Passive survivability of buildings under changing urban climates across eight US cities

Amir Baniassadi, David Sailor, E. Scott Krayenhoff, Ashley Broadbent, Matei Georgescu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


In the US, more than 80% of fatal cases of heat exposure are reported in urban areas. Notably, indoor exposure is implicated in nearly half of such cases, and lack of functioning air conditioning (AC) is the predominant cause of overheating. For residents with limited capacity to purchase, maintain, and operate an AC system, or during summertime power outages, the ability of buildings to maintain safe thermal conditions without mechanical cooling is the primary protective factor against heat. In this paper, we use whole-building energy simulations to compare indoor air temperature inside archetypical single-family residential buildings without AC at the start and middle of the century in eight US cities. We ran the models using hourly output from 10 year regional climate simulations that explicitly include heating from mid-century projections of urban development and climate change under a 'business-as-usual' emissions scenario. Moreover, to identify the impacts from evolving construction practices, we compare different versions of building energy standards. Our analysis shows that summertime overheat time may increase by up to 25% by the middle of century. Moreover, we find that, while newer building energy codes reduce thermal comfort under moderate outdoor weather, they perform better under extreme heat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number074028
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 16 2019


  • Climate change
  • building energy codes
  • building energy efficiency
  • indoor heat exposure
  • indoor thermal comfort
  • regional climate simulation
  • urban warming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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