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Buildings, Volume 3, Issue 1 (March 2013), Pages 1-299

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Achieving Cost Benefits in Sustainable Cooperative Housing
Buildings 2013, 3(1), 1-17; doi:10.3390/buildings3010001
Received: 13 September 2012 / Revised: 24 October 2012 / Accepted: 18 December 2012 / Published: 4 January 2013
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Abstract
The cooperative housing sector is directed at low and medium income residents who cannot afford to buy their homes in the regular private market. Due to social housing legislation, it is possible to build cooperative housing below regular market costs and use [...] Read more.
The cooperative housing sector is directed at low and medium income residents who cannot afford to buy their homes in the regular private market. Due to social housing legislation, it is possible to build cooperative housing below regular market costs and use tax benefits, therefore providing affordable dwellings to their owners. Traditional cooperative housing used to provide less comfort and higher running costs in indoor and domestic hot water heating than in standard construction. However, cooperative housing has started to change its method of traditional construction towards sustainable construction, in order to benefit from the savings on energy consumption and domestic water as well as to provide an improvement as far as the comfort of its residents is concerned. Therefore, in this article, the savings in electricity and natural gas in different building settlements, calculated for Madalena building—sustainable construction—and for Azenha de Cima building—traditional construction—will be presented, according to two different criteria of calculation: efficiency of dwellings at a pre-determined standard level of indoor comfort opposed to real consumptions made by residents. For each building under analysis, an energy audit and further monitoring were brought in, in order to issue an energy evaluation according to the Portuguese energy agency rules. Results showed an expected decrease of the operational costs of natural gas and electricity, obtained by the use of efficient building systems and equipment, as well as a decrease of the payback period for each situation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Design and Construction)
Open AccessArticle Theoretical and Experimental Investigation of a Heat Exchanger Suitable for a Hybrid Ventilation System
Buildings 2013, 3(1), 18-38; doi:10.3390/buildings3010018
Received: 12 October 2012 / Revised: 21 December 2012 / Accepted: 4 January 2013 / Published: 14 January 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (604 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A key component in low energy houses is the heat recovery from the ventilation air. Over recent years, the most frequently used ventilation type is the mechanical ventilation with heat recovery. This kind of ventilation results in high heat recovery but does [...] Read more.
A key component in low energy houses is the heat recovery from the ventilation air. Over recent years, the most frequently used ventilation type is the mechanical ventilation with heat recovery. This kind of ventilation results in high heat recovery but does unfortunately consume a considerable amount of electrical energy. Natural or hybrid ventilation has the potential to consume less electricity but normally lacks heat recovery, leading to high-energy consumption for heating, and potentially low comfort. This article describes an investigation of a natural/hybrid ventilation system equipped with heat recovery. One of the key challenges in designing the heat exchanger is to keep the pressure drop low. At the same time the heat recovery rate has to be high. The results from the measurements show that it is possible to design a water-to-air heat exchanger with a temperature efficiency of approximately 80% with a pressure drop of about 1 Pa at air flows corresponding to 0.35 L/(s∙m²) building area. This type of ventilation system has the potential to offer a high thermal comfort, high heat recovery rate at the same time as the electrical consumption from fans is kept low. Old buildings with a natural ventilation system without heat recovery could also be retrofitted with this type of ventilation system. Full article
Open AccessArticle Framework for Detailed Comparison of Building Environmental Assessment Tools
Buildings 2013, 3(1), 39-60; doi:10.3390/buildings3010039
Received: 20 December 2012 / Accepted: 9 January 2013 / Published: 17 January 2013
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (650 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Understanding how Building Environmental Assessments Tools (BEATs) measure and define “environmental” building is of great interest to many stakeholders, but it is difficult to understand how BEATs relate to each other, as well as to make detailed and systematic tool comparisons. A [...] Read more.
Understanding how Building Environmental Assessments Tools (BEATs) measure and define “environmental” building is of great interest to many stakeholders, but it is difficult to understand how BEATs relate to each other, as well as to make detailed and systematic tool comparisons. A framework for comparing BEATs is presented in the following which facilitates an understanding and comparison of similarities and differences in terms of structure, content, aggregation, and scope. The framework was tested by comparing three distinctly different assessment tools; LEED-NC v3, Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH), and EcoEffect. Illustrations of the hierarchical structure of the tools gave a clear overview of their structural differences. When using the framework, the analysis showed that all three tools treat issues related to the main assessment categories: Energy and Pollution, Indoor Environment, and Materials and Waste. However, the environmental issues addressed, and the parameters defining the object of study, differ and, subsequently, so do rating, results, categories, issues, input data, aggregation methodology, and weighting. This means that BEATs measure “environmental” building differently and push “environmental” design in different directions. Therefore, tool comparisons are important, and the framework can be used to make these comparisons in a more detailed and systematic way. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Design and Construction)
Figures

Open AccessArticle A Natural Ventilation Alternative to the Passivhaus Standard for a Mild Maritime Climate
Buildings 2013, 3(1), 61-78; doi:10.3390/buildings3010061
Received: 26 November 2012 / Revised: 7 January 2013 / Accepted: 9 January 2013 / Published: 18 January 2013
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Abstract
This study examines the need in mild maritime climates, such as the southern areas of the UK, for mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) as required by the German Passivhaus standard. It considers the comfort, air quality and energy impacts of MVHR [...] Read more.
This study examines the need in mild maritime climates, such as the southern areas of the UK, for mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) as required by the German Passivhaus standard. It considers the comfort, air quality and energy impacts of MVHR versus natural ventilation and reviews the post-occupancy monitoring data of two flats in Cardiff designed to Passivhaus standards, one of which had been operated as a naturally ventilated building rather than with MVHR. The energy consumption of this free-running flat was significantly lower (36 kWh primary energy/m²a) than the Passivhaus Planning Package modeling had predicted (93 kWh primary energy/m²a) with no adverse effects on occupant comfort, air quality or excessive humidity, and advantages of lower capital cost and maintenance. The paper concludes that in climates with mild winters and cool summers the use of MVHR could be omitted without compromising comfort levels and achieving at least equivalent energy savings resulting from adopting the Passivhaus model and at a lower capital cost. This suggests the potential for a naturally ventilated, ultra-low energy model with lower capital investment requirements and lower disruption when applied to retrofit that would facilitate its mainstream adoption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Design and Construction)
Open AccessArticle Experimental Study on the Hygrothermal Behavior of a Coated Sprayed Hemp Concrete Wall
Buildings 2013, 3(1), 79-99; doi:10.3390/buildings3010079
Received: 29 November 2012 / Revised: 4 January 2013 / Accepted: 11 January 2013 / Published: 18 January 2013
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Abstract
Hemp concrete is a sustainable lightweight concrete that became popular in the field of building construction because of its thermal and environmental properties. However; available experimental data on its hygrothermal behavior are rather scarce in the literature. This paper describes the design [...] Read more.
Hemp concrete is a sustainable lightweight concrete that became popular in the field of building construction because of its thermal and environmental properties. However; available experimental data on its hygrothermal behavior are rather scarce in the literature. This paper describes the design of a large-scale experiment developed to investigate the hygrothermal behavior of hemp concrete cast around a timber frame through a spraying process; and then coated with lime-based plaster. The equipment is composed of two climatic chambers surrounding the tested wall. The experiment consists of maintaining the indoor climate at constant values and applying incremental steps of temperature; relative humidity or vapor pressure in the outdoor chamber. Temperature and relative humidity of the room air and on various depths inside the wall are continuously registered during the experiments and evaporation phenomena are observed. The influence of the plaster on the hygrothermal behavior of hemp concrete is investigated. Moreover; a comparison of experimental temperatures with numerical results obtained from a purely conductive thermal model is proposed. Comparing the model with the measured data gave satisfactory agreement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Design and Construction)
Open AccessArticle Construction Failures and Innovative Retrofitting
Buildings 2013, 3(1), 100-121; doi:10.3390/buildings3010100
Received: 10 October 2012 / Revised: 4 January 2013 / Accepted: 15 January 2013 / Published: 21 January 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2900 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The aim of this paper is twofold: (a) to briefly describe the damage caused to historical, residential and industrial buildings by the May 2012 seismic events in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy; and (b) to summarize novel repair and rehabilitation technologies [...] Read more.
The aim of this paper is twofold: (a) to briefly describe the damage caused to historical, residential and industrial buildings by the May 2012 seismic events in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy; and (b) to summarize novel repair and rehabilitation technologies that can be available to practitioners to fix damaged structures or to upgrade undamaged ones. Field inspections after the Emilia Romagna earthquakes showed that seismic vulnerability in that region was primarily due to the lack of seismic detailing in modern buildings, and the presence of heavy nonstructural masses in historical buildings. The novel retrofit technologies discussed in this paper are based on the use of non-conventional or relatively recent material systems where the reinforcement is in the form of continuous or chopped fibers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Building Failures)
Open AccessArticle Thermal Comfort in Transition Spaces
Buildings 2013, 3(1), 122-142; doi:10.3390/buildings3010122
Received: 28 November 2012 / Revised: 14 January 2013 / Accepted: 15 January 2013 / Published: 23 January 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (747 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Resource depletion and global warming dictate needs to reduce energy consumption, however energy used for the environmental space conditioning of buildings remains substantial; even in well-designed examples. Therefore the ways in which buildings are utilized, and occupant expectations of comfort in building [...] Read more.
Resource depletion and global warming dictate needs to reduce energy consumption, however energy used for the environmental space conditioning of buildings remains substantial; even in well-designed examples. Therefore the ways in which buildings are utilized, and occupant expectations of comfort in building environments should be researched to determine alternative means for optimizing performance. This paper deals with transition spaces (entrance foyers, circulation zones, lift lobbies, stairways and atria) and thermal comfort experiences. It both reviews existing reported research into comfort in such spaces, and introduces new information from a range of studies completed in recent years. It assesses the usefulness and applicability of design standards which exist, but which are primarily concerned with more permanently (rather than transitorily) occupied spaces within buildings. Three main categories of transition space are identified: entrance zones; circulation zones; and zones of longer residence-time such as atria. The analysis indicates that different design standards, or variations on existing standards, should be considered for application in each type of space. The outcomes of this work suggest opportunities to reduce environmental conditioning and therefore energy use in such spaces; spaces which can make up a significant fraction of the overall floor area/volume of workplace buildings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Design and Construction)
Open AccessArticle The 2011 Earthquake in Simav, Turkey and Seismic Damage to Reinforced Concrete Buildings
Buildings 2013, 3(1), 173-190; doi:10.3390/buildings3010173
Received: 6 November 2012 / Revised: 4 January 2013 / Accepted: 15 January 2013 / Published: 6 February 2013
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Abstract
Reinforced concrete buildings suffered significant damage in the region affected by the 29 May 2011 earthquake in Simav (Kutahya), Turkey. Typical building damage is classified and potential causes of damage are investigated. Reinforced concrete moment resisting frames with hollow brick infill walls [...] Read more.
Reinforced concrete buildings suffered significant damage in the region affected by the 29 May 2011 earthquake in Simav (Kutahya), Turkey. Typical building damage is classified and potential causes of damage are investigated. Reinforced concrete moment resisting frames with hollow brick infill walls are the most common structural system in and around the Simav city center while masonry construction is common in rural areas. Although the Simav earthquake, with a magnitude of 5.7 to 5.9, can be classified as a moderate earthquake, many buildings experienced damage varying from frequent diagonal cracking and brittle failure of infill walls to collapse or severe damage to frames due to short columns, soft stories or other reasons including insufficient or poor detailing of reinforcement. This study investigates and presents the seismicity of the region, characteristics of the measured ground motions, seismic load demands including response spectra, and damage mechanisms, potential causes and classification of observed damage in reinforced concrete buildings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Building Failures)
Open AccessArticle Avoiding the Possible Impact of Climate Change on the Built Environment: The Importance of the Building’s Energy Robustness
Buildings 2013, 3(1), 191-204; doi:10.3390/buildings3010191
Received: 28 November 2012 / Revised: 29 January 2013 / Accepted: 1 February 2013 / Published: 7 February 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (420 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Following years of research and design in architecture under bio-climatic, sustainable and passive-energy concepts, today’s buildings are often well designed and constructed, responding to determined climate conditions and the user’s requirements for comfort and, in some cases, they are integrated into the [...] Read more.
Following years of research and design in architecture under bio-climatic, sustainable and passive-energy concepts, today’s buildings are often well designed and constructed, responding to determined climate conditions and the user’s requirements for comfort and, in some cases, they are integrated into the urban environment. However, the lifetime of a building can be over 100 years and the climate is changing rapidly. This work investigates the impact of climate change future (2040 and 2070) on the energy consumption of residential buildings recently constructed, under three possible scenarios. The scenarios are created considering a low, medium or strong effect of global warming. Two types of buildings, with comparable consumption results of today, are investigated in three different cities around the world with a multi-zone type 56 of Trnsys simulation tool. At the end of the work, the concepts of energy robustness and global thermal effusivity of buildings are discussed as important strategies to reduce the possible impact of climate change on the built environment. The use of simulation tools to estimate the sensitivity of buildings is also analyzed, taking into consideration the recent goals of applying uncertainty and sensitivity analysis to building performance simulation science. Full article
Open AccessArticle Optimum Compressive Strength of Hardened Sandcrete Building Blocks with Steel Chips
Buildings 2013, 3(1), 205-219; doi:10.3390/buildings3010205
Received: 24 September 2012 / Revised: 5 December 2012 / Accepted: 29 January 2013 / Published: 18 February 2013
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Abstract
The recycling of steel chips into an environmentally friendly, responsive, and profitable commodity in the manufacturing and construction industries is a huge and difficult challenge. Several strategies designed for the management and processing of this waste in developed countries have been largely [...] Read more.
The recycling of steel chips into an environmentally friendly, responsive, and profitable commodity in the manufacturing and construction industries is a huge and difficult challenge. Several strategies designed for the management and processing of this waste in developed countries have been largely unsuccessful in developing countries mainly due to its capital-intensive nature. To this end, this investigation attempts to provide an alternative solution to the recycling of this material by maximizing its utility value in the building construction industry. This is to establish their influence on the compressive strength of sandcrete hollow blocks and solid cubes with the aim of specifying the range percent of steel chips for the sandcrete optimum compressive strength value. This is particularly important for developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and even Latin America where most sandcrete blocks exhibit compressive strengths far below standard requirements. Percentages of steel chips relative to the weight of cement were varied and blended with the sand in an attempt to improve the sand grading parameters. The steel chips variations were one, two, three, four, five, ten and fifteen percent respectively. It was confirmed that the grading parameters were improved and there were significant increases in the compressive strength of the blocks and cube samples. The greatest improvement was noticed at four percent steel chips and sand combination. Using the plotted profile, the margin of steel chips additions for the optimum compressive strength was also established. It is recommended that steel chip sandcrete blocks are suitable for both internal load bearing, and non-load bearing walls, in areas where they are not subjected to moisture ingress. However, for external walls, and in areas where they are liable to moisture attack after laying, the surfaces should be well rendered. Below ground level, the surfaces should be coated with a water proofing agent like bitumen and cement containing waterproofing agents be used in the manufacture, laying, and rendering of steel chip sandcrete blocks. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Eco-Refurbishment of a 19th Century Terraced House: Energy and Cost Performance for Current and Future UK Climates
Buildings 2013, 3(1), 220-244; doi:10.3390/buildings3010220
Received: 20 December 2012 / Revised: 25 January 2013 / Accepted: 30 January 2013 / Published: 21 February 2013
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (897 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The UK government, responding to concerns over climate change impacts, has undertaken to reduce CO2 emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. This scale of reduction will require major improvements in the energy efficiency of the existing UK building stock, [...] Read more.
The UK government, responding to concerns over climate change impacts, has undertaken to reduce CO2 emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. This scale of reduction will require major improvements in the energy efficiency of the existing UK building stock, which is the dominant consumer of fossil fuel-generated energy. Housing is a key sector, and since 70% of all current homes in the UK will still exist in 2050 then low carbon refurbishment is critical if CO2 reduction goals are to be met. This paper uses computer modeling to examine the annual operational energy performance, long term energy cost savings and internal thermal conditions for a 19th century terraced house that was eco-refurbished to near a Passivhaus standard. The dwelling was modeled for three locations (Edinburgh, Manchester and London) using current and future climate scenarios (2020s and 2050s under high carbon emission scenarios). Simulation results suggest that there would be very little diminution in heating demand in the future for the house with no refurbishment, whilst the eco-refurbishment produced a significant reduction in energy demand and CO2 emissions. Analysis of the payback period and net present value indicate that the economic optimum varies according to energy prices and that the high construction costs incurred for an eco-refurbishment to a near Passivhaus standard could not be justified in terms of a cost/benefit analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Design and Construction)
Open AccessArticle Hybrid Ventilation with Innovative Heat Recovery—A System Analysis
Buildings 2013, 3(1), 245-257; doi:10.3390/buildings3010245
Received: 11 January 2013 / Accepted: 17 February 2013 / Published: 22 February 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (729 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
One of the most important factors when low energy houses are built is to have good heat recovery on the ventilation system. However, standard ventilation units use a considerable amount of electricity. This article discusses the consequences on a system level of [...] Read more.
One of the most important factors when low energy houses are built is to have good heat recovery on the ventilation system. However, standard ventilation units use a considerable amount of electricity. This article discusses the consequences on a system level of using hybrid ventilation with heat recovery. The simulation program TRNSYS was used in order to investigate a ventilation system with heat recovery. The system also includes a ground source storage and waste water heat recovery system. The result of the analysis shows that the annual energy gain from ground source storage is limited. However, this is partly a consequence of the fact that the well functioning hybrid ventilation system leaves little room for improvements. The analysis shows that the hybrid ventilation system has potential to be an attractive solution for low energy buildings with a very low need for electrical energy. Full article
Open AccessArticle Energy and Environmental Performance of Multi-Story Apartment Buildings Built in Timber Construction Using Passive House Principles
Buildings 2013, 3(1), 258-277; doi:10.3390/buildings3010258
Received: 27 December 2012 / Revised: 31 January 2013 / Accepted: 17 February 2013 / Published: 4 March 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (612 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper presents energy and environmental performance analyses, a study of summer indoor temperatures and occupant behavior for an eight story apartment building, with the goal to combine high energy efficiency with low environmental impact, at a reasonable cost. Southern Portvakten building [...] Read more.
This paper presents energy and environmental performance analyses, a study of summer indoor temperatures and occupant behavior for an eight story apartment building, with the goal to combine high energy efficiency with low environmental impact, at a reasonable cost. Southern Portvakten building is built with prefabricated timber elements using passive house principles in the North European climate. Energy performance was analyzed through parametric studies, as well as monitored energy data, and complemented with analysis of occupant behavior during one year. Results show that airtight, low-energy apartment buildings can be successfully built with prefabricated timber elements in a cold climate. The monitored total energy use was 47.6 kWh/m2, excluding household electricity (revised to a normal year), which is considerably lower than of a standard building built today in Sweden—90 kWh/m2. However, the occupancy level was low during the analyzed year, which affects the energy use compared to if the building had been fully occupied. Environmental analysis shows that the future challenges lie in lowering the household and common electricity use, as well as in improving the choices of materials. More focus should also lie on improving occupant behavior and finding smart solar shading solutions for apartment buildings. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Sustainability Potentials of Housing Refurbishment
Buildings 2013, 3(1), 278-299; doi:10.3390/buildings3010278
Received: 29 January 2013 / Revised: 25 February 2013 / Accepted: 25 February 2013 / Published: 13 March 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (18938 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The benefits of choosing refurbishment over new build have recently been brought into focus for reducing environmental impacts of buildings. This is due to the fact that the existing buildings will comprise the majority of the total building stocks for years to [...] Read more.
The benefits of choosing refurbishment over new build have recently been brought into focus for reducing environmental impacts of buildings. This is due to the fact that the existing buildings will comprise the majority of the total building stocks for years to come and hence will remain responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions from the sector. This paper investigates the total potentials of sustainable refurbishment and conversion of the existing buildings by adopting a holistic approach to sustainability. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and questionnaires have been used to analyse the environmental impact savings (Co2e), improved health and well-being, and satisfaction of people living in refurbished homes. The results reported in the paper are based on a two year externally funded research project completed in January 2013. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Design and Construction)

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Chinese Climate and Vernacular Dwellings
Buildings 2013, 3(1), 143-172; doi:10.3390/buildings3010143
Received: 28 November 2012 / Revised: 11 January 2013 / Accepted: 17 January 2013 / Published: 31 January 2013
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Abstract
The industrial and economic expansion of China, particularly its rapid urbanization, has resulted in dramatic increased consumption of energy resources and the resulting environmental impacts at local, regional and global levels. Although a national program aimed at the technological development of sustainable [...] Read more.
The industrial and economic expansion of China, particularly its rapid urbanization, has resulted in dramatic increased consumption of energy resources and the resulting environmental impacts at local, regional and global levels. Although a national program aimed at the technological development of sustainable buildings with energy saving potential is ongoing, it is also appropriate to consult vernacular architectural tradition. This holds the potential to learn and adapt important cultural ideas developed over time on the art of balancing thermal comfort between climate and limited resources. This paper explores the five different climatic regions into which China is partitioned by the Chinese authorities: severe cold region, cold region, moderate region, hot summer and cold winter region, and hot summer and mild winter region. Analysis of each region covers the climate and its vernacular architecture with a special focus on how sustainability was addressed. Finally, regional climate scenario has been analyzed on the basis of data from Meteonorm V6.1 with special attention paid to passive design strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Design and Construction)

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