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Climate change means review of heating and cooling needed

Building services engineers need to start preparing for the impact of climate change according to a new report by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

Climate Change: Adapting to the Inevitable looks at how approaches to energy, building water, infrastructure and transport should change in response to the expected rise in temperatures.

One of the key arguments is that engineers must review their design parameters: “Resilience to extreme weather events will also need to be reviewed.

“The current peak design data used by engineers when designing internal heating, ventilation and cooling solutions for buildings will need to be reviewed to reflect future scenarios.

“The structural design parameters will also need updating regularly to cope with predictions for increased flooding, subsidence, effects of heat on materials and resistance to rain penetration.”

Master planning to stop heat building up in urban centres is also an issue. The report said:
“Buildings adaptation is perhaps the area where most consideration of future climate change has already been made.

“Significant gains can be made by effective master planning of urban areas to increase the utilisation of natural and artificial ventilation corridors, for both new and existing communities and developments.”

The report suggests streetlayouts should be adapted to take advantage of prevailing winds to maximise ventilation and cooling.

The report said: “Consider orientation and massing of new buildings to maximise the potential for selfshading and cooling.

“The change in conditions caused by the Urban Island Heat Effect will serve to make the local climates in and around towns and cities more extreme than surrounding rural areas.

“Master planning can be used to reduce these effects, particularly by affecting the height of buildings and street orientation to allow winds to carry heat out of the building structures.

“The understanding of street layout, building orientation, massing and location is critical in minimising overheating in and around buildings, and reducing risks of flooding. Lessons can be learnt from developments in existing hot climates and recent advances in the understanding of zero-carbon master planning from projects such as Dongtan in China.”