By Mikayla Kolyvas • August 21, 2018

How to design for Climate: Climate Sensitive Design

It is important that designers modify their designs in relation to the climate in which they are built in. In order for the occupants of a home to remain thermally comfortable, the design must work with the climate, not against it, decreasing the need to use heating and cooling systems.pexels-photo-68704

Climate responsive design could cut down energy used for heating and cooling to almost zero. Designing for today’s climate is important, as new homes built presently and in the future expect to see constant changes in the Australian climate. Temperatures are rising, so designers need to design homes and buildings that can remain efficient in a hotter climate.

Some key design objectives outlined by give some insight into what should be considered when designing a climate sensible design. This includes:


  1. Human thermal comfort

The main influencers of human thermal comfort include temperature, humidity, air movement (breeze or draught), exposure to radiant heat sources and exposure to cool surfaces.

The more stars a design has, the less heating and cooling energy is needed, therefore increasing human thermal comfort. Building thermal comfort can be achieved through passive design methods, and wind helps to achieve a high NatHERS energy rating.

 Download NatHERs requirement!

  1. Australian climate zones

Australia covers a large surface area, therefore resulting in a variety of climates existing in different states, cities and towns. There are eight zones defined by Your Home (2018), and each climate zone has different design and construction requirements.

The zones include:

  • Hot humid summer, warm winter
    • Require three distinct design approaches including building including
      • Free Running à buildings that are not mechanically heated or cooled
      • Conditioned à must be well insulated while mechanical conditioning is running
      • Hybrid design à air conditioned, insulated core rooms in the centre of the house in order to maintain peak comfort year round.
    • Mild Temperatures
      • This applies to the most populated areas within Australia including Sydney and Melbourne
      • These climates can potentially achieve carbon zero or positive outcomes because they require a relatively simple design adjustment to achieve a high NatHERS rating (8-10 stars)
    • Other Zones
      • Warm humid summer, mild winter
      • Hot dry summer, warm winter
      • Hot dry summer, cool winter
      • Warm temperature
      • Cool temperature
      • Alpine
Find out more! 


jordan-stewart-138216-unsplash states that approximately 40% of household energy consumption is used for heating and cooling to achieve thermal comfort. If designers use climate responsive design as a way to cut down on a homes energy consumption, then this figure would cut to almost zero.  It is important that designers not only design projects that are efficient in todays climate, but can sustain its efficiency decades into the future.

The experienced team at certified energy can assist your design in achieving climate sensitivity. Climate sensitivity can positively increase a home or buildings overall thermal star rating significantly. Contact Certified Energy to learn more about how you can achieve a higher NatHERS rating!

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