Real estate—in particular, infrastructure and buildings—has an expected design life of between 20 and 100 years; some developments may well be used for much longer. Both new and existing developments will therefore likely experience the full extent of projected climate change this century across their lifecycle. It is vital that potential climate-related impacts are considered at each stage of the real estate lifecycle.
In order to capture the risk that climate change presents for the real estate sector in British Columbia, All One Sky Foundation collected climate data from several sources. Future climate projections until 2080 were taken from the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium given the average lifespan of most real estate assets. Additionally, insurance data was analyzed, showing a significant increasing trend in severe weather damage to buildings and other infrastructure over the last half century. It is noted that there is limited data or literature on how these changes will impact the real estate sector specifically. In order to fill this research gap, All One Sky Foundation completed an assessment using available data to identify specific impacts on the real estate in British Columbia. The study organized the findings of potential impacts by climate hazard, distinguishing between slow-onset climate-related physical events (e.g., increasing temperatures, precipitation, and sea-level) and sudden-onset climate related extreme physical events (e.g., storm surge, extreme precipitation and flooding, wildfires, damaging storms, drought, and heatwaves). A few examples are provided below:
Slow-onset Climate Impacts
- Increased temperatures may lead to increased summer cooling requirements for buildings and increased load on air conditioning with implicit capital and operational cost implications.
- Increased precipitation may increase biological degradation (e.g. through mold growth) of building materials and components and reduced structural integrity.
- Sea-level rise may cause permanent inundation of low-lying lands and property, including high amenity areas (beaches, coastlines) that may hold (high value) potential for real estate development.
Sudden-onset Extreme Events
- Storm surge, coastal flooding and erosion could cause injuries, fatalities, and disruption to livelihoods.
- Wildfire may cause damage to, loss of, buildings, green spaces and infrastructure (communications, power).
- Extreme temperatures and heatwaves could result in construction and renovation delays and loss of work days during heatwaves.