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Building vulnerability assessment of potential refuge buildings in Melbourne’s west

Project Summary

YEF has been engaged by the Victorian Government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to assess potential refuge buildings in Melbourne’s west. It will focus on how suitable buildings are for at-risk people who may seek relief during extreme heat events, and provide both recommendations and cost-estimates for upgrades needed to improve resilience and adaptation to climate change. The project will build on the learnings from a previous project conducted by the Eastern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (EAGA).


Project background

Heatwaves are expected to increase with our changing climate and are identified as a key risk to health and wellbeing, especially for vulnerable groups including the elderly and the very young, persons with existing chronic health conditions, low-income households and persons that are socially isolated. The risk of extreme heat days is higher in urban areas due to the Urban Heat Island effect, where built up areas experience higher temperatures than surrounding areas due to large amounts of exposed concrete, asphalt and steel which can retain heat and release it into the night.

Throughout the Greater Melbourne Region, Emergency Management Victoria, Department of Health, and Municipal Councils have completed heatwave response plans or heat health plans. These vary in the information given and enact a hierarchy of responses. Local governments are often expected to provide a level of leadership during a heatwave, but many councils are lacking Heat Health plans or their current plans are outdated. This is in part due to the strain placed on emergency management in municipal councils due to the Covid-19 crisis. Despite much activity, there appears to be an absence of a coordinated, regional approach to providing safe spaces for vulnerable people during heat waves. This project aims to explore the issues further and determine appropriate further actions.

Project activity

YEF will be working with local councils in Melbourne’s west in cooperation with the Western Alliance for Greenhouse Action (WAGA) and other local stakeholders. At least 40 building assessments will be undertaken. Through the project, YEF will also be vigilant for capacity building and knowledge sharing opportunities. Upskilling council staff, local community, DELWP and YEF are expected to be co-benefits of this undertaking. In addition, the assessment tool designed for this project could be leveraged for future building assessments by local councils.


If you would like to know more about the project or make a contribution you can contact YEF’s project lead, Phani Yeggina, phani.yeggina@yef.org.au.