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Climate change impact on building surfaces and façades

Terje Grøntoft (Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), Kjeller, Norway)

International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management

ISSN: 1756-8692

Article publication date: 8 November 2011




The purpose of this paper is to compare indicative expected changes in maintenance costs due to changes in corrosion of building facades caused by climate change or by possible reduction of air pollution, in Norway and Europe.


Available climate and pollution dose‐corrosion response functions from the literature were used to calculate corrosion costs for buildings façades and construction surfaces. Metals and stone were used as indicator materials.


An annual average temperature increase of 2°C and increase in precipitation of 20 per cent in the city of Bergen in western Norway in the twenty‐first century is likely to increase maintenance costs of building facades as much or more than a 50 per cent reduction in the concentrations of single air pollutants, and similarly to between 20 per cent and 50 per cent reduction in all the air pollutants, minus chloride, that have been found to corrode the materials. An increase in costs up to about 1 Euro/m2 10 years can be expected, but depending on surface material. This is in contrast with an approximate European average situation where no change in precipitation is expected during the twenty‐first century and an increase in temperature will result in reduced corrosion of metals due to drying up of surfaces and reduced maintenance costs. The maintenance costs for Portland limestone surfaces may increase for the European average situation due to an increased effect of air pollution on corrosion at higher temperature. Reduction in amounts of precipitation is expected in southern Europe. This will further reduce corrosion rates and maintenance costs for all materials.

Research limitations/implications

The results reported include the uncertainty inherent in climate model scenarios and in the empirically derived dose‐response functions. Degradation of real building facades varies depending on factors such as building design, type of surface materials and surface treatments.

Practical implications

Reduction of air pollutants, monitoring of degradation, adjustment of building standards and guidelines, and use of more suitable materials and building techniques are some possible measures to adapt to increased atmospheric corrosion of buildings caused by climate change.

Social implications

Expected increase in maintenance costs is one additional expense for society due to climate change, which can contribute to reduced welfare and increased social stress.


The comparison of expected future degradation and cost of maintenance of building facades due to climate change and due to change in air pollution makes the practical significance of such changes more evident.



Grøntoft, T. (2011), "Climate change impact on building surfaces and façades", International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 374-385.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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