Currently Reading

Climate modeling for a resilient business and future

Sustainability

Climate modeling for a resilient business and future


By Michelle Christopher | Paladino | May 12, 2021

We often talk about sustainability strategies that help to minimize environmental impact and slow the effects of climate change. Designing for resilience is equally important now that the earth’s temperature has started to rise, and abnormal climate events are becoming the norm.  This post addresses how climate modeling can inform design strategies to respond to climate change, rather than design strategies to prevent climate change.

Developers evaluate a multitude of data when managing an investment, and one of the greatest variables facing a real estate project is the impacts of climate change.

Energy models typically rely on historic data to anticipate predicted energy performance and energy usage.  And energy audits analyze historical data to help estimate future energy savings. But that historic data is giving way to forward-looking climate-related trend lines around increased droughts and heatwaves, changes in precipitation patterns including heavy downpours, average temperature rise, severity of hurricanes and their locations, and of course sea level rise.  All these issues impact real estate – and proactive developers, owners, and insurance providers are making decisions accordingly.

The difference between climate and weather is well documented. The simplest definition, and the one I like is that climate is what you expect, and weather is what you get.

Forward-thinking real estate developers are including climate modeling in their feasibility and planning phases. What is an example of a climate model?

Climate models follow a similar structure to weather models, except they are broader and cover a longer time span. While a weather forecast might predict how much rain will fall in the next seven days, a climate model will predict changes in rainfall over the next several decades.

The data considered in climate models is broader as well and may include more atmospheric, oceanic, and land processes than weather models do—such as ocean circulation and melting glaciers. Climate models are typically generated from mathematical equations that use thousands of data points to simulate the transfer of energy and water that takes place in climate systems.

All the issues contributing to climate change and extreme climate events can be difficult to wrap your head around when making decisions about a real estate asset. Climate models help with those decisions by providing possible scenarios based on available data.

To support developers that are interested in implementing future-informed climate models in their program strategy, let’s start by looking at a comparison of modeled results based on historical weather data versus future predicted climate data.

To help analyze temperature extremes, we modeled a sample building against a typical Meteorological Year (TMY3) weather file and compared the building at TMY3 to a future prediction climate file.

 

Climate Comparison By Month

 

The analysis illustrates there is a big jump in overall energy required, which is to be expected, and energy use is not the only thing increasing. Because buildings and systems are designed for our current climate, they may not meet future climate conditions. Therefore, hours outside thermal comfort ranges (unmet hours) are increasing. The biggest delta in energy use occurs in the summer and winter when conditions are most extreme, leaving systems potentially undersized and future occupants uncomfortable. Consider this graph which shows the increasing unmet hours for the future climate scenarios as EUI is also increasing.

 

 

A solution might be to oversize the systems so they are ready for all future conditions, but this will only increase energy consumption which further contributes to climate change. The better solution is to target passive strategies that will help maintain building comfort in extreme weather events and in power outages.

Our models show that passive strategies that target internal loads are the most effective at tackling both energy use and unmet hours. None of this is surprising, and most of it is common sense. But when we can quantify the common sense of passive strategies, it becomes simpler to propose and enforce.

By designing with passive strategies, you are helping reduce overall energy impact and carbon emissions from the building, and also contributing to occupant comfort in the event of extreme weather conditions, which are becoming more common as climate change accelerates, While designing to curb climate change is imperative, we also need to design for climate change now.

To maximize asset performance in the face of climate change you should still include prevention tactics like net-zero energy and net-zero carbon, and smart developers also prepare their assets to perform as the climate brings more severe and unpredictable weather.

More from Author

Paladino | May 26, 2021

Injecting embodied carbon capability into the integrated design and construction process

Embodied carbon is defined as the carbon footprint of a material, and is expressed in metric tons of CO2e.

Paladino | Apr 26, 2021

Building performance requirements are coming: Are you ready?

Building Performance Requirements are trending nationwide and are likely coming to a county near you.

Paladino | Feb 8, 2021

Six lessons learned from our first Fitwel Viral Response Module certification

The Fitwel Viral Response Module is one of several frameworks that real estate owners and operators can use to obtain third-party certification for their efforts ensuring their properties are ready for a safer and healthier return to work.

Paladino | Jan 14, 2021

Shift your energy to carbon

Now is the right and necessary time for the commercial real estate industry to shift its environmental strategy from just energy, a carbon contributor, to carbon itself.

Paladino | Nov 13, 2020

5 tips when designing for daylight

Daylight modeling is a tool to examine how daylight interacts with a building, and how that natural light behaves within interior spaces.

Paladino | Jul 16, 2020

COVID readiness: IWBI and USGBC seek to help businesses quantify risk

In an effort to address the risks of COVID-19 at the building scale, USGBC and IWBI have analyzed existing certification guidelines and drafted new, relevant content.

Paladino | Jun 29, 2020

The glass box paradox

Glass box designs have an energy performance problem.

Paladino | Jun 5, 2020

3 strategies to improve the wellness of building systems and gain tenant trust

Three operational issues that must be prioritized for every building in order to achieve tenant trust are air quality/ventilation, relative humidity, and building commissioning.

Paladino | Apr 1, 2020

Green cleaning and the coronavirus

If your cleaning teams use bleach to disinfect buildings from Coronavirus, will you put your LEED certification at risk?

Paladino | Jan 3, 2020

Fitwel reveals unexpected strategies to improve occupant wellness

Wellness is identified as an active process of becoming aware of and making choices towards a healthy and fulfilling life.

More In Category





Magazine Subscription
Subscribe

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe

Follow BD+C: