No Content Set
Exception:
Website.Models.ViewModels.Components.General.Banners.BannerComponentVm

Services

Technical services and consulting solutions for clients in the property, energy, transport, water, resources, defence and government sectors.

Advisory and management consulting

Advisory and management consulting services for businesses and projects, including economics, due diligence, transaction advisory, ESG and more.

Communications, creative and digital

Communications, creative and digital solutions for governments and businesses including community engagement, design, research, data and software development.

Laboratories

Scientific analysis services for AgroScience, food safety, workplace exposure, environmental metrics and contaminants of concern in Europe and the UK.

Planning and approvals

Development strategy, planning and approval solutions for buildings, infrastructure, transport and city projects and investments.

Project and program management

Project management solutions for the most complex building, infrastructure, organisational change, and systems projects.

Training

Specialist training services, programs and accreditation for health, safety and risk, project management, and energy sector capability development.

Sectors

World-leading technical and consulting solutions for clients in the property, energy, transport, resources, water, defence and government sectors.

Property

Design, technical and advisory services for the property sector, including residential, commercial, retail, industrial, health, education and data centre projects.

Energy

Energy exploration, development and optimisation solutions for renewables, power and gas networks, energy storage, oil and gas and nuclear facilties.

Transport

Smart, safe and sustainable transport infrastructure development services and advice for rail, aviation, port and road clients and projects.

Defence and government services

Expertise for defence capability and infrastructure investments, security and safety projects, and information and telecommunications initatives.

Water

Discover our industry-leading strategy, design and management solutions for wastewater, groundwater, flooding, drainage and network infrastructure.

Resources

Commercial data, design advice and technical management solutions for safe and environmentally responsible resource exploration and operations.

About us

Responsibility

Services

Technical services and consulting solutions for clients in the property, energy, transport, water, resources, defence and government sectors.

explore Services
Advisory and management consulting

Advisory and management consulting services for businesses and projects, including economics, due diligence, transaction advisory, ESG and more.

Due diligence

Economics

Strategy and transformation

Commercial and technical advisory

Transaction advisory

Project investment and finance

ESG consulting

Explore Advisory and management consulting
Communications, creative and digital

Communications, creative and digital solutions for governments and businesses including community engagement, design, research, data and software development.

Communications and engagement

Creative, visualisation and immersive design

Social advisory and research

Data management, analytics and insights

Spatial intelligence and GIS

Software development

Explore Communications, creative and digital
Design and development

Technical and consulting services for buildings, infrastructure and cities including architecture, engineering, surveying, landscape architecture and urban design.

Architecture

Lifts and escalators

Building services engineering

Civil engineering

Fire engineering

Geotechnical engineering

Landscape architecture

Structural engineering

Surveying

Utility options and design

Urban design

Explore Design and development
Laboratories

Scientific analysis services for AgroScience, food safety, workplace exposure, environmental metrics and contaminants of concern in Europe and the UK.

AgroScience analysis

Food safety analysis

PFAS Analysis

Environmental analysis

Analysis of unknowns

Workplace exposure analysis

Explore Laboratories
Oceans and coastal

RPS technical solutions for marine infrastructure and offshore development including coastal engineering, marine biology metocean science, and emergency response.

Coastal and marine geoscience

Coastal engineering

Design criteria studies

Marine biology

24/7 response modelling and support services

Marine life mitigation - PSOs, MMOs and PAM

Maritime infrastructure

Metocean, Science and Technology

Modelling

Explore Oceans and coastal
Planning and approvals

Development strategy, planning and approval solutions for buildings, infrastructure, transport and city projects and investments.

Planning consultancy

Transport planning

Explore Planning and approvals
Project and program management

Project management solutions for the most complex building, infrastructure, organisational change, and systems projects.

Program management

Project management

Cost management / quantity surveying

Building consultancy

Explore Project and program management
Training

Specialist training services, programs and accreditation for health, safety and risk, project management, and energy sector capability development.

Health, safety and risk

Training: project management

Capability development and training for the energy sector

Explore Training

Sectors

World-leading technical and consulting solutions for clients in the property, energy, transport, resources, water, defence and government sectors.

explore Sectors
Property

Design, technical and advisory services for the property sector, including residential, commercial, retail, industrial, health, education and data centre projects.

Residential

Commercial and retail

Leisure and tourism

Industrial

Health and healthcare

Education

Data centres

Explore Property
Energy

Energy exploration, development and optimisation solutions for renewables, power and gas networks, energy storage, oil and gas and nuclear facilties.

Oil and gas

Renewables

Nuclear facilities

Power and gas networks

Storage

Explore Energy
Transport

Smart, safe and sustainable transport infrastructure development services and advice for rail, aviation, port and road clients and projects.

Rail

Aviation

Ports

Roads

Explore Transport
Defence and government services

Expertise for defence capability and infrastructure investments, security and safety projects, and information and telecommunications initatives.

Defence

Security and safety

Information and telecommunications

Explore Defence and government services
Water

Discover our industry-leading strategy, design and management solutions for wastewater, groundwater, flooding, drainage and network infrastructure.

Water management

Wastewater

Flooding and drainage

Groundwater

UK and Ireland regulated water asset management

Explore Water
Resources

Commercial data, design advice and technical management solutions for safe and environmentally responsible resource exploration and operations.

Mining

Waste

Explore Resources

Projects

We define, design and manage projects that create shared value to a complex, urbanising and resource-scarce world.

explore Projects

Brilliant minds finding solutions to complex problems, made easy to understand. Making complex easy.

Brilliant minds finding solutions to complex problems, made easy to understand. Making complex easy.

explore Insights

Climate Change and Overheating

Our sustainability, flood risk and ESG experts discuss the impacts of climate change and overheating on businesses and the key considerations that need to be addressed to become future-ready.

09 June 2021 | 12 min read
Ola Holmstrom

UK

Foreword

The impacts of climate change will be felt all across society and industry. This paper will provide further insight into the risk arising from overheating and, importantly, how this will be felt by businesses.

While not unsurmountable, measures to protect and mitigate against these effects can require significant time to plan and implement.

It’s critical for businesses to become future-ready; to identify how they will respond to key issues and prepare clear actionable plans to mitigate the risks and benefit from the opportunities.

Focusing on the considerations for property owners, developers and investors, we discuss the key areas of vulnerability and provide guidance on where to begin.

 

Overheating in buildings

One of the associated challenges of rising temperatures is overheating in buildings. There is growing evidence of an increased incidence of overheating in buildings without air-conditioning during warm weather, especially homes in temperate climates where the retention of winter heat has been the principal focus of thermal design.

The overheating issue is shaped by considering:

  • Why is overheating a problem and why now?
  • How do people respond to heat?
  • Can we predict overheating?
  • How can overheating be addressed?

 

Why is overheating a problem, and why now?

Researchers at the University of Bremen in Germany have recently completed one of the most comprehensive investigations of the Earth's climate history to date and their findings are not encouraging. They found that without immediate and stringent action, our planet is on track for one of the strongest and fastest climate change events ever experienced; eventually warming to levels not reached in at least 34 million years.

The report identifies that Earth has passed through four distinct climate phases: Warmhouse, Hothouse, Coolhouse and Icehouse states. The transition between states has generally been the result of a change in greenhouse gas levels (often triggered by volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters) as well as shifts in the Earth’s orbit, affecting the levels of solar energy reaching the planet.

Source: Statista

At its hottest, more than 50 million years ago, temperatures on Earth were over 10°C hotter than they are today. But it took the planet thousands, or even millions, of years to reach these temperatures - long before humans existed.

That’s in blatant contrast to the climate change that human activity is causing today. The good news is this isn’t an inevitable future.

Organisations continue to position themselves as responsible and sustainable whilst pressures from consumers, infrastructure, climatic impacts and the government drives forward the pace of change. It’s clear that those who are best prepared will be the ones that succeed in the coming years. Are you ready?

 

Heatwaves

Defined as prolonged periods of excessive heat, heatwaves are a specific type of extreme temperature event with many adverse impacts on human health, agriculture, workplace productivity, wildfire frequency and intensity, and public infrastructure. These impacts will increase as global warming progresses, where more rapid heatwave trends will likely produce more severe and possibly irreversible impacts in some sectors.

 

Predictions and statistics from major organisations in the sector:

UKCP18 National Climate Projections

How do people respond to heat?

Excess heat affects the health and wellbeing of occupants, especially if sleep is degraded. In extreme cases, the heat stress caused can lead to premature mortality, particularly amongst more vulnerable members of society. This problem was highlighted by the devastating 2003 pan-European heatwave which caused an estimated 70,000 premature deaths. In territories where air-conditioning is already used, or even essential to maintain comfort, there is an interest in the indoor temperatures that might occur should the mechanical cooling equipment or the electricity supply fail. The concern here is survivability in relatively rare and unpredictable circumstances.

There are currently around 2,000 heat-related deaths in the UK each year.  Much of this increased risk is thought to be caused by exposure to high indoor temperatures. 

Apart from the very real human cost of this, there is also an associated economic cost. The first UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA), published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in 2012, estimated that the cost from heat-related mortality due to climate change would increase from a total annual figure of £10-50 million now to between £25-150 million per year by 2050 and £40-350 million by 2080. This is classed as a ‘high magnitude’ risk according to the Government’s own criteria. Overheating risks to health also emerged as one of the top six key risks where more action is required in the most recent CCRA evidence report for Government, published by the Adaptation Sub-Committee in 2016.

Increased mortality is only one component of the effects of overheating. Illness, poor thermal comfort and reduced productivity and wellbeing are all major economic and social concerns, but there is almost no robust measurement of these impacts in the UK.

A good proportion of UK buildings are over 100 years old. These can be at higher risk because of overheating and climate change. These may require conversion or retrofitting to address the above risks.

Can we predict overheating?

There are many factors that will determine indoor summer temperatures in UK dwellings. These factors include:

  • The external climate
  • Location
  • Dwelling orientation
  • Room type
  • Time of day
  • Building fabric characteristics
  • Occupant behaviour
  • Air movement
  • Shading, reflection and protection

A number of studies by RPS have identified that an unintended consequence of high insulation and air tightness standards of newly built and retrofitted houses may be overheating. Communal areas, corridors and elderly homes are among the areas which are more at risk.

 

 

How can overheating be addressed?

It has been suggested that changing the positioning of insulation, i.e. external rather than internal, may minimise the risk of extreme temperatures during the summer. Our study shows that generally, thermal mass coupled with night cooling through ventilation has been identified as a relatively effective measure to combat domestic overheating. Thermal mass refers to how light or heavy the structure is and is defined as the ability of a material to absorb and store heat energy. Another key finding with significant implications for design and operation is that natural ventilation may become a ‘double-edged sword’ in the future, coupled with low G-value glazing which determines how well the glass transmits heat from the sun.

As ambient temperatures are projected to increase, daytime ventilation may not be beneficial for the mitigation of overheating as the incoming air will be at a high temperature. In addition, night purge ventilation will be effective only if the diurnal temperature variation is significant enough to flush away the heat stored in the building. However, this is also likely to change under current climate change projections. Night-Purge Ventilation (or "night flushing") keeps windows and other passive ventilation openings closed during the day, but open at night to flush warm air out of the building and cool thermal mass for the next day.

 

Wider environmental impacts

Though an obvious conclusion, the increased heat will lead to more droughts in the UK. However, what is perhaps not as obvious are the far-reaching consequences of these droughts. With the advent of longer and more frequent heatwaves, the summer periods become dryer - not only because less rain falls but because the rain that does fall tends to fall in shorter and more intense storms. Such rainstorms cause water to move quickly to streams with far less infiltrating into the ground. The result is that the groundwater tables around the country are not recharged, and this is happening at a time when the vegetation will draw more water from the groundwater to help them deal with the intensified hot weather.

Cracked soil

The flipside of the coin is that the occurrence of shorter sharper rainstorms during heatwaves is exactly the type of storm that is the most dangerous for creating flash flood events. These events are created from the fact that hot air can hold more water vapour, but the more water held, the less of a change is needed to create a devastating rainfall. The process of water vapour coalescing into raindrops releases energy that manifests itself as wind. This wind moves more air and under some circumstance brings increased vapour-filled air into the location of the rainstorm, further fuelling it. These flash floods are far less predictable, in terms of location, than the river floods and can occur almost anywhere.

Landslide

The impact of climate change on businesses

Aside from the social impacts mentioned above, businesses are likely to see increased energy demand from air conditioning. There will be a need for enhanced building or plant specifications and operational capital expenditure to cope with climate variability and consequential increases in carbon emissions. Business assets will need to be future-ready.

In terms of day to day business, new strategies and performance improvements will need to consider how businesses will remain on-target with existing commitments made on climate action and resource efficiency. This is where it helps to have a good technical partner on-board to anticipate and navigate business operations through these changes.

What is clear, is that very few sectors will be unaffected moving forwards. From property estate managers, investors and asset owners through to insurers, the cost of maintenance and refurbishment is set to rise. The industrial sector will likely witness impacts as refrigerant demands change, affecting the chilled / frozen food sector and data-site operations against a rising growth of demand fuelled by e-commerce (more so during Covid-19 restrictions). The rising energy demand and refrigerant specifications will require careful consideration.

Outside of these areas, key commercial areas in the UK are reliant on raw materials and agricultural commodities. We acknowledge that in the above scenarios, increased water demand from crops due to overheating may be unsustainable in the medium-longer term, leading to water scarcity issues that have far wider reaching implications for business and society as a whole.

Covid-19 has focused the minds of business leaders and has exposed weaknesses in the way business activities, operations and supply chains are managed. Many are taking the time to act now and are preparing themselves for a more normal return to business that is better prepared to adapt to climate change impacts.

How we can help

At RPS we have an experienced energy and sustainability team, specialising in overheating and thermal comfort assessment for both residential and non-residential buildings. We use advanced 3D modelling and CIBSE TM 59 and TM 52 to model and assess potential overheating issues, followed by assessing the potential effectiveness of remedial measures.

We also have a strong multidisciplinary environment team who can provide all the relevant know-how needed to ensure that assets such as roads and buildings, agricultural land and landscaped gardens and all other built environment assets are designed in a manner that renders them heatwave resistant. The Sustainable Business and ESG team can help businesses assess the liabilities associated with heatwaves and plot the best course of action to minimise the future impact of what we all can see is coming.

Thanks to the RPS Energy & Sustainability, Hydrology and Sustainable Business & ESG teams for their contribution to this White Paper.