Building towards climate change

Reading University researchers are attempting to understand how London’s existing and new buildings directly affect, and need to adapt to, climate change.


Researchers in Reading University’s Meteorology Department are attempting to understand how London’s existing and new buildings directly affect, and need to adapt to, climate change.


One of the University’s urban meteorologists has been awarded a £1m grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) Challenging Engineering Programme to monitor and simulate the London climate over the course of the next five years.


The funding will create an Advanced Climate Technology Urban Atmospheric Laboratory (ACTUAL), which will investigate the impact that buildings themselves have on London’s changing climate.


Dr Janet Barlow, the ACTUAL project leader from Reading University, said: ‘London’s energy consumption soared during the 2003 heat wave as offices and public buildings switched on air conditioning systems across the city.


‘Such extreme temperatures are predicted to be a regular occurrence by 2050, at which point, 70 per cent of the current buildings will still be around. They are not designed to function in what will be the equivalent of the current-day Mediterranean climate.’


The initial five-year project will use buildings such as the BT Tower to investigate how they might be adapted to suit to a warmer London climate.


ACTUAL researchers will collect and analyse data using remote sensing techniques to probe the air above the buildings at a distance. They will also develop new techniques to monitor the impact of buildings on local, urban climate.


The researchers aim to provide representative climate data for London within five years.