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Frequently, the computer modelling of the natural and human-made environment requires localised weather files. Traditionally, the weather files are based on the observed weather at a small number of locations (14 for the UK). Unfortunately, both the climate and the weather are known to be highly variable across the landscape, so the small number of locations has the potential to cause large errors. With respect to buildings, this results in incorrect estimates of the annual energy use (sometimes by a factor of 2), or of overheating risk. Here we use a validated weather generator running on a 5 × 5 km grid to create probabilistic test reference years (pTRYs) for the UK at 11,326 locations. We then investigate the spatial variability of these pTRYs and of annual energy estimates and temperatures in buildings generated by them, both now and in 2080. Further pTRYs targeted at understanding the impact of minimum and maximum temperatures are proposed and produced at the same locations. Finally, we place these pTRYs, which represent the first set of reference weather files at this spatial resolution in the world and that include the urban heat island effect, into a publicly accessible database so researchers and industry can access them. Practical applications: Insufficiently localised weather data for building simulations have limited the accuracy of previous estimations of energy use and overheating risk in buildings. This work produces localised probabilistic test reference years (pTRYs) across the whole UK for now and future climates. In addition, a new pTRY method has been proposed in order to overcome an unexpected shortcoming of traditional pTRYs in representing typical maximum and minimum temperatures. These current and future weather data will be of interest to various disciplines including those interested in low carbon design, renewable energy and climate resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-413
Number of pages25
JournalBuilding Services Engineering Research and Technology
Issue number4
Early online date8 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Spatial variability
  • built environment
  • climate change
  • weather files

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction


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