Page 43 - Final Report-8 NO TRANSPARENCY

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Resilient urban systems:
a socio-technical study of community scale climate change adaptation initiatives
The designs of the systems themselves also provide householders with options in the event of faults or
disturbance, although these options are less visible and require less participation from the householders. For
example, the grey water systems at both sites are still connected to the mains, providing a back-up source
of water for toilets and gardens should either system be interrupted (resource redundancy). The blackwater
system at WestWyck has the option to be linked to the main sewerage treatment, again providing the same
optional benefit to householders, should problems arise, through functional redundancy. Solar hot water
systems at both locations are gas-boosted, providing the option to be less/more dependent on solar energy
depending on availability, and access to hot water (though perhaps limited) if the gas system fails (resource
“For the grey water if something goes wrong with the system it switches to mains so I’ve
never not been able to flush my toilet ever.” (W4)
“We’ve got a gas boosted solar hot water system so that, especially in summer probably
works quite a bit but in winter not.” (A4)
There are also certain design features of the systems and homes at both sites that limit the options available
to householders to carry out certain practices and respond to disturbances, and can result in maladaptive
outcomes. Both locations are dependent on the mains grid for their electricity (solar photovoltaics at
WestWyck feed directly to the grid) which means householders have no other options for electric heating/
cooling, lighting or cooking (though most homes use gas for cooking) should this fail. Even if independent
systems were viable, the cost for most householders at Aurora is currently prohibitive, and there is
insufficient north-facing roof space to service all households at WestWyck, although options other than
mounting on roofs could be explored.
“Solar [electricity]’s part of the grid, we haven’t got batteries so if the grid’s down the lights
go out you’re not – you’re not running a separate system you’re running in part of the grid
with the panels feeding in.” (W7)
“There’s limited north-facing roof space on the school so I wasn’t able to get in on that
last round so potentially there might be space.” (W4)
“One of our project plans is in the future to put in a solar system…but yeah, can’t really
afford it at the moment so we’re just going to have to wait a little bit longer.”
Both communities are also dependent on mains water to provide their potable supply. There are currently
no accredited systems for providing potable water from tank or grey/black water at a community scale.
However, access to tank and/or recycled water appears to be sufficient to prevent householders feeling
vulnerable to a disturbance in mains supplies. Up to a certain point, they know what to do and feel they
would be able to take steps in the future to increase their resilience:
“Probably if we had a sort of climate change with the droughts, I’d really look at installing
water tanks. Anything else apart from that, I probably wouldn’t.” (A10)
“But let’s assume we are going to get another drought, which we will, those rain tanks
might be adequate for a while, but they are not necessarily going to be sufficient for
another extended drought.” (W2)
In terms of the homes, section 5.3.2 outlined ways in which open-plan designs, lack of venting and
use of materials, combined with how the systems are installed, can present a number of challenges to
householders’ comfort. More direct implications of poor design in terms of climate-related disturbances
have also been noted at Aurora:
“When we had the heavy rains, we had water coming into the home and because we
don’t have eaves on our particular house and the water was coming in on a certain angle.
There were a couple of joins from upstairs that, you know, weren’t quite sealed.” (A6)