What Climate Factors are Important Considerations for Building Projects?
Buildings are constantly subject to several climatic and environmental elements. From wind, sunlight, temperature, rain and other factors, buildings across the globe interact uniquely with the different elements of their surrounding climate. Because of this, building design and construction methods vary from one place to another to accommodate different challenges.
So, what are the most important climate factors and what is done to prepare for or alleviate the challenges?
Wind is a significant factor in building and construction because of its destructive capability. Both average wind speeds and prevailing direction must be considered in the design process for the building to be able to withstand the peak of wind forces.
Building features like roofs and cladding are most vulnerable to wind. Residential buildings, in particular, are designed to resist wind forces with ridge and hip designs. Underneath, strong and durable dry hip systems provide resistance against uplift forces.
Rainfall is also an important consideration for building projects. Accumulation of rainfall can be detrimental to the integrity of a building, hence why more buildings in wetter regions of the world are built with gable or hip roofs as opposed to flat roof systems.
Protecting internal structures and materials from rainfall is also essential, again relying on a solid roof barrier and underlying membrane.
Temperature has a significant influence on the materials used in a building project. Air temperature determines the materials used for the above-ground structure, while soil-temperature plays a big role in the choice of foundation.
The average air temperature also determines the use and thickness of insulation in a building, with colder climates needing more insulation to retain heat.
Sunlight is an important consideration because of the role of the sun’s energy. Warmer regions of the world, namely areas nearer to the equator, adopt different building practices and designs to block more sunlight. For example, smaller windows are used to limit the amount of sunlight entering a building, as opposed to colder regions where the window to wall ratio changes to harness more sunlight.
Designing buildings to face a certain way is also an important task for architects to capture light at certain times of the day and avoid it at others.
Finally, humidity is a significant factor when choosing building materials and designing structures. Higher levels of humidity increase the likelihood of condensation and water erosion in buildings, so water-resistant and anti-corrosive materials are chosen to limit this issue. Furthermore, circulation in buildings with higher internal or external humidity is a more significant consideration to protect the structural integrity.