Heat waves have significant impacts on both ecosystems and human beings. This is compounded by future climate scenarios which indicate more frequent and severe heat waves in certain locations. There are members of communities that are more vulnerable to the effects of heat waves such as the elderly and infants and this presents particular challenges for the future.
Climate change predictions indicate more extremes in weather conditions in the coming decades with more frequent and severe heat waves in certain locations including Australia. It is likely that the more vulnerable members of the community will be at risk during heat waves in the future from both health and financial perspectives. The trend towards fully air conditioned larger homes has already seen very large peaks in electricity demand during past heat waves.
The Ecocents Living project is the result of collaboration between the Department for Families & Communities, Hindmarsh and the University of South Australia. The purpose of the research program was to identify a suite of built forms for housing that are both affordable and sustainable. The project arose out of the observation that affordability and sustainability are rarely considered in the same context despite the importance of both to housing policy makers and the construction industry.
Climate change is leading to an increased frequency and severity of heat waves. Spells of several consecutive days of unusually high temperatures have led to increased mortality rates for the more vulnerable in the community. The problem is compounded by the escalating energy costs and increasing peak electrical demand as people become more reliant on air conditioning. Domestic air conditioning is the primary determinant of peak power demand which has been a major driver of higher electricity costs.