Published on: 30 May 2023
By: Claudia Bakeev
The introduction of climate adaptation measures into new housing developments in the UK has lagged behind those of our near neighbours. While the UK has been at the forefront of many climate change mitigation efforts, adaptation in housing has been somewhat slower. European national and regional governments introduced stricter regulations on building codes earlier than the UK, specifically with climate resilience in mind.
Adapting to the effects of climate change is going to be a massive undertaking.
A recent UK Climate Change Committee paper on projected adaptation costs noted that additional investment of up to £10 billion per year may be needed this decade to meet the short-term risks in the UK. To ensure our new build developments will be fit for purpose, we need to better consider the long-term outcomes of the new investment, not just the capital value on completion.
Whole Life Costing (WLC) is typically adopted by organisations who have a long-term interest in the asset risk not just the build costs. Currently, these organisations come from the public and infrastructure sectors. WLC in new housing developments is rare, with specifications looking to meet building standards with a suitable return on the investment. There are issues in using Whole Life Costing for these private housing developments as often investors are not looking at longevity.
Without building in adaptation and looking at long-term climate impacts, we are at risk of continuing to treat every impact of extreme weather as isolated events.
Relying on the safety net of the insurance industry is unsustainable.
We should look not just at the CAPEX costs but at the long-term performance of new assets. The additional costs built into the adaptation measures on new construction should be seen as a merging of OPEX and CAPEX costs rather than just CAPEX, as in the long term it will be the asset owners that will manage the risks.