The Transformational Process of Addressing Heat Stress in Social Housing
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As a consequence of climate change, heat waves are expected to occur more frequently, increase in duration and be more severe in the coming decades. High temperatures lead to higher incidences of heat stress among humans which can have multiple adverse health effects. Especially urban residents are at risk for heat stress which can be attributed to higher temperatures associated with the urban heat island effect. Since humans spend most of their time indoors, climate adaptation of private spaces to prevent indoor heat gain is crucial to provide people with a comfortable and healthy home temperature. As existing urban areas are not built with the ideas of climate adaptation in mind, an urban transformation is needed to bring about these changes. When it comes to climate adaptation of private space, housing associations represent an important group of actors as they own a large proportion of private space in the Dutch urban context. Other involved actors include the tenants of the housing associations and the municipality. Due to the involvement of different actors in urban transformations – each with their own responsibilities, resources and visions on what measures should be taken – these transformations are often characterized by complexity. Furthermore, complexity arises due to variations in local urban context such as the built form. Consequently, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and the transformation is dependent on a good transformational process among stakeholders. Therefore, the urban transformative capacity framework, as formulated by Wolfram (2016), was used to analyze whether the transformative capacities are present among stakeholders in this transition. Three pre-war neighborhoods in the municipality of Rotterdam were selected as a case study for this purpose. Data has been gathered by means of interviews with the municipality of Rotterdam, housing associations and tenant associations. Results suggest that large scale implementation of heat resistant measures will not be possible in the near future among every housing association due to a lack of resources. This necessitates sharing of resources among involved stakeholders, an efficient and cost-effective way of choosing measures and prioritization of where to spend the limited available resources. To bridge the gap until structural measures are taken, temporary measures could present a relatively low cost solution. Furthermore, a heat plan for all housing associations that is made and distributed in collaboration with each of the stakeholders could provide tenants with knowledge of the behavioral measures they themselves can take to keep their dwelling cool. Additionally, more research is needed to investigate which buildings are most susceptible for heat gain, which measures are most effective for a certain building and when sufficient measures are taken. This could help to prioritize what buildings to address first in addition to other factors such as presence of risk groups for heat stress. Furthermore, a clear target for when a dwelling is sufficiently heat resistant is currently lacking and a standardized national approach could help with this Another aspect that could improve the transformative nature of this transition is a comprehensive approach in which public and private stakeholders keep interactions between public and private space in mind. The temperature in private space is also dependent on characteristics of public space and vice versa. Therefore, collaboration between the municipalities and housing associations could lead to implementation of measures that would benefit both. An example of this are trees in public space providing shade for the dwellings of housing association. This way the limited available urban space could be fully utilized to become climate adaptive and costs would be shared among stakeholders.