Assessing thermal resilience of an assisted living facility during heat waves and cold snaps with power outages
Extreme hot and cold weather events are becoming more frequent, intense, and longer due to climate change. When these events occur coincidentally with power outages, the resulting extreme indoor temperatures pose a severe health hazard for occupants. This study conducted a holistic modeling and analysis of an assisted living facility, where senior residents live, to assess its thermal resilience performance under a six-day heat wave in 2015 and a three-day cold snap in 2021 with power outages. Impacts of 13 energy efficiency measures on thermal resilience and backup power capacity of the facility were evaluated. Three thermal resilience metrics: the SET (standard effective temperature) degree-hours, the Heat Index, and the Hours of Safety, were used and calculated from the EnergyPlus simulation models. Major findings are: (1) the facility would suffer from extreme temperatures during the cold and hot events without a power supply, not meeting the passive survivability requirements; (2) most passive envelope measures improve thermal resilience for both hot and cold events, but making the building envelope airtight results in conflicting performance between the hot and cold events; (3) natural ventilation is an effective measure to mitigate summer indoor overheating; and (4) the energy efficiency package can reduce backup power capacity by 19% for the three-day cold snap. It is recommended that building technologies and design strategies be evaluated to consider co-benefits of energy use, thermal resilience, and backup power needs through building energy codes or policies for existing and new buildings, which are transitioning for decarbonization and climate resilience.