Adaptation and mitigation: their relationship in the built environment

A survey of contradictions and synergisms

As the climate changes the Netherlands will be confronted with more frequent heat waves, extreme rainfall and drought. There will also be an increased risk of flooding. The country will have to adapt to the new conditions brought about by climate change (adaptation) while at the same time making efforts to prevent such change (mitigation). But what is the precise relationship between adaptation and mitigation? This report looks into the situation with respect to the built environment.

The analysis presented in this study shows there are numerous adaptation measures at the level of individual buildings that have a positive impact on mitigation and vice versa. In other words, there is often synergy. There are also plenty of mitigation measures with a neutral effect on adaptation and vice versa. There are only a few adaptation measures with a negative impact on mitigation, the use of fans and air conditioning systems being the most important. Active cooling of dwelling interiors requires energy, leading to CO2 emissions, unless sustainably generated cold (or energy) is used for the purpose. Stakeholders (housing co-ops, architects, developers, councils, etc.) are still very much unaware of the coming shift in domestic energy demand from the winter to summer as average temperatures in the Netherlands rise. Information campaigns could be used to raise the awareness of the groups in question. By applying ‘passive cooling’ principles (suitable use of shade, south-facing buildings and efficient options for night-time ventilation) homes can be kept comfortable for many years to come. Another key issue is to give due prominence in the Energy Performance Standards for Buildings (EPG) to the amount of energy used in homes for active cooling.

Report

Authors CE

Lonneke Wielders

Delft, October 2008