Researchers develop tool to test performance of buildings against climate change

11 September 2013 (Last Updated September 11th, 2013 18:30)

Researchers at Heriot-Watt University in the UK have developed a diagnostic tool to test the performance of buildings against climate change.

Building

Researchers at Heriot-Watt University in the UK have developed a diagnostic tool to test the performance of buildings against climate change.

Scientists and engineers at the university said that building designers need to anticipate rising temperatures due to climate change to avoid homes, workplaces and other buildings going into ‘meltdown’ in the future.

Using 2009 climate projections, which suggest significant rises in UK temperatures over the next 70 years, the new diagnostic tool will enable building professionals to identify the risk of buildings overheating and becoming unfit for use, and to test low carbon solutions to reduce the risk.

The university said big cities and conurbations, particularly London, are vulnerable to ‘urban heat island’ effects, where the city experiences significantly higher temperatures than surrounding areas because of a greater retention of heat from the urban environment.

Researchers believe that in order to counter the effects, existing buildings need to be adapted and new buildings need to be designed in such a way so that they can reduce associated health risks and improve the quality of life for occupants.

David Jenkins of the Low Carbon Future (LCF) project research team said it is widely recognised that climate change is going to have a major effect on the environment.

"As external temperatures rise so will the temperatures within our homes, schools, offices and other buildings," Jenkins said.

”Although climate change information is available it can come in a complex format and be time intensive to analyse. This can make it difficult to consider in building design."

"The LCF tool simplifies the process, allowing building teams to test current and future designs and climate change adaptations in a realistic timeframe and useable format.”

The university said the risk assessment tool can be applied to the simulation results of any building and plans are being made to extend its use.


Image: The new diagnostic tool will enable building professionals to identify the risk of buildings overheating. Photo: Courtesy of Heriot-Watt University.