What is Climate Design?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Climate design is a practice in which systems to control indoor climates are designed and installed. This practice can also include the overall design of structures as a whole to accomplish indoor climate control goals. Heating and cooling professionals are involved in climate design, as are architects, engineers, contractors, and other building professionals. Good climate design can make a critical difference when it comes to keeping indoor spaces healthy and comfortable.

Climate design may be used for a server farm to regulate temperatures.
Climate design may be used for a server farm to regulate temperatures.

The goal of climate design is usually to reach and maintain a stable temperature. Ideally, the systems should support a highly efficient way of doing this, with some buildings being designed so well that heating and cooling systems rarely need to kick on. In addition to keeping temperatures stable and comfortable, climate designers also consider issues like air circulation, and they incorporate issues such as available natural light into their design.

The exterior climate is a major factor in climate design. Architecture often supports climate design by doing some of the work automatically so that climate control systems do not need to work so hard. In hot climates, for example, structures are white and reflective, and may have thick walls, so that they stay cool inside. Structures may also have lots of windows, breeze blocks, and other features which promote air circulation. In a cold climate, air circulation from the outside is not desirable, and the design of a building will work to limit this.

Climate design includes the installation of heating and cooling systems, if warranted by the climate, along with systems such as fans which are designed to move air through the building. Measures like air shafts, windows which can be easily opened and shut, and other passive systems can be used to help control the temperature without expending energy. For example, orientating a building toward the north in the southern hemisphere ensures that the building gets as much warming sunlight as possible, which will reduce the burden on a heating system.

Climate design also includes the management of rooms which need to be closed off for various reasons. A server farm, for example, needs to be controlled for security reasons, and it can also get very hot. Thus, the climate design needs to function in a hot, closed environment to bring temperatures down so that the systems in the room are not endangered. Likewise, holding cells in a prison have to be carefully designed to avoid suffocating prisoners on hot days. These types of rooms can create special needs beyond the basic needs of a whole-structure climate design system.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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