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"Green Deathtraps" Blamed for Greenfell Tower Fire in London

At American Thinker today, Tom Lifson  writes, "In the wake of the ghastly conflagration that engulfed a recently renovated 24-story apartment tower in London, the world is waking up to the dire threat created by energy-saving green zealots.  It turns out that nobody much worried about the fire hazard involved when flammable materials were used to add an outer "skin" of cladding to the building, creating heat insulation thanks to the air pocket between the new cladding and the old exterior wall, but also providing an ideal space for fire to race up the building."

Lifson links to a UK Telegraph report that says:

"Fears were raised that green energy concerns were prioritised ahead of safety as it emerged that cladding used to make the building more sustainable could have accelerated the fire."

The Telegraph story also points out:

"Government ministers were warned about the fire risk of cladding as far back as 1999, the Daily Telegraph can reveal.

"It was installed on the council-owned Grenfell block in 2015 as part of a £10 million refurbishment by a company which was later liquidated after a firm they were working with refused to pay out in a dispute over their work.

"Tens of thousands of buildings in the UK have been fitted with cladding, it is estimated, leading to calls for an immediate review of safety.

"Experts said that the cladding - which is used to insulate the building - had acted like a "chimney" for the flames by allowing the fire to spread upwards through the gaps between the cladding and the building walls."

Lifson reminds us, ''Council-owned' is the British descriptor for public housing."

Finally, the Telegraph provides the following information about the materials in the so-called cladding:

"Dr Jim Glockling, Technical Director of the Fire Protection Association, said that they had been lobbying the Government to review the safety of combustible materials used on the outside of buildings since 2014.

"All fire safety regulations are focused on containing a fire within a building, but this cannot happen if it is spreading along the outside.

"There has been an emerging body of evidence surrounding some of the materials being used and now we have an appalling demonstration of what can happen," he said.

"Alongside the cosmetic appeal of cladding, it is used as an insulation to make buildings more sustainable to meet green energy requirements.

"It could be that this is the quest for sustainability trumping other concerns," Dr Glockling warned."

Ah yes, sustainability. As Peter Woods, president of the National Association of Scholars, wrote in an article two years ago, "'Sustainability' is like a religion. Or, sustainability is a religion."

Here, Lifson asks:

"Did green fever cause the obvious fire hazard to be ignored?  We simply do not know.  But the zealotry of those who are convinced that CO2 increases are dooming us could well prioritize energy savings above safety.  As seems to have been done in London.

"How many more green death traps are out there?  Tens of thousands in the U.K., but how many in the USA?

"The EPA sponsors the Energy Star certification for buildings.  A quick look at the site does not reveal any emphasis on fire safety.  But there certainly are a lot of properties signing up . . . ."

He answers the question this way: ". . . Saving energy is fine, but there are tradeoffs, and human lives did not weigh heavily enough when that flammable cladding was used." Makes you wonder about the  tradeoffs in Arlington County's Community Energy Plan (CEP). For background on the CEP, see our June 13. 2017 Growls.

UPDATE (6/18/17) In an article posted yesterday at Daily Caller, Michael Bastasch quotes "Robert Solomon, who heads the building fire protection division at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)," who says, “I don’t see this happening in the U.S.,” Solomon told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We actually apply a very constrictive and restrictive test protocol to those types of systems on buildings.” Read the entire article at Daily Caller.

UPDATE (6/19/17). At Townhall.com today, Katie Kieffer begins her reporting:

"Blue flames are products of extreme heat but “green” flames are products of extreme environmentalism, as we saw last week when fire engulfed London’s Grenfell Tower.

"From London to California’s Sun Valley, so-called green policies that disregard basic principles of fire safety are sparking deadly infernos. This issue deserves our immediate attention far more than Russian hacking myths and fairytales.

"The odor of burning plastic filled the air as 250 firefighters rushed to the scene of Grenfell Tower on June 14. But the flames spread too quickly and intensely for even this army of professional flame-stoppers. At least 30 people died, some 74 were injured and many more remain unaccounted for—meaning that the true death toll is closer to 60.

"For years, the 24-story public housing tower’s residents had complained via the Grenfell Action Group that the building—originally constructed in 1974—was a fire hazard. Instead of heeding the warnings, London Mayors like Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson aggressively pressured local councils to reduce carbon dioxide by refurbishing older buildings. (The 2008 Climate Change Act obligates the UK to slash greenhouse emissions by 80% by 2050 in comparison to emissions in 1990.) Unfortunately, safety was sacrificed for the sake of reducing emissions.

"No one knows what first started the Grenfell Tower fire. We do know that major experts are tying the “eco-friendly” exterior insulation or “cladding” to the fire’s uncommon force and rapidity."

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