These days people design, construct and operate buildings in a world affected by climate change, but the potential to curb greenhouse gas emissions by implementing energy efficiency in the built environment is very substantial. Buildings and infrastructure built today will experience significantly different weather patterns over the next few years due to the impact of climate change. So, we as sustainable designers should start thinking about the carbon concentration in the atmosphere released by the built environment and the suitable control measures and strategies that we should implement while designing the new construction in the present and the future.
This paper will show how energy efficiency recommendations change when ASHRAE climate locations and climate variability is considered, and how future buildings should be designed with respect to energy use and cost. And by evaluating future energy impacts due to climate variability, we will be able to take steps to increase the resilience of buildings.
I studied the impacts of future climate variability on energy consumptions and operating costs for an existing two storied office building at Albuquerque, New Mexico compliant with the ASHRAE 90.
1.2001. By coupling a representative set of energy models with low and high impact climate change scenarios, I was able to identify adaptation approaches with the most energy savings potential, through simulation. My analysis of the Albuquerque office building indicates an increase of up to 11% and 36% for electricity and natural gas consumption respectively, resulting in 9-17% annual utility cost increase in the next fifty years.
I was able to identify the top three mitigation strategies for this geography with the most climate resilience.
I demonstrated that this method could be replicated with other building types and geography with three other case studies. This operating cost increase implies a large energy cost investment for large facilities that spend millions on utility bills. Engineers, designers, building energy analysts and owners will find this paper useful in informing climate mitigation and resiliency through building design. This process of analyzing the impact of the future weather conditions on the presently designed buildings will help utilities understand the measures that allow greater flexibility in future extreme degree days. Since, regulatory environments are growing more climate-conscious, this process will help utilities respond in a better way.
The Energy Center of Wisconsin which initiated a public opinion study of climate change and related energy issues in 2007 motivated in large part by need to understand how public attitudes about climate change might affect the work we do to promote energy efficiency. Concern about the climate change appeared to coincide with the concern about the environment and much less so with the other issues, including energy. People are making that connection, and concern about the environment may be a prerequisite for being concerned about the climate change.
There is an additional component to belief in climate change that we think is critical and that is what are the expected consequences. To our surprise, a solid minority of our respondents who believe in climate change think that the phenomenon will bring a balance of positive and negative effects; and a very few others think it will be primarily positive.
The reason to consider buildings as a major factor to climate change is that the total U.S. carbon emission from transportation, industry, commercial buildings, and residential buildings are the same. The solution to this rising carbon emission are to use more renewable energy, regulatory standards to require energy efficient buildings, equipment and vehicles; tax incentives to encourage climate-friendly actions; and publicly funded energy efficient programs that provide information and education, technical assistance, and rebates to promote energy efficiency. Many individuals have started taking the steps against the climate change, but buying new, EV and more efficient cars is expensive. Many have also started thinking of home-based measures like changing lights to CFLs, using more efficient appliances, adjusting the thermostats, insulating windows and doors which utilizes less energy or fits into a circular economy.