Performance-based validation of climatic zoning for building energy efficiency applications

Angélica Walsh, Daniel Cóstola, Lucila Chebel Labaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Climatic zoning for building energy efficiency applications is an important element in building energy policy and regulations. There are several methodologies available to conduct climatic zoning, providing significantly different results. Currently, there are no procedures to assess the validity of a proposed climatic zoning, hindering the decision to use one particular climatic zoning methodology instead of another. This paper introduces a quality index and a procedure to support the validation of climatic zoning. The procedure is based on building performance simulation results concerning the building stock that is targeted in the climatic zoning policy or program. Simulation results are used to calculate a new index, the Mean Percentage of Misclassified Areas (MPMA), which assesses the quality of the zoning under analysis. The capabilities of this procedure were demonstrated by the evaluation of four alternatives for the climatic zoning of Nicaragua, obtained using different methodologies and previously reported in the literature. The building stock used in this case study is composed of a few archetypes based on typical naturally ventilated dwellings in this country. Simulations were conducted using the program EnergyPlus for a total of 328 locations in Nicaragua. Degree-hours of discomfort based on the adaptive model of ASHRAE Standard 55 were used as a performance indicator. Results indicate that zoning obtained using cluster analysis and cooling degree-days may misclassify 1 out of 5 areas in Nicaragua (MPMA around 18% to 20%). This study concludes that the validation procedure and proposed index are useful for highlighting qualities and deficiencies of existing climatic zoning methods, particularly when these methods are used in less conventional applications, such as for policy making targeting naturally ventilated dwellings in tropical climates. The application of this procedure in more than 50 countries which adopt climatic zoning is foreseen as the next step in his area, substantially affecting the prescription of building materials and components worldwide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-427
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Energy
Early online date22 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2018


  • climatic zoning
  • building energy efficiency
  • degree-days methodology
  • cluster analysis


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