Retrofit Strategies for Future Warmer Climates
Western Built | Spring 2023
Hassan Bokhary, Building Performance Design Engineer-in-Training, BSc, EIT, CEM, LEED® Green Associate, CPHD
Climate change. What was once a word we used in passing and to which most gave little heed, is now one of the greatest challenges we, as humans, have ever faced. It now seems that every year we are faced with some catastrophic weather event – floods, droughts, storms, heat waves, wildfires – that are labelled one in a 100-year phenomenon. Climate change is a stark reality we experience daily and research shows that the rapid change is mainly due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which have increased significantly since the pre-industrial era, and more recently break historical records.
When it comes to the buildings we work and live in, the impacts of climate change are apparent. Buildings designed or retrofitted today will see dramatically different climates in the future. Canada is committed to reducing its GHG emissions by 30 per cent below the 2005 level of 732 Mt CO2 eq. by 2030. To put this into effect, stringent contemporary energy standards have been adopted for new building projects (for example, the BC Energy Step Code, the Toronto Green Standard Version 3, and OBC SB-10).
For existing buildings, efforts are also underway to develop a code that will help guide energy efficiency. After conducting a literature review, it becomes apparent that for existing buildings in British Columbia, there is a definite lack of understanding on the effects of future warmer weather data on energy retrofits and resilient energy conservation measures (ECMs). In our current practice, we are retrofitting buildings for the past, not for the future.
Considering the future
The main objective of a study we performed last year was to demonstrate that the changing climate must be considered in retrofit strategies. Simulations using the building performance software IES Virtual Environment were conducted.
Weather files for the typical meteorological year (TMY) were considered for the current weather scenario, while future weather files were obtained from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).