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Climate change and housing

A number of suggestions have been made regarding the need to adapt housing to meet the challenges of climate change. For example:

There will need to be better climate change proofing of buildings


  • Incorporating protection against flooding and storms
  • More efficient water systems in anticipation of drought
  • Cool areas to minimise the need for air conditioning
  • Heat reflective surfaces in external areas
  • Damp proofing to prevent mosquito breeding

More efficient heating systems will be needed to minimise emissions


  • Better insulation
  • Renewable energy heating systems
  • Community heating schemes

Housing developments will need to be more carefully located


  • Avoiding flood plains
  • Avoiding green spaces

In addition local authorities will need to plan for the impact on housing of more frequent floods, windstorms and heatwaves


  • Developing early warning systems to minimise property damage
  • Developing plans to evacuate and rehouse where homes are damaged
  • Providing help for elderly or vulnerable householders

Information sources

UK Government publications

Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK - An expert review for comment
Report of the Expert Group on Climate Change and Health in the UK
Dept of Health. 2001.
Chapter 5.6. Domestic sector. p. 266

Improving your home – a climate change guide
Welsh Assembly. July 2008

Developing homes for a changing climate
Housing Corporation. Autumn 2008

Communities and Local Government Departmental Adaptation Plan
Dept. for Communities and Local Government March 2010.
Section 6. Adaptation in buildings. pp 36-41

Beating the heat: Keeping UK buildings cool in a warming climate
Hacker, JN, Belcher, SE & Connell, RK (2005).
Briefing Report, UK Climate Impacts Programme, Oxford

Planning Policy Statement: Planning and Climate Change - Supplement to Planning Policy Statement 1
Dept. for Communities and Local Government. Dec 2007

Guidance to accompany PPS1
Planning Advisory Service

Planning and climate change: Practice Guidance
Homes and Communities Academy. Web based resource

UK Eco-Homes Standard (Code For Sustainable Homes)
Dept. for Communities and Local Government. 2006

Existing Housing and Climate Change
House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee
7th Report of Session 2007-08

International reports

Health and climate change: the "now and how" guide
A policy action guide
WHO Europe. 2005. 32pp
Thermal stress: heatwaves p 19

NGO reports

Climate Change and its Health Implications
A summary report for environmental health practitioners on the health implications of climate change
CIEH. November 2008
Para 9.1. Adapting buildings and infrastructure to climate change p. 58

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
Climate Change Toolkits
. 2nd edition

The current series of toolkits includes:

  1. 01 Climate Change Briefing
  2. Carbon Literacy Briefing
  3. Principles of Low Carbon Design and Refurbishment
  4. Low Carbon Standards and Assessment Methods
  5. Low Carbon Design Tools
  6. Skills for Low Carbon Buildings
  7. Designing for Flood Risk
  8. Whole Life Assessment for Low Carbon Design

Your home in a changing climate
(Retrofitting Existing Homes for Climate Change Impact)
London Climate Change Partnership. Feb 2008

Home truths: a low carbon strategy to reduce UK housing emissions by 80% by 2050.
Brenda Boardman. University of Oxford. Nov 2007

Web resources

Demystifying climate change – practical solutions
Homes and Communities Academy

Books and journals

Adapting buildings and cities for climate change - A 21st Century survival guide
Architectural Press. Sue Roaf. 2004
ISBN: 0-75-065911-4

Preparing for Climate Change: Adapting the Built Environment
Building Research & Information, Volume 31 Issue 3 & 4 2003

The Health Practitioners Guide to Climate Change
Ed. Jenny Griffiths; Mala Rao; Fiona Adshead; Allison Thorpe
Publisher: Earthscan. 2009. 380 pp. ISBN: 978-1-84407-729-8
Table 12.1 Relationship between the built environment, climate change and health. p.342.
Link to Earthscan publications via Routledge

Housing, the environment and our changing climate
Edited by Christoph Sinn and John Perry
Published by The Chartered Institute of Housing. June 2008

Other Resources

BRE Carbon Footprint Models for housing

The latest BRE housing stock models developed in 2008/9 provide estimates of carbon emissions from housing stock. These are the latest of the BRE housing stock models. Developed during 2008/9 they provide estimates of carbon emissions from the housing stock in England in kilograms of carbon per year.

Two separate models have been developed, one for the private sector and one for the social rented stock. The data is also combined to provide a single estimate of the carbon footprint from the whole of the stock . The estimates are provided at the same levels as the other housing stock models i.e. at census output area, ward, authority and government office region.

The Carbon Footprint models provide data which can be used to:

Provide baseline figures for the stock
Target areas for surveys
Target areas for carbon reduction programs

BRE ‘Climatelite’ – new software tool

ClimateLite is a simple to use tool that will help building designers to make choices in terms of location, orientation, massing and shape in the early design stage. It will also assist in visually communicating this process to clients and local authorities.