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research-article

ON THE CLIMATE VARIABILITY AND ENERGY DEMANDS FOR INDOOR HUMAN COMFORT LEVELS IN A TROPICAL-COASTAL URBAN ENVIRONMENT

[+] Author and Article Information
Rabindra Pokhrel

CUNY City College of New York NY, United States, CUERG-CCNY
r5pokhrel@gmail.com

Luis Ortiz

CUNY City College of New York NY, United States, CUERG-CCNY
luis.ortiz.uriarte@gmail.com

Nazario Ramirez

University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico 00680, United States
nazario.ramirez@upr.edu

Jorge Gonzalez

NOAA-CREST Professor of Mechanical Engineering, The City College of New York, NY 10031, United States, ASME Fellow Member
jgonzalezcruz@ccny.cuny.edu

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4041401 History: Received January 31, 2018; Revised August 01, 2018

Abstract

The main objective of this study is to identify how climate variability and urbanization influence human comfort levels in tropical-coastal urban environments. San Juan Metropolitan Area of the island of Puerto Rico was chosen as a reference point. A new human discomfort index (HDI) based on environmental enthalpy is defined to determine the energy required to maintain indoor human comfort levels. Regression analysis shows that both temperature and HDI are good indictors to predict total electrical energy consumption. Results showed that over the past 35 years the average environmental enthalpy have increased, resulting in the increase of average HDI. Local scale weather station data show a decreasing rate of maximum cooling per capita at -11.41 kW-h/years, and increasing of minimum cooling per capita of 10.64 kW-h/years, however for the whole Caribbean region an increasing trend for both minimum and maximum cooling per capita is observed. To estimate human comfort levels under extreme heat conditions, an event of 2014 was identified. The analysis is complemented by simulations from the Weather Forecasting System (WRF) at a resolution of 1 km, forced by data from the National Center for Environmental Prediction at 250 km spatial resolution. WRF model results were evaluated against observations showing good agreement for both temperature and relative humidity and improvements. WRF results evidenced that Energy Per Capita in urban areas is larger in extreme heat events than in normal days or in non-urban areas by as much as 30%.

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