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Management before fabric

In the near future the knowledge of how to adapt buildings for climate change will be as well understood as heat conservation is understood today. However major barriers to adaptation still exsist in the form of current facilities management practice, occupant behaviour and especially institutional structures. Work needs to be done to enable organisations to adapt so that they are empowered to adapt their buildings. While the need to reduce carbon omissions is urgent there is time to adapt to overheating providing we are ready to do so when the need becomes more pressing. We suggest that the best approach to an adaptation strategy for overheating is to start the process now with behaviour and low cost building adaptations. We called this strategy Management before fabric.

Further project details

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

The building is on high ground, which will not be affected from flooding either from watercourses or because of local topography. It is not at significant risk from the effects of climate change on drainage and flooding. However, there is use of water to maintain the correct humidity for the exhibits and in general water use for the toilets and we will consider whether on site water conservation can satisfy this demand as climate change increases the chances of water shortage and drought albeit as a secondary consideration to the main focus of the study, which is comfort.

The building has a high risk of not achieving acceptable comfort levels in the future. The library has large glazed façades facing both to the north and south, which creates problems with both heat loss and solar gain. There is limited solar gain protection in the form of films applied to 1960s single glazed units. Some of the spaces of the museum are conditioned. There is a large north-west facing glazed atrium to the front of the museum that overheats significantly at present. This will cause severe problems to maintaining comfort as climate change produces extremes of temperature.

Higher temperatures will be felt more due to the urban heat island effect because the site is in central Bradford. Out of the three scenarios for greenhouse gas omissions used in UKCP09 we will use the medium omission and a time span up to 2080.

We know from the previous TSB project, Church View, that it would be possible to adopt the fabric in response to the climate change in terms of overheating. However, we also know that the biggest barriers to developing and adaptation are not physical but structural to do with the management structures and the aims of the cultural sector that are not “climate change” aware.

We have included management structure as one of the risks and also one of the mitigation measures that needs to be addressed.

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

We carried out BUS (building user survey) for all the staff and presented the findings in a workshop with senior management staff. This was very effective and led to a second workshop with larger team of senior management to examine the problems and possible solutions in terms of management and behaviour change.

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

Our project was about overheating only:

  • The tools we used are software Archicad for 3D model and sun studies and DesignBuilder for overheating modelling.
  • We also used Prometheus weather files.

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

Still in progress.

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

  • Many reiterations were required of modelling as assumptions were refined and gremlins removed from the modelling.
  • The unknown aspects of future technologies and behaviour will require a degree of guesswork that will require this research to be frequently updated.
  • Taking into account humidity levels greatly complicates modelling there does not seem to be an agreement across the TSB projects regarding the variables that should be included in the modelling.
  • The lack of robust environmental strategy within the client organisation.
  • The lack of data in terms of energy use in the building.

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

  • Agree variants to be included in modelling in a methodical manner and look at what others have done.
  • Develop robust methodology for recording the modelling assumptions as you go along.
  • Ascertain from the start what quality of data is available.
  • Ask the right questions – adaptation strategy needs to be in keeping what can be achieved in terms of management.