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Future (P)roof: Building resilience of roofing technologies in a changing climate

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Future (P)roof--Building resilience of roofing technologies in a changing climate
Commissioned by the NFRC Charitable Trust under its Environmental Programme, the University of Southampton conducted research and produced the extensive Future (P)roof report in 2021, finding that the way the UK builds, maintains, and upgrades its roofs going forward will be critical to how we adapt to a wetter and warmer climate. Failure to change the way we use our roofs could cost lives, people’s livelihoods, and productivity, through overheating and flooding. The research highlights the potential of various roofing technologies to:
  • Cool the temperature of a building as well as the surrounding environment
  • Store and slow the rate of rainwater runoff before it even reaches the ground
  • Generate renewable energy on site through solar PV.
Evidence from the UK climate change projections programme (UKCP) shows that over the next half-century, the UK is expected to experience warmer and wetter winters, and hotter and drier summers, clearer summer skies, and a higher frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including torrential rain and heatwaves. NFRC urges the roofing industry to take on board the report’s recommendations: roofing contractors should invest in green skills and take opportunities to diversify to incorporate new technologies that help build resilience. At NFRC we have formed a focus group of members to look at practical steps for contractors across all aspects of their businesses in being part of the solution to carbon reduction, sustainability and responding to climate change. Chief Executive of NFRC, James Talman, said: “This research shows that roofs have the ability to build resilience to climate change—whether that be as simple as helping to reduce overheating through greater reflectivity, protection against the cold through enhanced insulation, generating electricity from the sun through rooftop solar PV, or reducing the risk of flooding through attenuating water in blue and green roofs.Whilst the evidence is clear, many barriers remain. The roofing industry is already experiencing a skills shortage and an ageing demographic, so unless we invest in green skills now, we won’t have the people we need to be able to deliver this critical work.Furthermore, there are also significant policy barriers—outside of London, the UK is far behind many other countries when it comes to encouraging green, blue and cool roofs, and this needs to change. The government must also implement a clear strategic plan for retrofit, to replace the failed Green Homes Grant, to encourage homeowners to upgrade their homes.” The complete Future (P)roof report is available to read through NFRC’s website

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