IEMA's digital journalist Tom Pashby explores new climate advice on overheating in buildings.

Just before the UK saw record temperatures, breaking 40C for the first time in recorded history, the government’s official climate advisors, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) published its briefing note looking at Risks to health, wellbeing and productivity from overheating in buildings.

The advice said that “impacts from periods of high temperatures are already being felt in the UK today”; “that increasingly hot summers could lead to a trebling of health and productivity impacts without additional adaptation”; “that there are multiple effective strategies to help limit the health, wellbeing and productivity impacts of overheating which can be implemented today”; and that “government has a critical role in encouraging proactive adaptation to limit overheating health and wellbeing impacts”.

Reacting to the briefing note, Claire Brown MIEMA CEnv, PhD researcher at the University of Manchester’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said:

“We know how to build and retrofit to meet the challenge of overheating, however, the political drive to support and achieve this through policy and legislation is sadly lacking. This is something that has been brought up by the UK Climate Change Committee on multiple occasions.

“Forecasts for UK homes in 2050 and 2080 show substantial issues around overheating and sustained overheating risk than currently designed. It is projected that the UK will see a lot more heat-related deaths because of the climate emergency. Current UK policy does not reflect the standards to which houses need to be built for a changing climate, leading to significant overheating risks now and in the future. More stringent policy and support for adaptation are what is needed.”

The CCC also recommended that the government creates an energy advice service to “provide households with guidance on decarbonising and adapting their homes to climate change”, recommended to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities that they “ensure the upcoming Planning Bill has provisions to expand urban cooling” and that “this should include requirements on expanding blue and green infrastructure and increasing the area of green space in urban areas”.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.