George Clarke takes a scary look at the future
I’m sitting writing this in my shorts. Nothing else, just my shorts.
Why am I sharing this awful vision with you? Because at the time of writing it’s very hot. I’m at my desk at home and the temperature is 30 degrees. It’s been like this for days.
But, this isn’t just a random spike in temperatures for the UK. The entire planet experienced its hottest June ever on record, followed by the hottest July on record, breaking previous records by huge margins.
In the UK water conservation has been largely ignored since the summer of 1976 – until now.
The impact of erratic rainfall patterns has highlighted the wider impact of overuse of water resources.
Even in the UK the change in weather patterns due to global climate change have resulted in, mostly, short term supply issues. In addition to these ‘direct impacts’, the process of cleaning, processing, and heating water accounts for 6% of CO2 emissions in the UK.
With autumn now our doorsteps, Tom Bowland looks back at a scorching hot summer in the UK and what this means when it comes to overheating and building design.
I’d like to say that as I write this blog in the fading heat of what was a really hot summer, I am sitting in the comfortably air conditioned Mitsubishi Electric offices in Manchester. Unfortunately, I’m working at home, with no cooling other than an open window and plenty of ice cubes in my drink.
Here in the UK, our buildings have primarily been designed on the principle that this is a cold country, leaving them ill-designed to cope with heatwaves. Years of legislation aimed at reducing energy use (with the best intentions) have resulted in air-tight buildings that effectively lock in the heat when temperatures rise.
Compared to pre-industrial times, average land temperatures have risen about 1.2 °C. By 2052, global temperatures will likely exceed pre-industrial levels by 1.5 °C. The Met Office is warning that heat waves will become more frequent and more intense, predicting prolonged heat waves every other year from 2050 onwards, with temperatures exceeding 40 °C. How will the UK housing stock fare in all this? Not well, as two major 2021 studies have shown.
Environmental concerns are again in the media, the latest report by the Climate Change Committee is painting a bleak picture of the future if action is not taken to reduce the impact we have on the planet.
Water, in the UK, has not traditionally been an area of concern, but understanding of the impact on the environment has begun to be more widely recognised. Despite our rainfall, population and demand continue to grow. This alongside aging networks springing leaks puts our water system under strain like never before.
One water company has thrown out traditional practice and adopted a new method of working that tackles these issues and future proofs their network.
George Clarke looks at the huge challenge to make existing homes zero-carbon
There are nearly 67 million people living in 25 million dwellings in Britain. In our temperate climate, all these homes need heating and hot water and they also need power to keep the lights on.
That means they need energy and that energy, most of the time, comes from fossil fuels. Things are beginning to change, but UK housing has a massive dependancy on fossil fuels.
Yet we live in a country where over 2.5 million currently live in fuel poverty.
What does the future hold for those in fuel poverty and the rest of Britain when household energy bills are predicted to increase by up to 50% from April?