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Planning for the future of community buildings

We held our latest networking event Future proofing community buildings against climate change impacts at the Ecology Centre in Kinghorn.  

The focus of the event was to consider the changes we will have to put in place to cope with impacts of climate change that we know we are going to experience going forward.  Making such changes is called adaptation.

Our main speaker was Cat Payne from sustainability charity Sniffer. Sniffer act as a catalyst, fostering collaboration across sectors and places to ensure transformation towards a flourishing and fairer future for all in a changing climate.  Sniffer deliver the Scottish Government programme, Adaptation Scotland. 

Afterwards we held a short panel discussion with experts in community adaptation and mitigation, before going on a tour of the Ecology Centre.

What is adaptation and why do we need it?

Cat began by explaining why we need to make changes to our buildings to cope with a changed future climate. She explained:

Even if we completely stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow, we would still experience some warming as a result of greenhouse gasses we have already released. This is because carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere  for hundreds of years before it breaks down. So, some of  the gasses released today will still be warming the planet in 100 years time.  We are “locked-in” to some warming and with it, some of the associated impacts. 

This means that whilst we must urgently continue to reduce the release of greenhouse gasses (mitigation), we must also prepare our infrastructure and buildings for a warmer climate (adaptation).  

Adaptation reduces the vulnerability of our buildings to the expected impacts of climate change – it makes them more resilient. Some examples of adaptation are changes to building design to cope with higher temperature, increased flooding and increased volume of drainage.

Current Projections

Cat pointed out that the climate is warming much faster than expected, with the world currently around 1.3 degrees warmer than pre-industrial times. She shared the Climate Action Tracker, which has us heading for  warming of up to 2.3 to 3.4 degrees based on current policy and action. Future climate outcomes will be determined by the action taken or not taken to cut emissions now and in the years ahead.

For us in Scotland, a warmer climate will mean:

• Temperatures projected to increase in both summer and winter, with warming expected to be greatest in summer.
• Winters projected to become wetter. Summers will be drier but with unpredictable downpour events. Rainfall increases will be largest in the west, drought risk worst in the east. There will be significant increase in the frequency and intensity of downpour events. 

The Scottish Government has produced a document that shows how climate will impact us in Scotland called 15 Key Consequences.

Mitigation and adaptation go hand-in-hand

We need to act! That means reducing greenhouse gasses , capturing greenhouse gasses and coping with the impacts. And we need to do all three!

If you are building a net zero building, can you build in adaptation changes to the project at the same time? That means your new building will not release greenhouse gases AND it will be able to cope with warming temperatures that we will see over the coming decades.

It should be noted that we cannot rely on capturing greenhouse gases alone. The technology to do this is in its infancy and untested at scale.  Currently, it is mostly used by fossil fuel companies to justify them continuing to profit from fossil fuels. There is no carbon capture fairy – we need to mitigate! 

There are plenty of adaptations that are relevant to community organisations, which you can see in the slides below.

Climate risk tools and guides

There is a range of useful resources suitable for community use on Adaptation Scotland’s website. Cat picked out a few to highlight:
  • Community Climate Adaptation Routemap – The Routemap is split into three distinctive stages to launch then drive climate resilience in local areas: ‘getting started’, ‘understanding climate change in your community’, and ‘taking action’. In each you will find helpful advice and links to support every step.
  • Climate Hazards and Resilience in the Workplace– The resources are designed to address the human consequences of a changing climate and help workers have a central voice in building resilience to climate risks and championing climate change adaptation solutions which also tackle inequality and social justice. it is designed for use at work, but is useful for community groups too.

  • Climate Ready Places – resource takes six typical Scottish ‘places’ and identifies the key climate change impacts and risks identified for Scotland and the adaptation measures that could contribute to a climate ready (adapting) place. The visuals will be used to introduce adaptation to a broad audience – providing visual representation of climate impacts and a shared vision of ‘climate ready places


Funding for community building adaptation

2023/24 Shared Prosperity Fund’s Climate Adaptation and Energy Efficiency Grant. There is financial support available for community groups who own or occupy non-domestic buildings or land. Grants of £3k-20k are available if you want to take action to cut your community buildings’ emissions or to make it more resilient to the impacts of climate change. If you would like to apply for funding to be spent before 31 March 2024, please do so as soon as possible using this online form: Funding for 2024-25 will be announced soon. Contact

Panel Discussion 

We were also joined by Michael Hildew from Cosy Kingdom, Louise Oliver from Climate Action Fife and Liz Corke from the Ecology Centre who answered questions from attendees.  We had interesting discussions on: options for installation of solar panels on community buildings; climate adaptation/mitigation audits for community buildings, including support available from Climate Action Fife; and of the need for non-competitive funding for those looking to take action.

Ecology Centre Tour 

We finished the event with a tour of the Ecology Centre, looking at the climate measures they have taken on their building. Liz Corke, Education Manager, showed us their two sets of solar arrays, which even in winter can charge their electric van. They also have a collection of heat pumps, providing fossil fuel free heating for the building.  We were also able to have a peep inside the tool shed and library, which is saving tools from landfill, as well as reducing demand for new items.

Thanks to all our speakers, The Ecology Centre for hosting and to everyone who attended!

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Cover Resource Name Description Download
Climate Conversation Guide Cover Climate Conversation Guide A comprehensive guide to engaging in meaningful climate conversations. Download PDF
Talking Climate Handbook Cover Talking Climate Handbook Strategies for everyday climate change discussions. Download PDF
Community Climate Action Toolkit Cover Community Climate Action Toolkit Tools and tips for community-led climate initiatives. Download PDF
Reduce Waste Guide Cover How to… help your community to reduce waste Guidance on waste reduction for communities. Download PDF
Shifting Normal Guide Cover Shifting Normal full guide Insights into driving change for normalising sustainable practices. Download PDF
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Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN)
Energy Saving Trust
Home Energy Scotland
Climate Action Fife
Greener Kirkcaldy
Circular Communities Scotland
Adaptation Scotland
Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland
Zero Waste Scotland
Keep Scotland Beautiful
Climate Outreach
Carbon Literacy Project
Transition University of St Andrews
Highlands and Islands Climate Hub
Fife Coast and Countryside trust
Greenspace Scotland
Development Trust Association Scotland DTAS
Community Land Scotland
Carbon Almanac
Talking climate
Organisations & Resources

Organisations that may help you on your journey:

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) 30% off training, member-only networks (policy and comms), Funding Scotland premium access, members email bulletin, priority access for events, etc
Circular Communities Scotland Funding advice, member events, policy updates, representation in network
Energy Action Scotland Two discounted training course places per year - City and Guilds Energy Awareness Training
SURF: Scotland's Regeneration Forum Networking, contribute to policy consultations, free SURF Conference, priority access to events, access to policy journal and reports
Nourish Scotland Welcome pack including printed Food Atlas, part of a network, discounts / free entry at events, members Facebook group
Social Farms and Gardens Monthly online member meets, discounted training, access to grants and bursaries, advice from staff, newsletters, representation and policy influencing
Cycling Scotland Access to cycle training, support guidance and funding from Transport Scotland
Learning for Sustainability Scotland Take part in action groups, attend and vote at AGMs, networking events and seminars, access resources, advice, consultations and policy documents
Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS) Annual conference, e-bulletin, networking events, Community Learning Exchange Fund, resources and tools, strategic planning support, trustee training, policy and funding updates, representation through a strong voice
Community Energy Scotland Members bulletins, partnership working and capacity building, representation at government level, members directory, events, free advertising for volunteer opportunities
Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN) Networking, communications, training and events, showcased in members map and directory, peer to peer networking, access to funding (e.g. Community Learning Exchange)
This guide is designed to help community groups tackling climate change maximise their success by taking account of how change happens when planning, carrying out and reviewing their activities. Shifting normal - designing projects to tackle climate change: full guide - nan
Community Climate Action Toolkit. Easy-to-use tools and resources, to develop your group understand your local situation, to move into meaningful action. Community Climate Action Toolkit | The Schumacher Institute nan
Pair of reports looking at barriers to walking and wheeling in Scotland. Common issues better-streets-key-issues.pdf nan
Place Standard Tool (PST), designed for considering a joined up, collaborative, and participative approach to climate action within a place. Place Standard with a Climate Lens | Sniffer nan
VOiCE is planning and recording software that assists individuals, organisations and partnerships to design and deliver effective community engagement. VOiCE nan
Adaptation Routemap is valuable for anyone who would like to Understand and address climate change impacts within your community now and in the future. Adaptation Scotland :: Community Climate Adaptation Routemap nan
52 Climate Actions. 52 of the most effective climate actions that can be taken by individuals and communities in the GlobalNorth. One for each week of the year. Actions | 52 Climate Actions nan
A simple guide to talking about climate change by Australian organisation Climate4Change. Climate Conversation guide.pdf - Google Drive nan
Impact is an estimator of a community’s carbon footprint that works for parishes wards, district councils and unitary authorities. Impact | Community carbon calculator nan
Stats and infographics explaining the urgency of change and how every degree counts 8 Things You Need to Know About the IPCC 1.5ËšC Report | World Resources Institute nan
Fife Benefits. Matching communities and good causes with businesses and procurement staff Fife Benefits - Procurement Support nan
Plastic Free Dunfermline’s guide on zero waste events. Plastic Free Event Guide - Plastic-Free Dunfermline nan
SCCAN offers groups a free fully fledged website hosted under the domain SCCAN spaces – get webspace free nan
Greenspace Scotland. A wide range of resources including guidance, research, statistics and funding sources. Resources | Greenspace Scotland nan
The PECH structure. A useful way to build team cohesion and direction by finding commonalities and ironing out differences at the outset. CEC Visioning PECH doc - Google Docs nan
SP=EED. Planning Aid Scotland’s’ guide and toolkit to more effective community engagement in the planning system. And offers help with Place Plans Resources - PAS nan
nan Community-led Plans - PAS nan
Growing Climate Confidence. Help to reduce emissions and engage their community. Their Scorecard will assess your progress to net zero. Growing Climate Confidence nan
Carbon Brief covers the latest developments in climate science, climate policy and energy policy. nan
Climate Outreach. Explore their website. They have a range of tools for engaging the public on climate change. nan
The Place Standard tool provides a simple framework to structure conversations about place, based around 14 questions. nan
Community Map Scotland is a software project to help your community build a Local Place Plan. nan
ISM a multidisciplinary behaviour tool for designing effective policy interventions, originally developed in the context of sustainability challenges. Created by Andrew Darnton with colleagues at the University of Manchester, and launched by the Scottish Government in 2013. nan

Where you have come from before: Before joining the Fife Climate Hub team I had two jobs I was the Sustainable Transport Officer for Transition University St Andrews and I worked as a Communications Advisor for Fife Council

I am a passionate communicator with a big interest in climate and biodiversity. I began this journey when I was asked to cover the GM Crop Trials in the Highlands as a young reporter for the Press & Journal. I realised that I wanted to be part of the solution and not on the sidelines reporting it.  

One small change I would recommend getting the train for your next holiday. It’s a fantastic adventure and once you get out of the UK the trains are much more relaxed and you feel on holiday straight away. On the Eurostar on to Paris even the toasties are served with a plate, a napkin and a French accent! 

Sean Flinn

Where you have come from before:

I have worked and volunteered in science communication since my undergraduate and have formal qualifications as both a youth worker and science teacher. I have a background in marine conservation and have briefly worked in conservation research. Previously I ran a project working with young people on the topics of climate change and the biodiversity crisis. I have used my experience to help upskill other educators based on the lessons I have learned. 

One small change you would make to make the world a greener, fairer place:  

Is to question everything you read or hear especially online! There is a lot of information out there and it can be overwhelming; especially when much of it is intentionally misleading!

GilIian Napier

Where you have come from before: Worked with my partner in his print business, doing everything except put ink on paper! I have also worked for the National Child-minding Association and the various Local Authorities in England. 

One small change: Ask everyone to celebrate their small wins whether it be buying second hand clothing to planting a patio tree on your balcony.  It all helps.

Where you have come from before: Before joining the Fife Climate Hub

Craig Leitch Fife Climate Hub Manager
Craig Leitch Fife Climate Hub Manager

team I worked for Greener Kirkcaldy and on the Climate Action Fife Project. My role was to deliver climate literacy training and inspire climate action. I also supported FCCAN as their secretariat.

My background is in wildlife conservation where I mainly worked to share the joys of nature with people as a ranger, leading guided walks and as education officer.  

One small change is to talk to people about climate change. Share your worries and celebrate your positive actions. You really do have power to influence those around you.  

Alternatively: buy (and sell)  second hand. There are so many apps out there now to help with this. This means fewer emissions, fewer things going to landfill and it saves you money.