Climate Change Implications for the Urban Environment

Human-made emissions be it from buildings, business, agriculture or transport are now commonly accepted to be the main cause of the global warming trend which is currently being experienced.

The Sustainable Energy Research Group is conducting research on climate change issues by assessing future climate impacts in particular in terms of the future performance of buildings. A key focus of this work is to investigate the summer performance of commercial buildings. Whilst heating loads can be reduced relatively easily by improving thermal insulation, avoiding energy intensive mechanical cooling facilities to address summer overheating inside buildings may prove difficult under the predicted warmer climate conditions for the UK. Therefore, the summer performance of buildings can be expected to become critical for meeting the government’s targets of reducing the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by 80% of the 1990 baseline value by 2050.

Within the group’s research building performance simulations are used as a basis for developing transformation strategies for buildings, their facades and services. As no climate change weather files were readily available for simulation programs these had to be generated in-house. A climate change weather data tool (CCWeatherGen) for generating such files for UK locations from UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) regional climate change data is available for download from this website. This complemented by a further tool (CCWorldWeatherGen) which has been developed for world-wide sites using UK Met Office Hadley Centre HadCM3 climate change data.

Funding for the work related to climate change impact assessment has come from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the British Council.

Posted in June, 2005