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Thermal design of structures and the changing climate

JRC Report: Eurocodes Scientific and Technical Report by A. Athanasopoulou, M.L. Sousa, S. Dimova, G. Rianna, P. Mercogliano, V. Villani, P. Croce, F. Landi, P. Formichi, J. Markova

Published in Ispra,
Publications Office of the European Union, 2020

The report presents scientific and technical background intended to further study the implications of climate change on the thermal design of structures.

The report outlines recent EU policies in support of sustainability and climate resilience of infrastructure and buildings. It further emphasises the ongoing action plan to adapt the European standards to a changing climate.

Variations in temperature that would directly affect the design values for thermal actions in the Eurocodes are studied in depth for the case study of Italy. It is concluded that an increase in the maximum and minimum temperature used for structural design is expected all over Italy. It is discussed that structures, as bridges for example, are expected to be influenced by stresses from extreme temperatures and thus, should be designed for temperature amplitudes justified from climate projections for the actual region. However, the current European maps for thermal design are based on climatic data which, with some exceptions, are mostly 10 to 15 years old and ignore the potential effects of climate change.

Thus, new European maps for the thermal design of structures should be developed using data that project more realistically the future climate. To this end, the authors present a methodology for developing thermal maps for structural design taking into account the influence of the changing climate and present an implementation of the methodology using the example of Italy.

Applies to Eurocodes: