White Paper Highlights Need to Consider Climate Change in Design

HGA shares takeaways from a recent report on climate adaptation.

Despite the growing impact of climate change, the architecture and engineering (A&E) industry still relies on historical weather data to inform design decisions. To address this issue, HGA and the University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership (MCAP) undertook a joint study. The results of this study were recently published in a white paper, “Climate Forward? How Climate Projections Are(n’t) Used to Inform Design,”which examines the disconnect between A&E current practice and climate science, and provides recommendations for collaborative action to build a more resilient future. USGBC Minnesota is proud to have contributed to these findings through the engagement of our members in surveys and focus groups.

Current A&E practice and limitations

A&E professionals currently use historical weather data for performance analysis and design. This data, based on past median weather conditions, sometimes more than three decades old, has traditionally been considered sufficient for establishing “climate normals” and is reinforced by existing standards, laws and conventions.

However, our changing climate renders these characterizations much less useful, as the data does not accurately reflect the range, frequency and intensity of potential future weather conditions. Data used for performance analysis and design of new buildings must factor in the changing climate to ensure buildings will be able perform adequately over their life spans.

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