Dr Richard Watkins wins the Napier Shaw Bronze Medal for research excellence

Dr Richard Watkins is a co-author of the prize-winning paper “The natural ventilation performance of buildings under alternative future weather projections” published in “Building Services Engineering Research and Technology” (BSERT), the journal of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers. The paper won the Napier Shaw Bronze Medal which is awarded annually for the most highly rated research published in BSERT in 2013.

Most buildings in the UK depend on natural ventilation for controlling their internal environment, but in a warming world this may become increasingly problematic. Will buildings designed for natural ventilation now, still provide comfortable conditions in 2050, or 2080? The work looked at assessing the likely future wind speeds based on future projections published by the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP). However, the data published by UKCIP did not include wind speed, but did include other parameters, notably the Potential Evaporation (PET), from which it was possible to algorithmically deduce the wind speed. This process of generating wind speed data from PET and other factors was carried out on thousands of years of UKCIP’s CP09 synthetic weather data and tested for reliability against other similar projections that did include wind speed data.

The results showed that significant overheating was likely in future weather conditions, for a variety of emissions scenarios, but also that there was much uncertainty in our fundamental ability to predict future wind speed. Wind speed is also very important in predicting the impact on urban climates of heat islands: in still conditions they can add several degrees to the air temperature; in windy conditions they have almost no impact.

A summary of the paper is available here (page-41) and the full paper, for a limited time from Sage publishing. The research published in the paper was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through the funding for the COPSE project (Coincident Probabilistic Climate Change Weather Data for a Sustainable Built Environment).