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This morning, a client called me and asked for some help. He needed to generate future weather files for a BREEAM certified project in Brussels (necessary for HEA04 – Thermal Comfort credit). I was happy to lend a hand!
The methodology is to use the climate change world weather file generator named CCWorldWeatherGen. It uses Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report model summary data of the HadCM3 A2 experiment ensemble and is based on the so-called ‘morphing’ methodology for climate change transformation of weather data, which was developed by Belcher, Hacker and Powell. From a present weather file (BrusselsIWEC), future weather predictions can be generated for the horizons of 2020, 2050 and 2080.
I was astonished by the magnitude of the climate change in this case. The mean dry bulb temperature is predicted to raise from 10.2°C (present) to 11.2°C by 2020, 12.3°C by 2050 and up to 14.0°C by 2080! This represents a +3.8°C elevation, much higher than the average +1.5°C under which the world’s nations committed to the COP21 in December 2015.
Another key point was the maximum temperature that rose from 34.9°C to 43.8°C and the percentage of the time the temperature was above 26°C rose from 1.1% to 5.5%. This means a drastic change in building management in terms of heating/cooling and comfort.
Just a few weeks ago, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) declared July 2016 as the hottest month on record in 136 years. So we are seeing first-hand the increase in temperature and my climate analysis for Brussels shows just how much it is set to rise.
In these conditions, how will our existing buildings behave? Should all our buildings now be designed to anticipate these forecasts? I hope the scenario is overly pessimistic but I think we need to prepare for the worst case scenario.
The recent COP21 summit in Paris again threw into focus the challenge of climate change, with urban development being confronted to reduce their energy usage. Simultaneously there is a growing concern on how overheating is severely impacting building performance and occupant comfort. With rising global temperatures being experienced now and significant increases expected over the short to medium term, overheating is a key issue that needs to be addressed. Occupant comfort is still a major concern as is energy use and they are both intrinsically linked.
Modern buildings are well sealed and insulated and in London where outside temperatures are higher than average this can lead to an enhanced need for cooling during the summer both in Residential and Non-Residential properties.
A historic design response to avoid overheating would have been to introduce comfort cooling measures but this brings additional energy and carbon use as well as higher running and maintenance cost. However, contemporary design approaches more frequently look to tackle solar and internal loads through passive design methods that minimise their impact without retrospective cooling measures being required, or where necessary allow ventilation approaches with mechanical cooling capacity to offset the peak cooling load.
Developing a response to climate change has led London to introduce a chapter specific to this in its London Plan. Policy 5.9 seeks to adapt to climate change by directly addressing the overheating and cooling conundrum. As London suffers from the urban heat island effect, retrofit and new build need to prioritise the opportunities available to reduce the cooling load and remove the potential for space overheating.
To further investigate the impact and mitigation of overheating, a new dataset of weather files has been released by CIBSE to dynamically simulate against the 2020’s, 2050’s and 2080’s. These files for London and other UK locations will offer climate change scenarios to benchmark the projected building performance. Additionally, London has a TM49 dataset representing three summers with different types of hot events.
Dynamic simulation can present fast yet detailed parametric datasets offering the ability to compare design options and drive the optimisation of the most beneficial design solutions such as shading, glass type, window-to-wall ratio, mixed mode ventilation, thermal mass, etc. The Greater London Authority have rightly identified an expectation for dynamic simulation to be used to demonstrate overheating performance. Without a robust analysis you can’t rely on the results and lack of good data leads to plant oversizing and operational inefficiencies.
IES Consulting have the experience to help investigate and interpret the impact on your building design by employing these new datasets for retrofit or new design through a parametric modelling approach where a large number of options can be run in parallel to optimise decision making. IES work with you from the concept stage to build a scope of design options and then provide detailed feedback on the best value opportunities. By generating reliable data we help project teams design with confidence, sizing plant correctly to operate at optimal efficiency and minimise their capital costs without compromising on comfort.
January is traditionally the time for forward reflection. So inspired by what’s going on around us we’ve pulled together the top 5 buzzwords that we think our expert building analytics team at IES will be using across 2016.
The Force of COP21
May the Force of COP21 be with us all. While the agreement signed in Paris by all 196 nations of the world to pull together and attempt to reduce carbon emissions, thus limiting the onslaught of global warming and reducing air pollution worldwide, is a major step forward, the real work starts now.
Undoubtedly the biggest difference will be made by big business and governments, see our founder Don’s views on this. However, we also believe that each and every one of us must also do our bit by changing the way we live, work, travel and think; no matter where we are from or how rich we are.
The Glasgow Effect:
Ok so we might not use this across the whole year but it certainly got us talking in January and as it’s a year-long project there is sure to be more to come. For those of you who’ve not picked up on this yet, the topic of office banter all across Glasgow on Tuesday morning was Ellie Harrison and her Glasgow Effect project being awarded £15k by Creative Scotland. The artist will not leave the greater Glasgow Area for 1 year (except in the event of the ill-heath / death of close relative or friend), and it’s caused a real storm on social media.
The project was initially called Think Global Act Local and is not primarily about poverty or deprivation in the city, as many people have assumed, but about exploring the benefits and practicalities of localism for artists and communities. “By setting this one simple restriction to her current lifestyle, she intends to test the limits of a ‘sustainable practice’ and to challenge the demand-to-travel placed upon the ‘successful’ artist / academic. The experiment will enable her to cut her carbon footprint and increase her sense of belonging, by encouraging her to seek out and create ‘local opportunities’ – testing what becomes possible when she invests all her ideas, time and energy within the city where she lives.”
The artist has a strong interest in climate change, political activism and big data, and while the original project title is in some ways far more accurate, most people wouldn’t have looked twice at a project named ‘Think Global Act Local’. But it got us thinking about the role of local and community in our personal and professional lives. It’s a global problem, but there’s action that can be taken by us all at a local level to combat it. Read more at our Blog.
With the UK Government mandate for BIM Level 2 deadline fast approaching this year, and as a technology company in the sustainable building analysis arena we felt it was essential to educate and engage the industry on the important role performance analysis has to play in the BIM process. The concept of creating and capturing information during design for use in operation is key to achieving Low Zero Carbon buildings. This time last year we started an educational campaign named ‘BIM4Analysis’ to engage with the industry and bring performance metrics front and centre to the BIM movement which is what the Government strategy is aimed at.
2016 is going to see us develop on this, demonstrating our BIM enabled analysis workflow alongside customers through various events and publications, including Ecobuild and BIM Prospects 2016. We’ve also got the next instalment of our popular IES Faculty BIM webinar series taking place at the end of January (details coming soon). This event will provide an update on our BIM4Analysis strategy plus interoperability development work that will help you on your BIM journey.
Other industries are already capturing and using big data to their advantage – but buildings are lagging behind. Imagine what you could do with real metrics instead of big assumptions. It’s all linked to Smart Buildings, the Internet of Things and other digital developments. Data in buildings can be generated by a wide variety of sources and can be used to understand behaviour, assess performance, improve market competitiveness, allocate resources and so on. However, historically it has been difficult and expensive to collect this data, and its variety in quality, structure and format made it difficult to use, sometimes for example requiring the manual transfer of data from paper records into digital systems.
Mind The Performance Gap:
We’ve been banging on about this for ages now but it’s an issue which requires much more understanding and attention. We’re expecting the issue to gain momentum in 2016, especially as the UKGBC has announced a new research project in the area.
The Performance Gap is a well-documented disconnect between the design and compliance models of buildings and the reality of how they perform. Our work to date has focused on the importance of understanding the difference between design, compliance and actual building performance models, as covered in this video from our faculty event. As well as researching new technological advances in using operational data combined with 3D modelling across building design, handover and operation to deliver intelligent energy efficiencies, alongside healthy and comfortable buildings.
It’s only the first week of January and already controversy has hit Glasgow. The topic of office banter on Tuesday morning was Ellie Harrison and her Glasgow Effect project being awarded £15k by Creative Scotland. The artist will not leave the greater Glasgow Area for 1 year (except in the event of the ill-heath / death of close relative or friend), and it’s already caused a storm on social media.
“By setting this one simple restriction to her current lifestyle, she intends to test the limits of a ‘sustainable practice’ and to challenge the demand-to-travel placed upon the ‘successful’ artist / academic. The experiment will enable her to cut her carbon footprint and increase her sense of belonging, by encouraging her to seek out and create ‘local opportunities’ – testing what becomes possible when she invests all her ideas, time and energy within the city where she lives.”
Personally I find it hard to criticise a project that hasn’t produced anything yet, especially when I don’t know anything about the artist and her intentions. So I looked her up to find out more and discovered she has a strong interest in climate change, political activism and big data.
According to the Herald, and Ellie herself the project was initially called Think Global Act Local and is not primarily about poverty or deprivation in the city, as many people have assumed, but about exploring the benefits and practicalities of localism for artists and communities. And, so with COP21 fresh in my mind I can’t help hoping that some of this project’s outcomes will shine a light on how local communities can start to address the many challenges of keeping global warming at or below 2°C.
The COP21 agreement signed in Paris at the end of last year was a declaration by all 196 nations of the world to pull together and attempt to reduce carbon emissions, thus limiting the onslaught of global warming and reducing air pollution worldwide. While undoubtedly the biggest difference will be made by big business and governments, see our founder Don’s views on this, I also believe that each and every one of us must also do our bit by changing the way we live, work, travel and think; no matter where we are from or how rich we are.
I don’t normally take directly from another source but this article in Envirotech resonated so well I couldn’t rewrite. Here are just some things it suggests you can do to reduce air pollution in your area and curb climate change on a global scale.
The thing is, communities can and are coming together to make a difference, whether through local generation schemes, car-pooling, community gardens or many other like-mined programmes. And there undoubtedly must, and will, be more opportunities in the future for communities to take a bottom up approach to becoming more sustainable in the way we approach energy-use, waste and life in general.
Ellie’s original project title is in some ways far more accurate, but most people wouldn’t have looked twice at a project named ‘Think Global Act Local’. The phrase has been used in various contexts, including planning, environment, education, mathematics, and business, and even has its own Wikipedia page. It makes absolute sense when you apply it to climate change – it’s a global problem, but there’s action that can be taken by us all at a local level to combat it – thinking globally and acting locally.
In the end, I might not like the work Ellie produces for the Glasgow Effect, we will see. But for me it’s already been an opportunity to reflect on the role of local and community in our lives and has introduced me to projects and ideas I wouldn’t ordinarily have come across – Ellie’s own Radical Renewable Art + Activism Fund (RRAAF) to use a wind turbine to generate renewable energy and fund a ‘no strings attached’ grant for art-activist projects and a big bang data exhibition she was involved in. Both of which resonate personally and professionally.
So hate it or support it, Ellie’s Glasgow Effect project has stirred up a lot of feelings, debate and unfortunately abuse. It has also inspired a lot of social media ‘art’ in retaliation and hopefully also made us stop and think a bit. Where will it go from here, who knows, but I’m certainly interested to find out.
Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC’s) form the basis of the COP21 Paris agreement goal of keeping global temperature rise “well below” 2⁰C above pre-industrial levels. Nations outline their INDC plans on cutting their post-2020 emissions.
There is a legal requirement for these INDC plans to be revised ever five years. There is no requirement to state how the reductions will be achieved and there is no legal requirement to achieve the INDC targets. This is surely a major weakness.
The INDC’s of the largest greenhouse gas emitters have set their targets: China has targeted a 60-65% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP by 2030; the United States, has targeted a 26-28% reduction by 2025; and the European Union has targeted a 40% reduction by 2030.
By maintaining the status quo in terms of carbon emission it is anticipated that the global temperature rise will reach 3.6⁰C by 2100. A recently published assessment (http://climateactiontracker.org/) suggested that the emission reductions currently outlined in the currently submitted INDC’s would result in a global temperature rise by 2.7C.
This figure was generated by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT). CAT is an independent scientific analysis, produced by four research organisations, tracking climate action and global efforts towards the globally agreed aim of holding warming below 2°C.
CAT categorise each of the submitted INDC’s as follows:
|Inadequate||If all governments put forward inadequate positions warming likely to exceed 3–4°C.|
|Medium||Not consistent with limiting warming below 2°C as it would require many other countries to make a comparably greater effort and much deeper reductions.|
|Sufficient||Fully consistent with below 2°C limit.|
|Role Model||More than consistent with below 2°C limit.|
Of the 31 INDC’s that have been reviewed:
It is important to remember that these INDC’s are pledges and not legally binding. None of these countries have a clear plan on how to achieve their INDC targets. So without a coherent plan it is fair to assume that it is more likely that the IDNC targets will be missed rather than exceeded.
Who am I to contradict the President of the USA, but I am delighted to tell you that you don’t have to worry about the planet – the Earth will survive global warming.
Why do I know this? Well there is scientific evidence that shows that during the last few hundred million years the Earth has been both much warmer and much colder than it is today. In both extreme cases Earth has survived.
Consequently, I do not think our 1.5⁰C or above increase in global temperature will damage Earth.
It will be 7.5 billion years before the Earth will be consumed by the sun which will have become a red giant. This is so far in the future it is not a concern. So what is the problem?
Loss of Life.
Five major mass extinctions have been identified over the last 500 million years or so. In the most extreme cases almost 95% of life became extinct.
The most famous mass extinction killed off the dinosaurs. This was extremely fortunate for humans as it created the opportunity for mammals to occupy the space vacated by the dinosaurs. This obviously led to us – Homo sapiens – becoming the dominate species.
Homo sapiens have been around for a hundred thousand years. In that time species such as the mammoth and the sabre-toothed tiger have been lost. Whether that has been due to humans or not is questionable. However, the same cannot be said for the Dodo and many recent species that have become extinct.
However, our interaction with the Earth is causing an increasing number of species to disappear. Scientists believe that we are in the middle of the sixth mass extinction. Human activity such as burning fossil fuels, deforestation, dams, over fishing, etc. demonstrate that we are the principal cause of this current mass extinction. Scientists have estimated that by 2100 50% of current species will be extinct.
What about us?
Humans are highly resilient. What happens to us depends upon what action we take to stop global warming. We face droughts, floods, lost top soil, food and water shortages, wars over resources and mass migration, etc. By 2100 will we have smart cities or no cities? Will we be going forward to a much better global society or devolving back to the ‘Dark Ages’ e.g. post Roman Empire?
It is our choice.
One thing is for sure – The Earth will be OK.
The photos of the delegates with big smiles, applauding and raised arms clearly illustrate that COP21 was a major success. Delegates went home and could report a major achievement. It was a massive step forward, achieving a global commitment to significantly reducing carbon emissions thereby substantially reducing the impact of global warming.
Should we all rejoice?
What are the key agreed targets from COP21?
The agreement is the first where all countries have committed to cut carbon emissions. Some aspects of the agreement will be legally binding, such as submitting an emissions reduction target and the regular review of that goal.
Every five years countries will have to declare their ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’ or INDC. The idea is that every five years countries will set new, more rigorous targets.
What won’t be legally binding will be the emission targets. These will be determined by nations themselves and the INDC need not be a meaningful target. For example a study on 31 of the INDC’s submitted so far show over 50% are inadequate and likely to lead to global temperature rises of 3-4⁰C.
In addition, whilst it is legally binding that the INDC targets are set, it is not legally binding that you need to achieve them. This is a major weakness.
To date, 147 countries have submitted their INDC’s. If these targets were to be achieved they will only reduce global warming to 2.7⁰C. This is well above the 2.0⁰C goal of the Paris Agreement.
Whilst ambitious goals have been set at COP21 it is left to others to work on how to implement the goals.
These INDC’s will require serious political commitment to deliver the targets, particularly if it requires reducing economic growth or is too expensive to implement.
US President Barack Obama has hailed the COP21 agreement as “ambitious”. I am uneasy with the word ‘ambitious’ in this context. He also admitted that the deal was not “perfect”, he said it was “the best chance to save the one planet we have”. Again I don’t like the non-committal tone of the message.
In addition, China’s chief negotiator Xie Zhenhua agreed with the President and he also stated that the deal was not perfect.
It appears that COP21 achieved much good will and clearly a verbal intent to take action, but what will happen if one or more countries renege? Will the agreement collapse like a pack of cards?
The big question is will there be the political strength in each country to implement the measures to tackle this problem?
Buildings, cities, manufacturing and industrial processes will play a major part of a countries carbon reduction strategy. The problem each country faces is that there is little or no commercial lobby for energy efficiency. The lobbying is done by the renewables and clean tech sectors. Whilst these are important there is little point in renewables or clean tech if buildings are wasting 30%-50% of their energy in the first place.
Is it surprising that if buildings are not made energy efficient then more renewables and clean tech will be required?
Unfortunately, I fear the success of COP21 could be more of an illusion than a triumph. Put the Champagne back into the vault, it will be a long time before we will know if COP21 was a success or not.
Our wasteful use of energy is catching up with us. Environmental disasters which usually happen once every hundred years are happening every year. And climate change, once considered an issue for future generations, has moved firmly into the present.
The simple fact is: if we continue to emit heat-trapping gases from the burning of fossil fuels at the current rate, we will force temperatures to rise above the level our eco-system can cope with. All in less time than it takes for today’s preschoolers to finish high school.
Today, most countries have “Brown Economies” that are dependent on fossil fuels. We need to move as quickly as possible to “Green Economies” that have little need for fossil fuels and are resource efficient. Our ever increasing migration to cities and their growth presents us with a unique opportunity to drive this change through our approach to city infrastructure.
We need to stop wasting energy
As governments across the world respond by introducing carbon reduction targets, many people would argue the solution is to stop burning gas, oil and coal altogether and start generating all our energy from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power.
I used to be one of those people. It was only after I completed my PhD, in the generation and use of solar energy, that I realised renewable energy isn’t the solution. It certainly has a role to play – but when I tell people how much space they’ll need for all the solarflex required to power just one building, they quickly agree we need to stop wasting energy and reduce our overall energy consumption first.
When I created the Virtual Environment (VE), to enable architects and engineers to predict the impact of making changes to buildings on their energy consumption, little did I realise just how powerful the technology would become. Today, we’re not only helping facilities managers to reduce energy consumption and creating some of the world’s most sustainable buildings, but we’re also working with city planners to create smart cities where no energy is wasted.
Our buildings need to get smarter
It’s simply unacceptable that in a society capable of understanding the laws of the universe, cloning life and travelling through space, we still allow our buildings to waste a quarter of their energy.
As the Earth’s population continues to expand and more people migrate into cities, we need to look at how to not only make new buildings more sustainable, but also leverage the opportunities for economies of scale this presents. That way, we can we make our existing buildings and cities as energy-efficient as possible.
Only by looking at buildings and cities as the integrated environments that they are – instead of parts of the problem in isolation – can we ensure everyone involved in the conception, design or management of a building gets to leave our world in a much better state than we inherited it.
Thank you for playing your part.
Read more in IES – The Future of Energy Reduction.
The latest instalment of the IPCC report on Climate Change was recently released, attracting much less attention than the previous report a few years ago. This lack of attention is an ominous sign. The main issue arising in the report being that governments across the world need to do much more to mitigate Climate Change.
Here is what our Founder and Managing Director Don McLean has to say on the report…
“What’s interesting to me is that IPCC has now added ‘Climate Change adaptation’ to its terminology as well as ‘mitigating’, thus admitting that, whether we like it or not, the world is going to experience some level of Climate Change. Currently the target is to keep within two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, however this is the level that many observers have stated that if reached will result in severe consequences for both people and the environment.”
“Since the last IPCC report we have seen dramatic change in the amount of fossil fuels available. At the release of the last report countries had concern over the peak oil, energy security and the increasing costs of fossil fuels. Today, through the emergence of new technology and the discovery of massive resources of fossil fuels that can be accessed through processes such as fracking and underground coal gasification, many countries now have sufficient fossil fuel resources to last them for centuries. It would be reasonable to conclude that the necessity for governments to react to Climate Change will be diminished, and as a consequence the only real driver in reducing our use of fossil fuels is Climate Change. Time will tell if governments will continue to set targets to reduce carbon emissions, but there is a real possibility if they don’t we will have to consider adaptation policies for much higher than a two degrees global temperature rise.”
“The next few years will be critical for governmental actions as the world economies emerge from recession and we see rapid economic growth in not just the BRIC countries but also the MINT countries. Will we see any reduction in global CO2 emissions before the next IPCC report is published? Unfortunately I doubt it.”
The map shows where the ice should of been in August and where it is now. In 1980, the Arctic ice in summer made up some 2% of the Earth’s surface. But since then the ice has roughly halved in area, and the volume of ice has dropped to just a quarter of what it was.
We should be worried on two counts.
Firstly, this depletion of the Arctic Ice was not expected to be seen so soon. It is a minor tipping point because white ice has a high reflectivity therefore it reflects back sunlight helping mitigate rising global temperatures. If the ice is not there then the sea absorbs the solar energy rather than reflect it, which warms the sea. The warmer water then melts more ice and the tipping point is activated.
The BBC reported that Prof Wadhams of Cambridge University calculated that this increased absorption of the sun’s rays is “the equivalent of about 20 years of additional CO2 being added by man”. Ouch! The problem is that we are becoming powerless to stop this happening as most people have now become non responsive to news of Climate Change and have become accustomed to living with it like AIDS, Asian Flu and the Greek Economy.
The second and much more worrying concern is that this profoundly serious process hardly got a mention on the news. I know we have bigger worldwide economic problems to consider, but this is not the only reason there was so little reaction to the thawing of the Arctic — as I’ve predicted before, we have already stopped listening. Record temperatures blah blah, highest rainfall in 100 years blah blah, Arctic free of ice in the summer blah blah. Who got voted off the X Factor this week?
Within the next two to three years we will hit 400ppm of atmospheric CO2. CO2 is currently rising at over 2ppm per year. Credible scientists reckon that at 450ppm we will experience a 2°C rise in global temperature. During 2008 governments were putting plans in place to stop us getting to 450ppm — now governments are putting adaption strategies in place because at the current rate we will hit 450 in 20 years. It was anticipated that the 450ppm level would not be achieved until 2050 or later. So we are doing less to combat climate change and we have less time to sort it. Literally burning the candle at both ends! For further reading on the subject, I would recommend visiting the 350.org website.
It is at times like this we should all remember how much individuals, organisations and companies like ours are doing to combat climate change. Our impact is significant and it is being recognised. My message to my staff this month was that when you are coming into the office during the winter; remember that our work continues to make a difference every day as the benefits we bring increase and allow more & more new and existing customers to create better performing buildings with the VE. We are doing our part in keeping CO2 levels down and I hope you are too.