Keeping cool with concrete

Climate change is challenging the way we design buildings. As our seasons continue to intensify with hotter summers, colder winters and more extreme weather events, we need to ensure what works today also works tomorrow. Concrete’s potential to help keep people safe and comfortable from the increased risks of overheating buildings is a constant in an uncertain future.

Concrete and masonry construction materials have high thermal mass. This helps them to passively regulate a building’s temperature by absorbing, storing and releasing heat slowly. The result is buildings with more stable temperatures that stay cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

Have you ever noticed how cool it is inside a cave or a cathedral, even at the height of summer? That’s probably thermal mass in action. You can find out more about how it works by watching our video here.

As well as keeping you comfortable, using concrete’s thermal mass can help us to reduce energy bills and electricity demand associated with mechanical cooling and heating systems. This also reduces greenhouse gas emissions – heating, cooling and lighting buildings contributes around 50 per cent of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Lightweight building materials like timber have very little thermal mass by comparison. Choosing the right materials is a practical measure that can help to ensure our homes and workplaces have long-term resilience in a changing climate.