Adapting suburbia to face up to climate change

October 22, 2012, University of the West of England
Adapting suburbia to face up to climate change

How can we change and adapt our homes to cope with climate change? What actions can neighbourhoods take to mitigate problems caused by increased heat stress and reduced comfort during hot spells, restrictions on water use, reduced air quality, and stress and costs associated with flooding and storm damage? What are the best adaptations we can make to our homes? Should we all install solar panels and grow our own vegetables? What wider infrastructures need to be introduced to prevent flooding prevalent in many areas of the UK? And how do we communicate what changes are best suited to different styles of home and different region in the UK?

These are just a few of the questions addressed in a research report led by a team at UWE Bristol, 'Suburban neighbourhood adaptation for a (SNACC)' that will be launched at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in London on Tuesday 23 October 2012. Don Foster, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government will speak at the event.

The SNACC project is collaboration between the UWE Bristol, Oxford Brookes University, Heriot Watt University, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, Bristol City Council, Oxford City Council and White Design in Bristol. The work was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Over 80% of people in England live in suburbs and they will experience warmer, drier summers and wetter winters in the future. By working with local authorities and residents the SNACC project recommends effective and practical adaptation measures for different types of English suburbs.

Professor Katie Williams from UWE Bristol led the research team, she explains, "Adapting suburbs for future is important. The vast majority of people live in suburban areas and they spend most of their time in their homes. In the future neighbourhoods will be hotter and drier in summer, and warmer and wetter in winter. There will be more heat waves, storms and floods. Our report shows how best to adapt homes, gardens, streets and public spaces. The research has shown, for example, the many benefits of shading on homes and in streets, and the effects of planting more greenery. It has highlighted the best ways of protecting against flooding and storms. However, the project also found that currently very few suburbs are being adapted, and that householders are very unlikely to make changes to their homes and gardens in response to climate change. We looked at ways to enable suburban adaptation, and suggest simple things like ensuring householders get the right information when they do DIY and build extensions, and far more complex solutions about changes to planning policies and partnership working.

"This research is significant because many suburbs are not even coping with today's climate, let alone the changes that are now inevitable in the next 50 years and beyond. We have highlighted problems with overheating in homes, flood damage, deterioration of green spaces and so on. The Government is undertaking a lot of work on climate adaptation right now, and we are working with several government departments, including the Department for Communities and Local Government, to ensure that our findings feed into national programmes to help householders and local organisations cope with climate change."

The full project report will be available on the SNACC web pages from 23 October.

Explore further: Urgent need for climate change adaptation in Lake Eyre region

Related Stories

Floods to become commonplace by 2080

January 8, 2009

Flooding like that which devastated the North of England last year is set to become a common event across the UK in the next 75 years, new research has shown.

Recommended for you

Rainfall's natural variation hides climate change signal

February 22, 2018

New research from The Australian National University (ANU) and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science suggests natural rainfall variation is so great that it could take a human lifetime for significant climate ...

Seasonal patterns in the Amazon explained

February 22, 2018

Environmental scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have led an international collaboration to improve satellite observations of tropical forests.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Oct 22, 2012
The fastest mitigation to climate change is to severely reduce consumption of animal foods. About 1/2 of human induced warming is attributable to animal agriculture. Methane is 24 times more potent than CO2 and takes only 7 years to cycle out of the atmosphere. CO2 takes around 100 years to come out. Human pursuit of animal protein is the leading cause of methane release and a primary cause of CO2 concentrating in the atmosphere. Check the facts and act!

"As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease." Worldwatch Institute, "Is Meat Sustainable?"

"The livestock sector emerges as one of the top contributors to the most serious enviro

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.