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Building Design and Operation for Improving Thermal Comfort in Naturally Ventilated Buildings in a Hot-Humid Climate
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The goal of this research was to develop new techniques for designing and operating unconditioned buildings in a hot-humid climate that could contribute to an improvement of thermal performance and comfort condition. The recommendations proposed in this research will also be useful for facility managers on how to maintain unconditioned buildings in this climate. This study investigated two unconditioned Thai Buddhist temples located in the urban area of Bangkok, Thailand. One is a 100-year-old, high-mass temple. The other is a 5-year-old, lower-mass temple. The indoor measurements revealed that the thermal condition inside both temples exceed the ASHRAE-recommended comfort zone. Surprisingly, the older temple maintained a more comfortable indoor condition due to its thermal inertia, shading, and earth contacts. A baseline thermal and airflow model of the old temple was established using a calibrated computer simulation method. To accomplish this, HEATX, a 3-D Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) code, was coupled with the DOE-2 thermal simulation program. HEATX was used to calculate the airflow rate and the surface convection coefficients for DOE-2, and DOE-2 was used to provide physical input variables to form the boundary conditions for HEATX. In this way calibrated DOE-2/CFD simulation model was accomplished, and the baseline model was obtained. To investigate an improved design, four design options were studied: 1) a reflective or low-solar absorption roof, 2) R-30 ceiling insulation, 3) shading devices, and 4) attic ventilation. Each was operated using three modes of ventilation. The low-absorption roof and the R-30 ceiling insulation options were found to be the most effective options, whereas the shading devices and attic ventilation were less effective options, regardless of which ventilation mode was applied. All design options performed much better when nighttime-only ventilation was used. Based on this analysis, two prototype temples was proposed (i.e., low-mass and high-mass temples). From the simulation results of the two prototypes, design and operation guidelines are proposed, which consist of: 1) increased wall and ceiling insulation, 2) white-colored, low-absorption roof, 3) slab-on-ground floor, 4) shading devices, 5) nighttime-only ventilation, 6) attic ventilation, and 7) wider openings to increase the natural ventilation air flow windows, wing walls, and vertical fins.
Sreshthaputra, Atch (2007). Building Design and Operation for Improving Thermal Comfort in Naturally Ventilated Buildings in a Hot-Humid Climate. Available electronically from