LIFE Housing Landscapes - Climate-proofing Social Housing Landscapes

LIFE12 ENV/UK/001133

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Stephen HANDLEY
Fax: 442079221219
Email: stephen.handley@groundwork.org.uk

Project description:


Urban environments, with their high population densities, industries and infrastructure, are likely to suffer the most severe impacts of climate change. The anticipated increased pressure on hydrological processes and the growing prevalence of the urban “heat island” effect, especially during summer months, will cause significant additional stresses in urban areas. Threats include increases in flooding, pressure on sewer systems, diffuse water pollution and heat stress.

These trends will affect the assets, livelihoods and wellbeing of urban communities, as well as the ecosystems which help to support them. Urban environments are home to a significant proportion of social housing tenants, the majority of whom suffer the effects of multiple deprivation, including disproportionately high levels of ill health, unemployment, low educational attainment and poor quality living conditions. This makes them even more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Adaptive measures are needed to address the current risks, and to future-proof existing buildings and infrastructure in the face of climate change. The majority of new developments are already being designed with the flexibility to adapt to changes in climate. However, with the rate of renewal of the EU’s urban environment at less than 1% per annum, retrofitting existing urban environments is also essential. Yet, a recent EU survey (CECODHAS, 2011) found that only 10% of social landlords were actively implementing adaptation measures in their outdoor spaces.


The LIFE Housing Landscapes project aims to develop climate change adaption solutions for existing social housing landscapes. It specifically hopes to demonstrate a holistic package of measures, based around the retrofitting of blue and green infrastructure, and increased local stakeholder engagement. Ultimately, it hopes to demonstrate an integrated approach to addressing climate-related and wider socio-economic challenges in vulnerable urban environments.

The project will retrofit green and blue infrastructure covering the whole housing management cycle, such as Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS), rain gardens, drought-resilient planting and micro green roofs supported by rainwater harvesting. This will provide effective, affordable and socially acceptable alternatives to heavy engineering approaches and achieve environmental and economic goals, such as reducing freshwater demand.

The project will implement the new measures in three selected sites that will reflect different social housing contexts, such as different property types and estate sizes. However, they will all be in areas characterised by high levels of multiple deprivation, including poor quality environments and consequently higher exposure to climate-related risks.

The project is targeting in-depth community engagement and awareness-raising of climate change adaptation opportunities. This aims to result in local residents’ buy-in to the measures, and their involvement, wherever possible, in long-term maintenance activities. The project thus hopes to develop the local institutional and individual stakeholders’ adaptive capacity and resilience.

An important additional aim is to demonstrate different mechanisms for resourcing the delivery of adaptation measures that can achieve multiple objectives for local communities. This is expected to include combining implementation with employment and accredited training programmes for long-term unemployed people, thereby creating local jobs. The project will deliver transferable training modules for grounds maintenance contractors and social housing staff.

Expected results:

  • A transferable methodology for designing affordable, light-engineering climate change adaptation measures for social housing landscapes using green and blue infrastructure;
  • A transferable methodology for resident stakeholder engagement, resulting in site-specific community adaptation action plans and practical involvement in retrofitting and maintenance activities;
  • The use of employment programmes to engage local, long-term unemployed people in the implementation of project measures;
  • A set of training modules for housing and grounds maintenance professionals on the whole cycle of adaptation and green infrastructure;
  • Interactive e-learning materials, including a film, to inform local, national and EU policy, strategy and best practice;
  • An evaluation methodology capturing technical performance and social return on investment;
  • A reduction in the vulnerability of deprived communities to climate change.



Environmental issues addressed:


Climate change Adaptation - Resilient communities


urban area‚  green space‚  underprivileged people‚  residential area‚  social participation

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Groundwork London
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description Groundwork London is an environmental regeneration NGO operating in the city of London. Its core activities centre on community engagement and empowerment to promote behaviour change, sustainable lifestyles and better local environments.
Partners London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, United Kingdom


Project reference LIFE12 ENV/UK/001133
Duration 01-JUL-2013 to 31-MAR -2016
Total budget 1,615,636.00 €
EU contribution 807,818.00 €
Project location South East (UK)(United Kingdom)


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Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version