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The State of Climate Resilience Research for Construction



Whether or not it's a rainy day has always had more implications for the construction industry than just a matter of needing an umbrella. Weather impacts about 45% of construction projects, pushing their schedules out by an average of 21%. This translates to approximately 9.5% of the total cost of a construction project being attributable to weather conditions alone. Traditionally, this challenge has remained largely unaddressed, with most companies adopting a laissez-faire attitude, treating weather-related risks as an inherent and unavoidable cost of doing business. 

However, the escalating consequences of climate change, marked by increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather patterns, are necessitating a significant shift in this attitude. The construction industry, already under the spotlight for its substantial carbon footprint, now needs to address the elephant in the room - climate resilience. The evidence is clear: waiting for the storm to pass is no longer a sustainable strategy.

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Why Now?

On October 27, 2022, the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy issued a report titled “Readiness for storms ahead? Critical national infrastructure in an age of climate change”. The report underscores the severe vulnerability of our critical national infrastructure to these evolving weather patterns and calls into question the effectiveness of the government's current resilience strategies. It sheds light on systemic failings and points towards what needs to be done to fortify our infrastructure against the imminent climate-induced adversities. 

Inspired by this report, we at EHAB aim to assemble a group of relevant stakeholders to carry out a similar analysis for the construction industry. Our goal is to understand the state of climate resilience in construction and its impact on our national infrastructure. This industry, which is instrumental in both maintaining and upgrading our vital infrastructure, is already bearing the brunt of increasingly volatile weather. The time to act is now.

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(Image source: UN SDGS)


The Proposal


Our research will examine how risks are assessed and managed throughout various phases of a project, from feasibility and bidding to detailed planning, construction, operation, and contract negotiation. The key questions that guide our study include:

- What are the current processes in place to manage climate risks?
- How do perceptions of risk profiles change with evolving climate patterns?
- What strategies are being planned in response to climate change?

The industry currently lacks a standard for managing climate-related risks. Our research aims to illuminate this area and identify best practices and initiatives that can be adopted industry-wide. 

To ensure an in-depth understanding, we will request permission for extended interviews, offering valuable insights and narratives to support our research. Participation in these interviews will be optional but highly encouraged.

If you are involved in the construction industry, your input is invaluable to us.

Please take a moment to complete our survey: take our survey here

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About the Authors

EHAB is a weather and climate risk management platform specifically for the construction industry. In collaboration with Connected Places Catapult, the UK government's innovation agency for cities, transport, and place leadership, and HS2, the team behind Europe's largest infrastructure project, we are committed to transforming the industry's approach to climate resilience. EHAB recently took part in the HS2 Accelerator Cohort 5, run by Connected Places Catapult and HS2. 

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