Policy Disaster: Energy “Insulation Madness” Turns German Residential Buildings Into “Death Traps”!

Unfortunately it has taken a huge disaster in London to wake up the many German politicians who have been self-drugged up on their green ideology for too long. Now they have been forced to face the harsh reality of their green gross negligence. While millions of endangered birds and animals remain threatened by windmills, it appears that the spectacular inferno may have finally gotten through on another front.

The German ruhrkultur.de here writes in an article titled Insulation madness brings home residents in wanton danger:

The Grenfell Tower fire catastrophe in London, with some 80 lives lost, has finally caused the public to become aware of a problem that has been ignored and swept under the carpet for too long: The insulation madness has led in principle and in large part to death in new buildings and renovated buildings.”

In a mad rush to rescue the planet from a dubiously theoretical year 2100 climate Armageddon, Germany over the years has been vigorously supporting the installation of exterior plastic foam insulation on many buildings over the past years. Unfortunately it is turning out that these materials laid on the exterior of buildings is a fire and health hazard.

Policymakers and bureaucrats had been warned, but in their cause of saving the climate and rescuing humanity, the warnings were smugly dismissed. The state would instead take its orders from Potsdam Institute (PIK) Science.

Photo: ruhrkultur.de

German “death traps”

London, it turns out, is only the tip of green insulation fire hazard ice berg. Recently German authorities were forced to clear out an entire residential block in the western city of Wuppertal due to the inflammable insulation material placed earlier on the building. Frankfurt’s fire chief said that German residential buildings recently insulated in a like manner are not safe, contradicting what politicians, industry groups and insulation experts claimed in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower inferno.

With the millions of homes that have been fitted with the insulation to meet green energy requirements, many residents are in fact residing in “death traps” waiting to spring, ruhrkultur.de writes.

Facade fires “especially dangerous”

The ruhrkultur.de adds that since the exterior “insulation madness” began, firefighters have noted a strong increase in so called facade-fires, which are “especially deadly because they spread extremely rapidly and give residents hardly any time to escape.” It appears that long standing fire codes and regulations against the use of such building materials were not enforced so as not to impair the green national insulation endeavor. Now lives are at risk.

Driven by “climate rescue-campaign”

As mentioned earlier, a number of German experts warned of the high danger posed by the exterior insulation used to make residential buildings more energy efficient. But politicians of all parties and most of the public, ruhrkultur.de writes, were convinced otherwise, due to the “current, incredible massively driven ‘climate-rescue-campaign’ and the supposedly ‘necessary mass insulation measures’.”

The insulation campaign involves plastering large blocks of polystyrol or polyurethane based insulation material on exterior walls (see photo above), which ruhrkultur.de writes is tantamount to storing large amounts of gasoline in your home.

Toxic gases hazard

The inflammability of the material is not the only danger posed by the exterior foam-type insulation, but in many cases it has been treated with possibly toxic fire retardants, such as tetrabrombisphenol A (TBBA), hexabromcyclododecane (HBCD) and a variety of polybromide diphenylethers (PBDEs).

Also the campaign to weatherproof homes has led to a growing occurrence of dangerous, health-threatening black mold forming inside homes.

So what happens now?

Suddenly homeowners find themselves in houses made in a way that threatens them. How shall they be compensated for? Who has to be held accountable?


13 responses to “Policy Disaster: Energy “Insulation Madness” Turns German Residential Buildings Into “Death Traps”!”

  1. Don B

    Richard North:

    “Putting this together, had the EU made the use of enhanced insulation in buildings conditional on the application of tougher fire tests – which was within its power to do – instead of blocking national attempts to make such testing mandatory, then one can state, without equivocation, that the Grenfell Tower fire would not have occurred.”


  2. Brian

    Bureaucrats care? Jan 23, 2009 Agenda 21 explained very well.

    Including implications it will have on humanity. Opinions within the video come in some cases from those that were in on the negotiations. Truly an interesting watch.


  3. John F. Hultquist

    Reinhard Ries, head of the fire department in Frankfurt am Main, along with a few dozen of others with like titles, should find (or have built) a wall of this type. Then several known fire-starting actions should be initiated along said wall while cameras recorded the results.
    Such things are done — but this time it should be very public.

  4. tom0mason

    All too often government backed (local or national) social schemes turn from worthy ideas to becoming cheap goods and services providers that cost too much. As contractors vie to maximize their profit whilst minimizing their legal responsibilities, these efforts so often mean a move from best practices, and to a bureaucratic exercises where contracts and contractors are knocked down to a price, and not up to a specification.

    From “the road to Grenfell hell was clad with green intentions
    here are some points to concern —

    … No matter how insulating the cladding was, this cannot be justified by the potential savings made on fuel bills to the occupants. A small portion of this money could have been used to install sprinklers for fire safety and install internal insulation. Energy efficient appliances were out of scope of the refurbishment project, but could have been fitted.

    What do the planning application and the regulations tell us?

    The Sustainability and Energy statement makes clear that “improving the insulation levels of the walls, roof and windows is the top priority of this refurbishment”. Indeed, they parade their green credentials by boasting that “the proposed insulation levels far exceed those required by Building Regulations”. In other words, they deliberately chose materials to be more insulating than required. There was no discussion of the fire safety impact of cladding and insulation or the potential need to install sprinklers. It appears concerns about insulation levels trumped any other consideration, even fire safety.

    …The BREEAM report used to assess the sustainability credentials of the refurbishment has 43% of its evaluation criteria weighted towards Energy, a further 8% towards Materials and just 17% towards Health and Wellbeing, a small portion of which is devoted to fire safety.

    Who is BREEAM?
    BREEAM is the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for masterplanning projects, infrastructure and buildings.” according to their website.

    Residents were reduced to mere numbers in this bureaucratic box checking exercise. So much so at Grenfell that there are still an unknown number of people who lived in some of the apartments and are still unaccounted for.

    Yes it appears this task of ensuring buildings get safely clad in insulation morphed into a green virtue signaling exercise that turned into tragedy. Hopefully Germany, and all other nations, can learn from this tragic folly.

  5. Alfred (Melbourne)

    It is so easy to make cheaply products that are entirely fire-proof and with excellent heat-insulating properties that the mind boggles.

    Here is one such material:

    “Autoclaved Aerated Concrete”


    The real problem is corruption. The work and money goes to those with the political connections. Doubtless, money does change hands. There is simply no other explanation. Occam’s razor.

    1. AndyG55

      AAC with cement render.. Great building material. 🙂

      Lift a single Hebel block easily with one hand.

    2. tom0mason

      Aerated concrete type materials were apparently considered along with Rockwool products but they failed to meet thermal insulation requirements.

      The BBC has reported recently that so far some 190 high rise residential building have been assessed in the UK, along with 150 Hospitals, none of them had fire retardant cladding material used for insulation — all of them failed the latest fire tests.
      In the UK testing on buildings is still continuing so these numbers may rise…

  6. AndyG55

    From JoNova, great post on lack of wind in SA,


    ….we have to go back to April 2012 (just over 5 years ago) to see a lower aggregate production from wind. That’s truly astonishing. Considering that there have been many new wind farms commissioned in the 5 year period…..

  7. Dave Ward

    “How shall they be compensated? Who has to be held accountable?”

    How about a class action lawsuit against Greenpeace or WWF?

  8. cementafriend

    If global warming was true, people in Germany or like countries should welcome it. Look at these temperatures for Brisbane Australia Winter average 16C range 11-23, Spring and Autumn average 20C range 15 to 25, Summer average 25C range 21-29. Ocean temp winter about 19-20 summer 23-24C Rain in summer which keeps the place cool. No heating required in colder months, no cooling needed in warmer months and can go surfing and swimming all the year around.
    There should be no legislation about heating, cooling, insulation, or use of any energy. Let individuals decide which is more appropriate for them the capital cost of a building or the cost of the use of energy (all types) over the life of their investment. If you want to live in Germany and use natural gas heating to warm your flat in winter using natural gas so be it.

  9. Graeme No.3

    “possibly toxic fire retardants, such as tetrabrombisphenol A (TBBA), hexabromcyclododecane (HBCD) and a variety of polybromide diphenylethers (PBDEs).”
    At least 25 years ago when I was trying to formulate a fire retardent unsaturated polyester resin I was told that none of these could be used because German authorities were pushing for them to be banned within a short time. Yet they are still being used for “green purposes”.

    The whole problem seems to have arisen from 2 claims,
    1. we must reduce energy use for heating, and quickly (typical AGW hysteria)
    2. insulating the walls will do that (typical AGW wishful thinking)
    Had anyone done a serious study they might have checked where the most energy was lost, and I would suggest windows as the most likely source. Double glazing must have appeared expensive and too slow to meet a deadline for a political announcement so cheap, untested but quickly installed foam was selected. And the test advocated by John F. Hultquist above should have been done BEFORE any installation was permitted.

  10. cementafriend

    Yes, Graeme 3, any check of a building with a thermal camera will confirm that windows and doors are the greatest area of heat loss and heat input. Concrete is a fairly good insulator and does not need cladding.
    Greens have infiltrated policy making including standards making and confirmation. Greens are liars and slant tests and policy. As I said above there is no need for legislation about energy rating.

    1. Nigel S

      Concrete is very poor I’m afraid, some typical R values (higher is better)
      Cast concrete 0.1
      Brick 0.2
      Aerated concrete 1.0
      Snow 1.0
      Softwood 1.4
      Rockwool batts 3.4
      Cardboard 3.5
      Expanded polystyrene 3.9
      Polyisocyanurate (Celotex) 6.0
      Expanded polyeurethane 6.9

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