Encyclopedia of Sustainable Technologies - Adaptation of Buildings to Climate Change

Elsevier, Encyclopedia of Sustainable Technologies, Volume , 4 July 2017
S. Aysha and Monto Mani

Climate change is an ongoing and imminent phenomenon and currently threatens, to various degrees, all habitations across the world. Habitations comprise of built environments that have traditionally evolved in adaptive response to the prevalent natural environment characterized by climate, local resources, ecosystem services, and the evolving culture and lifestyles of people. However, in the present scenario, buildings are responsible for more than 50% of the global usage of resources and energy and the consequent emissions. Further, climate change is manifesting at a much rapid pace than expected and its implication on buildings is unclear. The adaptation to climate change is now an additional functional requirement expected from a building. The specific response would vary according to the type of the building, climatic zone, demand on resources and energy placed by the building, prevalent lifestyle and physiological resilience of the occupants, and the vulnerability to climate change. While vulnerability is impending, its intensity and specific manifestation is unclear; it is pronounced in tropical regions characterized by dense human population and mostly in progressive countries with high occurrences of famine and poverty. These are regions with a larger share of vernacular (rural) dwellings and an increasing share of high-technology urban dwellings. The current article presents an overview of the role of adaptation of buildings in the context of climate change, the consequent implications on buildings in various climatic zones, and the possible strategies that need to be evaluated. Climate change adaptation in buildings is shortly expected to be a domain of specialized research requiring utmost attention and intellectual resources for action.