Climate change: challenges facing built environment professionals

Building a better future

13 June 2016

Climate change is often referred to as one of the most significant challenges facing the world. isurv’s newest section Climate change: adaptation and mitigation sets out what built environment professionals need to know

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose ‘green realist’ agenda has led to her being dubbed ‘the climate chancellor’, said going into the December 2015 COP21 Paris climate conference ‘We must now agree on a binding review mechanism under international law, so that this century can credibly be called a century of decarbonisation.’

Following the conference, there could little doubt as to the weight attached to the issue by most major leaders. And yet while these same world leaders fought over the implications of using ‘shall’ or ‘should’ in the wording produced at the high-level talks, they also had to balance the need to ‘go greener’ with economic concerns, particularly those of emerging economies. This is all in danger of sounding rather remote from the concerns of built environment professionals – remote too from the practical steps towards adaptation and mitigation that need to be taken in the course of a project.

There is little doubt either that discussions of climate change are both political and polarising, however, the consensus view of the evidence remains – the risks posed by global climate change could prove devastating. Take, for example, the claim that the rising temperatures occasioned by climate change could make one sixth of all species extinct by the end of the century.

As a sector building and construction is responsible for about 30% of total green house gas emissions

The relevance to those working in property and construction is evident, not least because as a sector building and construction is responsible for about 30% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Launched in May 2016, Climate change: adaptation and mitigation sets out the main issues APC students and people who work in the sector need to be aware of. It is recommended to read it in conjunction with the channel’s core section Key concepts in sustainability.

The new section makes it clear built environment professionals need an understanding of the risks and opportunities that developments may be exposed to and when. This includes understanding what is required in terms of adapting to and mitigating as far as possible against future climatic changes. Associated benefits include reducing the risks to business continuity and decreasing exposure to extreme weather damage among others.

The issues are also examined in terms of relevant legislative and policy drivers, and the implications for existing building stock. A brief, high-level overview of the themes and their implications is then given in the summary. Chris Burgess of Greengage is the author, and the section will follow the channel’s regular quarterly updating cycle. Its publication reflects the isurv sustainability board’s continued commitment to aligning our channel content with the priorities of those affected by developments in this fast-paced and hugely important area.

Further information