Design for future climate banner

University of Salford Climate Change Adaptation

The University of Salford (UoS) campus masterplan includes a number of buildings that have been considered for this study:

  • a proposed new-build arts building
  • a library refurbishment
  • a new-build student residences.

The masterplan is being delivered in phases, some of which were at the detailed design stage during this study. The climate change adaptation study focused on the analysis of building occupant comfort and site wide flood risk, leading to investigation of future climate adaptation measures. It has enhanced the design work already completed, expanding the understanding of how future climate projections may impact on the campus. Dynamic thermal modelling software (utilising UKCP09 data) and drainage network simulation tools were used to examine the impact of the future climate projections on the design strategies.

The study has allowed the design team to make informed decisions with the client on trade off solutions for achieving an appropriate level of future resilience/flexibility, and the current investment levels required.

Further project details

1. What approach did you take in assessing risks and identifying adaptation measures to mitigate the risks?

The approach took the following stages:

Stage 1: Scoping study

Development of a matrix to highlight which climate risks will affect design strategy, and how this risks are likely to manifest.

Identification of key areas of risk associated with the buildings/areas of public realm to be tested.

The potential impacts were rated in terms of risk, and guidance was provided as to which adaptation measure areas were likely to be of greatest benefit to the buildings/campus (and their occupants/users). Four scenarios were highlighted as high risk:

  • hotter summer
  • wetter winter
  • heat wave summer
  • increased downfall in winter.

Stage 2: Assessment of buildings/site to future climate

Scenario analysis (‘response to current and future climate’) of the buildings/site was carried out against current and future climate conditions, indicating comfort performance against four climate files.

The scenario analysis outputs were a series of options used to develop adaptation measures for testing. Given the range of building types analysed, a bespoke set of adaptation measures for testing were developed for each building.

Stage 3: Assessment of adaptation measures

The chosen adaptation measures were investigated/tested in terms of their effectiveness of improving the resilience of the buildings and campus to the risks associated with climate change. Consideration of the scale/level at which measures were applied was used to develop costing.

Particular focus was given to passive design measures, building services design, storm-water management systems, adaptive thermal comfort and green infrastructure.

Stage 4: Cost analysis

Cost benefit analysis for the tested adaptation measures was carried out to ensure that the measures proposed within implementation timelines were both technically and economically feasible.

University of Salford masterplan artist's impression

2. How have you communicated the risks and recommendations with your client? What methods worked well?

Potential risk exposure from the scoping study was discussed with the client team. The initial results from the ‘response to current and future climate’ (primarily impact on naturally ventilated spaces) were discussed.

The University aims to improve the flexibility of their spatial planning within the proposed arts building. The introduction of more shared spaces means it is crucial to consider mixed mode ventilation strategies where possible. Flexible and intelligent operation of the building (in terms of both systems and occupancy) was considered one of the cost effective adaptation measure to adapt to rising temperatures.

3. What tools have you used to assess overheating and flood risks?

  • Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) was used to assess overheating risk of proposed academic building, library refurbishment and proposed student residences
  • Micro Drainage was used to assess flooding risk
  • CIBSE adaptive thermal comfort

4. What has the client agreed to implement as a result of your adaptation work?

Provide a climate change adaptation case study for the Higher Education sector.

Where economically and technically viable, integration of recommended adaptation strategy into the campus masterplan and new build programme.

The arts building and student residences are predominantly naturally ventilated, with both aiming to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating. The findings of this study will impact how the natural ventilation strategy will be enhanced and evolve. For instance, the Arts Building has a number of shared spaces with varying occupant densities. One of the adaptation measures proposed for future operation will be to maximise the use of flexible spaces through intelligent room booking to reduce overheating risk in south facing spaces.

Stimulation of future research topics and investigations in the University of Salford.

5. What were the major challenges so far in doing this adaptation work?

Limited guidance is available for methodologies for addressing analysis of comfort criteria in relation to future climate, or existing guidance (e.g. CIBSE TM36, 2005) not recently updated.

Defra guidance of using additional rainfall intensity to account for climate change is considered to lack in clarity in some areas.

Persuading organisations to be aware of/address climate change as a significant risk to future operation – this is in some ways being made easier through legislation and an increasing evidence base/acceptance of climate change related risks and consequences.

6. What advice would you give others undertaking adaptation strategies?

University buildings often experience high occupancy density in spaces with intermittent occupancy (i.e. lecture theatres). By intelligently managing and operating the spaces in conjunction with their time tables, buildings could adapt to rising temperatures in the future.

Consideration of mixed mode ventilation strategy for spaces where high but intermittent occupant density occurs can reduce energy and carbon consumption and provide an effective way of achieving comfort in a changing climate.

Critical stormwater management to deal with increased downfall needs to consider surface water retention as well as distribution network. This is crucial for a site with large variations in topography.