Thermal Comfort Vulnerability of Residential Buildings: Assessing different climate and socio-economic perspectives for Portugal in 2050

18:00 Tuesday 28 May




João Pedro Gouveia (Portugal) 1; Pedro Palma (Portugal) 1; Sofia Simoes (Portugal) 1; Júlia Seixas (Portugal) 1

1 - CENSE - Center for Environmental and Sustainability Research, NOVA School of Science and Technology, NOVA University Lisbon

Sustainable development within the broader context of climate change is a recent research topic that underpins positive trade-offs between mitigation, adaptation and societal objectives. In this context, climate change issues have been recognized as fundamental for regional and urban planning, requiring an integrated response with combined mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Climate change has a considerable impact on the energy performance of buildings and consequently on thermal comfort of occupants, which reinforces the need for households to adapt to hotter summers and warmer winters while ensuring occupants’ thermal comfort without increasing energy consumption and GHG emissions. The synergies between mitigation options and adaptation needs are quite relevant to achieve climate resilient cities, since there is a dual implication: in one hand, human settlements and buildings are vulnerable to climate change with potentially increasing needs for climatization, while in the other hand buildings have huge potential to mitigate GHG emissions.

In this paper we apply a high-resolution spatial scale composite index to residential buildings, focusing on space heating and cooling to assess and map the most vulnerable regions in Portugal. The country represents a suitable case study due to its ageing building stock, low energy consumption and high energy prices, as well as its location in one of the highest climate-impacted regions of Europe. The index combines socio-economic indicators of the population with building’s characteristics and energy performance. The method was tested for all 308 Portuguese municipalities.

Besides the current thermal comfort vulnerability assessment, the index is applied to the year 2050 considering RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios, combined with three future alternative storylines of the Portuguese economy developed under the Carbon Neutrality Roadmap for Portugal for 2050. This combined assessment, allows also to consider different trends of several socio-economic indicators, such as population, income, and technological development of climatization technologies (e.g. ownership rates, efficiencies, fuel types).

The results are highly valuable to 1) enable the integration of thermal comfort vulnerability indicators into urban planning, and are already being used for example on the Intermunicipal and Municipal climate change adaptation plans under development in Portugal (e.g. OESTE, Alentejo Central), 2) disseminate the results among municipal departments and the community, 3) assess different types of mitigation and adaptation strategies impacts due to the multidimensional index being used.