The invention of the Carrier air-conditioning system is widely seen as having liberated the architect from the constraints of climate. The capability of mechanical services to produce a controllable and comfortable internal environment within any building is almost unquestioned in modern architecture. This capability is well understood by architects and - together with electric lighting technology - underpins the majority of modern building design.
However, this does not mean that the architect can completely ignore the local climate (though many would appear to). Inappropriate building designs add enormously to the utility bills of owners and tenants every year. Whilst it may appeal to some aesthetic concern to leave shading devices off a west-facing glass facade, someone is going to have to pay real money to support that oversized air-conditioning system for the next 40 to 50 years. Ultimately we will all pay with increased greenhouse gasses and higher taxes as such design decisions are just a pure waste.
Objective Climate Analysis
Whilst it is possible to discern a significant amount of design information by simply looking at different aspects of the hourly climate data, it is often important to apply some objective analysis as well. This usually involves using computer software. The Weather Tool is an example of such software that can be freely downloaded from this site and provides a range of different analysis options. If you download it, you can play with some of the included weather files to get a better understanding of how useful this can be in the early stages of design.
The following topics describe a number of these objective climate analysis functions and how they can be used:
- Climate Analysis - Example
- An example of the use of such an analysis to determine the viability of a night-purge ventilation system in Perth, Western Australia.
- The Climates of Western Australia
- A comparison of a range of different climates and the most appropriate passive strategies.
- Bio-climatic Design Central
- The Natural Home Website
- Advanced Buildings - Technology and Practice