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Passive system integration for office buildings in hot climates

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posted on 30.01.2017, 09:48 authored by John P. Brittle
Passive ventilation and cooling systems can offer energy savings when combined into a mechanical ventilation and cooling strategy for office buildings. At early design stages, it is difficult to predict actual energy savings as current design and calculation tools are limited and do not allow assessment for energy reductions when attempting to use typical passive options such as solar chimneys, rain screen facades, ventilated double facades, passive downdraught evaporative cooling and earth ducts. The only passive systems that are directly incumbent to dynamic thermal modelling software are natural ventilation and external solar shading. Currently, impacts of passive systems on annual building energy performance is unclear and lacks clarity. In hot climates, this is even more problematic as buildings need to endure higher external temperatures and solar irradiation. Understanding minimal energy performance reductions for each passive system can aid with design decisions regarding building ventilation and cooling strategies. The aim of this study is to investigate how existing passive ventilation and cooling system design and operational strategies can be improved to reduce mechanical ventilation and cooling energy consumption for commercial buildings in hot climates. Theoretical commercial building models are created using dynamic thermal simulation software to determine minimum mechanical ventilation and cooling energy values, which are verified against published bench marks, known as base case models. These base case models are simulated using weather data from four different hot climates (Egypt, Portugal, Kenya and Abu Dhabi). Impacts of passive system energy performance are afforded by using either dynamic thermal simulation or fundamental steady state analysis identifying approximate passive ventilation and cooling potentials for reducing mechanical energy. These percentage reductions are created based upon passive system parameters and weather data, using appropriate methodology. From these findings new simplified design guidelines, integration strategies and performance design tools are created including a new passive system energy assessment tool (PSEAT) using Microsoft Excel platform to ensure that a wider audience can be achieved in industry. The design guidance and integration strategies are developed and simplified to enable architects, building services engineers and alike, to apply with speed and accuracy influencing the design process and improve confidence in desired passive solution.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


© John Paul Brittle

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.