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S I Sealy looks to future proof your building to cope with predicted UK climate change

Monday 16th May, 2011

David Stafford, Director of S I Sealy comments: “the temperatures during the 2003 heat-wave, which resulted in 35,000 deaths across Europe, are expected to be normal by 2040. By 2080 the temperature will be even higher. It is therefore essential to engage a highly experienced M&E design team, such as S I Sealy, to future proof your building! We are currently researching the impact of climate change, with funding from the UK Technology Strategy Board.

Constructing a building to cope with the 2080 climate would be prohibitively expensive and pointless if engineered systems are used, as they often have a 25 years life expectancy. Instead, using sophisticated modelling, we can analyse how the building will perform in future years. We can then take a stepped approach, implementing further measures to reduce overheating as the climate changes. The key to future proofing is designing so the building can be adapted at a later point.

We of course limit solar gain, looking at the building orientation and solar shading, as well as minimising internal heat gains such as using natural daylight capture systems to reduce the use of artificial light. Internal fountains for summer cooling and humidification, with natural ventilation, high thermal mass, Phase Change materials and night cooling, may be sufficient for the current climate, but mechanical ventilation may be needed later. This means designing the building with void space, risers and future plant space.

If buildings require mechanical cooling now, we can over-size the chilled water-pipe work. So when the terminal units and plant are replaced, larger units can be installed easily. Similarly if mechanical ventilation alone is currently sufficient, consider the future need for evaporative cooling and allow space for cooling coils and chillers.”