National Existing homes Adaptation Tool (NEAT)



Welcome to the National Existing homes Adaptation Tool (NEAT). This will help you to assess how well prepared you and your homes are for the current and future weather.

What is climate change adaptation?                                 Why is adaptation important?  
Who is this tool for?                                                       How does this tool assist?
Climate change projections                                             How future weather will impact on us
Floods                                 Overheating                        Water stress


What is climate change adaptation?

Adaptation addresses the impacts of unavoidable climate change, examples of which include increased flood or drought risk and health impacts. It is a response to impacts risks that may directly affect human actions and the environment in which we live. 

Adaptation is not associated with mitigation measures which are ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by addressing the cause. However, climate change mitigation and adaptation are complementary and both are vital in responding to climate change.

This tool, the National Existing homes Adaptation Tool, helps assess how well prepared you are for current and future weather related risks.

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Why is adaptation important?

Climate change presents short, medium and long-term threats and opportunities.  Many of us are currently at risk from the weather.  The 2009 floods in Southern England left 3,000 homes without electricity, and closed 200 schools. Too much heat can also have a significant impact with heat stress leading to increased morbidity and mortality.   The summer heat waves experienced in the UK during 2003 caused an estimated 2000 excess deaths.   While adaptation cannot change the weather, it can help prevent some of its negative impacts and consequences.  Climate change is likely to alter these risks in the future. 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere will cause global temperature to rise by at least 1ºC over the next 30-40 years, and by as much as 4ºC by the end of the century.  The climate experienced by the UK as a result of these global changes can be explored through the UKCP09 products (https://ukclimateprojections.defra.gov.uk/content/view/515/675/).  Our climate is changing and these changes mean that floods, heat waves and droughts are becoming more likely. 

As our climate changes many owners and managers of homes will need to consider how homes can be changed to better cope with the new conditions. To plan a strategy based on historic climate data is no longer a sufficiently robust approach. It could lead to inadequate preparation and, increasingly, government and insurers require climate changes to be factored in to decision making.  While it is not cost-free, planned adaptation is generally more cost-effective than last minute reactive adaptation, which may be too late in any event.  In addition to providing residents with comfortable homes to live in adaptation can deliver immediate local benefits and enhance your organisation's reputation. 

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Who is this tool for?

NEAT is for organisations that manage homes.  This includes: housing associations, local authorities, arms length management organizations or private sector organisations that manage estates.

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How does this tool assist?

Many of the current standards used to assess the quality of homes do not include steps on adaptation.  That is where the National Existing homes Adaptation Tool (NEAT) assists.  NEAT provides an easy to follow guide with steps you can take to adapt homes you own or manage.  Adapting to likely climate change will reduce, but not eliminate, the risks which climate impacts pose to your capital and service provision. 

NEAT does not focus on reducing carbon dioxide emissions (mitigating climate change).

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Climate change projections

So how is our climate changing?  Below are some of the key UK climate projections as reported in the UK climate projections 2009 science report (UKCP09 report).  More information and a full list of caveats is at https://ukclimateprojections.defra.gov.uk/ 

Caveats
i)             This guide focuses on steps you can take to adapt your home/s to our changing climate. As such the following projections list only some of the land related issues.  Should you like to understand other issues such as snow fall prevalence, soil moisture content and humidity, please investigate the report further at the above link.

ii)             The following projections focus on the medium emissions scenario for the UK from 2050 to 2080.   Projections can be different for other time periods and other emissions scenarios. Should you like to consider risks or more specific information for your region it is recommended that you consider the full report.

The UK Climate Projections, (UKCP09),  provide information on how the UK’s climate is likely to change in the 21st century, as it responds to rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. They provide information at both the national level and regional level for each of the 16 administrative regions for the 2025s, 2050s and 2080s under high, medium and low climate change emission scenarios, at the 10% (very unlikely to be less than), 50% (central estimate), and 90% (very unlikely to be greater than) probability levels, for changes in mean summer and winter precipitation and temperature and sea level changes.

UK land and sea level projections for 2050 under the medium emissions scenario

  • The mean daily change in winter precipitation is expected to increase across the UK. Increases in the winter average are up to 31% (3 to 31%) in parts of Southern England and up to 24% increase (3-24%) in parts of northern Britain.
  • The mean daily change in summer precipitation is expected to decrease across the UK. Decreases in the summer average are up to 34% less (+14 to -34) in parts of Southern England, and up to 21% less (+6 to -21%) in parts of Northern Britain.
  • The mean daily maximum temperature is expected to increase across the UK. Increases in the summer average are up to 3.8ºC (1.2 to 6.7ºC) in parts of southern England and 1.9ºC (0.6 to 3.4ºC) in parts of northern Britain.
  • Rise of sea level – the central estimate for changes in the sea level relative to 1990’s level under the medium emissions scenario are 13.9cm (Edinburgh) 14.5cm (Belfast) and 21.8 cm (London and Cardiff),

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How future weather will impact on us

Floods

Flooding already causes significant damage and disrupts the lives of occupants. Recent flood events and impacts include:

19981,500 people evacuated from their homes in Midlands and Wales  total damage of the floods is estimated at over £500m
2000South East England as river Uck and others burst their banks.  Damage to 10,000 homes.  Cost of over £2 billion. Seventeen severe flood warnings
2007Over 49,000 homes were damaged in the north east and south west of England.  With an average insurance bill of over £50,000.  Total damage from the floods is estimated at over £3.2 billion.
2009North East – 1,000 households left without power. Forty business flooded and eleven bridges were closed.  Twenty two flood warnings were in force
2009Southern England – 3,000 homes were left without electricity
200 schools were closed for the day

 

Climate change will increase the frequency and severity of floods.  “In real terms flood related damage could double in an average year, and triple in an extreme year, compared to current levels” Your home in a changing climate - ARUP

Increased rates of flooding is likely to mean:

  • more frequent and costly repairs to flood damaged properties and estates.
  • increased loss of life, injury and disease and place an increased mental stress on those tenants/residents affected. In turn this may place an additional financial burden on the housing provider who may have to divert more service provision to the support of these residents
  • higher insurance premiums - (some areas in the future may be uninsurable) for providers of housing. In areas where properties are more at risk from flooding or have previously flooded, higher insurance premiums are likely.
  • increased need for housing providers to engage with their residents and tenants on these issues and ensure appropriate emergency plans are in place as part of their overall contingency plan process. This will mean additional resources and the extension of job roles as part of service provision.  For instance neighbourhood staff may need to inform tenants about flood risk and provide feedback to maintenance teams on blocked gullies.
  • increased danger of power cuts potentially leading to contaminated water, (due to flood waters containing silt and sewerage) and lack of access to fresh supplies of water and food.

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Overheating

The South East and the South West of England are likely to experience the highest rises in temperature, which will lead to increased demand for mechanical cooling and non potable water for homes with gardens - other large towns and cities across the country are also likely to be affected. In large urban areas such as London, Manchester and Sheffield, night time temperatures will be further elevated by the 'Urban Heat Island' effect, with homes not being able to cool enough to cool our body temperatures at night.  Periods of warmer temperatures will result in:

  • heat stress leading to increased morbidity and mortality; the summer heat waves experienced in the UK during 2003 caused an estimated 2000 excess deaths.  A summer like that is expected every second year by 2050. This is a particular concern for those less tolerant of extreme temperatures such as the elderly, children, expectant mothers, and those in poor health.
  • ‘vulnerable groups’, including those on low incomes, the elderly, those with physical and mental health issues, single parent families and people in poor health  are often less likely to be able to afford to pay for required adaptation measures that can mitigate against the future affects of increased temperature rises, such as winter insulation, ventilation, shading and cooling measures.
  • thermal discomfort - warmer summers will mean more days when opening windows will not be sufficient to provide enough cooling benefit. Homes will become increasingly uncomfortable in summer unless other methods of cooling are used.
  • increased demand for mechanical cooling, (such as air conditioning). As most forms of mechanical air conditioning are energy inefficient this will exacerbate climate change and will also result in higher levels of noise pollution, an increased risk of power cuts as demand for energy increases; (the West End of London blacked out in August 2006 due to businesses’ excessive use of air conditioning units) and higher fuel bills for tenants, and residents.

Housing providers should be aware of the risks of mal-adaptation of their stock to climate change. For instance improved levels of insulation, air tightness and more efficient heating systems have the benefits of improved warmth, lower fuel bills and in turn lower carbon emissions. However these measures can trap heat if properties are not adequately ventilated or shaded.

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Water stress

The severity of water shortages is partly dependant upon the location of housing (e.g. whether it is in a rural or urban location), regional variations in water supply and the existing levels of commercial and industrial infrastructure.  These issues are particularly stark in some regions. The South East and Eastern region are already areas of water stress and projections show that these areas may receive 30 per cent less summer rainfall by 2050.

While there are likely to be an increasing number of high rainfall events this often does not lead to increased capture of water.  The water that falls in heavy downfalls is likely to run off before it can be stored. Increased water stress is likely to lead to the following:

  • increased periods of water shortages for tenants, and consequent affects on peoples health and overall quality of life.
  • rising water bills having a negative effect on those more vulnerable groups who are less able to pay increases in their water and fuel bills .
  • increased carbon emissions associated with the construction of new reservoirs.  In 2006/07 the UK water industry emitted 5 million tones of greenhouse gases through treating and supplying clean water and dealing with waste water and sewerage, (source Greenhouse gas implications by the Environment Agency).
  • increased pressure for land use, between the needs for additional water infrastructure, agricultural to cope with the additional droughts and additional housing requirements, especially around the South East which is already has a number of targets for more housing.
  • low river flows which in turn means less potential to dilute pollutants.  There are likely impacts for water quality, and housing developments near rivers may become less favourable to potential tenants, which may affect housing providers’ income.

Fifty-six per cent of water supplied through the mains water system is used for domestic housing.  Becoming more water efficient can make a significant contribution to easing this pressure.

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We hope you found this introduction useful.  If you would like to know how well prepared you are for current and future weather related risks please use the NEAT tool.

We would like to thank the following for their contributions in the development of the NEAT tool
Louise Clancy, Greater London Authority
Will Lochhead, DEFRA
Steven Jones, DEFRA
Alastair Brown, UK Climate Impacts Programme
Roger Street, UK Climate Impacts Programme
Pete Thompson, East Thames Housing Group
Jennifer Schooling, ARUP
Mark Ellis Jones, Environment Agency