Adapting to a New Reality— Strategies for Building Energy Design in a Changing Climate

  • Daniel L. Briller , P.E., LEED AP J.M. Waller Associates, Inc.
Keywords: Building Energy Design, Changing Climate


Building energy design is traditionally performed using retrogressive data sets (e.g., the past 30 years of weather data). The implied presumption has always been that this data will cycle back and forth around relatively static baseline averages. With increasing evidence that some level of climate change may be occurring, it is natural for building owners, developers, designers, and managers to question whether (and to what extent) these fundamental climate assumptions may be altered in future years. Depending on a building’s locality, this could take the form of increasing or decreasing trends in seasonal average temperatures, daily maximum and minimum temperatures, relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, cloud cover, and total precipitation. These assumptions are crucial, because a typical building must remain habitable for 30 to 50 years (or longer) and provide its owner with the maximum possible return on a sizeable capital investment.

This article will demonstrate how building owners and developers can employ intelligent strategies to maximize energy efficiency while concurrently meeting building energy requirements and retaining significant flexibility to cope with potential variations in local climate. Data from existing buildings that currently exhibit outstanding energy performance (e.g., net zero energy buildings, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED®] Gold- and Platinum-certified buildings, buildings with ENERGY STAR® ratings above 90) will be utilized to identify energy efficiency and renewable energy production technologies that can further improve energy performance and reduce risk. This article will demonstrate that, by implementing these types of adaptive strategies, the building sector can more nimbly respond to potential climate variations.


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Author Biography

Daniel L. Briller, , P.E., LEED AP J.M. Waller Associates, Inc.

Daniel L. (“Dan”) Briller, P.E., LEED AP, is a Senior Project Manager with J.M. Waller Associates, Atlanta, GA and has over 26 years of experience in sustainability, energy, environmental compliance, and hazardous waste site remediation. He has assisted clients such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Department of Homeland Security in developing solutions to meet the challenges of the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005, the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, and Executive Orders 13423 and 13514. These services include: (1) updating engineering specifications to incorporate green building technologies, (2) planning and implementation of pollution prevention programs, and (3) developing strategic plans and compliance tools to facilitate achievement of aggressive federal sustainability goals. He is a member of the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE); the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE); and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and is a registered professional engineer in Missouri. He can be contacted at or


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