Weather research aims to make buildings more resilient and safer for occupants

University researchers have won £1m funding to help buildings become more resilient and safer for occupants by looking at how building designs interact with different weather conditions. The University of Bath and Exeter University have been awarded the funding by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The project involves creating an hourly time series of predicted weather for the next 85 years until 2100, which will represent typical weather and extreme conditions such as heat waves and cold snaps.

Research project leader, University of Bath professor of Low Carbon Design at the University of Bath David Coley explained: “In western civilisations we know the greatest contributor to weather-related deaths are short term extreme temperature changes, including both increases and decreases.

“These temporary temperature variations account for more weather-related deaths than all other weather events combined including lighting strikes, rain, flooding, hurricanes and tornados.

“It is important that we recognise the role buildings play in responding to and dealing with extreme weather conditions – buildings can keep people alive during extreme weather events, but they can also kill. The time series of example hourly weather we are devising in conjunction with testing these variations on different building designs will help us to better develop building designs that can safely and comfortably house occupants and avoid weather-related preventable deaths in the future.”

The different weather characteristics will be tested on more than 1200 different building designs in order to discover how the characteristics of external temperature, wind and sun cause issues for occupants, such as over demand on central heating systems and air conditioning. From applying this 85 year forecast to the different building examples, researchers will be able to understand a weather event, such as a heat wave, not just in terms of the external characteristics like duration or temperature, but also the implications of such an event on the internal environment of a building and the impact on occupants.

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