Sustainable housing

Sustainable housing

Why it matters:

We need warm, dry, comfortable homes to keep us safe and protected from the elements.

Some of our existing housing stock may not be able to adapt to changing weather patterns. Climate change will increase the risk of hotter, drier summers and colder, wetter winters – this will put strains onto our existing housing, leading to more frequent repairs and potentially the need to retrofit for more extreme weather.

Increased flooding and heavy rain may exasperate damp problems leading to mould growth which can be detrimental to human health(particularly problematic for older people, children, and people with lung and immune system issues).

Some properties require unsustainable amounts of energy to heat and cool. Fuel poverty affects nearly a quarter of people in Wales. Many households are at risk of being unable to afford to keep their home a stable temperature in a changing climate without investing in energy efficiency measures.

Housing which exists on floodplains or is threatened by sea level rise may be increasingly difficult or expensive to insure.

Creation of new homes or retrofitting existing stock using high carbon materials may compromise our ability to meet carbon reduction targets.

Some raw materials used for building may become scarce in the future or harder to extract due to climate change related diseases, weather conditions, or rising sea levels.

There is potential to increase community well-being through green infrastructure whilst becoming more adaptable to changing weather patterns.

 

What the public sector is doing:

World / Europe:

Across the world governments are examining the potential risks to housing from climate change and ways to mitigate predicted impacts – one example is the Australian Government’s recommendations which include designing transportable housing and ensuring adequate land space for extra water storage.

 

UK:

UK Government – Renewable Heat Incentive

The Green Deal – a framework to enable private firms to offer consumers energy efficiency improvements to their homes, community spaces and businesses.

 

Wales:

The Welsh Government has a number of retrofitting schemes in place to reduce energy emissions and fuel poverty including Re:fit Cymru and Warm Homes Programme.

The ‘Welsh Housing Quality Standard’ specifies that social housing in Wales should meet a certain minimum energy efficiency standard.

There has also been a consultation on the future of ‘ Low Carbon Housing’.

The Welsh Government has developed a ‘Heatwave Plan for Wales: A Framework for Preparedness and Response’ and Natural Resources Wales has resources on flooding; ‘Long Term Flood Risk Mapping‘ and ‘Managing Flood Risk‘.

 

What the third sector is doing:

Centre for Alternative Technology – offers short courses and postgraduate training in sustainable housing

Community Housing Cymru – represents all housing associations in Wales and their members provide traditional as well as specialist social housing for around 10% of the Welsh population.

Energy Saving Trust – Green Network for Social Housing – find a social housing project near you with energy efficiency or other ‘green’ measures.

Flood RE – helping to provide affordable home insurance for those in flood risk areas.

Wales Fuel Poverty Coalition – led by NEA Cymru and Citizens Advice and supported by a steering group made up of a range of key organisations working to take forward the fuel poverty agenda in Wales.

Wildlife Trusts – ‘Homes for people and wildlife: how to build housing in a nature-friendly way’ – advice on nature friendly housing and why this matters.

Zero Carbon Britain – guide to sustainable future of housing in the UK.

 

How you can make a difference:

Increasing insulation in your home or community building can reduce your energy bills and carbon emissions.

If you need to retrofit your home or community building consider using natural materials which can be lower in carbon, more resilient to a changing climate, and have fewer impacts upon health in construction and use.

Utilise your home or workspace to provide space for nature – a green roof or rain garden can help reduce heavy rainfall impacts and helps our ecosystem health.  ‘Greening’ of buildings in this way also provides a more calming and attractive aesthetic which can improve well-being whilst reducing anti-social behaviour.