In the coming days, we’re facing in Belgium our second heatwave of the year. Did you know that this weather corresponds to the projected climate scenarios of 2050?

This statement needs a word of explanation, as it has major consequences on how we design buildings and public space:

Heatwaves in Belgium are defined as follows: the outdoor temperature exceeds 25°C during 5 consecutive days, with a minimal of 3 days above 30°C.

Between 2000-2009 we had, on average, one heatwave per year, while in the last decade (2010-2020) this number has doubled.

This means we’ve reached a point in our society where we can no longer limit the discussion to climate change mitigation. For our health and wellbeing, it is crucial to be able to adapt. Particularly in cities, where (too) high amounts of concrete enforce the effect of heat islands, it is necessary to anticipate the rise of outside temperature and adapt adequately our building designs. We are already way passed the point where action is needed. In urban areas, during the last 12 months we have experienced all of the temperature peaks that were only expected in 2050.

At SuReal we tackle these issues from the design phase on. We make from an early concept design a dynamic model of the building and confront this model to “a projected climate scenario”. This means that the projected climate data (2030, 2050, …) is implemented instead of the usual and probably outdated climate data file (1990-2000). Projects simulated today with typical climate data underestimate greatly the risk of overheating. This will result in a poor thermal comfort or in the future installation of extra air conditioning units. And what do air conditioning units do? They contribute with their high energy consumption to the rise of outside temperature while trying to cool the interior. 

Graph of the “standard weather file” and the “climate change weather file” (~ current situation)

This approach has the intent to analyse how thermal comfort in buildings will evolve and adapt to a changing climate in the coming decades. Depending on the building or the masterplan, the following elements help thermal comfort control;

  • Orientation of the building
  • Wind- and sun effects on the building or site (see SuReal webinar on 12/08/2020)
  • % , type and position of glazing
  • Fixed or movable solar shading, their dimensioning and materials
  • Interior plan (position of functions)
  • Type of materials (inertia,…)
  • Natural elements (water, plants, …)
  • Passive cooling techniques
  • Intelligent BMS software
Example of analysis of the ideal dimension of vertical and horizontal solar shading ©SuReal
Example of wind study on solar shading and irradiation study of different façades ©SuReal

Let us thus anticipate, during the design phase of projects, with the implementation of adaptation measures, while we continue mitigating climate change to a maximum.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for your questions regarding thermal comfort studies.

Don’t miss out our webinar on Wind and Sun effects in design!:
Dutch-speaking webinar, French-speaking webinar.