Climate change and the building sector: Modelling and energy implications to an office building in southern Europe

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The building sector is one of the most relevant sectors in terms of generation of wealth and occupation, but it is also one of the main contributor to energy use and greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. at the European level it is currently responsible for 36% of CO2emissions). For these reason this sector must play a key role in achieving a low-carbon economy consistent with the objective of holding the increase of the average temperature of the globe below 2 °C if compared to pre-industrial levels. In this context, the paper analyses the potential impact of climate change on the energy uses for heating and cooling in southern Europe, based on the assumptions of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) future climate projections (assessment report 5). Different General Circulation Models (GCMs) were analysed using different metrics for selecting the most suitable one to be applied to building simulation. GCM data were used as input to a downscaling method known as “morphing” to generate hourly weather files for 3 future time projections (2035, 2065 and 2090). Finally, in order to assess the building energy use for heating and cooling for the next century, energy simulations for a case study were performed. The results show, in all scenarios, consistent and large increases in future air temperature. The impacts of these driving forces on heating and cooling energy use are very relevant: the results show an overall increase in total energy consumption with a relative decrease in heating demand and increase in cooling demand: the yearly heating and cooling energy requirement in 2090 is expected to increase in a range of +50.8–119.7% if measures are not foreseen to counter and limit the effects of climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-65
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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