Facade Resilience Evaluation Framework

A Qualitative Evaluation Tool To Support Resilient Facade Design Decision Making



Resiliency is the capacity of a building (or building component in the case of the facade) to support building functionalities during extreme events (sudden changes) and/or in response to chronic (slowly changing) climatic conditions. In a climate change scenario it is particularly important to assess how a specific building and facade design could be affected and might react to these changes, and on the other side, how it is impacting on climate change. In fact, in order to reduce risks for all buildings stakeholders (clients, building occupants etc.), buildings and building elements (such as the facade) are required to be resilient to changes. This means they should be able to provide minimum performances such as basic functionality, structural stability, environmental control, operational functionality or durability/architectural quality in changing circumstances. While different efforts are currently ongoing to develop evaluation frameworks for such aspects at a district, city and regional level, this has not been translated and applied yet to the smaller building and facade scale.

Building on previous knowledge, the current paper aims to discuss the definition of the term “resilient” from a facade point of view and to present a novel qualitative evaluation framework to (i) assess what are the risks associated to a certain specific facade design (in a specific geographical and social context) and (ii) indicate measures and ownership to reduce such design risk in a climate change scenario. To answer these questions, a framework has been created to put facade projects into the perspective of climate resilience within a context of global and local climate changes for around the world for two timeframe scenarios: Near Future (-2065) and Far Future (2081-2100). This Facade Resilience Evaluation Framework (FREF) involves the understanding of future climate changes followed by a review, integrated into the facade design process, of the building envelope design based on a risk and mitigation assessments. This framework is tested on two case studies, whose results are presented in the present paper.


Photo of Fabio Favoino

Fabio Favoino

Department of energy

Technology Energy Building Environment (TEBE) Research Group


Photo of Adèle Chalumeau

Adèle Chalumeau

Facade engineer

Eckersley O'Callaghan (EOC Engineers)


Photo of Audrey Aquaronne

Audrey Aquaronne

Facade engineer

Eckersley O'Callaghan (EOC Engineers)



Introduction and Background

New and existing buildings, in order to continuously provide the functionalities and performance they have been designed for, need to be able to adapt to the ever changing outdoor climate and local circumstances, so to maintain livable and/or comfortable conditions for the building occupants and their related activities (preferably with no increase in energy consumption). Such a statement could appear obvious and easily achievable with current design practice, nevertheless the current context of climate change imposes new challenges. The trend of global warming of last century (0.56°C to 0.92°C increase between 1906-2005) has currently reached a 0.2 °C per decade and, depending on the scenario, a temperature increase between 1.1°C and 6.4°C is predicted for the end of this century compared to the period 1980-1999 (Pachauri et.al., 2007). Such a global average trend, though, produces an increasing number of local extreme events, such as heat waves (KNMI,2013), increased bushfire risk (Borunda, 2020) (Climate Council, 2019), extreme storms (Mejorin et al. 2017) (The Australia Institute, 2007). Therefore, considering all the global and local effects of global warming, whether these are chronic slowly changing climate trends or sudden extreme events, it appears fundamental to understand how this context might impact on the way we design and operate buildings and particularly the building envelopes. In fact, the facade is not only the spatial location separating the outdoor form the indoor environment but also a functional system that ensure the performance and the operation of a building. Therefore it plays an important mediation role between a changing external environment and the continuity of operations and performance needed for human health, comfort and activities.

Different studies showed the impact of facade measures to mitigate the risk related to climate change for different specific performance aspects (i.e. towards the livability of the indoor space and the outdoor urban environment due to chronic changes, during extreme sudden events), and some interrelationship between them, highlighting the multi-faceted, interrelated and context specific nature of the impact of facade design on building resiliency. Most of the research has been concentrating on energy and comfort related aspects linked to overheating, increased energy use, urban heat island effects (Naboni et al. 2020, Samuelson et al. 2020, Van Hooff et al. 2014, Ascione et al. 2017) and passive survivability in extreme events (Katal et al. 2020), and how the building systems and building fabric could be designed to mitigate these. Although, these are only few performances aspects- and the facade is asked to respond to different requirements and functionalities that might impact the resilience of the building itself (Patterson et al. 2017). In order to have a more comprehensive overview of how the facade can be designed to mitigate climate change risks, a deeper understanding of what resiliency of a system means and how to translate this concept at the building and facade level is needed.

“Resilience is the capacity to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain or regain functionality and vitality in the face of stress or disturbance. It is the capacity to bounce back after a disturbance or interruption.” (RDI, 2015)

Provided the scale and impact of climate change related events, the implication of such definition have been first developed at the city and regional level. Particularly ARUP and the Rockefeller Foundation developed a framework to define and evaluate the resiliency of a city (ARUP,2014 and 2015), based on 4 specific performance categories, each of them translated into 3 specific goals. This has been successfully tested and validated on different cities around the globe (in diverse climate changes scenarios, economical and social contexts), so that it is currently the reference of local regulatory frameworks, such as the CSIRO (2019) New South Wales (AUS) “Climate Change Risk Assessment.” Differently from the city and regional level, no risk-based decision-making tools exists to improve building scale performance and resilience by means of context specific prioritization of technologies (Ladipo et al. 2019). Patterson et al. (2017) did a first attempt to translate such a framework and lexicon at the facade level, by providing a meaningful contextualization of system resiliency to the performance domains, objectives and attributes of resilient facade design. Building on this work, the present paper aims to present and provide a general design framework to ensure buildings and their facades are designed in such a way, that they maintain operational and performing functionalities as intended while considering the impact of climate change. This is done by developing a Facade Resilience Evaluation Framework (FREF), translating the principles adopted at the city and regional level at the scale of the building, and by showing its possible application in the facade design process.


The Facade Resilience Evaluation Framework

The FREF intends to provide a design tool that enables the design team to evaluate a specific facade project with the “resilient” magnifying glass, during

Access Restricted

Members get unlimited access to all of our resources. Join now for the best value.

Results: Application of the FREF

This Facade Resilient Evaluation Framework (FREF) was tested on one case study, which allowed to start the validation of the framework and to test the usability of the excel tool

Access Restricted

Members get unlimited access to all of our resources. Join now for the best value.

Conclusion and Future Work

The present paper describes the development and the application of a framework to qualitatively evaluate the preparedness of a specific facade design to adapt and mitigate climate change effects at

Access Restricted

Members get unlimited access to all of our resources. Join now for the best value.

Rights and Permissions


Ascione, F., Bianco, N., De Masi, R. F., Mauro, G. M., & Vanoli, G. P. “Resilience of robust cost-optimal energy retrofit of buildings to global warming: A multi-stage, multi-objective approach.” Energy and Buildings, 153 (2017): 150-167.

Garssen J, Harmsen C, de Beer J. “Effect of the summer 2003 heat wave on mortality in the Netherlands.” Eurosurveillance 10 (2005):165–167.

Haines A, Kovats RS, Campbell‐Lendrum D, Corvalan C. “Climate change and human health: Impacts, vulnerability and public health.” Public Health 120 (2006): 585-596.

Katal, A., Mortezazadeh, M., & Wang, L. L. “Modeling building resilience against extreme weather by integrated CityFFD and CityBEM simulations.” Applied Energy 250 (2019): 1402-1417.

Ladipo, O., Reichard, G., McCoy, A., Pearce, A., Knox, P., & Flint, M. “Attributes and metrics for comparative quantification of disaster resilience across diverse performance mandates and standards of building.” Journal of Building Engineering, 21 (2019): 446-454

Mejorin, A., Trabucco, D., Stelzer, I., Nakada, R., & Rooprai, M. S. “Cyclone-Glazing and Facade Resilience for the Asia-Pacific Region: Market and Code Study.” CTBUH Journal, 2 (2018): 42-47.

Naboni, E., Milella, A., Vadalà, R., & Fiorito, F. “On the localised climate change mitigation potential of building facades.” Energy and Buildings 224, 110284 (2020)

Patterson Mic, Kensek Karen & Noble Doug “Supple Skins: Considering the Relevance, Scalability, and Design Strategies for Facade System Resilience” Journal of Architectural Education,71:1 (2017): 34-45

Samuelson, H. W., Baniassadi, A., & Gonzalez, P. I. “Beyond energy savings: Investigating the co-benefits of heat resilient architecture.” Energy 204, 117886 (2020).

Van Hooff, T., Blocken, B., Hensen, J. L. M., & Timmermans, H. J. P. “On the predicted effectiveness of climate ad aptation measures for residential buildings.” Building and Environment 82 (2014): 300-316.

Westerling, A. L. “Increasing western US forest wildfire activity: sensitivity to changes in the timing of spring.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, volume 371 issue 1696 (2016)

Xu Z, Sheffield PE, Hu W, Su H, Yu W, Xin Q, Tong S. “Climate change and children’s health - a call for research on what works to protect children.” Int J Environ Res Public Health 9 (2012): 3298-3316.


ARUP, “City resilience index, Understanding and measuring city resilience”, The Rockefeller foundation, Arup, 2014.

ARUP, “City resilience framework”, The Rockefeller foundation, Arup, 2015.

CSIRO, “Guide to climate Change Risk Assessment for NSW Local Government”, NSW Government, Department of planning, industry and environment, 2019

Pachauri, Reisinger, Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report”, IPCC, 2007

Pachauri, Meyer, Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report”, IPCC, 2014

P.R. Shukla, J. Skea, E. Calvo Buendia, V. Masson-Delmotte, H.- O. Pörtner, D. C. Roberts, P. Zhai, R. Slade, S. Connors, R. van Diemen, M. Ferrat, E. Haughey, S. Luz, S. Neogi, M. Pathak, J. Petzold, J. Portugal Pereira, P. Vyas, E. Huntley, K. Kissick, M. Belkacemi, J. Malley, (eds.). “Climate Change and Land, Summary for Policymakers in Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems”, IPPC , 2020

Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J.B.R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M.I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, and T. Waterfield (eds.) “IPCC, 2018: Global Warming of 1.5°C.An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty”, IPPC, 2019


KNMI. “Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute” http://www.knmi.nl/cms/content... (accessed October 6, 2013).

ECMWF, “The number of heat wave days for European countries derived from climate projections.” https://cds.climate.copernicus... (accessed October 01, 2019).

The Australia Institute, “Bushfire Weather in South East Australia. Policy Brief.” http://www.climateinstitute.org.au/articles/publications/briefingbushfire-weather-in-south-east-australia.html/section/478. (accessed 2007)

Borunda, A. “The science connecting wildfires to climate change” https://www. nationalgeographic. com/science/2020/09/climate-change-increases-risk-fires-westernus. (Accessed 2020)

RDI, The Resilient Design Institute “The Resilient Design Principles, Resilient Design Strategies, 2015” http://www.resilientdesign.org... (Accessed Novembre, 2021)

Climate council, “ This is not Normal: Climate change and escalating bushfire risk, November 2019” https://www.climatecouncil.org... (Accessed 2021)