Design teams offered contracts of up to £100k to come up with strategies to cope with climate change

Strategies to adapt new and existing buildings to cope with the threat of climate change have been given a boost with the launch of a £4.9m research competition.

Called Design for Future Climate: Adapting Buildings, the competition is being run by the Technology Strategy Board.

It is offering contracts worth up to £100,000 to design teams to come up with adaptation strategies for large buildings either at design stage or large non-domestic buildings that are about to be refurbished to low impact standards.

To support the launch of the competition the Technology Strategy Board has produced a report exploring how projected changes in the climate should inform the way new buildings are designed and existing stock is refurbished.

Written by Bill Gething, former sustainability adviser to the president of the RIBA, the report highlights a number of areas of concern in particular the need to manage overheating in buildings as a result of hotter summers.

It also suggests the need to manage overheating of external spaces by providing shading, parks and woodland and lakes. Conversely there will be less need for winter heating although high levels of insulation will still be vital.

The weather tightness and structural stability of buildings is another area of concern with the changing climate. Shrinkage of clay soils may become a growing concern as existing foundations are affected and need to be underpinned.

Foundations in new buildings will need to be designed for the lifetime of the building, particularly in the south east where the majority of clay soils with high volume changes are located. Underground pipework, slopes and retaining structures may also be affected, potentially resulting in expensive remediation.

The first round of the design competition closes on 22 July 2010.