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Adaptation of urban planning: water and energy

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A varied package of soft adaptation measures can be considered for climate proofing of urban planning and design. Concerning building, new standards and codes can be introduced for sustainable design and construction of new homes. Building codes are the regulatory instrument determining the resource use and other performance characteristics of new buildings and those undergoing substantial transformation, giving the opportunity of addressing issues connected to the links between water and energy management for at least the new part of the building stock. The term ‘water-energy nexus’ refers to the complex links such as those between energy supplying and the related effects on water availability and quality, or those between water supplying and the related energy consumptions. In households, providing warm water represents a substantial share of energy consumption. Stricter water-quality standards, increasing demand for water, and the need to adapt to climate change parallel reducing greenhouse gas emissions, are among the main energy-use related pressures facing water management. Ways to increase energy efficiency in urban water management include the installation of more efficient equipment (e.g. water efficient fixtures), the adoption of water conservation measures and upgrading infrastructures.

In the UK a building code has been introduces that evaluates the sustainability of a new home against nine categories of sustainable design, rating the whole home as a complete package. The Code uses a 1 to 6 star rating system to communicate the overall sustainability performance of a new home. The Code sets minimum standards for energy and water use at each level and, in England, replaces the EcoHomes scheme. This form of labelling aims at introducing transparent criteria for rating the energy efficiency of buildings, giving market signals which support the transformation of building stocks towards higher energy efficiency.

Additional Details
Reference information

Adaptation Details

IPCC categories

Institutional: Law and regulations, Structural and physical: Engineering and built environment options

Success and Limiting Factors

Five key barriers to improving energy efficiency of the urban water life cycle are:

  1. costs associated with new technologies and fittings;
  2. inaccurate water pricing;
  3. barriers associated with how water utilities operate;
  4. competing priorities at drinking water and wastewater facilities;
  5. lack of public awareness about the energy demand of the urban water lifecycle.

Commission Recommendation (2003): on the implementation and use of Eurocodes for construction works and structural construction products, C(2003) 4639), (2003/887/EC). Adaptation can be integrated in the Eurocodes of buildings (Commission Recommendation on Eurocodes) as well as into the design of new urban development. Further all technical infrastructure funded by the Commission could be linked to such codes. Relevant EU policies: Directive 2010/31/ЕU on the energy performance of buildings.

Implementation Time

5-15 years.

Life Time

More than 25 years

Reference information

DG ENV project ClimWatAdapt and DG CLIMA project Adaptation Strategy of European Cities (EU Cities Adapt)

Published in Climate-ADAPT Jun 07 2016   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Dec 12 2023

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