The Koppen Climate Classification System

Climates encompass meteorological characteristics such as temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall, atmospheric particles, and others over extended periods. They are also affected by latitude, terrain, and altitude.

Initially a system used for botanical identification, The Koppen Climate Classification System is useful for appreciating a global picture of climate diversity. Consisting of five major climate groups, A (tropical), B (dry), C (temperate), D (continental), and E (polar), each of which is further divided into one or more subgroups, it has been adopted by local and international standards to be useful in building design.

Each region or country has their own methodology for climate-based design to drive minimum performance compliance or has adopted international methods. Either way, climate classification is a great way to set local design priorities required in different climatic zones, such as:

  • Orienting and developing the geometry of the building to respond to solar position

  • Solar shading to control cooling loads and improve thermal comfort

  • Natural ventilation to reduce cooling loads and enhance air quality

  • Minimising energy used for artificial lighting and mechanical cooling and heating by optimising exterior wall insulation and the use of daylighting

Cold heating-dominated climates benefit from combined strategies of increased solar transmittance, daylight, passive heating, heat storage and reduced thermal transmittance to reduce heating demand. Solar transmittance control becomes more critical in warm cooling-dominated climates, as does the efficiency of air-conditioning systems. In mixed temperate climates, combined strategies of cold and warm climates are beneficial that balance solar transmittance and access to daylight. Such diverse climates can be the most challenging from a design point of view, as the design must respond to high peak summer and low peak winter conditions.

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