Theme 2: Healthy Sustainable Cities
In order to reduce air pollution and meet carbon reduction targets, the UK is implementing policies to increase the energy efficiency of buildings, improve public transport and address urban population growth. Our houses need to be resilient to both hot and cold weather, and be more energy efficient so that household fuel costs are kept a low as possible. These policies are the focus of the HPRU because they have enormous potential to improve the health of the UK population.
We are developing the evidence base to enable effective adaptation to promote sustainable development policies in the urban and built environment, including housing policy. Improved quantification of the health benefits and harms of mitigation and adaptation policies is a key part of our work in the HPRU.
Theme 2 lead: Dr Clare Heaviside, Public Health England
Project 1 – Mapping environmental hazards in dwellings across England.
A simulation model has been developed, based on the validated building physics model (Energy Plus), and applied to housing survey and building stock and occupancy data for England. The model has been linked to observations in houses (temperature measurements in over 800 dwellings) to identify the risk factors for overheating. The model will be use to address other housing related environmental hazards, including cold and mould.
Project 2 – Evaluating housing interventions
Overheating in houses is a significant problem in England (more than 20% of houses overheat in an average summer) and likely to increase with climate change. We have developed epidemiological methods to examine modification of the temperature-related risks (heat and cold) by housing type. The results will then be used to assess the health, welfare , carbon emissions and economic impacts of different measures to improve housing now and in the future across the UK.
Project 3 – Urban atmosphere modelling
An urban atmosphere model has been developed to describe the Urban Heat Islands in the West Midlands (Birmingham, Wolverhampton and neighbouring towns). The model is based on the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. The model will be used to assess the benefit of different urban planning strategies on outdoor heat exposures and local air pollution exposures.
Project 4 – New methods for assessing the benefits of air pollution control
Outdoor air pollution is one of the most significant environmental hazards in the UK. Measures to control air pollution need to be implemented at the international, national and local government level. We are developing new methods for the health impact assessment of local interventions to improve air quality. We have also described the health burden associated with extreme pollution episodes.