Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Geological and Atmospheric Sciences

First Advisor

Eugene S. Takle


Current simulations of building energy consumption use weather input files based on the past thirty years of climate observations. These 20th century climate conditions may be inadequate when designing buildings meant to function well into the 21st century. An alternative is using model projections of climate change to estimate future risk to the built environment. In this study, model-projected changes in climate were combined with existing typical meteorological year data to create future typical meteorological year data. These data were then formatted into weather input files and run through EnergyPlus simulation software to evaluate their potential impact on commercial building energy consumption. The modeled data were taken from the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP). NARCCAP uses results of global climate models to drive regional climate models, also known as dynamical downscaling. This gives higher resolution results over specific locations, and the multiple global/regional climate model combinations provide a unique opportunity to quantify the uncertainty of climate change projections and their impacts. Our research shows a projected decrease in heating energy consumption and a projected increase in cooling energy consumption for nine locations across the United States. The decrease in heating energy consumption is around 25% to 50% for warm locations and 15% to 25% for cold locations. The increase in cooling energy consumption is around 20%-35% for warm locations and 30% to 75% for cold locations. Net energy consumption is projected to increase by an average of 5% for lower-latitude locations and decrease by an average of 5% for higher-latitude locations. However, different systems for heating and cooling along with different fuel sources suggests that energy use and cost will not simply cancel out as implied. With these projected annual and seasonal changes presenting strong evidence for the unsuitable nature of current building practices, we recommend using our methodology and results to make modifications and adaptations to existing buildings and to prepare future buildings for our future climate.

Copyright Owner

Shannon Patton



File Format


File Size

61 pages