CLIMATE AND YOUR HOME

CLIMATE AND YOUR HOME
Category : Door Hardware
Date : 20/01/2020

Human beings have tried to change the weather through the centuries. People have been praying, dancing, seeding clouds and using other strategies to get more rain, stop rain, decrease heat and warm things up a little. We have never actively tried to change climate — the average weather conditions over an extended period of time — but unwittingly we have consistently changed the environment, and we are changing it today.

Global climate change is a major societal problem that many people do not understand, do not take seriously and do not perceive to be a major public-policy concern. We think about climate change as we do about the trade deficit, crime, and television—'as a small concern to us, if any '.

Yet, with the exception of a few contrarians, the scientific community views climate as one of the major challenges facing society in the coming decades. Appraisal of the threat of climate change by the scientific community has not convinced many governments to take action to address the problem.

While many environmental risks (such as nuclear contamination) raise greater anxiety among policy-makers and the public than among science community members, climate change appears to produce the reverse outcome.

But not everyone is downplaying the threat of global climate change. Internationally and at home, industry and certain governments are reacting to climate change science in ways that will impact us and our grandchildren.

Occasionally, climate change is a front-page news item, as in the case of hurricane or fire damage, but later coverage may question whether the original storey was well-deserved or even correct. Once detailed science storeys hit front pages or large portions of the popular media, they are often framed in a way that seems exaggerated.

In addition, a sense of non-consensus on climate change is the product of the complexity of the research, which is focused on both computer models and on actual field experiments, measurements and completed studies. Computer models are powerful tools that make assumptions that critics don't always see as credible, and even mainline scientists agree that the models need refining.

On the basis of a growing body of observations, field research, ice core drilling and increasingly detailed computer models, the majority of scientists share the view that climate change is real, serious and, to an important extent, human-induced.

We frequently hear about scientific findings from professionals who are not skilled in conversation or are qualified to interact with peers only. It is therefore not unusual for people living in different regions of the country to differ in their views as to what is going on and what if anything needs to be done.

Our home provides shelter from the climate to its occupants, but as the climate changes, the home may not be able to meet this need. In general, temperatures are rising, sea levels are rising, and extreme weather conditions are more likely. If climate change is considered when a home is designed or modified, it is likely to remain comfortable for a longer period of time, possibly for a lifetime.

Although it is important to reduce the severity of climate change by mitigation measures such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the ability to prevent the impacts of climate change has been fully extended (DCCEE 2010). If we want to ensure that our houses remain' as secure as our homes' we need to recognise and adjust to the climate of the future.

Across Australia, the average life of a brick home is 88 years and the timber home is 58 years (Snow and Prasad 2011); others last longer than that. The decisions taken today on homes will therefore continue to have consequences for many decades.

Australia, because of its size, has a range of climates which will vary in their response to climate change. In general there will be:

  • higher temperatures
  • higher annual rainfall in the north, lower rainfall in the south
  • longer periods of drought
  • increased number of days of very high, extreme or catastrophic fire danger
  • increased risk and intensity of severe weather such as tropical cyclones, floods, hailstorms and droughts.

 

Good design for climate change is a design that is versatile enough to adjust to prevailing conditions while at the same time maximising the comfort of the occupants and the livability of the house.

When considering design or redesign of a home, ask the following questions:

  1. What are the climate variables that could affect the building?
  2. Will climate change impacts affect the site and the building?
  3. What are the likely consequences to the home in the event of extreme weather?

 

Strategies put in place early will reduce future costs; connecting activities to building, maintenance or repair periods will also minimise costs (Major and O'Grady 2010; Snow and Prasad 2011). Decisions can be taken without accurate predictions of future climate change. A selection of plausible scenarios that incorporate climate predictions can help to examine potential outcomes and threats (Snow and Prasad 2011).

Seek professional advice (e.g. from your architect or designer) before acting. Once the options have been identified, compare them against other factors:

  • How effective will the option be over the life of the house? Is it flexible enough to respond to climate conditions?
  • How practical is the option, and is it easy and relatively inexpensive to maintain?
  • Is it compatible with the existing dwelling?
  • Are there other benefits, or undesired side effects, that arise from the option?

 

Flexibility in the process means that changing climate conditions can be taken into account. The design incorporates pathways for adaptation in the future, which can be taken without too much additional cost, if necessary.

It may not be necessary to build a fortress — a home that can withstand all impacts while complying with building regulations.

The best adaptation actions are win-win or low/no regret, i.e. they may offer other benefits. For example, concrete floors which have high thermal mass have the potential to keep the home warm or cool, and also recover well should the house be flooded.

Adaptation and mitigation will complement each other and reduce risks together. Conversely, ensure that these acts do not contradict each other. For example, adaptation behaviour for one impact on climate change could cause a home to be less well adjusted to other impacts (' maladaptation ') or could even produce a home that is less livable for evolving lifestyle needs.

Raising temperatures and a greater number of extremely hot days are one of the main expected effects of climate change. The need to keep your home cool during the summer months will be higher, especially during extreme heat. Power failures and consequent discomfort may be more likely to occur during extreme heat events.

 

On the other hand, there should be less need to heat the home during the winter. Good passive design will help to capture these savings. It can reduce the need to rely on air conditioners and heaters and can cool the home without increasing the use of power or producing greenhouse gases.

There are many options for improving the passive thermal properties of homes:

  1. Use the most energy efficient stoves, fridges, lighting and other equipment to lessen internal heat gains from sources.
  2. Use reflective glazing, external shading and reflective roofing.
  3. Capture natural ventilation.
  4. Install whirlybirds to remove heated air from the roof cavity.
  5. Use green roof design.
  6. Increase insulation and add thermal mass.
  7. Use photo-voltaic, solar, biomass and wind-powered cooling technology.
  8. Build your home with an appropriate orientation to the sun.

 

Droughts will be more severe in areas where rainfall will decline. Flows in the water supply will decrease and water evaporation and tree transpiration will increase due to higher temperatures. Minimising water use and maximising water efficiency and water capture are key to ensuring that there is enough water to maintain lifestyles.

Greater foreshore erosion could also expose more homes to the effects of storm surges and rising sea levels (especially on sandy coasts). Storm water systems may be less able to drain into the sea and may therefore cause further inland flooding.

The projected increase in precipitation intensity is likely to lead to more flooding. Flooding may be localised or associated with the system of the river. Possible impacts include damage to the home and its contents by water, undermining the foundations and contamination of the home by sewage or mud.

Seek the advice of a professional, e.g. an architect or designer, before you make any changes to the design or redesign of your home.

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