This project analyses six apartment buildings and models their performance based on the extremes of the 2009 Victorian heatwave that began on the 27 January with daytime temperatures topping 43°C across 3 days, with night-time minimums of above 25°C. At a time that the climate is warming and heat waves events are shown to be increasing, a new requirement that measures overheating of apartments at the design stage is required in the Building Code of Australia in order to bring it up to the same standard as is found internationally.
Many older apartments do not have mechanical cooling systems and this puts occupants at risk. In addition, in the event of a power shortage or outage, modern apartments are also at the risk of overheating resulting in heat stress and possibly fatalities. Existing apartments are at the greatest risk of causing heat stress. However, this study shows that it is possible to retrofit existing poorly performing buildings to comply with two of the four international standards.
The study recommends that the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) should review opportunities to design to reduce overheating as a standard requirement, specifically for apartments. Existing buildings should make it a priority to pursue building thermal performance and mechanical cooling options to protect occupants. This may include façade retrofit or building services upgrades.