The main objective of this study is to identify how climate variability and urbanization influence human comfort levels in tropical-coastal urban environments. San Juan Metro Metropolitan Area (SJMA) of the island of Puerto Rico was chosen as a reference point. A new human discomfort index (HDI) based on environmental enthalpy is defined to determine the energy required to maintain indoor human comfort levels. Regression analysis shows that both temperature and HDI are good indictors to predict total electrical energy consumption. Results showed that over the past 35 years, the average environmental enthalpy have increased, resulting in the increase of average HDI with clear bias due to urbanization. Local scale weather station data show a decreasing rate of maximum cooling per capita at –11.41 kW h/years and increasing of minimum cooling per capita of 10.64 kW h/years; however, for the whole Caribbean region, an increasing trend is observed for both minimum and maximum cooling per capita. To estimate human comfort levels under extreme heat wave events conditions, an event of 2014 was identified. The analysis is complemented by simulations from the weather forecasting system (WRF) at a resolution of 1 km, forced by data from the National Center for Environmental Prediction at 250 km spatial resolution. WRF model results were evaluated against observations showing good agreement for both temperature and relative humidity (RH) and improvements. It also shows that energy per capita in urban areas during a heat wave event can increase to 21% as compared to normal day.

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