climate and weather

Steve Sopinka has been discussing with us a project to develop a climate zone map for building.  The climate zone map for planting tells you what species of plants will survive in specific areas and is well known to gardeners.  Calgary is zone 2b because of its elevation, the mountains and its chinooks, föhn winds that come from Pacific weather systems and which wreak havoc with plants who wake up on a balmy January morning thinking it is spring only to be blasted with -30 the next week.  Within zone 2b however there are frost pockets and warm spots.  I live in the lee of the downtown with all those tall buildings blocking the wind and giving off heat and so I can garden to zone 4.  North Bay is zone 3b . Vancouver Island is mostly  7a and b, parts of the Fraser River delta are zone 8, meaning they can grow almost anything.

There is a building corollary to all of this: with each climate zone come various fine-grained built responses.  Tarps, amusing as I find them, are one.  For example. 

We are launching a call to contribute to a database of local building traditions.  This database will include specific examples of local building habits, from form to roof slopes to door placement, with a hazarding of why things are built the way they are.  The stepless door, so famous in Newfoundland, is not about climate, or weather, or materials, but is about social propriety.   The ubiquity of the tarp, a building material in its own right on the west coast, is not about propriety, it is about rain. 

This project is outlined on this page: climate zone building responses.  A rather dull name, but you have to start somewhere.