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Journal article

An overview of climate change and building energy: performance, responses and uncertainties

Sustainable building design and construction Green building Climate change adaptation Climate change mitigation

It is becoming increasingly crucial to develop methods and strategies to assess building performance under the changing climate and to yield a more sustainable and resilient design. However, the outputs of climate models have a coarse spatial and temporal resolution and cannot be used directly in building energy simulation tools.

This paper reviews methods to develop fine spatial and temporal weather files that incorporate climate emissions scenarios by means of downscaling. An overview of the climate change impact on building energy performance is given, and potential adaptation and mitigation factors in response to the changing climate in the building sector are presented. Also, methods to reflect, propagate, and partition main sources of uncertainties in both weather files and buildings are summarized, and a sample approach to propagate the uncertainties is demonstrated.

It was found that there is a gap in the literature on the effect of equipment modernization and the consideration of design days. Design day files have a direct impact on the building equipment sizing. When assessing buildings under future climate conditions, it is crucial to develop updated design day files and weather files, and to evaluate the impacts of modernizing HVAC equipment.

Given the level of uncertainty regarding future climate conditions, current approaches are not adequate. The building design and analysis research community must drive the effort to integrate climate models into meteorological weather data. This is needed to increase awareness of how buildings will need to be designed and operated in the future. Moreover, a comprehensive assessment of building typologies under extreme conditions to guide future building codes and standards is necessary. These efforts must also include an understanding of adaptive capacity under extreme conditions, as well as economic feasibility assessments of potential response factors. Advancing climate-ready decision making will promote resilience processes and policies for buildings under climate change.

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