27, May, 2014

ELLA Learning Alliance on Climate Resilient Cities – Discussion 8: Climate Resilient Buildings and Urban Upgrading

This discussion encouraged participants to share examples of laws, programmes and projects that have improved the resilience of commercial and residential buildings to climate change. In particular, participants discussed the concept of green building, urban upgrading in informal settlements and green roofing.

Experts from Africa, Asia and Latin America discussed programmes to improve climate resilience in commercial buildings and informal housing, or the lack thereof. In many cases, the existence of laws has not yet resulted in any significant improvement in terms of building standards, due in part to a lack of local capacity. Two cases of reducing climate vulnerability in informal settlements in Latin American cities were shared – one a government-funded programme, and the other led by an NGO. Participants considered these two approaches and whether they might be adapted their local contexts.

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Key Conclusions:

  • Insufficient action is being taken to upgrade existing building to the point of making them more resilient to the changing climate or to mitigate emissions.
  • In many countries, laws are being passed to improve building standards, develop more green spaces, and promote more efficient energy and water use; however in some cases these have had little impact due in part to limited local capacity.
  • Programmes to improve the resilience of informal settlements seem more likely to succeed with the involvement and buy-in of local community members.
  • Many initiatives to improve buildings in cities across Africa and Asia focus on improving energy efficiency and employment of renewable energy sources, as well as rainwater harvesting.

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