What could be the effects on buildings of climate change over the next few decades? Will we need to change building control to cope? These are the issues addressed in Impact of Climate Change on Building*.
The broad climate changes expected are rising mean temperatures and wind speeds, greater unpredictability of local conditions and some greater localised extremes in temperature, rainfall, tides and winds. The report offers a brief update on climate change and an outline of the sorts of effects there could be for the construction process, the building fabric and the indoor environment. It then looks at building control, highlighting seven areas where the risks and vulnerability to extreme events are greatest. For these areas, listed in descending order of severity, key areas of impact include:
Structure - greater loads on fixings; drying of soils
Site preparation - soil cracking; site drainage capacity
Passage of moisture - weathertightness
Ventilation - summer air-conditioning; higher humidities; ventilation control
Conservation of fuel and power - summer overheating; flexibility of controls for climate unpredictability; airtightness; damp insulation
Materials - durability; new test regimes
Workmanship - quality.
Overall, guidance and controls may have to rely more on climate prediction in future rather than on the historical record. If prediction is less certain than history, design requirements may become more conservative. Existing buildings will need to adapt, at a cost - an increase in insurance premiums is certain if extreme events become more frequent.
* Impact of Climate Change on Building. S L Garvin, M C Phillipson, C H Saunders, C S Hayles and G T Dow. bre Report br349. From crc, tel: 0171 505 6622. 42pp. £25 (+£2.50 p&p)