The fire which engulfed London’s Grenfell Tower was worsened by “green energy requirements” that allowed the fire to spread rapidly up the building, leaving at least 17 people dead and many more wounded or missing.
The original cause of the fire remains unknown, but experts say that the exterior insulation, or cladding, which is used to reduce energy consumption is such buildings, created a chimney effect allowing the fire to spread quickly upwards. The cladding was installed on Grenfell Tower in 2015.
“I have never seen a fire that has engulfed an entire building like this in a career of more than 30 years,” said head the Fire Brigades Union Matt Wrack.
“It could be that this is the quest for sustainability trumping other concerns,” added Dr. Jim Glockling of the Fire Protection Association. “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.”
According to the Daily Caller:
The Telegraph noted that cladding “is used as an insulation to make buildings more sustainable to meet green energy requirements.” Some 30,000 buildings in the U.K. have been retrofitted with cladding to cheaply comply with green energy mandates.
Grenfell Tower became more energy efficient, but the space between the cladding and the building increased the potential damage from fires, leaving hundreds of residents at the fire’s mercy.
Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a full investigation into what happened. Others have called for all cladded buildings to be inspected for fire hazards.
However, building residents and experts have warned about the fire risks of cladding for years. A blog post by the Grenfell Action Group in November 2016 warned that “only a catastrophic event” would bring attention to the building’s issue.