Living Well – Apartments, Comfort and Resilience in Climate Change

Everyone has the right to live well, living in a place that is safe and comfortable. As we move into the uncertainty of climate change the increase in weather extremes, especially heat in Melbourne, is expected to have significant negative impacts on comfort for existing apartments. For these homes to be able to stay comfortable, without significant cooling energy, will be a challenge.

This means that people in homes that do not have cooling systems are facing potentially higher health risks. Further, if there are infrastructure failures and there is absence of energy for cooling even more people will be at risk.

This project analyses six apartment buildings and models their performance based on the extremes of the 2009 Victorian heatwave that began on the 27 January with daytime temperatures topping 43°C across 3 days, with night-time minimums of above 25°C (BoM 2009).  The project specifically seeks to determine how the Melbourne apartment samples perform in the context of the international standards, and finally, looking at retrofit options to future proof apartments and make them more liveable.

The result of the six buildings that were tested against the international standards showed that none of the apartments would comply with the standards under these heat wave conditions. Additional modelling showed that even the worst performing building could be retrofitted using standard retrofit strategies to comply with two of the four international standards and protect their residents.

Key recommendations of this research are that the retrofits tested should be considered for all existing apartments, that new apartment regulations consider best practice international standards for summer comfort and finally that until retrofits are able to be implemented the residents of apartments have an action plan if heat wave conditions occur.

Project details


Christopher Jensen
Adrian Chu
Xavier Cadorel
Dr Dominique Hes