Comparison of built environment adaptations to heat exposure and mortality during hot weather, West Midlands region, UK

Jonathon Taylor*, Paul Wilkinson, Roberto Picetti, Phil Symonds, Clare Heaviside, Helen L. Macintyre, Michael Davies, Anna Mavrogianni, Emma Hutchinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


There is growing recognition of the need to improve protection against the adverse health effects of hot weather in the context of climate change. We quantify the impact of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) and selected adaptation measures made to dwellings on temperature exposure and mortality in the West Midlands region of the UK. We used 1) building physics models to assess indoor temperatures, initially in the existing housing stock and then following adaptation measures (energy efficiency building fabric upgrades and/or window shutters), of representative dwelling archetypes using data from the English Housing Survey (EHS), and 2) modelled UHI effect on outdoor temperatures. The ages of residents were combined with evidence on the heat-mortality relationship to estimate mortality risk and to quantify population-level changes in risk following adaptations to reduce summertime heat exposure. Results indicate that the UHI effect accounts for an estimated 21% of mortality. External shutters may reduce heat-related mortality by 30–60% depending on weather conditions, while shutters in conjunction with energy-efficient retrofitting may reduce risk by up to 52%. The use of shutters appears to be one of the most effective measures providing protection against heat-related mortality during periods of high summer temperatures, although their effectiveness may be limited under extreme temperatures. Energy efficiency adaptations to the dwellings and measures to increase green space in the urban environment to combat the UHI effect appear to be less beneficial for reducing heat-related mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-294
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) ( HPRU-2012-10016 ) in Environmental Change and Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in partnership with Public Health England (PHE), and in collaboration with the University of Exeter , University College London , and the Met Office . The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health or Public Health England.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Adaptation
  • Dwellings
  • Heat
  • Indoor temperature
  • Mortality
  • Urban Heat Island


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