Design for Future Climate

Design for Future Climate

“ Designing homes for climate change adaptation to 2050”

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Background & Brief

In the extreme drought and heat wave that hit Europe in summer 2003 more than 37,000 Europeans died. One of the main issues was that night-time temperatures remained high, so night-time cooling of buildings did not occur. How can we adapt UK buildings to cope with hotter weather projected in the future without adding massively to the UK’s carbon emissions?

  • The changing climate is having an impact on the robustness of buildings to provide habitable indoor environments.
  • The Technology Strategy Board – Design for Future Climate programme funded 50 projects to develop the UK’s capability for adapting buildings to the challenges posed by the future climate as projected by the UK Climate Impacts Programme (
  • The NW Bicester Eco-Town Development is planned to deliver 5000 homes over the next 25 years.
  • The first phase of this pioneering development will see the construction of 393 highly energy efficient, zero carbon homes, creating the UK’s first true zero carbon community.


The project team used UKCIP09 climate data to generate scenarios for low, medium and high levels of climate change at the site location, each with its own hazard analysis. When correlated with a vulnerability analysis of potential future residents, overheating and water stress were found to be high risks for the development. Water stress was already addressed through Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5 (water efficiency measures, rainwater harvesting and SUDS design). However when the team modelled a number of the Exemplar house types using the future climate predictions, they found there to be a risk of overheating in the future. The team then developed packages of adaptation measures, including:

• Night cooling, by opening windows in the night during heatwaves;
• Shading of building, through planting and better orientation; and
• Integrating fixings for future retrofit of shutters to windows.

This project has developed a set of tested adaptation packages that will mitigate projected future climate change risks and ensure the sustainable standard of the Eco-Town development. This is achieved by establishing the extent of climate change impact and by minimising the risk via adaptations tested through simulation and empirical research. This project has developed robustly-tested, technically-feasible and practical climate change adaptation (CCA) strategies for the first Phase of NW Bicester Eco-Town development comprising 393 homes. Using dynamic thermal simulation, future weather data, workshops with design team and clients, the extent of climate change risk (mainly overheating) was established and adaptation measures deployed to future proof the development.

For more information visit the project webpage

Project funder

Technology Strategy Board

Project Partners

  • Bioregional
  • Farrells Architect
  • Hyder Consulting Ltd
  • Oxford Brookes University

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