Building for a changing climate: the challenge for construction, planning and energy By Peter F Smith, Earthscan, London, 2010. ISBN 9781844077359, £49.99 (hb)
Publisher’s description: There is now a practically universal consensus that our climate is changing rapidly, and as a direct result of human activities. While there is extensive debate about what we can do to mitigate the damage we are causing, it is becoming increasingly clear that a large part of our resources will have to be directed towards adapting to new climatic conditions, with talk of survivability replacing sustainability as the new and most pressing priority. Nowhere is this more evident than in the built environment – the stage on which our most important interactions with climatic conditions are played out. In this frank yet pervasively positive book, sustainable architecture guru Peter Smith lays out his vision of how things are likely to change, and what those concerned with the planning, design and construction of the places we live and work can and must do to avert the worst impacts. Beginning with the background to the science and discussion of the widely feared graver risks not addressed by the politically driven IPCC reports, he moves on to examine the challenges we will face and to propose practical responses based on real world experiences and case studies taking in flood and severe weather protection, energy efficient retrofitting, distributed power generation and the potential for affordable zero carbon homes. He ends with a wider discussion of options for future energy provision. This will be a provocative, persuasive and – crucially – practical read for anyone concerned with the measures we must take now to ensure a climate-proofed future for humanity.