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Climate Change Adaptation in High-rise Residential Buildings WORKSHOP PROCEEDINGS

On October 31st, 2011, Clean Air Partnership (CAP) presented an expert- led, technical workshop Climate Change Adaptation in High-rise Residential Buildings. The event, held at the Bay Adelaide Centre in the City of Toronto, brought together experts on climate change adaptation in the infrastructure, health, law and high rise residential sectors including representatives from the development industry; property management companies; regulatory entities; building owner organizations such as Greater Toronto Apartment Association and Canadian Condo Institute; and municipal planning staff. The event focused discussion on climate-related impacts on high-rise residential buildings, differentiating between those that would affect building infrastructure, residents, and owners. The workshop also emphasized the need for adaptation planning and action by the sector. This workshop was the fourth in a series of five1 funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment as part of the Community Adaptation Initiative program (CAI). CAI encourages Ontario communities to adapt to climate change by developing resources and by bringing together practitioners and stakeholders in at-risk sections to develop climate adaptation strategies.

Workshop Overview
The day long workshop encouraged representatives of the sector to identify risks and consider strategies to act on them. The morning explored climate related impacts for infrastructure, residents and owners. This session was followed by a strategic discussion, with representatives from the sector working to identify approaching threats, gaps in information, required supports and tools. The second part of the day focused on research and adaptation options for the sector. This was followed by a strategic discussion to identify priority areas and next steps.

Morning Session The Impact of the Changing Climate on High Rise Residential Buildings: Heather Auld, of Climate Services International Inc. delivered an overview of the current and projected climate for Ontario, as well as the expected physical impacts of climate changes on high rise residential buildings. In addition to these themes, Ms. Auld focused on the expected for upgrades in the national building code that would require developers and building owners to change the way they design and operate high-rise residential buildings. Some key features of her presentation include: • Most of the top risks for cities , are either directly or indirectly related to weather


Other workshops include: Incorporating Health Equity into Climate Change Adaptation Planning; Building Strategic Partnerships to Create Adaptable Urban Forests; Climate Change Adaptation in the Electricity Sector; and Climate Change Adaptation and Emergency Management and Critical Infrastructure.

and using early warning systems. Energy efficiency actions are good examples of win-win solutions because in addition to reducing the greenhouse gases that buildings emit. Challenges regulating temperatures in large buildings include: restrictions on windows opening and costs related to ensuring safe installation for window A/C units Building owners and operators face challenges in managing heating during the “shoulder seasons” so that they can both protect their residents and comply with legislation Climate Change Liabilities: Meredith James of Saxe Law Office presented on possible liability issues for building owners. over cladding etc). development of greenspace around the building). operators and managers in the context of climate impacts on their buildings. Some key points of this presentation included: • • • • • • Weather related risks to high rise residents can include: extreme heat. making them both more costly to maintain and more vulnerable to extreme events (for example concrete is sensitive to CO2. and contingency planning for extreme events Health Concerns Related to Climate Change and High Rise Residential Buildings: Carol Mee introduced Toronto Public Health’s work on identifying populations vulnerable to climate related impacts such as extreme heat. These impacts are of particular concern in older building Indoor air quality is influenced by pollutants from the outdoors including chemicals. water leakage. Ms.• • • • • • • Climate change will increase the premature weathering of building materials. operators and managers have an . they can often produce savings that offset the cost of taking adaptive actions Options for adapting high rise residential buildings include deploying multi-disciplinary teams. poor ventilation can lead to mould growth Adaptation to climate impacts could be infrastructural (air conditioners for all units. lower energy demands and reduced health risks. for example beyond a certain threshold. Mee offered some suggestions for adaptation including the Cooling Room Pilot Project that TPH is currently managing. Additionally. James’ presentation include: • • In light of the available information on climate change. as well as indoor sources Floods. owners and operators can be held to a “duty of care” to avoid causing unreasonable harm to users occupiers visitors and neighbours of the building. It is possible to take a “Staged” approach to choosing adaptation options moving between win/win. ignorance about its potential impacts will not be considered a viable response to weather related lawsuits Building mangers. mould. and protecting residents through reduced heat gain. operational (cooling rooms) or focused on site conditions (permeable pavers. excessive humidity. land-use zoning. no regrets. compound extremes and other climate impacts will directly affect the lifespan of assets and the durability of building materials There is a need to mainstream adaptation into decision-making – requires relevant. This implies that building owners. flexible and directly targeted resilience strategies. including engineers and climate specialists . decision-friendly climate information There is a need to identify vulnerability thresholds in building design. air quality issues and vector borne illnesses. Some highlights from Ms. a 25% increase in wind gust can cause a 650% increase in building damages. and allergens. freeze-thaw) Changes in weather. salt.

focusing on current vulnerability and risk levels. the participants identified several tools and resources that could encourage action. mould or other airborne toxins that will enter high-rise buildings • Increase in use of salt which will speed the degradation of concrete • Combination events (eg. stormwater systems Building and maintaining to the building code may not be a complete defence to a climate-related lawsuit if it is out of date with current and foreseeable conditions Strategic Discussion: After the morning presentations. These included: • Current analysis and measurement to help building owners and operators identify risks • Incentives or interest free loans for adaptation actions • Availability of best practices in the sector • Action from insurance companies • Building code upgrades • Legislative regime which includes focus on existing stock as opposed to new construction • Awareness/education of owners/operators/ managers • Centralized agency that provides information for property owners • Municipal cooperation to address changing electricity. Questions included: 1. What weather related impacts (wind. Events that present with both wind and rain) have a higher potential to damage the building envelope. penetrate the vapour barrier. freeze/thaw. trees and other site conditions. destroy caulking etc. and infrastructure including sewage pipes. All glass building turn into greenhouse during heat events • Increased humidity and mould • Air quality filtering systems that are not designed to withstand the increased particulate. These included: • Floods impacting buildings with mechanical systems located in the basements • Wind events impacting building envelope/ windows • More frequent freeze/thaw cycles affecting concrete integrity • Extreme heat (buildings are turned into heat sinks) • Building design not prepared for climate changes – eg.• • obligation to understand climate change and consider adaptation actions in day to day operations Physical features and maintenance of a building should be adequate to perform safely in the context of foreseeable climate change impacts and risks. can municipalities play in these efforts? Participants identified climate impacts most likely to affect high-rise residential buildings. operations and maintenance of high-rise buildings? 2. operators and managers to undertake risk and vulnerability assessments and to plan the most effective and efficient adaptive actions? What role if any. This includes the building’s envelope. To make progress on the areas identified in response to the first question. participants discussed of the current and expected climate impacts on buildings and residents. What tools/resources are needed for owners. heat etc) are already affecting high-rise buildings and their residents? Which impacts pose the greatest potential concern for efficient management. water and wastewater demands • Adaptation incentive programs to cover programs that may not necessarily have a savings benefit due to energy efficiency . flood.

into the protocol. managers and operators in addressing climate related risks and potential claims of lack of adequate care PIEVC is currently in the process of incorporating a triple bottom line decision making tool. and economic factors. PIEVC Protocol: A Risk-based Decision Support Tool for Climate Change Adaptation: Brian Kyle of XTN Sustainable Life-cycle Asset Management Consulting. . engineers and municipalities. Based on experiences with the Tower Renewal project. and a member of the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC).assessment kits for building owners/operators/managers Analysis of vulnerability in the face of complex events (wind & rain. Key features of the presentation were: • Adaptation actions for high-rise residential buildings can include: over cladding. presented on the adaptation options available for high-rise residential buildings. costs and funding opportunities. Kyle highlighted the need for assessment and action by building owners /operators/managers. Project Director for the Tower Renewal Program at the City of Toronto.• • • • • • Increase in municipal inspections and mandated repairs for all buildings Self. McAteer highlighted multi-level adaptation actions that involved owners. environmental. presented on the protocol that PIEVC has developed for vulnerability assessments of infrastructure and that can be applied to high-rise residential buildings. as well as adaptation options. enclosed balconies. residents. Health-related aspects are important components of the social considerations included. Ms. heat & power outage) Information on which adaptation actions limit liability the most More sophisticated legislation that helps building owners navigate shoulder seasons (when to turn heat on or off) New certification to inform consumers of adaptation actions Afternoon Session The afternoon panel presented ongoing research relevant to vulnerability and adaptation for highrise residential buildings. which ties social. Highlights of the presentation included: • • • Design safety margins under climate change conditions may not last throughout the life of the structure Climate change and severe climate events affect both Design Capacity (for example: the impact of unforeseen weathering) and Design Load (for example: increase in wind pressures or snow loads) Risk is defined as the probability multiplied by the severity of the event should it happen. we must focus on reducing the severity of impacts by adapting to changing conditions Use of the PIEVC protocol can be considered as contributing to due diligence and potentially assist owners. stormwater retention. • • Tower Renewal: Climate Change Adaptation Options for High-rise Residential Buildings: Eleanor McAteer. solar water heating. Since we have significantly less control over the probability or frequency with which events occur. green/garden roof. Taking the audience through the principles of the protocol. Mr.

These opportunities include: district energy generation.rise residential buildings. mechanical retrofit and geothermal heating among others Tower renewal programs have social. Stoate’s presentation included: • • • • A comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of climate adaptation versus the cost of not acting An explanation of the ESPA and other opportunities for funding A description of the use of returns from the ESPA to invest in other climate adaptation actions Other opportunities for owners to raise money through the commissioning and recommissioning process The discussion session was organized with three questions: 1. who should be targeted? What form should the engagement take? Participants identified actions that could be taken to encourage climate resilience in new high. infill housing. community gardens. Of particular interest was the Energy Savings Purchase Agreement (ESPA). economic and social benefits when considering adaptation for tower clusters. a financing structure developed to help building owners make energy efficiency upgrades. managers b. retail and amenities. What action is needed to support climate resilience in new building development? 2. on-site food production. mechanical upgrades. What are some of the barriers to adaptive action for existing and new stock of high rise residential buildings? a. energy generation There is a significant role for tenant engagement in climate adaptation There is an opportunity for greater environmental. Some key features of Mr. presented on the costs of adaptation and some examples of financing opportunities available to building owners. These included: • • • • • • • Upgrade codes and standards based on performance and expected climate impacts A focus specifically on the assessment of climate risk in urban areas Gathering data on climate impacts and making it available to builders/developers Automate process of gathering energy data Adjust building code writing process to include cost-benefit analysis Official Plan amendments to help coordinate between different forms of government as they tackle climate change impacts Build a case for climate adaptations as added value with designers and developers . improved publicly accessible open space and natural areas among others The Business Case for Energy Efficiency Projects in High-rise Apartments: Tim Stoate. structural improvements. Toronto Atmospheric Fund. For building owners. Should there be greater efforts to engage key decision makers regarding climate impacts to high-rise residential buildings? If so. operators.• • • • • on-site waste management. economic and environmental benefits and impacts so all three must be considered in planning A building condition assessment is a necessary first step for any owner considering adaptation There are several types of adaptation that could be implemented simultaneously including: in-suite. For municipalities and other levels of government 3. community facilities.

adaptive actions will be necessary to protect infrastructure and residents from climate changes. The Climate Change Adaptation in High-rise Residential Buildings workshop provided a unique opportunity to gather experts and stakeholders in this sector and explore existing and future vulnerabilities as well as opportunities for adaptation. vs. policies and laws. Promoting climate adaptation and resident health by mandating that all windows should be able to be open in case of an extreme heat event • Lack of climate change knowledge in public and residents • Pushback from landlords • Jurisdictional issues.Participants identified barriers for adaptation action in high-rise residential buildings. Given the nature of the expected climate impacts. In addition to climate change mitigation actions. participants identified decision makers that they felt should be engaged more frequently by the industry. These included: For owners. social and economic factors of climate change adaptation . Participants and experts suggested next steps including the following needs and actions: • • Province-wide analysis of expected climate change impacts on high-rise residential buildings Cost-benefit analysis that accounts for health. operators and managers • • • • • • • • Rent control limits owners ability to pay for needed infrastructure/ mechanical retrofits or upgrades Knowledge of climate change on condo boards is minimal Conflicting legislative directions and priorities Difficulty in identifying specific climate change expertise to provide needed information Tenants are often resistant to changes as retrofits are inconvenient and it is difficult to relocate them while upgrades are completed Lack of resources and funding options Lack of partnerships between builders and planners Lack of continuing political support for undertaking adaptation For municipalities and other levels of government • Lack of apparent political will • Conflicting priorities between decision makers for example code provisions which promote health and safety by mandating that all windows that could lead to a fall be sealed. no clear accountability • Data gaps in climate modelling Finally. this building stock will be particularly vulnerable to climate events and impacts. These included: • • • • All three levels of government should be engaged in these initiatives Public health organizations Industry associations Investors should be engaged with decision makers to understand the effect their decisions have on future vulnerability of the building Conclusions and Next Steps Ontario is a heavily populated province that relies on existing and future high-rise residential buildings to house a significant portion of its residents. codes.

financing options and potential incentives for adaptation actions .• • Upgrades the building code to account for expected climate changes Identify funding sources.