As the UK’s climate changes in the coming decades, periods of high temperature will become more common and more intense. As recent heatwaves have demonstrated, high temperatures are a dangerous threat to health and wellbeing and reduce economic productivity. Tackling this risk is one of the highest priorities for an effective response to climate change in the UK. This briefing summarises the evidence base on the impacts of current and future extreme temperatures in the UK and the adaptation actions that can help address these risks in buildings.
2. Key messages
The key conclusions are:
- Impacts from periods of high temperature are already being felt in the UK today.
- Increasingly hot summers could lead to a trebling of health and productivity impacts without additional adaptation.
- There are multiple effective strategies to help limit the health, wellbeing and productivity impacts of overheating which can be implemented today.
- Government has a critical role in encouraging proactive adaptation to limit overheating health and wellbeing impacts.
|Department / Organisation||Recommendation|
|Cross-cutting||Ensure that adaptation is integrated into all policies regarding buildings decarbonisation.|
|Cross-cutting||Create a public energy advice service to provide households with guidance on decarbonising and adapting their homes to climate change, as committed in the Energy Security Strategy. This should include an online platform including high-level trusted information and advice (including on Government schemes), a link to local providers who can undertake assessments of home energy performance, and bespoke support for households wishing to undertake more complex retrofits.|
|DLUHC||Expand the overheating requirement in building regulations to cover refurbishments of existing buildings and conversions of non-domestic buildings to residential.|
|DLUHC||Give local authorities powers to allow more stringent overheating requirements in certain areas.|
|DLUHC||Work with HMT to ensure that local authorities are properly funded to enforce building standards.|
|DLUHC||Ensure the upcoming Planning Bill has provisions to expand urban cooling. This should include requirements on expanding blue and green infrastructure and increasing the area of green space in urban areas.|
|DLUHC||Expand the remit of the new building safety regulator to cover climate change mitigation and adaptation, strengthened through an explicit responsibility for sustainability; and ensure it is fully equipped to monitor and enforce compliance with buildings standards.|
|BEIS||Update existing policies regarding the decarbonisation of buildings – such as private rented sector regulation, or regulation of owner-occupiers - to include adaptation explicitly.|
|BEIS||Overheating risk considered and mitigated against, if necessary, when doing energy efficiency retrofit programmes.|
|BEIS||Make finance available for adaptation measures. This could be via grant schemes or green finance for private owners, with public funding targeted at low-income or vulnerable households alongside energy efficiency retrofit. Include adaptation in the definition of a Green Mortgage.|
|BEIS||Further research to understand when overheating occurs in existing homes, including: ongoing monitoring of temperatures in the housing stock, and number of homes currently adapted.|
|Defra||Introduce an urban greenspace target to reverse the decline and ensure towns and cities are adapted to more frequent heatwaves in the future and that the 25-Year goals are met.|
|HM Treasury (and UKIB)||Work with DLUHC to ensure that local authorities are properly funded to enforce building standards.|
|HM Treasury (and UKIB)||Make finance available to install adaptation measures. This could be via grant schemes or green finance for private owners, with public funding targeted at low-income or vulnerable households alongside energy efficiency retrofit.|
|DHSC||Assess health sector vulnerability to existing and future climate risks, particularly, for care homes and home-based care. Following this, develop a cross-sector approach to address risks. This cross-sector approach should include input from CQC, PHE, NHS, DLUHC and local level public health bodies.|
|DfE, MoJ, DHSC||Inspections of schools, prisons and hospitals to include an assessment of overheating.|