A Solution For Weathering The Future

Sourced from The Engineer

2019 has been another year of climatic records and extreme weather events in the UK, from the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK to heavy rainfall and severe flooding, which threatened homes, businesses and lives in the North.

Extraordinary weather is the new norm and its effect on society is profound. Whether it is the economic cost of damage to buildings and infrastructure from flooding, or to human health from living in hotter, more polluted environments, the building industry must take steps to meet the challenges of extreme rainfall and rising temperatures.

As the atmosphere grows steadily warmer, its capacity to store moisture increases. This is creating bigger, more powerful storms, more extreme rainfall events and subsequent precipitation-related flooding.

How can we design and adapt our buildings to guarantee they remain fit for the future and mitigate the impact of major weather events?

While storms are releasing greater quantities of water in shorter periods of time, spells of relative drought and potential water shortages may follow. The dispersion of surface water is only half the answer. We need to cultivate a smarter, more balanced relationship with water in our developments placing green thinking at the forefront.

Where many of our clients are based in Surrey, there is already regulatory pressure on new developments to limit rates of surface water discharge to greenfield runoff. Pollution mitigation is also a key consideration, often achieved through attenuation, flow control and soakaways.

These are good engineering solutions, but they are focused on mitigation rather than adaptation. The next step must be to encourage developers to move away from hard engineering designs and to explore environmentally led, soft engineering solutions.

Green or brown roofs are one such example. While not a novel solution, ‘living roofs’ only started becoming legal requirements in various cities and countries around the world in the last decade, recognised for their ability to counteract the effects of climate change.

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