Suburban Neighbourhood Adaptation for a Changing Climate


A socio-technical approach to determine which neighbourhood adaptation strategies perform best in terms of technical performance, practicality and acceptability.


The SNACC project seeks to answer the question: How can existing suburban neighbourhoods be best adapted to reduce further impacts of climate change and withstand ongoing changes? The research focusses on adaptations to the built environment, through changes to individual homes and larger neighbourhood scale adaptations (urban re-design). SNACC focusses on suburbs because they are the most common type of urban area in the UK, housing 84% of the population. The project will identify successful adaptation and mitigation measures: these are classed as those that will perform well technically (i.e. they protect people and property from climate change impacts and mitigate against further climate change) but are also those that are most practical and acceptable for those who have to make them happen.

The operational aims of the project are to:

  • Develop climate change scenarios that are meaningful at the suburban neighbourhood scale
  • Develop socio-cultural and governance change scenarios appropriate at the suburban neighbourhood scale
  • Construct a typology of UK suburbs (identifying the ‘latent’ adaptation capacity of the built forms)
  • Develop a portfolio of potential adaptation (and mitigation) strategies for suburbs (including autonomous and planned adaptation, for individual dwellings and neighbourhoods) and cluster these into testable adaptation ‘packages’
  • Develop a hedonic model to determine the impact of adaptation strategies on house prices in suburbs
  • Determine the technical performance of the adaptation strategy ‘packages’, based on a number of criteria, including their impact on carbon reduction and the extent to which they ameliorate specific impacts (e.g. reduce heat or provide shade)
  • Determine the practicality of the adaptations (in terms of costs, scale, extent of re-modelling) for key agents of change
  • Determine the acceptability of the adaptations (in terms of impact on house prices, visual intrusion, relative trade-offs between cost and benefits) for key agents of change
  • Identify the adaptation packages that perform best across the three tests for different types of suburbs, with different adaptation capacities, given the different climate change and socio-cultural and governance change scenarios


There are six case study neighbourhoods from three cities (Bristol, Oxford and Stockport). The project team will use modelling of climate change impacts and adaptation outcomes, tools that allow the participants to visualise what ‘adapted’ neighbourhoods will look like, and deliberative methods from social sciences, to generate a portfolio of adaptation strategies that are feasible and fully endorsed by stakeholders. In these areas, key agents of change (e.g. homeowners, elected members and planners) will help to determine successful adaptations.

Outcomes / Findings

The research design, methods and range of collaborators reflect both the technical and socio-economic aspects of adaptation. The findings will be communicated to a wide network of policy, practice, public and academic beneficiaries. The outcomes will contribute, practically, to securing a sustainable future for the UK’s suburbs in the face of climate change.




Research Briefing:

  • Advisory Board Meetings
    Dated: June 2012
    Dated: October 2010

Workshops & Conferences:

  • Building simulation and Optimization (BSO12) Conference at Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK
    Dated: forthcoming: September 2012
  • The Second International Conference on Building energy and Environment (COBEE), Boulder, CO, USA
    Dated: forthcoming: August 2012
  • The changing context of comfort in an unpredictable world, 7th Windsor Conference, Windsor, UK
    Dated: April 2012
  • PLEA 2011 Architecture and Sustainable Development: 27th International Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture
    Dated: July 2011


Low Carbon Building Group

Oxford Brookes University
Headington Campus
Gipsy Lane
Oxford, OX3 0BP