Student project

Toward Assessing the Sensitivity of Buildings to Changes in Climate

A building is designed for one set of typical climatic conditions. In the context of expected climate change, substantial numbers of existing and new buildings are expected to survive long enough to experience perceptible shifts in climate ‘normals’ (averages). This is problematic for predicting building performance, largely because the exact nature of climate change is hard to predict with certainty. Thus an optimal design is not only tuned to the original design conditions, but is also robust to changes in climatic conditions in the sense of a low sensitivity of its performance. To predict a building’s response to changes in typical weather, two inputs are required: weather data representing this change, and suitable metrics to compare building performance across different climate normals. This report presents initial work on a proposed method for assessing the sensitivity of new or existing buildings to climate change. This method begins with a selection of weather files to represent climate change, then quantifies a building’s passive performance in those climates using an enthalpy-based metric, and ends with a graphical analysis of the performance of the building in different climates to assess its robustness. In this report, we propose an objective performance metric based on the extent to which a building creates indoor conditions passively, i.e. without auxiliary systems. Initial work suggests that the performance assessment carried out here is reproducible and applicable for indoor environment design and evaluation in different ranges of climate change. This approach enables a comparison of building performance without the bias introduced by inherent differences in climatic conditions.

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