Search site

Using future weather data for building design

Organisations: Manchester University / University of Bath / Napier University, Northumbria University / Sheffield University / Met Office

Case study focus

Design and operation of buildings / Heating & cooling requirements

This case study provides an overview of the coordinated research program COPSE (COincident Probabilistic climate change weather data for a Sustainable built Environment) which took place between 2008 and 2011. The aim of the project was to develop methodologies to assess building designs in future climates. In particular it focuses on maintaining comfort levels while minimising energy use.

What was it used for?

The UKCP09 Weather Generator has the potential to provide high-resolution data for projects, but it is not produced in a form that is directly suitable for assessing climate change impacts on buildings design and operation.

The project is an example of how academic researchers have harnessed UKCP09 output to develop bespoke information for use by designers, building owners engineers and decision-makers. Ultimately the research findings have contributed to specific guidance, which has already been applied in real-world design assessments.

Which UKCP09 products were used?

The Weather Generator

Approach and how UKCP09 was used

The UKCP09 Weather Generator was used in four keys areas of COPSE:

1. The development of 'future weather files' for use in modelling building performance. These are based on output from the UKCP09 weather generator, using 100 runs producing 99 years of weather data each.

2. The weather scenarios (i.e. future weather files) were used to model the future cooling and heating requirements for four example buildings in different geographic locations around the UK: an office building, a primary school, a hospital and a residential care home.

3. Researchers were able to test example thermal comfort standards for individual buildings and the implications these have for energy use for cooling across a range of possible future climates.

4. Estimations of future national energy requirements for space heating were made.

Difficulties & limitations

COPSE has gone a long way to bridge the apparent disconnect between the outputs provided by UKCP09 and the needs of professionals interested in buildings and energy. The assessment of risk - e.g. of overheating - given a relatively large range of uncertainty can be complex. A further difficulty that remains is that COPSE estimates of future energy requirements assume no change in the building stock.

Lessons learnt

  • Irrespective of changes in the building stock, climate change is likely to have a significant impact on space heating and cooling energy use. With buildings accounting for a significant proportion of UK carbon emissions, and playing a key role in the health and welfare of the population, it is essential that they should be both efficient and comfortable, now and in the future.
  • COPSE research has added to our understanding of the issues, and improved our ability to design and adapt buildings so that they will function effectively in future climates.

Find out more

  • Download the full case study [295kb] [01/09/2014]
  • A complete list of COPSE publications is included in the full project summary report.
  • Download the full project summary report
  • Levermore, G.J., Courtney, R., Watkins, R., Cheung, H., Parkinson, J.B., Laycock, P., Natarajan, S., Nikolopoulou, M., McGilligan, C., Muneer, T., Tham, Y., Underwood, C.P., Edge, J.S., Du, H., Sharples, S., Kang, J., Barclay, M. And Sanderson, M. 2012. Deriving and using future weather data for building design from UK climate change projections - an overview of the COPSE Project. Manchester University, UK.