CNA recently released a memo focused on an important yet little-explored impact of climate change: the effect of rising temperatures on energy use at key U.S. military installations across the country. The conclusion: Higher costs, and adaptations in building design as well as heating and cooling systems, are likely on the horizon.
The authors – Filadelfo, Mintz, Carvell and Marcus – aimed to project changes in energy use based on projected temperature changes due to climate change:
We downscaled large regional-scale climate change forecasts to forecasts of temperature change for the immediate areas of military installations. Based on these expected temperature changes, we estimated how installation energy demand for heating and cooling may change. We considered two climate change scenarios: the median and 75th percentile predicted temperature changes given in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (FAR).
Some of the conventional wisdom on this topic asserts that energy use as a result of higher temperatures will likely not result in cost increases, because “increased demand for cooling will be offset by the decreased demand for heating.”
However, the authors of the memo challenge this assumption based on the simple fact that heating and cooling “produce different energy demands,” and that changes at lower average temperatures may produce different energy demands than changes at higher average temperatures. Or as the authors put it, referencing a recent study by Deschênes and Greenstone: “the energy requirements associated with a temperature increase from 65 to 66 oF may be very different from those associated with a rise from 95 to 96 oF.”
Under the climate scenarios explored in the memo, the military installations that will likely be hardest hit are those in “areas of relatively mild climate with low heating and cooling needs.” These installations will likely “experience the largest relative changes in their heating and cooling needs as climate changes.”
The memo concludes:
Climate change has the potential to significantly affect installation energy use. Installation planners need to account for this—not only for the potential increase in energy costs but also for its implications for building design and heating and cooling systems.
Read the full version here.