Construction – Adaptation


Impacts of climate change weaken the properties of the soil and increase strain directed at the cladding of buildings. Changes in moisture conditions, more frequent cycle of melting and freezing and demands for energy efficiency force people to give even closer consideration to the cladding and building material choices. If it so wishes, a municipality can emphasise adaptation to climate change in the way it interprets building regulations.

Exterior walls and sewers under extreme strain

Due to mild winters, strain caused by rain on exterior walls increases. This can be decreased with the design of the building, particularly its roof and eaves. However, climate change does not pose a great extra strain for the actual roof structures. In addition, wind load on the walls is likely to remain the same.

As heavy rain increases, dimensioning of stormwater sewers should be checked in connection to repairs. Moreover, when the inclinations of the street network are planned, spillovers can be directed to areas where they do not cause damage. The question regarding stormwater can be taken into consideration in a municipality's building code.

Building regulations and site supervision means for sustainable construction

Structural solutions taking note of climate change can be entered in the guidelines of building for the planned areas. The adaptation obligation can also be extended to the existing building stock in connection to changes to use or extensive repairs.

As the strain caused by weather increases, more attention should be paid to the building materials and quality of work. Actual construction work is also affected by the weather events becoming more severe. In addition to being prepared for strong winds, all building materials must be well-protected during the construction.

Construction must cater for the comfortability of outdoor areas

Increasing periods of hot weather may, at times, add to the ventilation and cooling need of buildings. To prepare for hotter summers, the southern side windows can be shaded with deciduous trees. In the winter, leafless trees allow the warmth of the sun in the building. Although emphasised in larger cities, in Finland, problems caused by periods of hot weather have so far been small.

However, variation in weather conditions and changes in the melting and freezing cycle will slowly increase the need for maintenance in buildings and their outdoor areas.

References [1], [2]