Addressing Climate Change in Comfort Standards

Note, this is a link to a journal website abstract only - the article costs $US41.95 to access. Abstract: According to the Buildings Energy Data Book published by the U.S. Department of Energy, in 2006 the building sector consumed 38.9 per cent of the total primary energy used in the United States. Of this energy, 34.8 per cent is used by buildings for space heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This energy often involves the combustion of fossil fuels, contributing to carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. Even if greenhouse gas concentrations are stabilized in the atmosphere, extreme climate events and sea level rise will continue for several centuries due to inertia of the atmosphere. Therefore, adaptation will be a necessary compliment to carbon dioxide mitigation efforts. This paper argues that both mitigation of greenhouse gases and adaptation to climate change should be added to our building codes and standards. Since space heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning utilize a large amount of energy in buildings, we should begin by redefining our thermal comfort standards and add strategies that mitigate carbon dioxide emissions and adapt to predicted climate variability.