On 14 July 2009, PLC Construction attended a conference entitled “What does climate change mean for construction?”, organised by the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) and sponsored by Defra.
What is UKCP09?
UKCP09 is a suite of products. Some products are published in hard copy, but more are available online at the UKCP09 website. UKCP09 provides predictive data on temperature, rainfall and sea levels up to the year 2099, to a resolution of 25 square kilometres. The predictions are based on three greenhouse gas emissions scenarios (high, medium and low). UKCP09 also includes a “weather generator”, which allows expert users to produce detailed data for any specific date, to a resolution of 5 square kilometres.
UKCP09 does not provide one single forecast for climate change. The data is probabilistic, showing a range of outcomes and their relative likelihood. Nevertheless, its does make some stark predictions. For example, it predicts that the average UK summer temperature is almost certain to rise by 2.3 degrees celsius by the 2040s. This equates to temperatures higher than the summer heatwave of 2003, which is estimated to have caused 2000 excess deaths in the UK that year.
UKCP09 and the construction industry
UKCP09 is important for the construction industry because:
- It will form the basis for deciding government policy. The Government already has a national heatwave plan and is considering whether changes are necessary to planning rules and building and road design criteria.
- The data and the “weather generator” are accessible to all, meaning that they can be used by developers and designers when deciding the location and specification for a new development. The data’s accessibility also means that any interested party can use it as a tool for challenging policy and design decisions.