What does the dry climate imply for the constructed setting? – UKGBC

UKGBC’s Senior Advisors Hannah Giddings and Kai Liebetanz mirror on what the present dry climate and pending hosepipe bans imply for the constructed setting.

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August 17, 2022



the bushes dropping an autumnal carpet of leaves and the truth that we simply want rain. has skilled it’s driest July since 1911 with rainfall ranges dropping to 1 / 4 of what we usually count on for the month, with drought now formally declared in areas of England. We’re seeing the impacts of this all through the nation in our now dry, yellow open areas and parks, however this additionally has much less apparent however vital impacts within the constructed setting. 

What’s the affect of drought on our constructed setting?

Soil shrinkage ensuing from dry climate can result in a lot of damaging results: constructing subsidence, elevated threat to break of underground utilities infrastructure, and better land erosion dangers as the bottom loses its stability, which may have knock-on results resembling elevated vulnerability to flooding.   

As we’ve seen in areas resembling Kent and Sussex, hosepipe bans are coming into power to restrict the quantity of water we’re in a position to make use of. Compounded with the acute warmth seen over the weekend, lack of water for consuming and hygiene functions poses severe well being and wellbeing dangers, notably to susceptible occupants.   

Lack of water availability can even negatively have an effect on the difference options we’ve put in place to fight different climate-related hazards resembling excessive warmth. Nature-based options, resembling avenue bushes, inexperienced roofs and partitions, and grassy open areas, are susceptible to drying out if not effectively maintained, resulting in the lack of these pure advantages. 

What are the options we are able to implement to sort out drought within the constructed setting?

With drought occasions more likely to improve in frequency and severity as a result of local weather change, it is crucial that the constructed setting builds in resilience measures to scale back the impacts from dry climate durations.  

Water effectivity measures will probably be key to decreasing our general water utilization and might embrace strategies resembling retrofitting aerated faucets, twin flush bogs and low circulate bathe heads, in addition to making certain water suppliers restore system leaks. For design stage growth, water consumption targets needs to be set for our water utilizing fixtures resembling faucets, showers, and bogs.  

Water assortment and recycling measures can be carried out to retailer water to be used when wanted most. This will vary from easy measures, resembling putting in a water butt to gather rainwater, as much as putting in gray water programs to gather and reuse the water from our showers and sinks.

So, what are the important thing steps enterprise and authorities ought to take?

Instilling this resilience in our communities is one thing we’ve lengthy uncared for – and this summer time’s drought and excessive warmth needs to be our wake-up name. For us to adapt we’ll want everybody to play their half.

For presidency, there’s a clear want for coverage that tackles the dearth of water effectivity at its supply within the water infrastructure. Extra particularly within the constructed setting, there are three key steps coverage makers ought to take:

  • Regulation to encourage water environment friendly home equipment: Half G of constructing laws needs to be up to date to make use of a ‘fittings-based’ method solely, underpinned by a compulsory water label, linked to minimal requirements for fixtures, fittings, and water utilizing merchandise. Minimal product requirements needs to be set to obtain targets of 95 lpppd within the FHS initially, and be tightened over time to realize 75lpppd by 2030, as per the RIBA 2030 Local weather Problem. As well as, authorities ought to seek the advice of on including water effectivity to EPC scores.
  • Coverage for areas with excessive drought threat: Native authorities in water pressured areas ought to retain discretion to ask for increased, pre-set requirements via a Constructing Laws Non-obligatory Requirement.
  • Supporting water reuse: Laws and planning ought to additional incentivise or assist the usage of rainwater harvesting and greywater reuse applied sciences.

For enterprise, utilizing your voice to advocate for higher laws in water effectivity is likely one of the strongest impacts you possibly can have. On a person enterprise, portfolio or venture degree, it’s necessary that home equipment and programs are championing water effectivity wherever potential. As well as, encouraging water reuse in addition to incorporating city greening in initiatives additional reduces water stress. Our constructed setting have to be a driver for this alteration. By implementing these insurance policies and practices, we are able to have a big affect on our communities’ talents to be resilient to water stress brought on by local weather change.

Hannah Giddings and Kai Liebetanz are Senior Advisors at UKGBC.

Hannah labored on the Measuring and Reporting Local weather Associated Bodily Danger steerage which guides asset homeowners and occupiers via the method of exploring the dangers their constructed belongings face – for instance like drought.




Kai labored on the just lately launched Worth of Nature Based mostly Options analysis, which demonstrates the huge plethora of advantages Nature in our cities convey, not solely associated to local weather resilience but in addition, to public financial, social and environmental wellbeing.


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