Risk and Resilience


In Ireland the main risks to the built environment identified include risk to coastal infrastructure and communities from increasing sea levels as well as increased fluvial and pluvial flooding due to increased extreme precipitation events (Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, 2018). Ireland's built environment is also at risk to damage from extreme temperature and wind events. Critical infrastructure affected by climate change impacts can range from transport infrastructure to electricity and gas networks. See here for the latest adaptation plans on flood risk management and here for the latest adaptation plans on the built and archaeological heritage.

Essentially, adaptation must be risk based, taking current social and systematic vulnerabilities into account while understanding projected climate change impacts. Ireland's six step Adaptation Planning Process for key sectors, seen in the diagram below, includes these factors.

Fingal County Council is installing ‘SeaBee’ reinforced concrete units along the Burrow Beach in Portrane
© Photograph by Patrick Comerford, 2018
Amphibious Housing
Courtesy Climate Adapt © Factor Architecten b.v.

Resilience-based adaptation involves measures taken that enhance the resilience of both anthropogenic and natural systems to the impacts of climate change. 

i) These adaptation measures often involve green measures that are based on ecological properties such as increasing green spaces in cities which provide retention from flood waters while also reducing the impacts of rising surface temperatures (Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, 2018).

ii) Grey adaptation measures instead use technological or engineering based solutions to climate impacts such as the introduction of building coastal walls, tidal barrages and dune systems in order to act as buffers to coastal storm damage. Raising roads in areas prone to flooding is another example of grey adaptation.

The Netherlands has a long history of managing flood events where risks of rising sea levels and river flooding events will only increase under climate change. The “Room for River” (“Ruimte voor de Rivier”) programme, which developed water storage methods in natural flood areas, later introduced the first amphibious and floating houses. 32 amphibious houses and 14 floating houses were established in the location of Maasbommel on the Maas River. In 2012 the development of water houses had reached up to several hundred across the Netherlands. The concept however, remains only partially adopted due to high construction costs and a limited market of home buyers.

Creative forms of grey adaptation such as floating and amphibious housing can be viewed on the EU Climate Adapt website.

iii) Soft adaptation involves alteration in systems of management such as adapting building or planning codes to projected future weather events and zoning developments away from areas sensitive to climate impacts e.g. flood plains etc.

A centralised information resource that informs Ireland's adaptation measures has been developed by researchers at the University College Cork (UCC). It functions to support decision makers in developing adaptation strategies. This resource is supported by the EPA and Department of Environment, Climate and Communications and can be found at the Climate Ireland website.

Located along the River Suir in the centre of Clonmel, Denis Burke Park is located within the 1:100- year flood envelope and is designed to store excess water as part of the flood relief flow channel
Courtesy Kenneth Hennessy Architects © 2012

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