Researchers from the UK Universities of Exeter, Bath & Newcastle are set to create an 85 year weather forecast using a £1 million grant which could majorly change the way engineers and building scientists think when it comes to the impact of weather conditions on building structural integrity.
In order to gain a comprehensive and realistic understanding of the interaction between Mother Nature and building resilience the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC) grant will be used to create a time series of anticipated hourly weather conditions (from typical to severe) beginning now until the close of this century.
Professor David Coley, the director of the Centre for Energy and the Design of Environments (EDEn) at the University of Bath is the lead researcher in charge of the project. Professor Coley points out that in the Western-world short term, major temperature changes contribute the most to weather related fatalities.
“Temporary temperature variations account for more weather-related deaths than all other weather events combined including lighting strikes, rain, flooding, hurricanes and tornadoes. It is important that we recognise the role buildings play in responding to and dealing with extreme weather conditions – buildings can keep people alive during extreme weather events, but they can also kill,” explained Professor Coley.
A huge range of weather characteristics will be assessed across 1,200 various structural designs to find out how different characteristics affect building residents.
“By better capturing these events in design weather data, architects and engineers will be able to stress test their building designs to the likelihood of over or under-heating, stress on people’s thermoregulatory systems, thermal comfort, and energy requirements," expounded Dr Matt Eames from the University of Exeter’s, Centre of Energy and the Environment.
In 2003, over 70,000 people perished as a heat-wave of unimaginable proportion swept over Europe. In the aftermath it was discovered inadequate building design had contributed greatly to the number of deaths as in many cases the buildings were simply not built to cope with such intense temperatures and as a result, the occupants perished as the structures offered no safety.
It is hugely important building scientists and engineers take into account extreme weather conditions in building design and construction if we are to limit the possibility of such tragic events taking place again. For our structures to remain sustainable into the future, weather trends need to be anticipated and taken into account when designing new buildings and renovating existing ones.
This is where the 85 Year Forecast could prove very handy and may dramatically change structural and building design codes word-wide, but for now we must wait to see if the forecast project makes any real headway.