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Take a deep breath and keep a cool head

How to preserve healthy indoor air in summer heat

Summer, sunshine and warm temperatures – people are irresistibly drawn outside in the warm summer months. But as soon as temperatures rise above a threshold, people seek refuge in the cooler rooms of their homes. At least those people who do not live in an attic under the roof or in a poorly insulated house. These people will soon be drenched in sweat when the sun penetrates the building shell and heats up the rooms. Due to the high temperatures, walls and floor coverings also tend to emit higher amounts of pollutants. When constructing a new building or renovating an old one, it is therefore advisable to use low-emission products with the EMICODE® eco-label right from the start.

According to a scenario developed by the German Federal Environment Agency, our planet might become warmer by up to 4 degrees by the year 2100. At the same time, heatwaves will become more frequent, more intense and longer – also in Germany. Climate researchers estimate that, in 30 years, temperatures in Berlin could be just as high as in present-day Freiburg whereas Breisgau temperatures could rise to Tuscany level. The high temperatures of hot days also affect the interior of buildings, especially those without good thermal insulation.

Especially in attic flats, temperatures can rapidly rise above 30 degrees in summer. Living in such overheated rooms can quickly become an ordeal. The heat also affects the air we breathe: it releases higher amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the building materials installed. For this reason, only products with the lowest possible VOC emissions should be used in new buildings or when refurbishing old ones. Quality seals like EMICODE® provide useful guidance. The GEV EMICODE® tests and certifies many different building and installation products with regard to their VOC emissions. Products that meet the stringent limit values are awarded the EC1 label.

The hotter it is, the more waves will floor coverings like carpet develop. In order to avoid such damage, it is recommended to bond the flooring over the entire surface. You should, however, make sure to use flooring adhesives that are harmless to human health. These can be easily recognized by the EMICODE® label clearly visible on the packaging. In order to keep a cool head during the hot summer months even in the attic, effective insulation with mineral wool or wood fiberboards is worthwhile.

The added benefit is that these materials also provide perfect thermal insulation in the cold season. Building owners are well advised to consult a professional craftsman – the more so when there’s also a problem with humidity. In this case, the professional installs a so-called vapor barrier, an airtight plastic sheet that prevents mold growth.

Building owners, who make the decision to insulate the building envelope including the roof, will be grateful for lower temperatures on hot summer days. In addition, solar shading devices installed on the outside of windows help to keep the heat out. At night and early in the morning, it is necessary to properly air the rooms, especially if the windows are insulated and therefore airtight. If EC1-certified insulation products are used, residents can be sure to enjoy a healthy indoor climate.

Photo: @primagefactory/

In summer, temperatures can easily exceed 30 degrees Celsius, especially in attic flats. To prevent the floor covering from forming waves in the heat, it is best to glue it firmly to the entire surface. Thermal insulation of the roof and external walls as well as proper window sealing ensures that the temperatures do not get out of control. Installation, insulation and sealing products should carry quality seals that stand for healthy living and environmental compatibility – like the EMICODE® seal for low-emission products.

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