Designing for Future Weather Video, 60 minutes

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Will a changing climate make your buildings impractical to operate?

If you practice "climate-responsive" design using features such as natural ventilation, daylighting and rainwater harvesting, then you're well ahead of the curve. But what climate are you designing for?

As temperatures and humidity levels rise, and as wind and precipitation patterns fluctuate, climate-responsive buildings may no longer respond as you designed them to do.

What happens in 20 years—or even sooner—when your carefully engineered and right-sized ventilation systems become overwhelmed by heat waves throughout the year? Where does water come from to flush the toilets when the rainwater cistern runs dry during an extended drought?

Whether buildings rely on natural or mechanical ventilation, maintaining acceptable levels of efficiency, comfort, and durability will become more difficult and expensive as the planet heats up. Buildings not designed with this future in mind could become impractical to operate. Even architects trying to design for the future face a great deal of uncertainty.

Develop strategies to adjust the design process

This BuildingGreen webcast assembles three top experts working on new tools to help navigate the design dilemmas we are facing today as a result of tomorrow's climate uncertainty.

While the design decisions we face are local and site-specific in nature, the computer models predicting our future climate are global and continental in scale. The webcast covers:

  • Where the holes are in the weather data we use to design buildings
  • How our energy models require adjustment
  • What tools and data sources will help refine the design process

Facing down climate uncertainty

Our panel of experts also discusses:

  • How to understand the science of climate-change predictions.
  • Why and how to stay abreast of changing climate models.
  • What the future holds for modeling tools that incorporate future weather data

Designers must be prepared not only to understand how climate change will affect projects, but also how to incorporate that information into the design process, and into goal-setting with owners, without simply throwing up our hands, or developing a bunker mentality in our designs. The webcast asks:

  • What weather and climate variables are important to a specific project?
  • What kinds of risk are you willing to live with?
  • What time frame is important?

What to expect when you're expecting climate change? Watch our expert panel's eye-opening conversation.


Chuck Khuen is co-founder and EVP of Weather Analytics, who developed and maintains a detailed database of weather for over 650,000 locations worldwide.  He is the chief architect of the company's data delivery layer designed to make the data available for analytics and planning.  

His prior experience includes executive positions at a number of companies each translating data into intelligence.  Chuck received Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Engineering from the University of Michigan and currently serves on the ASHRAE Climate Committee. 

Christoph Reinhart is an Associate Professor in Building Technology at MIT where heads the Sustainable Design Lab. He works in the field of sustainable building design and environmental modeling and has particular expertise is in daylighting, passive climatization techniques and the influence of occupant behavior on building energy use. 

Before joining MIT in early 2012 he led the Sustainable Design Program at Harvard and was a staff scientist at the National Research Council of Canada. He holds a doctorate in architecture form the Technical University of Karlsruhe.

Russell W. Jones is a specialist in geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing (RS), and cartography. He has worked on a wide variety of projects related to climate change impacts, including several studies modeling impacts to the environment from global climate change, sea level rise and storm surge. He is also providing ongoing support to the U.S. EPA's Climate Change Division examining the impact of alternative CC emission scenarios.

In addition to his climate work, Mr. Jones has extensive experience integrating GIS with economic and environmental valuation models; providing extensive GIS/RS support for Natural Resource Damage Assessments (NRDA's) and environmental risk assessments relating to the release of hazardous substances (including mining-related injuries to stream habitat); quantifying point, mobile, and land use-induced sources of air pollutants for incorporation into regional air quality models; and preparing exhibits for litigation.

Paula Melton is Managing Editor at BuildingGreen, Inc., where she writes feature articles, blog posts, and product reviews on a variety of sustainable design topics. With an MFA in creative writing and a background in both journalism and socially responsible marketing, she has been researching and writing about health and sustainability for more than a decade.