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Environ Int. 2018 Feb;111:287-294. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.11.005. Epub 2017 Nov 16.

Comparison of built environment adaptations to heat exposure and mortality during hot weather, West Midlands region, UK.

Author information

1
UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, Central House, 14 Upper Woburn Place, London WC1H 0NN, UK. Electronic address: j.g.taylor@ucl.ac.uk.
2
Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK.
3
UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, Central House, 14 Upper Woburn Place, London WC1H 0NN, UK.
4
Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK; Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, Public Health England, Chilton, OX11 0RQ, UK; School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK.
5
Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, Public Health England, Chilton, OX11 0RQ, UK.

Abstract

There is growing recognition of the need to improve protection against the adverse health effects of hot weather in the context of climate change. We quantify the impact of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) and selected adaptation measures made to dwellings on temperature exposure and mortality in the West Midlands region of the UK. We used 1) building physics models to assess indoor temperatures, initially in the existing housing stock and then following adaptation measures (energy efficiency building fabric upgrades and/or window shutters), of representative dwelling archetypes using data from the English Housing Survey (EHS), and 2) modelled UHI effect on outdoor temperatures. The ages of residents were combined with evidence on the heat-mortality relationship to estimate mortality risk and to quantify population-level changes in risk following adaptations to reduce summertime heat exposure. Results indicate that the UHI effect accounts for an estimated 21% of mortality. External shutters may reduce heat-related mortality by 30-60% depending on weather conditions, while shutters in conjunction with energy-efficient retrofitting may reduce risk by up to 52%. The use of shutters appears to be one of the most effective measures providing protection against heat-related mortality during periods of high summer temperatures, although their effectiveness may be limited under extreme temperatures. Energy efficiency adaptations to the dwellings and measures to increase green space in the urban environment to combat the UHI effect appear to be less beneficial for reducing heat-related mortality.

KEYWORDS:

Adaptation; Dwellings; Heat; Indoor temperature; Mortality; Urban Heat Island

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