There is increased attention being put on building homes that are fit for the future, but 85% of our current homes will still be around in 2050. With global temperatures set to rise anywhere between 1°C and 4°C, there is a growing concern about how these homes will cope with the future climate.
Recent heat waves have seen a number of deaths, and flooding over the last few years has caused widespread disruption and displacement. While no specific weather event can be directly attributed to climate change, increases in severity and/or frequency are more likely in the future. It is therefore crucial that as many homes as possible are safe from the risks this brings.
Recent research has examined the number of homes managed by social landlords that are at low or no risk from flooding and overheating. The study looked at 53 landlords that have undergone assessment of their environmental performance.
Flooding was of particular concern, as more than 5 million people in England and Wales are currently at risk of flooding. The number of homes likely to be flooded is set to rise by 20% by 2035.
The table in figure one (click to enlarge) shows that of the assessed landlords, 60% of homes managed were classified as at low risk of flooding. That is an improvement of 27% from similar research conducted in 2012, and works out as an extra 314,000 homes. The landlords taking part in the study are being proactive and engaging with residents. Over 50% of landlords in the research reported more than 80% of their homes were at low risk of flooding.
Excess winter deaths are rightly a concern for many, and retrofitting homes to limit heat loss is commendable and important work. However, if done incorrectly, this comes with the risk of overheating in the summer. Heat waves are becoming more common across Europe, and can have lethal effects. In some UK properties, temperatures of up to 50°C have been recorded. Adapting homes to withstand these temperatures and protect residents is crucial. Between 2012 and 2014, the number of homes at low risk of overheating managed by SHIFT landlords increased from 14% to 21%.
This is a great improvement, but the results have been skewed by some landlords assessing most of their stock, while more than half of landlords have done little or nothing on this issue. It is great to see improvements being made, but if the housing sector is to meet the 2020 target of 100% of homes safe from overheating, a lot more work must be done in this area.
To read more about how social landlords are improving their environmental performance across a broad spectrum of measures, download the full report here.
Our thanks to some of the organisations involved in SHIFT