DDD Conference

Prof. Sue Roaf

Building Sufficiency and Resilient Comfort in a Desert Context

Heriot-Watt University, United Kingdom

The 2022 IPCC 6th Assessment Report: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability presents a very stark picture of future climates, positing that we are already past 1.50C in terms of our global temperature increases over the long term averages.  The IPCC 2022 3rd Report: Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change presents an encyclopaedia of action options, with an assessment of their relative impacts. In Chapter 9 of this report a range of policy packages based on the SER (Sufficiency, Efficiency, Renewables) framework aim to give humanity a good chance of limiting GHG emission to levels that will not too seriously impact on the existing functions of the planet and its populations.

There is a concern in the text that ‘Low Ambition’ policies will lock buildings in carbon for decades as buildings last for decades if not centuries. They claim that building energy codes are the main regulatory instrument to reduce emissions from both new and existing buildings. However, to many, these regulations have done nothing to halt the onslaught of extremely poor climatic design of buildings, reflected in the fact that global emissions are rising annually despite these regulations, much of them from high end buildings in highly developed and heavily ‘regulated’ countries.

This paper looks at what needs to be done in buildings in desert regions with their already extreme temperatures through a lens of ‘sufficiency’. How will people survive in evermore extreme heat that is also now almost universally associated with power outages? Where can we find, and mine, the coolth needed to survive with dignity in this changing world? We argue that the answer lies in better architecture, and possibly different machine, not more efficient Business as Usual models. The presentation will throw out a range of challenging ideas to be discussed over the course of the conference.

Not once in the IPCC 2022/3 Report is thermal comfort raised as a key issue in emission mitigation. We will share what we have found to date on what people already consider as acceptable indoor temperatures in hot regions, and suggest that the way forward, based on understandings raised in our recent book on Resilient Design, is through holistic, flexible and far-sighted design that takes into account people, their customary and cultural lifestyles, buildings, local renewable energy supplies and the climate.

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