash – but they all had standards and regulations.

      • Like most liberals, Geronimo believes that individuals are incapable of making decisions for themselves,
        that all businessmen are corrupt and anyone who works for the government is perfect and incorruptible.

        That’s why they believe that the only way to be safe is for government to come up with and enforce standards.

      • Standards are a minimum. Like minimum wage, they provide a floor for the majority of people to exceed. The problem only comes when the standards are so stringent or so specific that no one exceeds them (or even can exceed them). I have seen nonsensical building codes that require things that are neither necessary or beneficial and hamper innovation. I’ve seen standards that exist for the sole benefit of one person.

        However, saying that we shouldn’t have standards is a very odd conclusion to draw from this set of facts. We need some baseline, especially in areas where bystanders are unqualified to evaluate options (such as crash test ratings, efficiency of homes, or cleanliness of restaurants).

      • Standards are simply attempts by governents to codify the common law.

        In my city, although the earthquakes were severe, there were two multi story modern buildings which collapsed most disasterously and accounted for the majority of casualties.

        More significantly, in spite of one of them – in hindsite – was found to be built grossly under spec, no one as yet has been held accountable.

        Why? because the local government had inspected both buildings during construction and signed off all the tick boxes.

        The mayor quickly stated publicly that whilst the city council had approved both buildings, it was a case of “all care and no responsibility”.

        In actual fact the council was not competent enough to analyse the engineering standards involved and significantly neither the builder nor the design engineers nor the council have been found accountable.

        It is my belief that someones head should roll – that of the council – but I believe that in a common law situation there would be more than 100 families sueing all of the above for the unneccesary death of their loved ones – meaning that all the appropriate heads would roll and there would be legal precidents that all businesses, in that sphere, would consult for ever.
        A legal difficulty in cases like this under common law is that builders can hide behind bankruptcy laws and corporate veils and therefore avoid the consequences of their “misdemeanours”. Codification/ standards may have been an attempt to block this loop hole, but so far, in a number of spectacular cases in this country, it hasnt worked.

        As I said above, I believe standards are simply an example of common law codification whose main function is an excuse to increase the size and authority of government for political purposes.

      • I did the calculations. The planning application reveals that the concrete walls had a U value of 1.5 W/m^2/K. Multiply up by the wall area of 3250sq m, and by the 8 degree difference between a 20C indoor and 12C average outdoor temperature, and you wind up with 39kW of leakage – worth around £10,000 a year at the kind of gas prices available to a block of flats with a centralised heating system. Against that they spend £2.6 million on the exterior insulation and cladding installation. A 260 year payback before maintenance and financing costs.

        Green vanity gone mad.

      • “Tim Hammond July 11, 2017 at 12:33 am

        …cars still crash,…”

        Cars do not crash by themselves.

      • “rogerthesurf July 11, 2017 at 2:33 pm”

        The severity was largely due to liquefaction.

      • Patrick MJD,

        Although there was a lot of liquifaction during the Christchurch earthquakes, in actual fact, except the ones I have mentioned, there was not one high rise modern commercial building that actually collapsed

        Engineers design earthquake resistance into modern structures where they know the building will distort and suffer significant damage – in fact enough to make them useless, but they will not collapse.
        Although there was some drama during evacuation in the CBD, I am not aware of any casualties from these buildings. In fact the buildings, in that they did not kill anyone, performed to their design and engineer’s intent.

        The two buildings in question, failed catestropically and were’, within seconds, little more than piles of rubble.

        Both of these buildings did not peform reasonably and most certainly, neither met their statutory standards or design requirements.

        Hence the result, in terms of casualties, was very similar to the one at Grenfell Towers. Very very sad.

      • It is a moot point indeed whether the building cladding would have reduced the heat loss and contribute to energy saving at Grenfell Tower. It would depend on external wall temperature of the composite wall before the cladding is added. An internal room temperature of 60 F (15 C) would be the room dry lining temperature also; the drop across the lining depending on thermal conductivity would be at least 30 F; further drops across thermal blocks and the concrete wall would give a drop leaving the external wall close to external ambient giving a very low C&R coefficient. Aluminium clad panels would indeed have a low emissivity but would have negligible energy saving effect because the external wall temperature would be close to ambient anyway. The cladding must have been purely decorative

        Reply

      • Policy and Procedure (a variation of the term Standard) help us make things better. They also cause headaches. Life sucks.

        Every standard should clearly state why it was put in place. Unfortunately, teaching the why’s of every standard doesn’t happen quickly. 4 inches on the edge and 6 in the field is something a guy pounding nails will understand without much challenge. It is also something an inspector will understand. 4.1 inches over the course of a project might result in some savings. 5 inches results in more savings. 4 inches has a safety factor tied to it. 5 inches may likely be plenty. 4 inches is a good place to be.

        Every 20 inches IS NOT a good place to be, even though every 20 inches will work 95% of the time.

        Except 95% is a bad number to quote because it isn’t tied tightly to its unit.

        Not building to a standard is a really bad idea.

        Not understanding why the standard is there makes the standard dangerous.

      • Jorge, the most useful method of analysis is the one they use in aircraft crashes. There is always a chain of safety failures before the final crash. Break the chain and the plane does not crash.

        That is my point with the “but for” chain. Break the chain at any point and the disaster would either not have occurred or would have been limited. It really doesn’t matter which the first “but for” was. Proper regulation provides not just one but many opportunities to avert disaster.

      • This insulation setup was added because of the Climate Change frenzy fueled by the like of the Guardian. No time for though, it had to be done yesterday.
        Chimney effect – never heard of? Never lit a stove than.
        Another hasty Green blunder after diesel and bio fuel promotion.

      • Forrest: it very much does matter what the first ‘but for’ was. Eliminate that and the entire rest of the decision chain disappears.

    • Most disasters could have been prevented by successive actions but looking at the film of the fire it is clear that often the cladding panels fell off intact so clearly were not the cause of the problem as the fire raged even more fiercely where they did so. At the very least this should be mainstream media information that the building Research recommendations for context dependent tests were ignored in favour of EU regulations were at the very least the cause of the rapid blaze even if other actions could have mitigated this major stupidity.
      In most fields of engineering it is recognised that tests are only relevant in the context of the environment. It would appear that climate is the one exception where the scientist with their academic computer model bias and contempt for the real world dominate thinking.
      Climate change is founded on failure to do proper context sensitive measurements and adjusting upwards for the errors that proper measurement show should be downwards by double the upward adjustment but this spread into engineering costs lives as the environmentalists have proved so capably in this case.
      The dangers of electric cars in crashes are the next example of eco blinkered behaviour costing lives that will hit the headlines as the supercar crash showed so spectacularly.

      • ‘film of the fire it is clear that often the cladding panels fell off intact so clearly were not the cause of the problem as the fire raged even more fiercely where they did so.’
        The fire crept laterally around the building as it flared higher.
        Corresponding at the time with a cladding expert the judgement was that the panels were alight.
        When the panel fixing melted or failed, they then fell, sometimes flaming.
        Unburnt gases from lower heated hydrocarbons reignited further up the inferno as they mixed with oxygen.

      • I have little difficulty with what you say David, with one exception. That exception is the leap between poor regulation and climate alarmism. It may well be so and investigating why the EU regulation was inadequate may well reveal shoddy thinking.

        On the other hand it may well reveal that the regulation was not intended to fully cover the field. Elsewhere there is a comment that Germany has maintained its own standard which is more rigorous that the EU one. If so, what caused the UK regulators to drop theirs?

        I simply urge people to think carefully before saying that it was climate alarmism which caused the whole thing. It may be so but when it comes to governments and building developers there are many forms of stupidity and motivated thinking at play.

    • I made the point even prior to Booker’s article that the only way to be certain when testing multiple materials was to test them in every conceivable combination. I was, admittedly, thinking more in terms of chemical reactions or the potential for one inflammable material to reach a temperature where it could cause a reaction — physical or chemical — with another which in 90% of situations would be considered inert.

      What beggars belief is that the UK government apparently made no effort to influence the EU decision on materials testing even though it had carried out its own tests and considered the EU ones to be inadequate. And since it appears that Germany’s building regulations are stricter than EN13501 there seems no reason for the UK not to interpret the Regulation to suit UK circumstances.

      The worst the EU could have done would have been to bring a case against the UK which would almoat certainly ended up in the ECJ and, whatever Brexit supporters may think of that body, there is a reasonable chance that, given all the relevant data, it would in this case have sided with the UK, especially if the German standards are indeed stricter than EN13501!

      Where I disagree with Forrest Gardener is in his collection of “but fors”. The initial fire was extinguished as rapidly as possible and the firemen were confident that it had been contained. “But for” the material used in the cladding it would have been, and we will need to await the outcome of the Inquiry to discover whether the spread was such that no sprinkler system and no fire door would have been adequate to prevent that spread which is possible but does not absolve the building’s owner from some culpability in not ensuring that such safety features were in place.

      But the guilty party was the cladding and the material involved was used precisely because the “absolute priority” was insulation as an energy saving measure to reduce CO2 emissions and combat global warming. Any other consideration was secondary.

      • The worst the EU could have done would have been to bring a case against the UK which would almoat certainly ended up in the ECJ and, whatever Brexit supporters may think of that body, there is a reasonable chance that, given all the relevant data, it would in this case have sided with the UK, especially if the German standards are indeed stricter than EN13501!

        the EU won’t. any country is free to use higher and better standards, that’s what the author of the article (conveniently?) omitted.

        any country is allowed to do better then the european standards, they just may not go below them.

      • The tougher German standard (and indeed the tougher British standard) cannot be made compulsory without breaching EU law (at least until Brexit!). Making them compulsory would effectively exclude certain products from sale which the EU had effectively permitted. That goes against the Single Market rules.

        In fact, the British regulations are written in a massive tangle of legalese. I think that the civil servants did it that way so they could honour the EU rules, while leaving the politicians with the impression that the rules were somewhat tougher than they really are.

        You are correct about the prime motivation. From the planning application:

        The poor insulation levels and air tightness of both the walls and the windows at Grenfell Tower result in excessive heat loss during the winter months. Addressing this issue is the primary driver behind the refurbishment.

        The proposed insulation levels far exceed those required by Building Regulations. Insulation improvements may only happen once or twice in a buildings lifetime due to the complexity and disruption caused. For this reason we are going over and above current building regulations to make sure the building continues to perform well into the future

    • “Climate alarmism is rife in the bureaucracies, but the assertion that it was climate alarmism which caused the standard to be inadequate remains a stretch.”

      Though undoubtedly climate alarmism is not the only factor attributable to this tragedy, it appears to be a wholly important one. “Green Blob” corruption seems to be endemic in government bureaucracy – not only because it provides ample opportunity to ‘disappear’ public money into the pockets of the favoured inside a labyrinthine system of environmental regulations (all justifiable under the banner of this noble cause) – but also because this behaviour sets the standard across the board in local governance. I am confident that if there were such thing as an investigative journalist in the UK any more – and they dug deep – they would find a level of ‘green’ corruption in the public sector which would make Venezuela blush.

      A far less tragic, but one of many examples which I am sure are quietly occurring in the UK with increasing frequency: https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/exclusive-demolished-eco-schools-design-fell-below-expected-level-of-competence/10018891.article

  2. This has been covered before both here and in the news media in the UK. Quite simply Mr. Brooker is wrong. While the cladding was installed in order to improve the insulation of the tower the contractors responsible deliberately decided to use the cheapest possible cladding material rather than a more expensive fire proof one. This saved the contractors roughly 5000 pounds while being a contributory factor in the deaths of more than 70 people. They also decided to save costs by not installing sprinklers which again could have slowed down the speed of the fibre allowing more people to escape.

    It should be noted that this cladding material is currently banned in Germany for use on similar buildings since it is unsafe and a fire hazard. Germany is also part of the EU and has stricter regulations than the UK on insulation. So clearly it cannot be the fault of EU and climate regulations since both the UK and Germany have the same regulations.

    • Here is Booker’s own Telegraph reporting that the material is banned for high rise in Germany:

      “The safer sheets were only £2 a square metre more expensive meaning that for an extra £5,000 the building could have been encased in a material which may have resisted the fire for longer. The cheaper version is banned from use on tall buildings in the US and Germany.”

      That makes a nonsense of his claim that EU regulations forced its use in Britain.

      • The point, I think, is that EU regulations allow the materials used rather than they require them … you’ve put up a false straw man to argue against …

      • “The point, I think, is that EU regulations allow the materials “
        No, Booker’s claim is that Britain wanted to but could not disallow them, because of EU. But Germany was able to prevent their use (by classifying them as flammable), so that claim is false.

      • The Germans had somewhat tightened their codes before the EU introduced the Directive and thus have a slightly stricter code now.
        Booker is absolutely correct.
        The insulating efficiency of the Celotex was deemed to be the primary concern and the EU had done nothing to address the fire safety issues. Oh! Not quite right! They had spent 13 years talking about it.

      • “The Germans had somewhat tightened their codes before the EU introduced the Directive and thus have a slightly stricter code now. Booker is absolutely correct.”

        There is no evidence whatsoever that EU regulations prevented the UK from improving their own fire safety standards. Or that Germany somehow “snuck it by” before the EU passed a safety directive. In fact, the evidence is to the contrary: “After the 1999 blaze (in Scotland), successive governments at Westminster were urged to tighten English building regulations on fire safety, but no action was taken. While Scotland introduced a stricter regime, the story of English regulations is one of warnings being repeatedly ignored about flammable materials fitted to the outside of buildings creating a significant new fire risk. Instead of improving rules in this area, Conservative and Labour governments appeared focused on freeing companies from red tape.”

        martinbrumby, why is it that Scotland, which is both part of the UK and part of the EU, could improve their fire safety standards and England could not?

        https://www.ft.com/content/bf6bcbd0-5b35-11e7-9bc8-8055f264aa8b

      • I read on one of the earlier WUWT threads on this topic that a country with a stricter code that was adopted before an EU code could keep it, but that after the EU had adopted a standard, no country could adopt a stricter standard. (I hope whoever posted that comment will post a link to it.)

      • Rubbish. Look at the films of the blaze and it is clear many of the panels fell off anyway. Why did the fire not follow the panels rather than remain with the building? Someone knew perfectly well the insulation was to blame but wanted to deflect from the environment lobby’s responsibility for the disaster.

      • David Cage, thanks for providing zero evidence that the environmental lobby was the cause of this disaster.

      • Nick, you might like to familiarise yourself with UK politics before trying to defend the global warming establishment from any blame.

        Booker is correct that EN13501 is the EU Standard. There is nothing to stop individual architects and clients from specifying BS8414. The problem arises with public works which will, under single market rules, go out to EU-wide tender. There is some debate around whether the UK government is entitled to apply a stricter standard than EN13501 but since it appears that Germany does one can assume that the UK could if it chose to. It didn’t choose to and by default the contract was based on the EU standard.

        There was a dearer option available which was more fire-resistant and by all means criticise K&C for not using it — assuming that they were properly advised (another possibility for consideration for the Inquiry) — but it doesn’t alter the fact that the prime purpose of that material in that cladding was to act as an insulator to save energy in order to reduce CO2 emissions to combat global warming.

        Personally I have no qualms about laying 80+ deaths at the door of those fanatics who on the basis of damn all evidence insist on damaging society. Global warming is indeed killing people — just not quite in the way the warmistas would have us believe!

      • “Nick, you might like to familiarise yourself with UK politics”
        I am reasonably familiar with UK politics. But that is not what Booker is blaming. He says:

        “But, because Britain is still in the EU, it cannot legally enforce the very standard which would have prevented that disaster.”

        And since Germany, and even apparently Scotland can ban this material for high-rise, that is clearly false.

      • The issue is the inadequate testing regulation of the EU superseded the more rigorous British test, which became voluntary.
        Nick seems to be skeptical about everything except global warming.

      • Richard North, on his EUReferendum.com site, argues with detailed quotes and cites that once the EU had established a standard in an area, member countries couldn’t exceed it. He calls it “the occupied field doctrine.”

        (My guess is that doing so would fragment the market for such products, reducing the economy of scale available to EU manufacturers, and the ease of foreign firms in marketing within the EU.)

        http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86512)

        http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86513

    • My understanding it was a change approved by the Management Organisation and the builder. Not just the builder.
      “A list of amendments to the £9.2m contract between Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) and Rydon, the builder for the refurbishment of the 24-storey tower, reveals that the saving was made after tender by fitting “cassette fix aluminium cladding in lieu of zinc cladding”.”
      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/30/grenfell-cladding-was-changed-to-cheaper-version-reports-say

    • @ Germinio
      The point which you overlook is that Both material systems – the one specified and the one it was amended too and was used – Met the EU Standards.

      EU Directives and Regulations (standards) take mandatory precedence over home-country (member state) laws and standards. To refuse to allow something which meets the EU Regulations or Standards is to be in breach of EU regulations and leads to severe penalties. Unfortunately the UK, unlike many member states, has this civil servant tendency to stick to the word of the Directive or Regulation.

      Too further correct you, it was not the contractor who chose not to install a sprinkler system, it was either the Kensington and Chelsea Tenants Management organisation or the landlord, which is the Council .

      It was, as Booker correctly points out, climate regulations emanating from the EU and entered into UK law which led to the ‘upgrading’ of insulation to reduce energy use and thus CO2 emissions.

      It is not unreasonable to view these deaths as being caused by the belief in Climate Change in the same way that it is the cause of the significant number of winter deaths of people forced into fuel poverty through heavily increased energy costs from renewables and their subsidies.

      Bizarre as it may seem the only true casualties of ‘Climate Change’ to date are those in the developed world whose deaths arise from the policies that have been introduced by politicians to ‘mitigate’ against the manufactured, man-made scare of ‘global warming’.

      There are innumerable examples of where the EU and its regulations are the Cause of a Problem rather than the Solution. That is the problem when lawmaking is handed over to unelected bureaucrats and democracy ceases to be particularly relevant. The EU hands multi-millions each year to ‘Green’ organisations to advise it on, and even to draft and prepare ‘green’ policies and regulations. That sadly is the model the EU has been constructed upon and it is very similar to the one the UN wants for an unelected global government.

      Climate Change is the UN’s Trojan Horse for an unelected global marxist-socialist goverment and the end of representative democracy.

      • These “EU regulations” did not appear from nowhere.
        It’s most likely that the governments of various EU member states, including the UK, are behind them

      • I think Janice Moore deserves an acknowledgment for her insights into this subject – although criticized by those who can’t see the forest for the trees – in the WUWT blog June 18, 2017. Congrats Janice.

    • That is false. The contractors saved nothing, since they were paid for the materials no matter what. The council saved the money, and since they are non-profit spent it elsewhere in the residents of the borough. The decision not to fit sprinklers was the choice of the council too.

      And you ignore the point – there is plenty of evidence that the problem was nit the insulation per se but the way it was installed – the chimney effect created.

      So you are simply wrong. Twice.

      And we should all note that despite what “the media” has reported, the actual conclusions if those investigating the fire have not been reached yet..

      • ” there is plenty of evidence that the problem was nit the insulation per se but the way it was installed – the chimney effect created.”

        Which is a standard method to achieve maximum insulation effect. However it is extremely dangerous, and the air gap behind the panels should be interrupted at regular intervals to prevent the “chimney effect”. However this is difficult and expensive to do without creating “cold bridges”, so it is usually ignored.

      • So, MR Know It ALL Hammond, if there were no Flames because the material was not Flammable how would the Chimney Effect have caused the fire to spread so quickly?
        Not only was the Chimney effect a serious problem but it’s very lining was solid Petrol based fire accelerant.

    • This is a pitiful argument. In Germany these materials are certainly prohibited for high-rise buildings, but not for multi-storey housing construction or single-family houses. The problem with polystyrene is not only the flammability above certain temperatures, but also the previous encapsulation of environmentally and mutagenic flame retardants. Now, these chemicals have been replaced, but who knows? Perhaps after 20 years of environmental protection, environmental chemists are once again aware of how harmful the new flame retardant is. In addition, the combustion process is slowed down by the flame retardant, but at the cost of a frightful smoke development. In the case of a fire, the owner naturally asks himself what death he wants to die: the suffocation in the smoke or the fire death. Both are not pleasant and could be prevented with monolithic building materials. Then one could not build a high-rise no more 100 meters high, but would have to content with a little less Babylonian.

      Or build as in the past, without thermal insulation.

      • # There is an error:

          “Now, these chemicals have been replaced, but who knows?” These chemicals were, of course, replaced only in new isolations, and the old ones continued to falter. Perhaps this is the reason why in Germany the birth rate does not even equal one and a half children per woman.
        If you look at the built-up meters, which go into the hundreds of millions, of the old hereditary isolation, this could even go. Perhaps as an additional reason.

      • Hans-Georg: thanks for your comments on the situation in Germany. In your second comment you have written ‘hereditary isolation’. Did you mean ‘traditional insulation’?
        I have read that a residential tower block in Wuppertal, Germany was evacuated shortly after Grenfell so that flammable cladding could be removed.

    • As you should recall from the previous thread, the figure of £5000 is highly suspect. Do you have some actual data to show it’s that low? Or do you believe only what you read in month-old newpapers?

      From the previous WUWT Grenfell thread:

      “…it (£5000) widely (sic) reported in the UK media from outlets as diverse as the daily mail to the guardian.” Geronimo

      Oh, then it must true. The media, especially in the UK, are 100% reliable and truthful. And there’s an Easter Bunny and there are fairies in the bottom of your garden.

      “Do you have any evidence to back up your figure?” –Geronemo

      http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.aspenational.org/resource/resmgr/Techical_Papers/2015_Feb_TP.pdf?hhSearchTerms=%22installation%22 “Fire rated cores are more costly and add approximately $2.00 SF to the material price.”

      The building is 220 feet tall by about 66 feet in width. Total area: 58,000 sqft. Deduct 30% for windows (another problem in themselves), so roughly 40,000 sqft, times $2/SF = ~$80,000.

      I know you’d rather believe the media that agree with your biases, but I’d hope you at least read the WUWT threads on this subject and the responses to questions you ask before presenting bird-cage-liner nonsense as fact. I suspect you’re merely a troll, repeating the same misinformation over and over, with no ability or interest in hearing what others say.

      • To clarify: as shown internally, the above comment is in response to Geronimo’s repetition of misinformation from the previous Grenfell thread.

    • I think you are quite wrong about the motivations of the contractors. The cladding manufacturers advise that in fact only Reynodual (which has A2 fire rating under the EU standard) should be used on buildings above 30 metres tall (about 100ft). That consists of a couple of aluminium sheets bonded together, and is about as useful as a chocolate teapot for insulation. The architects had originally specified zinc cladding, which is only slightly less good as a conductor that the aluminium you might make saucepans out of. When it came to it, the choice was between the FR and PE grades of Reynobond. The latter is twice as good an insulator as the former. Both actually have a similar rating under the EU fire standard. The fact that the PE grade is cheaper is merely a small bonus, compared with the greenie points for extra insulation. That the manufacturers advise that PE grade should only be used on buildings of up to 18 meters (with the FR grade considered suitable up to 30 metres) mattered not one jot: the EU regulations were complied with.

      http://www.arconic.com/aap/north_america/catalog/pdf/specifications/ReynobondEngProperties.pdf

      Nick Stokes is not correct about the situation in Germany: their harsher standard is, like the British one, only advisory, but Germans are perhaps more inclined to take advice most of the time. There are however some buildings in Germany that are clad in Reynobond PE.

  3. Some things emerge in whole system tests that most people wouldn’t think about.

    Fiberglass insulation doesn’t burn. On the other hand, installed in a stud wall, it reduces fire protection. There are two mechanisms:
    1 – The fiberglass melts and a chimney forms in the stud bay allowing the fire to spread more quickly. link
    2 – The fiberglass doesn’t permit the facing gypsum board to cool off. It cracks and falls off and the fiberglass doesn’t protect the studs. link An empty stud bay actually provides more fire protection than one filled with fiberglass because the gypsum board remains intact longer.

    The stupid EU regulation is another reason why Brexit is a good thing.

    • There is much inconsistency about what exact insulation was used–some say polyethylene, some say polyurethane. Elsewhere we see fiberglass or (possibly) calsil. Are you saying there was existing fiberglass insulation within the interior wall? It’s possible.

      • It has been reported as Celotex which uses an expanded polyisocyanurate foam to form rigid sheets with aluminium foil cladding on both sides. It is very widely used as roofing insulation in housebuilding in the UK and typically ‘protected’ with plasterboard of sufficient thickness to provide 30 minutes fire resistance.

        Polyisocyanurate foam is also becoming a more widely used material as a constituent part of SIP panels (structurally insulated panels) which orignated in Canada. These typically have OSB (Oriented Strand Board) which is structural on either side with a sandwich of PU foam between them to provide insulation. Using this system the walls and roof can be manufactured in a factory with all of the door and window cut-outs in place. A house can be erected on a prepared site in 3-4 days and then finished with external weatherproofing cladding. Some SIP panels make use of cement particle board on the exterior to allow for simple rendering as an external finish.

        See https://www.celotex.co.uk/assets/health-and-safety-hands-apr15.pdf ) You will note that no specific temperature is given, it merely states ” will burn if exposed to a fire of sufficient heat and intensity.”

        A data sheet showing 450 C as the initial combustion point is here https://www.dyplastproducts.com/msds-isoc1 although this may be a product with a slightly different composition to Celotex.

        More information is given here :https://foursevenfive.com/reason-foam-fails-2-unacceptable-fire-hazard/

        Celotex and its equivalents is a material that has been specified by architects over many years in conversions and refurbishments I have carried out. This recent disaster has led me to wonder just how safe, even with plasterboard fire barriers, the material is in domestic use. Having said that I am not aware of any domestic house fires where it has been the cause of a fire or of a fire spreading although the highly toxic gases released when it burns pose a major hazard to both occupants and fire services. I am actively looking into this at present for my own peace of mind.

        There are a lot of ill-thought out building regulations which have been introduced because of ‘climate change’. One such which enforces ‘airtight’ houses have led to significant condensation problems which in turn leads to mould and spores; I have long suspected that this is a contributor to the huge increase in asthma and allergy sufferers in the UK in recent years.

      • I was talking about the importance of whole system tests vs. “single burn” tests. As an example I cited tests on stud walls that were done years ago by the National Research Council of Canada. Those tests produced results that would not have been inferred from just testing the individual materials.

        I wasn’t talking about the specific materials or designs that were used on the Grenfell Tower. My whole point was a general one that whole system tests are necessary to predict what will happen if a fire occurs. Firefighters and construction engineers know that, apparently the EU doesn’t.

  4. One of the drawbacks of global warming policies is that there are other priorities that are ignored. The customer with the Grenfell tower was a part of the UK government, and ultimately the customer is responsible for setting the standards of construction above and beyond simply meeting building codes, which a different branch of the UK government set.
    Someone made it policy to put a priority of “energy efficiency” over sprinklering the building, or adding a second fire escape route, as well as not properly supervising the specifications of the retrofit.
    Blaming greedy contractors is a popular demagogic theme, but customers who went with a low bid are also at fault.

    • … greedy contractors …

      Incompetent contractors are probably a worse problem. When I worked for the feds, there was a mechanism for disqualifying contractors who couldn’t demonstrate that they were competent. I’m guessing that those rules still exist.

      I’ve seen contractors go bankrupt because they didn’t read the specification right. The government (my onetime employer) then has to pay someone to rip out the bad work and do the job right. Here’s a similar example.

    • Tom – I am not sure where in the process the fault lies and we need to wait for
      a proper enquire before casting blame. However I think the issue is a standard engineering problem – you can do it properly or you can do it cheaply. Unfortunately this time they went with “cheaply” and people died.

      • What I think I failed to emphasize was the conflict of interest with one branch of the government supposedly setting standards for another branch of the government. It is not a matter of paying off the building inspectors when it is government housing.

      • I believe the correct contractor quote is: You can have it cheap, fast or right. Pick any two.

    • Tom, you’re right up to a point, but the “somebody” who made energy efficiency a priority was also the British government which, in some mad attempt to “set an example” to the rest of the world allowed a FoE activist a virtually free hand to draft a Climate Change Act which requires the UK to decarbonise at a rate faster than any other country in the world.

      Add to that a requirement (almost) for local authorities to choose the lowest tender for their contracts and Grenfell Tower is where you end up, sooner or later!

  5. From what I have seen it is a perfect example of free capitalism, delivering the cheapest material at the least expensive price. That people died, well, that is the necessary cost of the free market.

    That the EU and Climate had anything to do with it, charade. But the sheeple here seem believe anything.

    • Hardly “free capitalism” if it was driven by governmental regulations about insulation requirements.

      Fact is, there are many contributory factors, each of which could have been the cause in that the disaster might not have happened if they were not in play. For example, there have been more examples of such exploding fridges causing fires because the coolants were changed from Freons to more flammable coolants in order to save the earth/ozone layer. Environmentalism comes with a very high price tag for some unfortunate people and environmentalists are often very good at ignoring one side of the cost-benefit equation.

    • I fail to see any form of capitalism at work here. All parties were part of government socialist organizations who will never accept any responsibility for anything. Socailism has never worked anywhere at any time, ever.

      • The government is Tory which opposes socialism! The lack authority (Kensington) is dominated by the Tories. These are not socialists!

    • RE: “From what I have seen…..”

      You should have your vision checked… and update your economics education.

    • A free market economy is one that organically finds the most efficient use of limited resources. This efficiency usually results in cheaper prices for the exact same material, but has nothing to do with delivering shoddy or improper material. Quite the opposite. In a true free market, delivering poor quality material will find one quickly out of business. Unfortunately, very successful companies have the power to poison the free market with crony capitalism, which isn’t really capitalism at all.

    • In free markets you tend to get the highest amount of quality for the price you pay. The more you pay, the better quality you get. In state-financed contrat work, it is rather the opposite, quality is not related to cost. Your typical publicly-financed infrastructure project will cost more, take longer to build, and usually be of lower quality than a privay financed and built project of a similar size. The Grenfell Tower renovation was a public project, it was was approved and financed by the state, the free market had little to do with it. Had it been a privately-owned building, most likely it could have received a much higher quality renovation for the same price the state paid.

    • Grenfell Tower was “Council Housing”, i e owned and managed by the local government, which also drew up the specification for the refurbishment. “Capitalism” was only involved if the contractor did not work according to the specification, but as far as I know there is no evidence for this.

  6. What about the fact that the manufacturer states that the product is not to be used above 10 meters high??? …http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/818480/cladding-Grenfell-tower-illegal-10m-32-feet-not-to-be-used-Arconic-manufacturer-Kensington

    and, “…The company advises customers in a brochure that Reynobond PE should not be used on buildings taller than 10 metres, and Grenfell Tower is 60 metres tall. …”. …http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/world/cladding-arconic-alcoa-grenfell-fire-1.4178157

  7. It appears the product in question is Celotex RS5000
    https://www.celotex.co.uk/products/rs5000

    Some notable quotes from the company’s website:

    Suitable for use in warm steel frame constructions for ventilated facade applications, Celotex RS5000 can be used in buildings above 18 metres in height – a first for PIR insulation.

    With low emissivity textured aluminium foil facings, Celotex RS5000 comprises rigid polyisocyanurate foam core (PIR) using a blowing agent that has low global warming potential (GWP) and zero ozone depletion potential (ODP).

    Has been tested to BS 8414-2:2005, meets the requirements in BR 135 and the first PIR insulation suitable for rainscreen cladding applications above 18 metres in height.

    Strange that it says “tested to BS 8414-2:2005”, but then says “meets the requirements in BR 135”.

    Why does it not say “meets the requirements in BS 8414-2:2005”??

    • Interesting points on the standards. Celotex is now owned by a French company and although I am sure that is irrelevant it reminds me of another French company which had developed a thin quilted material for insulation but was struggling to get the insulation standards it claimed certified by an approved body. After 2 or 3 years it purchased a UK company which was able to certify and within months the product was certified.

  8. In the “time line” I would suggest there is at least one Bureaucrat involved with connections (money and contracts) who “Regulated Up” the “Failed Specifications” knowing they were failed and garnered a “Handsome Payday … Off Books … for decades” and now is likely at or near the top level to the E.U. in Brussels.

    In the E.U., old Europe and Americas, Nationalists and Racists hatreds run deep. Jus sanguinis (Latin: right of blood), and Jus soli (Latin: right of soil).

    You can think of Jus sanguinis as Vampires and Jus soli as Lycans. Wars will be wars by blood or soil.

  9. This was a colossal screw up! The most basic goal when designing and building large residential structures is to slow the spread of any fire thus affording the occupants time to exit the building. Within an hour of the fire starting, it was obvious to me that we were looking at a major fail. It was also obvious that there would be significant loss of life. I predicted ~100 from the outset.

    • ” building that size should never have a flammable material”

      Portland Oregon seems not to know this:
      ‘A 12-story high-rise building made entirely of wood, the first of its kind in the nation, will be constructed in Portland, Oregon..’

      Maybe devised by the same clever person who thought a university chemistry building should have been built from wood

      • “It was to be “the world’s first carbon neutral lab”, the university said, and would have housed work aimed at “fundamentally changing how we do chemistry in a more sustainable way”.

        “The university’s website calls the GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory for Sustainable Chemistry as a “centre for excellence”. It says the lab is built with natural materials, powered by renewable energy and incorporating “state-of-the-art teaching and research laboratories”.”

        Well they learned that in the carbon cycle , when Oxygen & Carbon get together they have dramatic chemistry…. BUT NOT ‘in a more (‘green’) sustainable way’.

  10. And US CAFE standards cause a lot more than 70 deaths per year – but you will never hear that fact in Congress when environmental policies are debated.

  11. The EU had also become obsessed with the need for better insulation of buildings to combat global warming, which became its only priority.

    Gonna have to call BS on this. The UK regulations have been calling for more insulation in walls and roofs since before the UK was in the EU.

    The culprit, in my opinion, was Blair’s government who placed the onus on the landlords for fire safety, instead of allowing the fire officers to do the job.

    • Nice try. The applicable regulations were not the old UK set, but new ones mandated by the EU. Plus, apparently, it was decided to exceed the new regulation requirements, anticipating future amendments for even greater energy efficiency.

      • Mangochutney is however correct about how fire safety standards are applied. The Blair Labour government removed the statutory powers of inspections and the ability to serve improvement notices from Fire Services and created a responsibility for commercial organisations to take responsibility for fire safety standards in their buildings.

        This was then delivered by a new breed of private fire safety consultants who would prepare reports on the building and any required improvements. Some of these people are very good others are not, but it should be remembered that they are acting on behalf of their employer and as a result are subject to commercial pressures that Fire Service personnel were not.

        One of the issues which is likely to emerge in this case is the role of the independent fire safety consultant used by Kensington and Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation and who advised them that they did not need to show the Fire Service the report and plans he had prepared for them. Because of Blair’s change in the law it meant that the local Fire Service were not able to Require a copy of the assessment or the plans and so were unable to evaluate it themselves.

    • The second paragraph in its entirety in the introduction to the planning application for the Grenfell Tower refurbishment:

      The poor insulation levels and air tightness of both the walls and the windows at Grenfell Tower result in excessive heat loss during the winter months. Addressing this issue is the primary driver behind the refurbishment.

      And later in the documents is clearly stated the requirement to get to A+ efficiency rating. Nothing could be clearer. The Planning Policy requirements in the planning application include upfront in section 3.3 (local policy):

      Policy CE1: Climate Change

      The Council recognises the Government’s targets to reduce national carbon dioxide emissions by 26% against 1990 levels by 2020 in order to meet a 60% reduction by 2050 and will require development to make a significant contribution towards this target.

      In summary, the planning application clearly states that primary driver for the refurbishment is to reduce excessive heat loss during the winter months. Performing this work helps make a significant contribution to meeting the governments climate change CO2 emission reductions target.

      Totally [snip…watch language please… -mod] insanity.

  12. it wasn’t the celotex that spread the fire.it was the polytethylene cladding. celotex doesn’t really burn.
    There seems to deliberately introduced confusion about this.

    nevertheless the reason for the cladding was to hide the celotex eco-insulation so the point still stands

    • This is not celotex as you know it. It was a foil laminated polyurethane foam board…. which burn quite strongly when the aluminum deforms from heat.

    • @ Leo Smith – Celotex most certainly does burn. About 9 years ago I had to stop a contractor who was illegally burning celotex offcuts from a conversion they had carried out for me. This was on on an open fire with C14 and C16 graded timber offcuts, which as all the timber had been tanalised should not have been burned either.

    • Plus in this case there was an “environmetally-friendly” titanium dioxide coating on top of the aluminium, so when the fire got hot enough they probably got a nice titanium thermite reaction as well.

  13. A free market economy is one that organically finds the most efficient use of limited resources. This efficiency usually results in cheaper prices for the exact same material, but has nothing to do with delivering shoddy or improper material. Quite the opposite. In a true free market, delivering poor quality material will find one quickly out of business. Unfortunately, very successful companies have the power to poison the free market with crony capitalism, which isn’t really capitalism at all.

  14. Well it seems Standards Australia are going to fix this Green ‘save the planet fry your neighbours’ mentality-
    https://hotcopper.com.au/threads/battery-sector-fights-fire-risk-rules.3538968/#.WWRVY4VOK72
    Can’t have all these big Samsungs being charged willy nilly any old how now can we?
    https://gearheads.org/tesla-model-s-is-a-total-loss-due-to-an-unexplained-fire/
    although no doubt the Standards people have been somewhat busy working out infrasound standards for their bird choppers.

  15. Booker was apparently too busy writing his op ed piece to read the actual planning documents related to the project. From the Grenfell planning application: “The poor insulation levels and air tightness of both the walls and the windows at Grenfell Tower result in excessive heat loss during the winter months. Addressing this issue is the primary driver behind the refurbishment.”

    Do the documents also mention energy efficiency, and reducing CO2 emissions? Yes, but that is well into the document, and is not stated as the primary driver, only a secondary benefit. The primary driver was to improve the thermal environment (both summer and winter) for tenants, and to help them reduce their energy bills.

    https://www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-grenfell-tower-fire-and-the-daily-mails-green-targets-claim

    • You appear to have a problem with English comprehension Chris. The primary driver is thermal insulation and the stated objective is meeting the governments CO2 reduction policy (section 3.3). Nothing could be clearer. Anybody who doesn’t believe can go and read the original documents. Tallbloke’s website has all the relevant links. Google it.

      In other words, pull the other one Chris. The entire planning application is about “sustainable”, “renewable” etc. Not much talk about fire safety in there that I can see. The word “fire” in the safety context appears 3 times, and two of those because of mentioning the same thing twice – smoke detectors. “climate change” appears 4 times, “renewable” appears 12 times and “sustainable” appears 10 times. Its very clear to me that the whole purpose is insulation to reduce CO2 footprint. Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors are a cheap afterthought to earn the “fire safety” brownie point.

      • Thinking Scientist, reading comprehension issues? No, it is you who falsely have co-linked a goal of the cladding portion of the project – reducing heat loss in the winter, to benefit residents – and a secondary benefit, which is energy efficiency and CO2 impact.

        First, from the planning document: “This Planning Statement is written in support of the full planning application for the “Refurbishment of existing Grenfell Tower including new external cladding and fenestration, reconfiguration of lower 4 levels to provide 7 new residential units (use class C3), replacement nursery (use class D1) and boxing club (use club D2) facilities, replacement canopy, external public realm works, redevelopment and change of use of existing garages to refuse collection area and office accommodation (use class B1).”

        In other words, the project involved a whole lot more than just replacing the cladding, which you misleadingly neglected to mention. It was an upgrade to a public housing building, addressing a variety of needs that had been identified – not a CO2 reduction project. The purpose of the cladding portion of the work was 1) to reduce heat gain during the summer, 2) heat loss during the winter, 3) improve sound insulation and 4) to provide for a more attractive exterior appearance.

        Less than 10% of flats in the UK have air conditioning, so clearly there is no CO2 impact to reducing heat gain in the summer. Rather, it improves comfort for the residents, just as does sound insulation, just as does reducing heat loss during the winter – especially for those on limited incomes. Only 1 of the 4 reasons for the cladding can even be equated with reducing CO2, which makes your point all the more absurd.

        https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/idoxWAM/doc/Other-952329.pdf?extension=.pdf&id=952329&location=VOLUME2&contentType=application/pdf&pageCount=1

      • Chris: the part of the planning application to which you refer is concerned with the so-called Section 106 agreement. Councils are empowered to require that larger projects include an element that provides either social housing or social infrastructure, and that is the bit you are looking at. The application for the insulation, cladding, boiler replacement and window replacement and a heat exchanger on the roof for extracting heat from bathroom ventilation is here:

        https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/idoxWAM/doc/Other-952316.pdf?extension=.pdf&id=952316&location=VOLUME2&contentType=application/pdf&pageCount=1

    • Thinking Scientist, no, it is you who falsely have co-linked the primary goal of the cladding portion of the project – which is reducing heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer, benefiting the residents of the building – with a secondary benefit, which is energy efficiency and CO2 impact.

      First, from the planning document: “This Planning Statement is written in support of the full planning application for the “Refurbishment of existing Grenfell Tower including new external cladding and
      fenestration, reconfiguration of lower 4 levels to provide 7 new residential units (use class C3), replacement nursery (use class D1) and boxing club (use club D2) facilities, replacement canopy, external public realm
      works, redevelopment and change of use of existing garages to refuse collection area and office accommodation (use class B1).”

      In other words, the project involved a whole lot more than just replacing the cladding, which you misleadingly neglected to mention. It was an upgrade to a public housing building, addressing a variety of needs that had been identified – not a CO2 reduction project. The purpose of the cladding portion of the work was 1) to reduce heat gain during the summer, 2) heat loss during the winter, 3) improve sound insulation and 4) to provide for a more attractive exterior appearance.

      Less than 10% of flats in the UK have air conditioning, so clearly there is no CO2 impact to reducing heat gain in the summer. Rather, it improves comfort for the residents, just as does sound insulation, as does reducing heat loss during the winter – especially for those on limited incomes. Only 1 of the 4 reasons for the cladding can even be equated with reducing CO2, which makes your point all the more absurd.

      https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/idoxWAM/doc/Other-952329.pdf?extension=.pdf&id=952329&location=VOLUME2&contentType=application/pdf&pageCount=1

    • Thinking Scientist, no, it is you who falsely have co-linked the primary goal of the cladding portion of the project – which is reducing heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer, benefiting the residents of the building – and a secondary benefit, which is energy efficiency and CO2 impact.

      First, from the planning document: “This Planning Statement is written in support of the full planning application for the “Refurbishment of existing Grenfell Tower including new external cladding and fenestration, reconfiguration of lower 4 levels to provide 7 new residential units (use class C3), replacement nursery (use class D1) and boxing club (use club D2) facilities, replacement canopy, external public realm works, redevelopment and change of use of existing garages to refuse collection area and office accommodation (use class B1).”

      In other words, the project involved a whole lot more than just replacing the cladding, which you misleadingly neglected to mention. It was an upgrade to a public housing building, addressing a variety of needs that had been identified – not a CO2 reduction project. The purpose of the cladding portion of the work was 1) to reduce heat gain during the summer, 2) heat loss during the winter, 3) improve sound insulation and 4) to provide for a more attractive exterior appearance.

      Less than 10% of flats in the UK have air conditioning, so clearly there is no CO2 impact to reducing heat gain in the summer. Rather, it improves comfort for the residents, just as does sound insulation, just as does reducing heat loss during the winter – especially for those on limited incomes. Only 1 of the 4 reasons for the cladding can even be equated with reducing CO2, which makes your point all the more absurd.

      https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/idoxWAM/doc/Other-952329.pdf?extension=.pdf&id=952329&location=VOLUME2&contentType=application/pdf&pageCount=1

  16. There is mileage in this argument. It is clear the balance of regulations are in favour of “sustainability”. The Sustainability report put insulation as ‘top priority’, the BREEAM report gve 1 point for fire safety and 37 points for various green measures. The materials used were more insulating than incombustible alternatives.

    It does appear that the road to Grenfell hell was clad with green intentions

    https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2017/06/27/the-road-to-grenfell-hell-was-clad-with-green-intentions/

  17. WE had a fiasco in Oz a few years ago, rooted in the same sort of moral narcissism and devoid of any real or detailed engineering or economic thought or any sort of practical implementation plan, commonly referred to as “The Pink Batts Fiasco”. Reportedly it was literally sketched out on the back of a drink coaster.

    The then Labor Federal government decided that giving away free insulation batts would be a great global warming intitative by reducing the need for household heating and cooling and also would be a quick boost to the economy post GFC. Not that bad an idea I suppose in principal but then the thing went right off the rails.

    Every dirtbag opportunist in the country came in to sign up. They were getting $$$ up front including for houses the owners of which did not know they had been put on the list. Massive amounts of batts were imported, cheap as chips and our local manufacturers were bypassed so went bust or ended up with huge stocks. Established installers went bust as the scum undercut them. Then untrained, unsupervised youngsters got up into roof to install said batts. About 100 houses burned down and four youngsters were burned alive says all you need to know.

    Compared to Grenfell we were lucky I suppose but as you dig there is the evidence of the same old, same old green-left-mismanagerial arrogance and disconnect, especially from responsibility.

    • This is an old problem.
      Any time a government offers a subsidy with intent of doing X there’s an incentive for the dishonest to try to lay their hands on as much of the money as possible, by ANY means possible.
      With politicians, and civil servants, often being hopelessly naive to this.
      Maybe they need educating in the “cobra/rat effect”.

  18. Headline is bit over the top.
    You just could say if it wasn’t for some bloke called Princip, there wouldn’t have been European Union.
    With no Princip there wouldn’t have been WWI, if there was no WWI there wouldn’t have been Russion revolution, no communism, no WWII or EU, no communism no Cuban crisis, no Mao, no Vietnam War etc. etc …

      • Maybe I should have added /sarc.
        Agree, but it is the WWI disastrous campaign of tsarist army that gave rise to the first Bolshevik revolution of 1917 ending Russia’s participation in WWI, subsequently ‘reds’ defeated ‘whites’, leading to the horrors of communism.

      • I enjoyed your joke and the way you wove together all the threads but the monster Marx needs to be called out as often as possible. I’m visiting Highgate Cemetery soon to check that he’s still dead.

      • “Labour saving products will render many people unemployed and useless”- K. Marx.
        I had to study critical tenets of Marxism as a compulsory part of the syllabus at high school and later at University. I lived in London for nearly four decades, have been to Highgate and Hampstead area numerous times and have never been tempted to visit his resting place. Coincidently there was an item on the TV last night showing the late Yuri Gagarin at the Highgate cemetery.

  19. This all shows why an experienced judge with expertise in contracts and marine fires is needed to sort out the confusion. I hope he can endure the confected outrage about his skin colour.

    I think Booker’s point, although it’s less than clear, is that the higher requirements of British Standard 8414 could have been made a contract condition in addition to the more lax British Standard Euro Norm 13501.

    https://shop.bsigroup.com/ProductDetail/?pid=000000000030169563

    https://shop.bsigroup.com/ProductDetail/?pid=000000000030357123

    The new local MP seems to have been involved at every stage at the process as a local politician and is also an architectural expert and writer but now claims to have been merely a political appointee on all the committees; Tenants’ Management, Planning and then Fire Safety (‘poor ickle me’!).

  20. It seems the external composite spandrel and column cladding added little to the overall insulation of the original building envelope and that properly sealed and installed double glazing within the existing structure (rather than on the plain of the cladding) would have been almost as good.
    The existing ~200mm thick precast concrete spandrel panels and new double glazed windows would typically have comparable R-values of ~0.3-0.35.

    As the entire interior was renovated it’s a wonder that some form of inner skin incorporating an air gap to the spandrels was not considered together with the double glazing within the existing structure as insulation instead of the external cladding.
    Maybe aesthetics, dressing the old building up so as not to offend the surrounding ‘nice’ residents, was an overriding consideration.

    • This class and race baiting is really unhelpful when emotions are high following 80 (perhaps more) needless deaths.

      • I have replied to that accusation but it has disappeared into the ether for some reason.

      • It looks like my reply has vanished for good, I’ll just say if you are going to hurl accusations like that around you could at least have the courage to do so under your full name.

      • Google finds me and that might embarrass people I still work with until I can retire in a few months. If you want to email me I’m happy for WUWT to send you my address. Your last sentence is pretty clear I think.

        ‘Maybe aesthetics, dressing the old building up so as not to offend the surrounding ‘nice’ residents, was an overriding consideration.’

        As I’ve shown the local MP and her ilk are keen on the ‘Brutalist’ look so that’s very unlikely to have been a factor. She and her party have been doing all they can to start trouble, invading the council offices, attacking a volunteer because he was wearing a suit and tie, questioning the qualifications of the judge appointed to lead the enquiry because of the colour of his skin and many similar stunts.

    • If you look carefully at the drawing of the cladding above you’ll see, to my mind, an amazing design flaw. The insulation actually feeds under the window directly into the room. Must have been the reason for this cladding to be so deadly in this situation.

      • IMHO the bigger design flaw is the head detailing with no rain screen cavity closure carried behind the insulation and fixed to the old structure to act as a fire break. An instant chimney to ignite the sill detail in the floor above. Polyiso foam (especially that thickness) on the vertical face acts like a kiln lining and will make the problem even worse. Temps will increase dramatically, melting the polyethylene rain screen from the inside providing even more fuel very quickly. Is it any wonder the fire spread so fast?

        This is why composite testing is so important and ought to encompass closure detailing. I seriously doubt whether using a fire retardant (but still combustible) grade of rain screen would have made a workable difference with all that aluminium in the mix. Spread of flame testing in isolation tells you very little.

      • Nigel S:

        I don’t think you like to admit to yourself how illegal subletting works. A flat with a couple of bedrooms, a bathroom and an open plan kitchen/diner/lounge may sleep as many as 10 or more. Bunk beds in each bedroom. More in the main room. £2-400pcm per head, depending on circumstances. Beds may even be time shared with those on night shift. The council rent will be much lower than the private rental you cite.

      • It doesn’t add up…July 11, 2017 at 5:39 pm

        I’m a chartered structural/civil engineer and I’ve worked in the building industry for 40+ years (mostly conservation for the last 20+ years) and rented out property for 30+ years so I have some idea. You’ve outlined the ‘slum ghetto image’ that both political sides are pushing for their own shroud waving motives. I said ‘some flats’, it’s hardly ‘the projects’. I’m very aware of the problems of sub-letting of both private and public property.

    • …As the entire interior was renovated it’s a wonder that some form of inner skin incorporating an air gap to the spandrels was not considered…

      That would cause disruption to the inhabitants, and reduce the living area space. External insulation does neither of these.

      • … and doesn’t solve the problem of a massive thermal capacity structure. What was the point of providing individual heating systems and controls with all that concrete to be heated up and diffusion in all directions? Utterly pointless and yet more potential ignition sources that have to be adequately maintained.

        This is not some communal thermal store hippy cave; insulation goes on the inside, period. The renovations were extensive; losing a few square feet of floor area in the process would have been neither here nor there, something an interior designer could have easily taken care of.

  21. Ultimately this was a failure of specifying the correct fire retardant insulation. The argument now will be about whether the standard was wrong or the insulation type specified was wrong.

    I see comments that it was the plastic coating that burned. Yes it did, but 250 micron coating of plastic doesn’t burn like that, there just isn’t enough combustible material to burn with such ferocity and speed. A fireman I knew had recounted to me on several occasions when he attended fires in modern industrial warehouses made of similar plastic coated metal clad composite insulation panels. As is normal practice, they never went in to such buildings unless they knew life was in danger, because they knew just how fast such fires can spread in buildings with this type of insulation panel.

    Other factors will have exacerbated the spread of the fire to so many of the flats, such as voids between the external face of the original concrete structure and gaps between windows, but such construction details, either deliberate design or inappropriate installation, are secondary to the main point.

    To blame the EU’s directive on energy efficiency is a straw man, but the failure to specifically demand fire retardant insulation may well lay at the EU’s door. However, the persons who have most to fear are those that recommended to the EU legislators that this type of flammable insulation was appropriate for such a building, especially as there is plenty of evidence to indicate it is not.

    This is not global warming/CO2 gone berserk, and it is disappointing to see the argument used as a stick to beat the other side of the CAGW debate (though I am more than happy to see them beaten with the right stick), because it is just this kind of half truth argument they present all the time as fact.

    Lets keep this sensible please. The lessons have to be learned and all other similar structures that have been clad in the same manner now need to be rectified. That will be the real test of the State’s response to this tragedy.

    • yup i agree especially that any country in Europe is free to make superior standards to the EU standards mandatory. it really makes this article a stick that even snaps before the other side got hit…

  22. The purpose of the 50mm gap between the insulation and the concrete wall is?

    I can easily see that a sealed air gap is good, but this air gap is open to the elements, chimney effect etc.

    Any views?

    • Yes, the air gap would require sealing to prevent convective cooling from the walls. It did provide the air needed for combustion at the inner face of the panel.
      So why an air gap? Reduced thermal efficiency and exposure of the insulation face makes no sense if planning an installation.

      • Drainage of rain penetration, in this case via seams and abutments. That is what traditional cavities (particularly in brickwork) are for. Not for stuffing full of insulation that soaks up moisture giving massive heat loss later due to evaporation. Mind the gap!

  23. Is the goal of “Climate Change” to reduce the human population? If so, the cladding and the regulations did their job.

  24. We know the real reason: they saved 2 Pounds per mxm on non-flammable insulation. End of story.

    • Matt

      They ‘saved’ some £350,000 per building, of which the council has many, in selecting cladding which appears to have been legal and appropriate according to current building regulations.

      Whether it WAS both of these things and whether the installation was correct we will have to wait until the enquiry has finished

      tonyb

  25. Social housing: The quick fix

    Responsibility for meeting the government’s CO2-emissions targets was invested in the Community Energy Savings Programme (CESP). CESP, which lasted from 2009 until 2012, was run by the big energy providers, British Gas, E.On, Scottish Power and others. Its success was limited but, tellingly, its final report states that ‘almost all CESP measures were delivered through partnerships with social-housing providers’.

    In May 2012, the government’s committee on climate change (CCC) published its ‘advice on how local authorities can reduce emissions and control climate risk’ under the 2010 Climate Change Act. The CCC identified social housing as one of the key areas where CO2 emissions could be reduced by improved energy efficiency from greater insulation. The problem, as the CCC put it, was that ‘the very slow turnover of stock’ makes ‘[housing] relatively energy inefficient’. The CCC’s solution was to reduce emissions in existing housing stock through insulation and new boilers. As the CCC explained, ‘local authorities and housing associations have been the key partners, driven largely by their role as social landlords’.
    Professor Julia King, a member of the CCC, said in May of 2012 that ‘local authorities have the potential to impact significantly on the UK’s scale and speed of emissions reduction’. At the top of King’s list for action were ‘energy-efficiency measures for existing buildings’ – insulation, such as cladding, and new boilers. While local authorities struggled to get funding for other things, austerity did not apply to the CO2-reduction scheme. Indeed, a 2010 National Audit Office report identifies 20 estate refurbishments with funding of £1.5 billion from the Department of Communities and Local Government under ‘private finance initiative’ schemes.

    http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/grenfell-clad-in-climate-change-politics/20003#.WWSaKIgrL4Z

    Left wing pro AGW media did its best to report that the cladding was only fitted to improve the looks of the buildings…

    According to planning documents for the tower block, which were seen in the wake of the devastating blaze, the cladding was partly designed to improve the building’s appearance for wealthier neighbours.

    Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2017/06/14/cladding-added-to-grenfell-tower-to-improve-view-for-nearby-luxury-flats-6709369/#ixzz4mVviQhVC

    http://metro.co.uk/2017/06/14/cladding-added-to-grenfell-tower-to-improve-view-for-nearby-luxury-flats-6709369/

    So it’s really the fault of those who had to look at the building.

  26. The drawing shows the 50mm cavity is between the outer panel and the insulation, whilst the insulation is/should be fixed to the outer face of the original concrete structure with no voids. From both an insulation and weatherproofing perspective, that is correct, so as to prevent water penetration from impairing the insulation. If an open cavity were between the original structure and the insulation, it wouldn’t be fulfilling its purpose as an insulating layer.

    The supporting framework holding the windows within the new outer structure is to reduce cold bridging and air ingress that would have occurred around the original casements. However, the fire appears to have badly impaired the framework, causing windows to fall out and contributing to the rapid spread of the fire into the other flats.

    The presence of the outer cavity almost certainly accelerated the spread of the fire, as did the failure of the framework supporting the windows. But this would not have occurred in the first place if the insulation was fire retardant.

    • As far as I am aware, apartments in the Grenfell Tower did not have air conditioning. I assume that on the rather warm night in question many occupants would have kept their windows open, which may have allowed the entry of flames from the exterior into some apartments (I’m guessing – I don’t know if this happened). If it happened the obvious thing for the occupants to do would be to vacate the apartment as soon as possible – most likely without closing the windows. As the fire progressed it would be natural for occupants remaining on the upper floors of the building to open their windows in order to call for help.
      Until this event occurred I had no idea that flammable insulation separated by a ventilation gap from a thin outer cladding could be used on the exterior of residential tower blocks the upper floors of which are out of the reach of fire hoses on the ground.
      I now know that this was not the first such external cladding/insulation fire on a tower block, although earlier examples had fewer or no casualties.

    • The new windows have been largely overlooked by most commenters. Very relevant point about window failures contributing to the spread of the fire. I suspect the same sort of insulation was present in the window frames. But nothing wold have occurred “in the first place” if they had not reinsulated an insulated building to lower CO2 emissions, OR if they had just changed out the window frames.

    • … Why don’t insurance companies do fire safety assessments on such big investments/risks?…

      Does the building comply with all fires safety standards? Check.
      Has the building got a current fire safety certificate? Check.
      Is the local authority responsible for providing all fire prevention and safety services? Check.
      Has the building got a history of dangerous fires? No.

      OK – We’ll insure it….

    • As it was government owned it was likely “self insured” as far a loss is concerned. This is typical for large governments, like US states, and large corporations. No one like Chubb or Factory Mutual is likely to have been involved.

  27. But the point about other factors is well taken. When you read properly conducted reports into disasters such as this, one factor in itself is rarely the cause, it takes a lot of other contributory elements to turn a problem into a tragedy. The summary of the Cullen Report into Piper Alpha is a perfect example.

  28. There are a variety of other factors at play here. There is nothing wrong with trying to insulate buildings which, in the era of cheap fuel when built, were often inadequately insulated and consequently in the modern age and with attendant damp/condensation problems and high heating costs need to be upgraded. This building had 10 million pounds spent on it just the year before so it was not as if the building had been neglected.

    There are a lot of ‘if only’s’ here, of which the first is whether or not the building met current fire standards, but equally whether the people inside had the means or knowledge to fight a fire.

    It appears there may have been some persons living there without the councils knowledge and in addition many of those living there legally had arrived recently and who might not have spoken the language. Bearing in mind this mix, should each individual home have been equipped with a fire extinguisher, fire blanket, individual fire alarm and, equally importantly, inhabitants instructed how to go about fighting a small fire and what actions they needed to take if they couldn’t put it out?

    For example, ringing 999 and asking for the fire services, explaining the nature of the fire, its precise location, its cause if known (oil from a chip pan, electrical fault etc). Then they needed to set off the fire alarm which SHOULD have been on each landing. If you are in a strange country or don’t speak the language then the procedures to follow might not be apparent.

    So whether the insulation itself was the key fact, or lack of individual fire fighting equipment and knowledge of how to fight the fire were the exacerbating factors we will have to wait and see until the enquiry reports.

    In the meantime, as an interim measure, surely in similar high rise buildings supplying individual fire fighting equipment to each apartment and providing clear instructions of the procedure to follow in case of a fire, will bring some peace of mind to inhabitants and the rest of us shocked by this fire.

    tonyb

    • The original Building Design was for Fire Containment at the Point Of Origin, So the residents were told to stay put until the fire was extinguished, as had happened in lots of fires prior to Blocks of Flats being Clad on the outside.
      It was a 1970s design with only one central exit, no sprinkler system and no fire escapes, even so in the past the system had worked very well.
      It was changing the original design that led to such disastrous consequences.

      • Concrete buildings do not burn, and therefore it is difficult for fire to spread unless combustible materials are introduced.

        You are right that:.

        It was changing the original design that led to such disastrous consequences.

        And the original design was only changed because of cAGW alarmism and green sustainable regulations made in response to that alarmism.

  29. …Bearing in mind this mix, should each individual home have been equipped with a fire extinguisher, fire blanket, individual fire alarm and, equally importantly, inhabitants instructed how to go about fighting a small fire and what actions they needed to take if they couldn’t put it out?…

    1 – Different languages and cultures. Some people might consider that a fire is ‘God’s will’ – others, that a fire extinguisher is white man’s magic designed to render them impotent…
    2 – Illegal immigrants will NOT figure on any list of inhabitants, or attend any authority briefings…

  30. From the rumours and unconfirmed news reports going around, a guess at the findings of the Inquiry might be:

    1 – the fire started in a fridge which uses the inflammable refrigerant mandated by ‘save the ozone’ activists.
    2 – there was no immediate fire extinguishing or warning infrastructure built into the block
    3 – the warning about the fire was poor. The owner of the flat where the fire was did not immediately summon the fire brigade.
    4 – there was no practiced drill for evacuating the building and no concept of floor wardens. Multiple languages and customs would have made such practices difficult to maintain.
    5 – standing directions from the fire brigade were to remain in the flats in the event of a fire.
    6 – the hot summer meant that all doors and windows were open, and there was no one trained or responsible for closing them
    7 – illegal immigrants and sub-letting increased the number of victims
    8 – the external cladding caught fire, enabling the flames to bypass any internal fire blocks.
    9 – this cladding had passed fire standards because of two main drivers:
    a) the cladding provided low-cost insulation which builders are under pressure to fit
    b) fire standards are now an EU competence, which means that any modification to them to address new building methods is cumbersome and slow.

    This is simply a guess, based on no evidence. However, assuming it is accurate, blame might be apportioned as below:

    Numbers 2, 4 and 5 were failings by the authority responsible for fire safety.
    Numbers 3, 6 and 7 were failings by the block inhabitants.
    Numbers 1, 8 and 9 were regulatory failings, in which the current mania for ‘Green’ compliance played a major part.

    • I would add that the fridge itself probably had a thick layer of flammable insulation, so once the blowtorch of flammable gas in the refrigeration circuit got going it had a ready supply of combustible material to ignite. Again, EU green regulation has driven the use of extra insulation in fridges. Internal volumes are now under half the total volume in order to meet the green standards now imposed – and that drives the choice of insulation. Use anything more fireproof, but less insulating, and the interior space shrinks still further.

      The inquiry should also find that the exterior insulation project made no kind of economic sense – I calculated they were trying to say £10,000 worth of annual energy losses through the walls by spending £2.6 million on the insulation project – a straight payback of 260 years before allowing for any other costs of maintenance or financing.

      Trying to get extra greenie points for “beating the building standard by 50%” is clear from the planning application: these counted above anything else.

  31. I wonder why some of my recent posts have been disappearing? Mods – any idea what’s happening?

  32. Here’s the thing: energy costs in Europe have skyrocketed, due in large part to Big Green and EU mandates, all based on pseudoscience. Thus, even though based on bogus science, saving energy can make economic sense. And saving energy means less “carbon” is emitted, which is what the Greenie ecofascists ostensibly want, so it’s win-win. But focusing on saving energy can and very often does mean that other considerations (like safety) are left by the wayside. And remember, the apparent cause of the initial fire was a crap refrigerator built, you guessed it, with “energy efficiency” in mind.

  33. It is assumed that residents do not have the means to fight fires themselves. In public information literature it is stated that attempting to tackle a blaze yourself is not recommended because it is assumed normal people often do not have the means, the ability or knowledge to do so. i don’t have the means in my home to fight a fridge fire, although I will do something about that, I already carry an extinguisher in my car.

    You can argue that this is wrong, fair enough. But the building itself should be designed to withstand the spread of fire for a set period of time to allow residents to make their escape, regulations are there for precisely that purpose. And it didn’t, despite this scenario being entirely predictable and avoidable.

    The fire alarm system should have functioned throughout the building, having individual fire and smoke detectors is not enough to warn all residents of a fire in one flat. I haven’t heard much mention regarding the building’s fire alarm system, so won’t comment. Stopgap measures are now necessary to temporarily mitigate the risk associated with the modified buildings, as you have admirably pointed out, until all the buildings in question are changed.

    I just wish this article hadn’t been angled as anti EU/CAGW, despite the factual points and criticism made about the choice of insulation materials being valid.

    • I agree with your point about the unfortunate angle of this article. As for taking action ourselves against fire. There is some basic equipment that those in blocks of flats-which are always more vulnerable than a one storey house where safety is often within easy reach-should have. I listed some above.

      A chip pan fire can often be readily smothered. Over warm electrical equipment unplugged . A chimney fire can be averted by brushing the chimney or removing the source of the fuel-in our case a burning log. So there is often much that can be done to prevent a small fire becoming a big one.

      I think the biggest question I have about Grenfell is why the people had been instructed prior to the conflagration and during it, to stay in their flats. Was that because of the fire doors? Which assumes they hadn’t been propped open or other safety measures compromised.

      You have a big responsibility to yourself and neighbours when living in a high rise flat and perhaps residents and the council need to be reminded of them.

      tonyb

      • This is conjecture on my behalf and may well be proved wrong by the public inquiry.

        Unfortunately the standard advice given to remain in the flats until the Fire Brigade arrives probably wasn’t the correct instruction, because the source of the fire was the outside of the building, once it had spread beyond the initial fire allegedly caused by the faulty fridge.

        Normally a fire within an individual flat should initially be contained by the entrance fire door of each flat, plasterboard ceilings and the concrete floors, giving time for the emergency services to get to site and attack the fire.

        Because the fire spread to the outside cladding, presumably from the kitchen, where the fridge may have been located adjacent to a window, the fire bridged the internal finishing of the external cladding system and set the insulation alight. From this point the danger rapidly spread to other flats, breaking windows and filling adjacent flats with smoke and eventually setting fire to most.

        In hindsight, the correct approach would be to immediately evacuate the building, whilst the stairwells were still accessible, but those in the flats at the time would not necessarily been able to fully appreciate the extent of the danger that they faced, because who would have anticipated the fire spreading from the outside in?

      • @tonyb

        I think the biggest question I have about Grenfell is why the people had been instructed prior to the conflagration and during it, to stay in their flats. Was that because of the fire doors?

        I can answer that question, as I have done fire alarm design for high rises. As others have pointed out, modern concrete construction naturally tends to isolate fires to the floor of origin. Taking advantage of this, fire control strategies employ a “floor above, floor below, floor of incidence” response to evacuation. So, if the 14th floor reports a fire, residents on floors 13, 14, and 15 will receive a message to evacuate. In addition, floors 12 and 16 may receive a notice that an emergency has been reported in the building, and to stand by for further instructions. Fire responders then limit their efforts to the fire floors, until such time as the fire may break through to another floor, say 15. Then the residents of 16 will be instructed to leave, and 17 will receive the alert warning, and so on. This helps responders keep the civilians under control and out from under foot and somewhat limiting the chaos on the scene.

        It was the cladding system addition that put paid to this scheme, with multiple floors becoming involved simultaneously.

        For those on both sides of the pond, you need to know that in the US, building codes are far more prescriptive than in the UK, Australia, NZ and the EU, which tend to favor performance based designs. The cladding was limited by its flame spread rating as determined by UL to use in buildings of 3 stories or less in the US by the building code and requires no judgement on the part of the architect or engineer. Here, the fire sub code official would, if it managed to get by the reviewing architect or engineer, simply deny the permit application until a suitable material was presented. Appealing such a decision is costly in terms of money, and more importantly, time. Contractors find it far easier and cheaper to simply comply.

    • PumpSump, the Building as ORIGINALLY DESIGNED did provide containment of the fires as history shows.
      It was adding the cladding, ie a design change, that caused this fire to spread so quickly,

    • The point is simple.

      The building was never designed to have insulation, or some secondary wall/outter cladding and the only reason that this building was fitted with a secondary wall/outter cladding is because of cAGW and resultant environmental regulations with regard to sustainability.

      The fitting of the cladding is not for energy efficiency in the sense of lessening energy bills. The cost of cladding was between £20,000 to £30,000 per flat. It would take 100 years for a 1 or 2 bedroom flat to save that sort of sum against their energy bills. if we want lower energy bills then that is simple; get rid of all renewables and rely upon coal and gas for energy production.

      This article is quite right to point out the role which cAGW and the effect of resultant environmental/sustainability rules and regulations have had. The fire is an unintended consequence, but nonetheless but for cAGW, it would not have happened as it did.

      It appears that there is now a risk of fire because of the fitting of solar panels to roofs. There have been a number of such flats in the UK and Germany. Again, another unintended consequence, but once again, these roof fires would not have happened but for cAGW and policy put in place to deal with the perceived threat of cAGW. See:

      http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/826553/Solar-panel-fire-fears-BRE-flats-east-London-Bethnal-Green

      • I’m with you on photovoltaic panels, in 25 years time most will be expensive roof adornments.

        You could point the finger at policy makers being steered by wanting to be seen to be ‘eco-friendly’, ‘CO2 reducing’ etc etc, but the drastic extent of the fire and its consequences will almost certainly be due to the incorrect insulation type.

        Much as I would love to see the Green Cabal slung in chokey for their crimes against the civilized world, we can’t pin this one on them, sorry.

    • The building was completed in 1974 – and as originally designed, it would not have seen the fire spread. The fire would have been contained in the concrete box that was the flat it started in. It was the installation of the exterior cladding that gave a route for the fire to spread with alarming rapidity. That really is the key point.

      One of the problems with installing fire alarms and sprinklers in building such as these is that there are likely small minded hooligans among their inhabitants who would set them off if they can – causing problems for residents. That restricts what you can reasonably do – fire alarms just covering one flat, and sprinklers perhaps confined only to the main stairwell. In any event, the fire spread up the sides of the building, away from any putative sprinklers, which would have done little to prevent it.

      • The building was completed in 1974 – and as originally designed, it would not have seen the fire spread. The fire would have been contained in the concrete box that was the flat it started in. It was the installation of the exterior cladding that gave a route for the fire to spread with alarming rapidity. That really is the key point.

        WELL SAID. That is the fundamental issue. At its lowest denominator that is the root of the tragedy.

        The building was not so much renovated, but rather it under went an adaption which adaption compromised the original design.

        I hope that the inquiry gets to the root cause, although I am not optimistic that it will. This tragedy, and the costs associated with the investigation and removal of all such similar cladding and installing new cladding on other buildings lies firmly at the doors of the green movement, and the weak politicians that have succumbed to the pressure of NGOs supporting the green agenda and/or New World Order. Blame and accountability should rightly attach to where it properly lies.

        There was never a good reason for the adaption. It is clear that the costs of the adaption (£20,000 to £30,000 per flat) was vastly more than the energy savings that would result from better thermal efficiency lowering energy bills. It is therefore clear that the primary purpose of the adaption was not to save energy monetary costs but rather to lower the CO2 footprint of the building so as to comply with sustainability rules and regulations which sustainability rules and regulations were brought about due to cAGW alarmism and the perceived need to save the planet.

  34. Bruce, the relevant point here being it is perfectly possible to achieve greater energy efficiency and be designed to be safe, they are not mutually exclusive.

    • The point you make is correct.

      However, the more fundamental point and the primary point, is that there was never any need to achieve greater energy efficiency, and this was only done because of the green agenda following cAGW alarmism..

      The average energy bill for a 1 to 2 bedroom flat is about £600 to £800 pa. If you could make the flat say 30% more energy efficient then one saves about £180 to £240 per year on energy bills. Who spends somewhere between £20,000 to £30,000 per flat to save between £180 to £240 per year?

      There is no efficiency in such expenditure, and it would take about 100 years to break even when you take into account the cost of financing.

      The greens (and wet politicians that have gone along with this madness) should be held fully accountable for the unintended consequence arising out of the implication of their agenda.

      • There is more than just energy saving here, there is also the extension of serviceable life of the building to be taken into consideration, compared to the cost of constructing new building(s) at some point in the future. Whilst such buildings are rarely aesthetically pleasing, nor that pleasant to live in, the Council has assets that it has to maintain and if they are going to reclad to extend service life, they might as well insulate it at the same time.

        Since nearly all high rise blocks in the UK are now electric only (after Ronan Point) and heating a draughty, poorly insulated flat costs residents a lot of money, often on pay meter (a huge ripoff BTW), the underlying reasoning is not flawed, though the implementation was.

        If I were able to build my own property to my own design, I would build it to be as efficient as is practicable at the time. That doesn’t make me a pseudo-Lefty eco-nut pro-EU Birkenstock wearing CAGW alarmist.

      • Despite Ronan Point gas was freshly installed at Grenfell Tower as part of the refurbishment. It seems it was also a contributor to the fire.

      • The work done on the building was cosmetic, not structural. It had nothing to do with extending the life of the building. If one had desired to smarten it up, one could easily have just painted the rendering/concrete and nothing more than that.

        The average energy bill for a 1 or 2 bed flat (and the average flat will be in an apartment) is around £600 to £800 per annum according to energy comparison sites. It would have been cheaper for the Council to give the residents free electricity than to clad the building and install double glazing!!

        The cost of energy is a non issue since it is likely that the council was paying the energy bills since most of the tenants were on benefit and benefit would have extended to cover energy bills especially for those in fuel poverty. Energy costs are likely to be an issue to only those residents who were illegally living in the flats, ie., illegal immigrants and/or those who acquired the apartment under an illegal sub letting arrangement..

        I agree with the point about pay per meter and I consider that the government should end that rip off, but old buildings are designed to be drafty and problems occur when they are not. I had a 1930s house fitted with crittall metal windows. My neighbours changed theirs for double glazing and got slightly lower energy bills but also damp problems. Mine were ill fitting and drafty but my house had no damp problems. In any case, we would invariably have a window open to get some fresh air in and then there is no point to double glazing.

        My wife is Norwegian. In Norway they often have triple glazing. When in Norway, we would always sleep with the window open and in the evening the french doors would be opened for several hours during the course of the evening to get fresh air in, even in winter hen it was -15 to – 20degC outside.

        The energy saving capabilities of double glazing is over hyped since it is often compromised by life style choices.

        I will not address the asset point since it is a contentious issue whether a Council owns assets especially if those are not a net positive revenue earning assets filling the Council’s coffers.

        Your political bent has nothing to do with the issues. The But For Test is that but for cAGW and resultant rules and regulations on sustainability, that fire would not have happened in the manner that it did. That said, whilst the renovation undertaken was unnecessary, I accept that it was possible to renovate the building in such manner that the fire would not have happened/spread as it did.

        I remain of the view that when the inquiry reports on the facts, one of the findings should be that the fire was the result of cAGW alarmism which has brought about rules and regulations on sustainability and lowering carbon footprints.

      • Semantics. I can accept that the building may have been modified for eco/energy/CO2 reduction reasons, but the devastation caused by the fire was a direct result of inappropriate insulation materials, most likely exacerbated by key construction details such as the outer cavity. On that note, we we should agree to disagree.

        Looking at old pictures prior to modification, Grenfell’s visible exterior was of precast panels & part glazed curtain wall type construction. Problems of such construction include deterioration of the curtain wall panels themselves, the failure of sealants between panels, concrete panels spalling, none of which would have benefited from painting/rendering.

  35. really seriously? I think the columnist didn’t check the facts about EU regulations:

    The EU regulations are a minimum requirement which every country has to meet. the british BS 8414 standard was superior, thus could be used all the way, the EU wouldn’t disagree.

    to give simple examples in Belgium, fire safety codes and building codes are also superior to the EU regulations, and our country never got called to lower these standards

    if a company decides to use the less adequate EN 13501 instead of the superior BS 8414 (because it’s cheaper) then it says more about the company then about the EU. if a company chooses to meet the less safe EU regulations because the BS 8414 standard was only voluntary, that’s not the EU that’s the choice that has been made.

    in short: the UK was, and always has been free to make it’s superior BS 8414 standard mandatory nation wide, just because it’s superior to the european standard. so they could have easily voted the law for an upgrade of their standards, but they didn’t.

    in short: the european standards are just a minimum which every EU country has to meet, but if they make superior standards mandatory they are free to do this and have even a thumbs up from the EU.

    it’s easy to point the finger towards an organ that can make mistakes but it’s an act of cowardice to say their superior standard could not have been used because of that. To not use it, that was the choice of the UK itself to make it voluntarily they easily could have made it mandatory for their nation.

    i’m not an EU fan but at least before writing an article like this, do some basic research of what the regulations and EU standards are for: to meet a basic uniform minimal requirement. Any country is free to have superior standards, but are not allowed to go below them.

    It’s the british governement that chose to just meet the inferior EU standards and not to make their BS 8414 standard mandatory. so i really laugh with this article because the writer has no idea of what he is writing about.

    However even that i disagree with his opinion, i do agree that the EN 13501 has some serious flaws. Some other EU regulations are also flawed, that’s why in belgium the government did vote higher standards and made them mandatory.

  36. Well, this post certainly fetched out the trolls. Not only the usual boring Greenie trolls, but the pathetic EU Remoaner trolls.
    So we have suggestions that, because there are trivial differences between English & Scottish codes, the latter somehow must be adequate (drivel!) and it must be obvious (NO) that this tragedy is nothing to do with those paragons of scientific excellence, the Eurocrats.
    Bunkum.
    One even has the chutzpah to quote Carbon Brief to “prove” the innocence of the EU.

    It is quite clear that, as Booker suggests, if the British Standard had been introduced as mandatory (rather than voluntary), just as it has been in Dubai and China (not in the EU!), there is at least a good chance this disaster would have been much less severe. Of course, sprinklers, a second means of egress would have also helped. But there was / is NO legal requirement for either to be retro-fitted.

    Another obvious point to consider is why these dreadful tower blocks were constructed (as ‘social housing’) in the first place. I can vouch, from experience 50 years ago in Sheffield, that almost no-body wanted to be rehoused into these architectural monstrosities.

    In the mean time, whilst there are some useful and well informed comments above, there is much blatant nonsense (and not just from the usual suspects).

    Rather than the GWPF / Telegraph piece (good as it is), I suggest that this much more detailed analysis is excellent:-

    http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno

    • “So we have suggestions that, because there are trivial differences between English & Scottish codes, the latter somehow must be adequate (drivel!)..”

      Apparently Martin thinks saying the word drivel – with an exclamation point! somehow proves that the differences between Scottish and English codes are trivial.

      “Combustible cladding has been found on seven high-rise blocks of flats in four local authority areas in England, Downing Street has said…..However, no local authority blocks in Scotland are understood to have the type of cladding used in Grenfell Tower, consistent with current building standards regulations in Scotland.”

      And “For any building with a height above 18m, or less than 1m from a boundary, the regulations in England state that external walls must be clad in products with limited combustibility. In Scotland the regulations require that the cladding material is non-combustible.”

      So apparently to Martin, the difference between the words “limited combustibility” and “non-combustible” is trivial.

      • When you are considering the suitability of the the whole refurbishment system of add-on insulation plus air gap plus weather proof cladding plus all supporting members, moisture-vapour membranes and all the rest, yes.
        Trivial.
        Only a full system test (as per the British Standard) will give any indication of whether this is the case. The European code decisively will NOT.

        Non-combustible means it will not burn. Or, if you can understand more technical terms, whether the material in question is capable at high temperatures of combining with oxygen in an exothermic reaction. Non-combustible would include steel (best make that stainless steel so it doesn’t need a coating), brickwork, some special grades of glass or ceramic). This “non-combustible” cladding needs to be supported to take suitable self weight, wind snow and other loads. And that would need to be “non-combustible” as well. If our Scottish chums have succeeded in all this (which I doubt) then they are on the right path.
        But only so far down the path. You haven’t yet considered the insulation, any more than have the great majority of media and political commenters.

        If the insulation has “limited combustibility” or is “flame retardant” (to whatever standard), or is treated with flame suppressants or whatever, it need to be able to withstand a chimney fire in a 67m high chimney unless thre are really effective cavity closures at every storey height. Obviously not the case at Grenfell and likely not the case anywhere else. Interesting that some of the TV footage shown after the disaster with teams of men up & down the Country) removing cladding panels (and ONLY the cladding panels) for testing, showed timber had been used as part of the support structure. I don’t care what it has been treated with, timber and any oil based insulation material CANNOT withstand a 67m high chimney fire.

        Who knows what the investigation in Scotland will reveal. They may be in a better place than England & Wales. And had just scraped their revised regulations through before the European Code was imposed.

        Interesting as well, that the Germans (with their supposedly more rigorous code) have evacuated a tower block at Wuppertal, one of many, apparently, with a similar system to that at Grenfell.

        But these nicities will doubtless escape anyone who imagines that the enormously subsidised (by HMG and the EU) apologists for Ruinable Energy and “Sustainability” in Carbon Brief will have anything truthful and sensible to say about Grenfell. Covering their arses, more like.

  37. Celotex polyisocyanurate foam forms a protective surface char when exposed to flame. Reynobond PE polyethylene burns like a candle when exposed to flame. Reynobond indeed offers a flame-retardant version, which was not used, much to the dismay of the victims. The PE version is indeed a better insulator than the flame-retardant version. We can all do the math here, now it is up to the lawyers, and woe unto whoever decided to save 5,000 pounds…

    • It is highly doubtful whether the FR grade of Reynobond would have made much difference to the outcome. It is in any case not recommended by the manufacturer for buildings over 30 metres tall, for which they specify the non-insulating Reynodual, which is just two sheets of aluminium bonded together. Even then, the design with 150mm of Celotex and a 50mm air gap to the cladding might still have proven very combustible.

  38. Recent energy code changes in the US that require the elimination require the elimination thermal bridging have created significant challenges in architecture and engineering. Attached is a link outlining some of the fire-rating issues and how they are addressed. The International Building Code (IBC) is produced by the International Code Council (ICC).

    http://bsj.iccsafe.org/august/features/code_and_fire.html

  39. It is a moot point indeed whether the building cladding would have reduced the heat loss and contribute to energy saving at Grenfell Tower. It would depend on external wall temperature of the composite wall before the cladding is added. An internal room temperature of 60 F (15 C) would be the room dry lining temperature also; the drop across the lining depending on thermal conductivity would be at least 30 F; further drops across thermal blocks and the concrete wall would give a drop leaving the external wall close to external ambient giving a very low C&R coefficient. Aluminium clad panels would indeed have a low emissivity but would have negligible energy saving effect because the external wall temperature would be close to ambient anyway. The cladding must have been purely decorative

    • Thank you Robert S for your more technical explanation, that was the point I was trying to make further up the page — besides the planning application document for the renovation apparently makes several references to the ‘improved appearance’ of the proposed cladding.

  40. Stepping back from all the minutiae of EU and other regulations, my take on this is that the motivation for the cladding on Grenfell was snobbery of Kensington residents reinforced by the the mood music of global warming alarmism. The majority of elite snobs are strong AGW believers also.

      • Don’t tell David Cameron! His home is just North of Westway, barely 400 yds from the tower. There are some other plush homes about too – it’s very close to the old BBC Television Centre.

    • This is a popular if bizarre idea. Of course the local ‘snobs’, like the new Labour MP, are fans of ‘Brutalism’ and admire the work of Goldfinger etc. Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower is Grade II* listed. They would be horrified by the idea of cladding that but are fine with cladding a bit of sub-Brutalism by some architect nobody remembers (Clifford Wearden and Associates).

      http://www.themodernhouse.com/past-sales/trellick-tower-london-w10-3/

      From her personal website;

      http://www.emmadentcoad.co.uk/

      ABSTRACT OF PAPER FOR ICOMOS CONFERENCE IN MADRID, JUNE 2011

      Erno Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower in the north of Kensington and Chelsea is a Council owned listed building in social tenancy that is facing problems of funding conservation and maintenance programmes. One of many ‘solutions’ to this has been a suggestion to sell the building to a private developer; this is being heavily resisted by residents and local Councillors alike. New approaches need to be found. This paper reviews the debates and controversies surrounding this scheme under the headings of SOFT – HARD – and PLASTIC. Beginning with issues of the conservation and reinstatement of social purpose, meaning and identity, and how these can both complicate and clarify motivating forces, the paper then turns to the physical and material conservation issues that define it, and finally the need for ongoing efficient management and financial stability, without which the building could again fall into disrepair.

  41. Notwithstanding the accusations by the Marxist/Stalinist shadow chancellor the blame for the deaths lies not with the Conservatives but squarely with the green and fellow global warming left wing activists who not content with shutting down coal mines, insisted that heat loss from high rise social housing buildings et al should be reduced from 0 to 0.00 Watts/m^2 by adding superfluous expensive external cladding so reducing CO2 emissions from 0 to 0.00 ppm.

  42. As much as I dislike the Green lobby it is a bit of a stretch to blame them for this any more than it is to blame Mrs May.
    In the big society where we are ‘all responsible’ it really means that no-one is responsible.

    Maybe the UK had the right enforce the higher BS standard than the minimium EU one. Maybe they didnt.
    Regulations are necessary of course but there is absolutely no point in Regulations if no-one takes responsibility for enforcing them.
    It’s like having a speed limit on the motorway but never stopping anyone or writing a ticket. Pointless.

    For hundreds of years there has been one professional person responsible to clients. A person independent of Greedy Contractor Ltd. and a person with professional qualifiacation and professional indemnity responsible for signing off the work to the client. That person was called The Architect.

    Nowadays we have Design + Build, PFI, Preferred Bidders, Contractor Consortia . . . etc etc There is still an Architect doing the drawings but now he works for the Contractor and dances to the Contractor’s tune. No liability to the client or end-user. Modern Contractor’s cut their own corners and mark their own homework.

    I should explain that the EU’s CDM Regulations are actually a bigger culprit here than the cladding rules.
    The CDM Regulations (revised in 2015) insist on a Principal Designer being responsible but only up to Construction Phase. After that, the EU think that the Contractor can be wholly responsible. It is quite insane.
    We urgently need to bring back the independent Architect and Clerk of Works being responsible until Completion (you can google ‘Clerk of Works’ if you are under 50).

    You cannot buy 2 packets of aspirin in TESCO without the till going beep and stopping you and yet : –

    Qualifactions required to design a student residence tower block = NONE
    Qualifactions required to lodge Planning Permission = NONE
    Qualifactions required to lodge Building Warrant = NONE
    Qualifactions required to construct said student tower block = NONE

    It should be mandatory that all non-domestic buildings be designed supervised and signed-off by qualified indemnified Architect’s.
    This nonsense of profit-driven, Surveyor-led Construction Consortia running the industry has to stop.

    • As much as you may dislike the idea, the green lobby are responsible for the dead people in the Grenfell Tower inferno. They are responsible for the imposed energy saving measures which were not required – ask any engineer or scientist with a knowledge of heat transfer by convection,conduction and radiation.

      • Absolutely. It’s highly unlikely that the insulation had any economic justification at all.

    • As much as you may dislike the idea, the green lobby are responsible for the dead people in the Grenfell Tower inferno. They are responsible for the imposed energy saving measures which were not required – ask any engineer or scientist with a knowledge of heat transfer by convection,conduction and radiation.

      Reply

      • Not true. Whilst the green lobby are wrong in their motivation, it is possible to meet their pointless target safely with a fire-resistant cladding and a fire resistant insulation behind.

      • If insulation such as Foamglas (ultimate or even first choice in Petrochemicals Ind) or any energy saving measure is neither required nor necessary then don’t install it.

  43. Booker and the GWPF are as technically weak as usual: ” the polyisocyanurate used in Celotex, the plastic chosen in 2014 for Grenfell.” is not what went up like a torch,- its cells are filled with non-flammabel nitrogen- it charrred, but what fueled the spectacular blaze was the polyethylene in the aluninium cladding- it’s a flammable hydrocarbon.

    Booker has another column to write though, about the real Brussells villain behind the fire- it started with a Green refrigerator loaded with ozone & greenhouse friendly , but sadly explosive ,propane erupting into flames.

    • +1 Howard. Russell, I suggest you speak with a fire crew who have attended fires in buildings made of this stuff. The microns thickness layer of plastic coating atop the aluminium wasn’t the main reason for the fire spreading in such a rapid manner, even though it would also burn and contribute to it.

      • Correct.
        Also note the prodigious quantities of Hydrogen Cyanide gas given off when Celotex or similar is exposed to flame / intense heat. It is highly likely many of the fatalities were caused by Hydrogen Cyanide poisoning.

  44. If all of the additional buildings examined (60 as of a week ago) use exactly the same insulation, it’s unlikely that the main fault lies with the local contractor or local council.

    (But is it exactly the same, or were fire breaks installed between panels elsewhere, or was a more fire-resistant and slightly more expensive type of panel used? These under-discussed matters may have a great bearing on placing the blame.)

  45. Roger Knights – The other buildings use the same cladding (reynobond or alucobond) sandwich panel with the PE core but not necessarily the same insulation board behind. In pictures I have seen of other towers having panels removed the insulation behind was clearly branded Kingspan Kooltherm K7 phenolic board which has considerably better fire properties than PIR. The insulation visible on Grenfell pre-fire was UNBRANDED panels of who knows what from who knows where. I saw three colours of core, green mid and pale yellow so it looks like it was procured from different sources. The fire barriers were there but useless if there is a cavity at the collumn boxing detail acting as a ‘chimney’. Bottom line is that each project is unique and needs a qualified indemnified professional in charge from start to finish. Of course the councils and contractors aren’t responsible . . . . . . that’s the point.

  46. There seems to be a bit of mis information going on here.

    EU standards override UK standards. They even use the same numbering system:

    “BS EN 13501-1:2007+A1:2009 Fire classification of construction products and building elements. Classification using test data from reaction to fire tests”

    The EN 13501 standard that people here mention, just swap the EN to BS and you have the British standard.

    Why?

    From BS EN 13501-1:2007+A1:2009: it states on page 5:

    “This European standard shall be given the status of a national standard, either by publication of an identical text or by endorsement, at the latest by December 2016, and conflicting national standards shall be withdrawn at the latest by December 2016.”

    To say the EU has no responsibility in this is not totally true.

    However, I suspect many people who advise the EU standards committees also advise the UK committees.

    Trying to get 28 countries to agree is always a problem.

    EN 13501 etc state that cladding should be tested ‘as if it were installed’ not as a separate item.

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