Future weather files for a robust design of buildings and neighborhoods against climate change
In the last decade, some of the warmest years on record have been experienced. Failure in climate change adaptation can lead to costly short- and long-term issues, such as blackouts due to energy supply disruption. These problems partly are arising from the fact that existing buildings are not designed for atypical conditions, and their expected performance is based on most-likely conditions. Building performance simulation (BPS) empowers designers to evaluate a proposed design under the probable climate conditions that a building will face during its lifetime. This work aims at answering the question: what type of future weather files enable building engineers and designers to more reliably test robustness of their designs against climate change.
Extreme weather files are needed for a robust design in building and urban scales
The standardized weather files of today are a single-year of typical weather data that represent typical regional climate conditions based on historical data. One of the main disadvantages of this method on climate change impact assessment is its averaging nature. The averaging process can result in missing extreme values and therefore shows how systems designed taking into consideration only typical conditions could quickly become a costly mistake (due to under-dimensioning).
This study provides an overview of the major approaches for creating future weather data sets. For the first time, the effects of using major available approaches for generating future weather files are studied on the calculation of energy performance of buildings. The building models were simulated in isolation and combined to create a virtual neighborhood.
The study investigates the possibility and importance of using extreme weather years in BPS at both the building and neighborhood scales. This will allow understanding the magnitude of the risk induced at large scale by not taking into account possible future climate extremes.
The analysis of the virtual neighborhood revealed that the peak electric power demand for the neighborhood can increase up to 16.8% under extreme conditions in comparison to the typical conditions. These results underline the importance of considering extreme conditions in studying the impacts of climate change on larger spatial scales (e.g. urban and city scales) and preparing urban energy systems for such future conditions.
In conclusion, our work provided further evidence that proper weather data sets based on high resolution data from climate models and several climate scenarios, including extreme conditions, are required to empower building engineers and architects to test their design solutions under future climate uncertainties.
By Amin Moazamia