Buildings

Climate variability and change have wide-ranging impacts on Canada’s built environment. The buildings sector module of ClimateData.ca 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 building sector.

Context

Buildings are intended to provide us with safe shelter from the outdoor environment. However, this functionality cannot be guaranteed under climate change. Read on to learn about how the building sector is responding and the resources currently available to help improve the climate resilience of buildings in the face of a changing climate.

Case Studies

Permafrost in the Northwest Territories

Thawing permafrost, one serious 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 using Passive House standards, a high performance and low emission building standard, to construct two new residence buildings. This case study explores the application of future-adjusted weather files to ensure the buildings withstand future climate conditions.

Risks of Building Overheating in British Columbia

Overheating risks are increasing across Canada as the climate warms. Read on to learn 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

Analyze

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.

IDF Curves and Climate Change

Learn how to use, read and interpret IDF curves, as well as how to account for extreme precipitation in a changing climate.

Learning Zone

Further information on using climate data or selecting a relevant historical dataset can be found in the Learning Zone.

Related Variables

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

Minimum temperature describes the coldest temperature of the 24-hour day. Typically, but not always, the minimum temperature occurs at night and so this variable is commonly referred to as the nighttime low.

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

Technical description:

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


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 1-Day Total Precipitation describes the largest amount of precipitation (rain and snow combined) that falls within a single 24-hour day for the selected time period. This index is commonly referred to as the wettest day of the year.

Very high 1-day precipitation totals could be the result of intense, but short-lived precipitation events such as thunderstorms, or may be due to precipitation occurring steadily over the course of the day. Short duration, high intensity precipitation events may lead to flash flooding, particularly in urban areas where storm drains may be overwhelmed. Heavy snowfall events can cause damage to buildings and disrupt transportation services.

Technical description:

The largest precipitation total that falls in a single day in the selected time 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.


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.


Heating degree days (HDDs) give an indication of the amount of space heating (e.g., from a gas boiler/furnace, baseboard electric heating or fireplace) that may be required to maintain comfortable conditions inside a building during cooler months. When the daily average temperature is colder than the threshold temperature, HDDs are accumulated (see Degree Days Below). Threshold values may vary, but 17°C or 18°C are commonly used in Canada. Larger HDD values indicate a greater need for space heating.

Technical description:

The number of degree days accumulated below 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.