Modelling the Impact of Climate Change in Schools

Climate Change Impacts and Adaption Conference: Dangerous Rates of Change, Exeter, Sept. 2008.

Many buildings demonstrate levels of overheating close to the maximum allowed by the building regulations. Therefore there is the potential that such designs will breach the regulations under the climatic conditions in the UK predicted as a result of climate change. In order to see if this concern is well founded, weather files representative of the possible weather between 2020 and 2080 were created and applied to a thermal model of a school. Unlike other work done on this subject, 28 variants of the basic design were studied in order to see if a consistent message would arise regardless of thermal mass, ventilation, glazed fraction and U-value. In addition, more extreme climate change scenarios were studied than is usual and a sensitivity analysis carried out with regard to the main climatic driving forces. In total 252 building/weather scenario combinations were studied. The results show that all of the building variants examined will have significant overheating by 2080. In light of these results it is suggested that the basis of school architecture will have to be revisited, as simple adjustments to the parameters listed above are unlikely to prove adequate. We have found the first indications that changes in the internal environment within buildings will follow linear trends under a changing climate (i.e. in direct proportion to the amount of climate change), and that the constant of proportionality that this implies (which we term the climate change resilience coefficient) can be used to characterise the inherent level of robustness of a design to a changing climate.

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