Effects of Climate Change on the UK Construction Industry 5

Effects of Climate Change on the UK Construction Industry 5

Effects of Climate Change on the UK Construction Industry


TOC o “1-3” h z u HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767399” Abstract PAGEREF _Toc376767399 h 1

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767400” 1.0 Introduction PAGEREF _Toc376767400 h 2

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767401” 1.1 Research Question PAGEREF _Toc376767401 h 3

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767402” 1.2. Research Aim PAGEREF _Toc376767402 h 4

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767403” 1.3 Research Objectives PAGEREF _Toc376767403 h 4

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767404” 1.4 Research Limitations PAGEREF _Toc376767404 h 4

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767405” 2.0 Literature Review PAGEREF _Toc376767405 h 5

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767406” 2.2 Greenhouse gas vis-à-vis building industry PAGEREF _Toc376767406 h 6

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767407” 2.3 Projected effect of an escalation of Climate Change on Construction PAGEREF _Toc376767407 h 11

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767408” 2.4 Future options for the building industry PAGEREF _Toc376767408 h 12

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767409” 2.5 Government Response to Climate Change in the UK PAGEREF _Toc376767409 h 13

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767410” 2.6 UK’s National policy for sustainability in development PAGEREF _Toc376767410 h 15

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767411” 2.7 Regional and Local Level responses to climate change PAGEREF _Toc376767411 h 15

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767412” 2.8 Recommendations for the Construction Industry PAGEREF _Toc376767412 h 16

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767413” 2.9 Sustainability Appraisal and Climate Change PAGEREF _Toc376767413 h 17

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767414” 3.0 Research methodology PAGEREF _Toc376767414 h 20

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767415” 3.1 Scope of chapter PAGEREF _Toc376767415 h 20

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767416” 3.2 Research aim PAGEREF _Toc376767416 h 20

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767417” 3.4 Research sample PAGEREF _Toc376767417 h 21

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767418” 3.5 Data analysis PAGEREF _Toc376767418 h 22

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767419” 4.2 Research Overview: PAGEREF _Toc376767419 h 23

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767420” 4.3 Participants: PAGEREF _Toc376767420 h 23

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767421” 4.4 Inconveniences and possible negative outcomes PAGEREF _Toc376767421 h 26

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767422” 5.0 Analysis of the Results PAGEREF _Toc376767422 h 26

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767423” 5.1 Questionnaire PAGEREF _Toc376767423 h 27

HYPERLINK l “_Toc376767424” Bibliography PAGEREF _Toc376767424 h 41

AbstractThis dissertation is about the impact of the climate changes on sustainable construction in the UK. In the dissertation there is detailed analysis of the various factors and aspects of human activities that affect the environment which in turn affect the climate. There is an argument from different perspective to try and analyze the various viewpoints taken by the various concerned and/or responsible stake holders. These factors are analysed together with the existing literature about the same. Interviews were carried out to ascertain the true picture on the ground as far as the sustainability of the construction industry has been affected by the climate changes. The methods and mechanism used to come up with the findings in the research have also been clearly detailed.

List of Abbreviations

IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

DEFRA’s – Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

GHG – Green House Gas

RPBs – Research Periodicals and Books Services

DCLG – Department for Communities and Local Government

ODPM – Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management

1.0 Introduction

In the recent past there have been drastic changes to climate not only in the UK but also on the global scene. This is characterized by an increasing occurrence of such natural phenomena like drought, floods, erratic rains, global warming, hurricanes, erratic seasons and other unexpected variations to climate. These phenomena have caused sleepless nights not only on scientists and government agencies but also on the common man. This is because such natural phenomena are hard to control and require considerably a lot of time to mitigate.

These climatic changes have increased awareness in mankind in his struggle to survive in planet earth. It has brought a lot of challenges for man in his quest to survive because they affect the very basic needs of life. These include food, shelter and clothing. Extreme weather changes like hurricanes, global warming, floods etc adversely affects agriculture which is the main source of food. Similarly on the other hand construction industry is affected by such changes (ECU, 2006). It is on this background that this research is being carried out so as to unearth the impact of climate changes on provision of shelter to mankind. For the sake of this research, this is as far as construction industry in the UK is concerned.

Climate change has had a significant toll on the sustainability of buildings not only in the UK, but also in the world over. In order for us to understand the real meaning of sustainable development, an appropriate definition should be sought to suitably fit their understanding (IPCC, 2007).

There are more than four ways by which sustainability can be defined and this is as a result of the unending efforts and the frequent attempts by the literature scholars to try and give a more encompassing statement that will serve as the best definition for sustainability. This however has resulted even into more confusing and contradictory definitions. According to (UN, 1987), sustainable development is, ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. Steurer, (2005) also defines sustainable development as, managing economic principles and the adoption of strategies that meet the current needs of the region and its stakeholders whilst sustaining and enhancing the human and natural resources that are required for the future. The sustainability of a building industry encompasses its ability to withstand grave weather effects, its adaptability to the changing physical environment as well as its contribution to the preservation of a favorable physical environment (Wallace, 2005, pg 3).

For the sake of this research, we are going to use the UN version definition of this term. ‘Sustainable development’ according to the UN Brundtland Commission report, may be defined as: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (UN, 1987). If we have to lead our lives comfortably in the current generation without compromising the quality of life of the future generations, sustainable development (especially in building industry) is a must and noble task that must be embraced by everyone.

1.1 Research QuestionThe leading research question for this project is: What would be the future of housing construction industry in the UK, if climatic changes rose to harmful levels? By this we mean extreme levels of carbon emissions, global warming, fogs, floods and etc we are concerned with the building industry because the built environment accounts for more than 8% of our GDP. It is vital to note here that this figure is only a direct relation between wealth produced and construction. Other wealth especially that of multinationals are not considered even though they represent a significant portion of wealth (Keane, 2001).

1.2. Research Aim

The major aim of this research is to identifying possible effects of climate changes on housing construction industry in the UK.

1.3 Research Objectives

To measure the influence of climate change on housing construction industry in the UK

To study criteria for developing sustainable housing construction processes

To study effects of construction work on climate due to carbon emissions from construction work

To find a possible solution to mitigate against causes of climate changes from the building industry.

1.4 Research LimitationsIn every research that is being carried out, limitations are inevitable and this particular research is no exception. Limitations compromise the validity and quality of the research outcome and thus any researcher who wants to come up with a good report should try to minimize them as much as possible. The following are some of the limitations that were identified:

Incomplete answers to the questionnaires

Inability to measure some aspects of the research e.g. causes of climate changes

Limited resources e.g. time, funds, manpower etc

unreliability of secondary data sources.

2.0 Literature ReviewIt is imperative that an in-depth examination of the possible causes or the said climate change be examined vis-à-vis the contribution of the building industry. One of the best known contributors to climate change is the phenomenon known as global warming. Generally speaking it is an escalation of the earth’s temperature to high levels. This phenomenon, among other effects, brings: irregular rainfall patterns, occurrence of natural catastrophes such as tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes as well as the attendant depletion of both animal and plant species. These natural catastrophes have had their toll on the building industry especially in coastal areas and along rivers (Wentz, 2007).

Global warming is the current rise in the Earth’s average ocean and atmospheric temperature continuously. Documented studies show that the earth’s average temperature has risen by about 1.4 ºF or 0.8ºC with more of the increase being experienced in the recent past. According to studies by scientists, it is estimated that 90% of the global warming is caused by greenhouse emissions. Global warming brings about other undesirable natural phenomenal like coastal floods, reduced water supplies, extreme temperatures, crop failure among others. This therefore calls for designers to develop buildings that are better suited to shield man from these challenges both in the present and in the future (Wentz, 2007).

The Global mean land-ocean temperature changes from 1880–2011.

The black line is the annual mean and the red line is the 5-year running mean.

The green bars show uncertainty estimates.

Source: NASA data

2.2 Greenhouse gas vis-à-vis building industry

One of the key contributors to the global climate change is the emission of greenhouse gases. The emission of greenhouse gases results from industries such as oil, coal and cement industries. In these industries processes involve burning of fossil fuels and contribute about 75% of all the pollution in the atmosphere. Deforestation also has played its part in contributing to the pollution of the environment at about 20%. This has sparked the development of new and alternative technologies for the production of energy to power the industries. As this has been happening, little attention has been given to the building industry as one of the major causes of greenhouse gas emissions (Wentz, 2007).

Building use in the UK contributes about 50% of the UK’s CO₂ emissions and construction contributes about another 7%. (Kibert, 2010). Human activities in most cases produce carbon dioxide (CO2) that is released into the atmosphere causing pollution. This led to the initiation of the Kyoto Protocol involving 38 of the world’s most industrialized countries in November 2001. This protocol demands that the emission of the greenhouse gases should experience a reduction of about 5.2% below 1990 levels during five-year period 2008-2012 (Hansen, 2005). Following the Kyoto protocols, major governments of the world were advised to reduce carbon emissions in their respective countries. This is expected to be realized through reducing industrial emissions, use of friendly energy solutions like wind and sun, promoting use of hybrid cars among other appropriate measures.

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapor and ozone layer, entrap heat within the atmosphere instead of letting it to go back into atmosphere, in this manner it results in an increase in global temperatures.

(Source: UKCIP 2007)

However, greenhouse gases are a natural phenomenon that traps heat to give us warmth, without these gases, the world could be 60o Celsius cooler, the only problem is that the amount of these green houses in the atmosphere is increasing to a higher degree which now causes negative activities of climate change. Climate change has and will result in considerable impacts on our environment and other activities (William, 2007).

Global warming is a potential cause of some immediate influence on flora and fauna. The ecological conditions on a global context have become unpredictable as a result of global warming. This leads to some significant implications to the human society. The need for food, shelter, transportation as well as clothing by the humans continues to rise for the sake of survival. The living species in the world continuously face the danger of extinction which has an important implication to the mankind (William, 2007).

People have evolved to mainly focus on an urgent danger, it could be that posed of wild animals or the plant life which has a significant ramifications to the quality of life. But climate change is an exceptional long-range issue, and its impacts are felt gradually in relation to human time span and therefore those who will be worst hit with climate change effects are the future generations. To resolve this issue, it is necessary to view the future as our sole responsibility and put in mind the effect of current decisions about environment on the future generations (William, 2007).

Some environmental bodies as well as stakeholders in the media accuse climate skeptics of supporting fuel companies (McDonald, 2006). These environmental bodies state that the business sector has to be responsible for its contribution to greenhouse emissions. In addition, they view industry’s counter-arguments as a clear aim to hinder the block the reality from being known. From 1980, there has a deliberate campaign to try and fight the scientific truth regarding climate change which points to huge industries being the main cause of climate change because of their emission from these industries that are full of greenhouse gases (McDonald, 2006)

Similarly there are those environmental organizations who argue that changes in the climate are not necessarily as a result of human activities but it is a natural phenomenon and nothing can be done to control it. These environmental bodies point out that, the warming of the planet earth has been taking place even without human activities. According to them human activities even if they contribute to climate change, their contribution is very minimal and cannot be termed as the cause of climate change (DiMento & Doughman, 2004).

Proper land use is one potential solution to the problem. The world can reverse the emission of carbon dioxide as well as other gases by stopping the destruction of forests or the degradation of land cover. Soil and its cover can act as important final removers of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the air. Using the correct soil management methods, soil only has the ability of absorbing about 13% of net carbon dioxide from human activities Thus, in way land can be used in a more effective way as a carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases’ ‘sink.’

Another important body that plays a vital role in reducing environmental impacts is Environmental Protection Commission (EPC). Its major role is to come up with sound policies to protect the Environment from all possible pollutants, building industry included. These policies aim to protect the environment through enforcing the laws that are already in place. This is achieved through bringing together several organizations in the public, the private sector as well as the voluntary sectors for the sake of promoting balances as well as an innovative approach geared towards gaining of understanding as well as seeking solutions to the existing environmental problems. This is achieved through development of policy in addition to education. The body has a lot of experience in environmental campaigns, provision of public information, production of educational resources and formulation of policies. The membership of the body includes the policy makers, regulators as well as practitioners from the local authorities, developers, academicians, consultants, interested NGO’s and industries. Environmental Protection Commission also anticipates the implementation of seamless functionality that will increase the level of convenience (Wallace & Houghton, 2005).

2.3 Projected effect of an escalation of Climate Change on Construction

Infrastructure often has considerable longevity; housing has had to last a long time due to high construction rates; but some buildings will be faced by ready redevelopment for reasons of economic profitability from redevelopment, a lack of attachment to or use for the buildings or simple physical collapse (Wentz, 2007).

Considering the interface between climate change and housing construction involves engagement with mitigation and adaptation. Climate change impacts will cover: rain penetration, flooding (coastal, fluvial, urban run‐off), erosion and subsidence, drought and drying out of soils, overheating and fires, wind damage, seasonal shifts. Buildings of all ages will need to be assessed in the light of these changes. But the mitigation agenda will also put specific burdens on the built environment of different ages and valued in different ways. When dampness increases in a manner that is not proportional, it may lead to decay in the stonework and this might result in weak natural structures (DiMento, 2007).

The Technology Strategy Board has worked with partners in academia, industry and government to improve uptake of adaptation services within the buildings sector.  A program of activities started in 2008, and running initially until 2013, is increasing client demand and developing skills within design professions for adaptation. To date they have:

Managed an iterative process of systemic analysis and industry consultation leading to two publications of the key issues and opportunities for the built environment industry sector.

Funding to create adaptation strategies on 50 major UK building projects to improve their resilience to climate change by identifying key climate risks, favourable adaptation measures and encourage appropriate capital spending by clients through evidence of costs and value. They intend to achieve this by allocating necessary funds to these specific sectors and by establishing a watchdog to monitor the process. The public will also be sensitized on this agenda so that property developers will perform their job with this in mind. If all the stakeholders in the construction industry are educated on the harmful effects of their activities to the environment and possible ways of stopping them, then this will be a won war (Goodall, 2007).

Until recently policy and action has been directed towards mitigation – taking steps to reduce those emissions and thus to limit the extent of climate change. Climate change is discretional and can be linked to the construction industry given the life expectancy of buildings and the fact that we will need to adapt our existing built environment, to deal with projected climate change.

2.4 Future options for the building industryThe scale and implications of the changes in climate that we can expect this and coming century mean that existing buildings are at risk. Design teams will need to consider innovative ways to ensure that buildings are robust, resilient, safe, adaptable and comfortable for people to live and work in. This is in response to changing climatic conditions that bring about natural phenomenal like global warming, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and etc (Binder, 2007).

In the year 2010, a special group calling itself IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) came up with a report on how to deal with carbon emissions. It addresses the various issues that all stakeholders need to implement in order to curb this menace (Nakicenovic et al., 2010). Since its launch in May 2010, it has elicited a lot of interest especially within government circles. In general it talks of:

DEFRA’s (department for environment food and rural affairs) climate change risk assessment work,

DEFRA’s skills audit on climate change adaptation needs and

Is being recommended by industry groups to inform DCLG on the Building Schools for the Future program.

Planning for future climate change will have to focus on four key solution areas:

Retrofitting buildings

Retrofitting places

Implementation of renewable energy projects

Land and coastal management issues.

Today, the subject of climate change is creating a heated debate among many global leaders, industry heads, and environmentalists. Whereas the scientific experts agree that greenhouse effect is something real and going on, and that human activities add greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, a lot is not yet known regarding the future results of climate changes.

2.5 Government Response to Climate Change in the UKClimate change requires a strong national framework to guide regional decision making and must reflect the interests of other European countries as well as global interests. The UK’s obligation to tackle climate change lies with the Kyoto Protocol (1997) and the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 12.5% before the year 2008. The United Kingdom Climate Change Act became law in 2008 and identifies the UK’s commitment to demonstrate strong leadership internationally and defines its responsibility for reducing global emissions. The Act also outlines the required actions in the context of developing negotiations for global agreement at the UN’s Framework on Climate Change that was held in Copenhagen in December 2009.

However, reducing the impact of dangerous climate change poses a big challenge in the efforts of aiming to achieve cuts in carbon emission. Without these emission cuts there will be a wide range of impacts that affect a multitude of environmental social and economic areas. Mitigation and adaptation actions must be carefully considered with regards to long term timescales of 50-100 years and more as they can amplify the impacts caused by climate change (Adger et al. 2005). These actions are selected to provide a two fold benefit such as enhanced resource access in the short term whilst also including specific measures such as allowing vulnerable members of society easier recovery methods. National policy and decision making needs to effectively reflect interest and all levels however, Urwin & Jordan (2008) emphasize that there is inadequate agreement for identifying how climate change should be integrated into regional and local decision making.

The UK government’s initial response to an increase in climate change awareness was the Foresight Program on Flooding and Coastal Defence in 1994 (Evans et al. 2007). The program identified that a 1 in 100 year flood risk would affect as many as 4 million people in England and Wales. In addition there would be property damages worth £200 billion, yearly flood damage of £1.4 billion which would rise by £1–27 billion yearly in response to emissions and scenario forecasts (Wentz, 2007). Since then a series of White Papers, Planning Policy Guidance and the Climate Change Act in 2008 have all contributed to raising awareness of the realised and potential impacts that climate change has in the UK. This includes the realization that certain sectors of society are likely to be affected more than others, for example elderly, disabled and low-income households (Draft White Paper 2009). The Draft White Paper indicates two types of response for tackling climate change; mitigation and response. Both of which are required to curb the causes of climate change for example greenhouse gas emissions and to reduce the impact that the inevitable changes have upon society and the environment in the next 50 years and beyond.

2.6 UK’s National policy for sustainability in development

Under the recommendations of United Nations Conferences and Programs such as the Rio Earth Summit (1992) and Agenda 21, governments must produce national and local strategies for sustainable development. This has led to considerable policy work and an abundance of academic literature (Hansen, 2000). In addition, tools have been developed to re-energise and enforce sustainability processes such as the Aalborg Commitments (2004) of which over 600 local governments have become signatories. In the UK, local Authorities must create a sustainability appraisal (SA) of their planning documents as stated in Section 39 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act of 2004. The aim of which is to incorporate sustainability objectives that are valued equally. These are more specifically set out as; social progress, environmental conservation and improvement, effective resource management and continual economic growth and employment rates. Sustainability appraisals are also being employed to integrate these concerns into regional level planning.

2.7 Regional and Local Level responses to climate changeThere are a wide variety of recognized impacts at the regional and local level that intertwine and overlap. These must be mitigated and adapted in a way that accounts for the specific issues that are important to each region. Coastal and floodplain areas are at significant risk to extreme weather events. For example, Norfolk farmland is particularly vulnerable to temperature change and crop failure. Forested regions such as Thetford Forest are at risk from diseases such as Fomes root rot (Moavenzadeh, 1994) which affect tree health and productivity, and cause damaging losses to timber production, water quality, carbon capture and in turn affect biodiversity (barbastrelle bat, otter, spotted flycatcher, great crested newt). Marine ecosystems and fisheries are at exceptionally vulnerable as many species also suffer from overfishing for example herring in Great Yarmouth, Cromer crab and European eels in the River Wensum and Hickling Broad.

Negative externalities must be avoided, as impacts in one particular county affect adjacent counties for example flood defence in Kent can lead to increased tidal erosion in neighboring coastal areas of East Sussex (Adger et al. 2005) suggest that adaptation can be effectively appraised through employing policies that seek to promote efficient and legitimate action that is also both equitable and effective. Many initiatives are designed to limit GHG emissions and encourage unique policy and new technologies. A balance must be sought for specific decision making that reflects the guidance at the National and European Level.

2.8 Recommendations for the Construction Industry

Personal responsibility is a very important issue in trying to address the issue of reducing environmental impacts to work in the line with the government policy. There is a need of exerting more pressure to the building industry experts geared towards the genuine reduction of carbon emissions. The general public also has a duty to demonstrate their commitment towards this campaign of reducing carbon emissions. This can be achieved by reducing unnecessary building demand, modifications and even demolitions. It is however important to consider the available and functional alternatives to meet these needs wherever applicable. The construction industry is among the sectors that are most dynamic in the context of global economy. There is a need for improving the level of technology and operations which will lead to a sustainable management of emissions for a better future (Harte, et al., 2006).2.9 Sustainability Appraisal and Climate Change

2.9.1 Sustainable Development

The societies of today face the greatest challenge in the form of the sustainability of their development. The planning of land use in European Union in general and UK in particular is subject to sustainable development. The sustainability of a building industry encompasses its ability to withstand grave weather effects, its adaptability to the changing physical environment as well as its contribution to the preservation of a favourable physical environment (Wallace, 2005).

There are many ways that sustainability as been defined but a general agreement exists. This agreement borders on the fact that sustainable development targets at combining the three pillars of mankind which are the economy, society and environment (Lewis, 2000). For the purpose of this research, we will mostly dwell on the environment. This is because if the environment is managed sustainably, the remaining pillars will naturally be achieved. This thinking has the beneficial effect introducing the noble idea of responsibility among the various elements of the society. It has also been noted that this thinking results in reinforced approach towards ensuring the conservation of natural resources such as land, rivers and others sources of water and the environment in general.

This idea has been praised for it has also encouraged desire by the stakeholders to possess accountability for their actions, develop ownership, and possess greater transparency in the manner in which they carry out activities that in one way or the other affect the environment (Wallace, 2005). The biggest limitation with the definition or reasoning behind the sustainability development is that it has become difficult to formulate a consistent and feasible methodology and it is therefore subjected to theories as the only means through which or by which it can be appreciated.

2.9.2 Sustainability in the Planning Process

Sustainability principles have been integrated into the planning process since the 1990’s. They have been brought up to date with the government’s guidance on ‘Sustainability Appraisal of Regional Spatial Strategies and Local Development Frameworks’ (IPCC, 2007). Sustainability Assessments (SAs) are distinct from Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in that they are directed more towards objectives and expert qualitative judgment as opposed to predominant use of baseline data, scientific predictions and comprehensive consultation procedures. Furthermore the importance of social and economic predictions is recommended to be reinforced with hard evidence based upon these consultations as opposed to unfurnished judgment. Public contributions are important and feedback must be taken into account alongside published evidence.

2.9.3 Targets Objectives and Indicators

Targets and indicators are applied as the foremost evaluation tool on the developing state of the environment, appropriateness of policy measures and in measuring the success of alternatives. An indicator is defined by The European Environment agency as ‘a measure, generally quantitative, that can be used to illustrate and communicate complex phenomena simply, including trends and progress over time’. The use of such indicators at national, regional and local levels is a common assessment tool. Alongside this us