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Hourly outdoor and water temperatures in Milan, obtained from 2018 TMY compared with the 2060 morphed weather-shift datasets in accordance with the median 50% IPCC RCP 8.5 pathway.


How Will Future Climate Impact The Design & Performance Of Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEBs)?

Courtesy of Science Direct, via co-author Danny Parker

By D.D’Agostinoa, D.Parkerb, I.Epifanic, D.Crawleyd, L.Lawriee


  • Climate change impact is studied in baseline and NZEBs in different climates.
  • Different weather datasets and a climate change scenario are simulated.
  • Future heating loads decrease by 38%–57%, cooling increase by +99%–380%.
  • Energy efficiency measures to reduce cooling and overheating are favored.
  • NZEBs enable renewable energy to much better cover building needs.


Climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is a growing global concern, threatening world-wide environment, health and economy. Energy needs for buildings are a large source of greenhouse gas emissions. As the energy needs of buildings strongly depends on weather patterns, this paper investigates how climate change may impact building heating and cooling loads, cost-optimal efficiency measures, and renewable energy production. Eight locations (Stockholm, Milan, Vienna, Madrid, Paris, Munich, Lisbon, and Rome) highlight differences among European climates. Weather datasets, commonly used in building energy simulations, are evaluated to see how climatic parameters have changed over recent decades. A future climate change scenario (with uncertainties) is analyzed for the year 2060. Weather files are used to drive building energy simulations for a standard baseline and a (Nearly Zero Energy Building) NZEB residential building whose design is improved using a cost-optimization approach.

The analysis indicates most currently available weather datasets cannot assure reliable results with building simulations. We find the energy balance in European buildings will significantly change under future conditions: heating will decrease by 38%–57%, while cooling will increase by +99%–380% depending on location. In future NZEBs, efficiency measures to reduce cooling needs and overheating will be favored (e.g. roof insulation, window type, solar shading, envelope finishes), illustrating how improving energy efficiency will be more crucial within climate change scenarios. Compared to the baseline, more efficient NZEBs will enable renewable energy to much better cover building needs. There will also be advantages from reducing winter and summer peak demand, particularly when coupled to short-term electrical storage. When solar resource is limited in winter, more airtight, better-insulated NZEBs improve PV self-consumption.

Fig. 5. Hourly outdoor and water temperatures in Milan, obtained from 2018 TMY compared with the 2060 morphed weather-shift datasets in accordance with the median 50% IPCC RCP 8.5 pathway.

Read more of this study here.

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Written By

Danny is principal research scientist at the Florida Solar Energy Center where he has worked for the last thirty years. His research for the U.S. Department of Energy has concentrated on advanced residential efficiency technologies and establishing the feasibility of Zero Energy homes (ZEH) — reducing the energy use in homes to the point where solar electric power can meet most annual needs. The opinions expressed in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Florida Solar Energy Center, the University of Central Florida or the U.S. Department of Energy.


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