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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sensitivity of passive design strategies to climate change

  • Author(s): Aijazi, Arfa;
  • Brager, Gail
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-SA' version 4.0 license

Observed global warming trends undermine the conventional practice of using historic weather files, such as Typical Meteorological Year (TMY), to predict building performance during the design process. In order to limit adverse impacts such as improperly sized mechanical equipment or thermal discomfort, it is important to consider how the building will perform in the future. Like all passive design strategies, natural ventilation, relies on local climate to be effective in improving building performance. This paper combines future weather files with whole building energy simulations to assess the sensitivity and feasibility of natural ventilation in providing thermal comfort in three locations, representing different climate types. The results show how building performance, as measured by thermal comfort metrics, changes over time. Natural ventilation can provide a buffer against warming climate, but only to a certain extent. Future weather files are useful for identifying where and when there is a risk that an exclusively passive design is no longer possible.

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