Energy efficiency vs resiliency to extreme heat and power outages: The role of evolving building energy codes

Amir Baniassadi, Jannik Heusinger, David Sailor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Environmental issues, costs, and limited energy supply, among other concerns have been driving the efforts toward more energy efficient buildings over the last four decades. Hence, energy efficiency is not only well-established within the building design and construction industries, but is also an active field of research. Many countries have state-mandated building energy codes that are becoming more stringent with time. Therefore, the building stock in many regions is becoming more efficient. With the observed increase in frequency and intensity of hot weather events in urban areas around the world and research that suggests a more extreme future, the resiliency of the built environment to heat has become a major concern for planners and policymakers. Therefore, it is important to understand how the evolution of energy codes affects the resiliency of buildings to heat. In this study, we used whole-building energy simulations to investigate the performance of high-rise residential apartment buildings under a three-day power outage scenario coinciding with a three-day heat wave. We modeled buildings compliant with consecutive versions of two building energy codes and standards commonly used in the U.S. to investigate the effect of building code on resiliency in all distinct climate zones within the country. The results suggest that in most climates, indoor conditions exceed critical thresholds during the modeled scenario. Moreover, we observed a synergy between energy efficiency and resiliency to heat in warmer climates. However, in heating-dominated climates, newer codes can potentially have an adverse effect on heat resiliency of buildings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-94
Number of pages9
JournalBuilding and Environment
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • Building energy codes
  • Energy efficiency
  • Heat resiliency
  • Heat waves
  • Power outage
  • Residential buildings
  • Thermal comfort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Building and Construction


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