Climate variability and change are having and will continue to have wide-ranging impacts on Canada’s built environment. The buildings sector module of provides easy access to building-relevant climate datasets, information, guidance, and case studies demonstrating the use of climate data in adaptation efforts for the Canadian buildings sector.


Well-designed buildings currently function as safe, comfortable, and resilient shelters. However, these characteristics cannot be taken for granted under climate change. Read on to learn more about how the building sector is responding to this threat and the resources currently available to help both improve resilience and reduce vulnerability of buildings to changing climatic conditions.

Case Studies

Permafrost in the Northwest Territories

Thawing permafrost, one result of rapid warming in Canada’s Arctic, is causing widespread impacts to northern infrastructure. Using a climate risk analysis protocol (the PIEVC Protocol), a risk assessment was undertaken to better understand the threat from permafrost degradation in the Northwest Territories.

A Passive House University Residence Building

In order to meet its 2040 emissions targets, the University of Victoria is utilizing Passive House standards to construct two new residence buildings. This case study explores the application of future-adjusted weather files to ensure that both the energy budget requirements and the thermal comfort of inhabitants in the buildings …

Building Overheating Risk in British Columbia

Overheating risks are increasing across Canada as the climate warms. Read on to learn more about a non-profit housing provider’s journey to ensuring its buildings are climate- ready, and the importance of incorporating future climate data into building design as early as possible.

Sector Resources


For indices not included in the pre-calculated variable list, the Analyze page can be used to create custom indices, such as for Heat Waves.

Related Variables

Explore variables to learn about how data was used to impact climate related decisions in specific contexts.

Maximum temperature describes the warmest temperature of the 24-hour day. Typically, but not always, the maximum temperatures occur during the day and so this variable is commonly referred to as the daytime high.

The average highest temperature is an environmental indicator with many applications in agriculture, engineering, health, energy management, recreation, and more.

Technical description:

The daily maximum temperature (Tmax). Use the Variable menu option to view annual, monthly or seasonal values for this variable.

Maximum 5-Day Precipitation describes the largest amount of precipitation (rain and snow combined) to fall over 5 consecutive days.

High precipitation totals can cause flooding in urban areas, damage to crops and roads, and erode top soil. Heavy snowfall events can cause damage to buildings and disrupt transportation services.

Technical Description:

The maximum total precipitation that falls over a consecutive 5-day period. Use the Variable menu option to view annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index.

Cooling degree days (CDDs) give an indication of the amount of space cooling, i.e., air conditioning, that may be required to maintain comfortable conditions in a building during warmer months. When the daily average temperature is hotter than the threshold temperature, CDDs are accumulated (see Degree Days Above). Threshold  values may vary, but 18°C is commonly used in Canada.   Larger CDD values indicate a greater need for air conditioning.

Technical description:

The number of degree days accumulated above 18°C in the selected time period. Use the Variable menu option to view the annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index. Visit the Analyze page to calculate degree days using different threshold temperatures.

Ice Days describe the number of days where the warmest temperature of the day is not above 0°C.

In other words, this index indicates the number of days when temperatures have remained below freezing for the entire 24-hour period. This index is an indicator of the length and severity of the winter season.

Technical description:

A day when the daily maximum temperature (Tmax) is less than 0°C. Use the Variable menu option to view the annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index.

Tropical Nights (Days with Tmin >18°C) describes the number of days where the nighttime low temperature is warmer than 18°C. 

Hot summer days and heat waves become particularly stressful if overnight temperatures do not provide cooling relief. Tropical nights make it more difficult for the body to cool down and recover from hot days.

Elderly people, the homeless, and those who live in houses or apartments without air conditioning are especially vulnerable during these heat events, particularly if they last for more than a few days.

Technical description:

A Tropical Night occurs when the daily minimum temperature (Tmin) is greater than 18°C. Use the Variable menu option to view the annual, monthly or seasonal values for this index. Visit the Analyze page to calculate Tropical Nights using different minimum temperature thresholds.