International interest in moisture in buildings seems to be increasing. In many cases the level of concern seems to be higher and more developed than in the UK.
The concern with moisture and mould in Denmark for example has led to the development of many businesses testing for mould (there are at least 7 different methods and many more actual companies) and many processes of remediation as well as helplines and guidance of various sorts. Some of these companies have been operating for over 25 years and it is generally accepted that mould in housing is a serious health concern by government, landlords and the general public. This is also the case in Sweden, as we know from our partners at the Fukt Centrum. One of the main concerns nowadays in Scandinavia seems to be non-visible interstitial mould, rather than visible surface mould, something which we are only starting to consider in the UK.
It is also noticeable that in many of the European countries the challenges which we have outlined in our work with regard to measurement of moisture, mould or ventilation, benchmarks for healthy buildings, and causality between moisture imbalanced buildings and the health of occupants, are also difficulties acknowledged there. There is therefore plenty of opportunity for collaboration with other institutes and organisations to resolve some of these difficulties. We hope to progress these in the near future.
In particular, UCL has been fortunate to be hosting Dr Evy Vereecken from KU Leuven in Belgium, who has been working on moisture in walls, mould growth and measurement of moisture-related material properties, combining experimental and numerical work. The work at Leuven is extensive and world leading, so we are lucky to be given the opportunity to learn more about her work and the techniques used at Leuven during her visits. She will be speaking to our TWG1 at a day workshop in July (date to be confirmed).
Over the next 6 months we will also be hosting a PhD student working on moisture in buildings from Australia. We are also pleased to report that one of our colleagues, Dr Fernando Sarce Thomann, who was working with us and the Property Care Association on moisture measurement in buildings (as part of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme), has returned to Chile and started to set up a Moisture Centre there. We wish him the best of luck and all success.