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Buildings 2016, 6(2), 13; doi:10.3390/buildings6020013

Envelope Thermal Design Optimization for Urban Residential Buildings in Malawi

Department of Land Management, Mzuzu University, Private Bag 201, Luwinga, Mzuzu 2, Malawi
Academic Editor: Adrian Pitts
Received: 2 December 2015 / Revised: 23 March 2016 / Accepted: 28 March 2016 / Published: 13 April 2016

Abstract

This study sought to optimize the envelope thermal design of free-running urban residential buildings in Malawi. It specifically set out to improve the urban residential buildings’ thermal comfort and suggest optimal envelope thermal design features for these buildings. The research study was primarily dependent on computer simulations in EnergyPlus to replicate the typical Malawian urban residential building’s thermal behaviour and then study the impacts of various envelope configurations on the thermal comfort conditions registered in the building. The simulation model was experimentally validated to check its appropriateness to the climatic design conditions prevalent in Malawi and out of the three major cities that were considered, the model was found to be appropriate for use in the two cities of Mzuzu and Lilongwe leaving out the city of Blantyre. The optimization methodology that was employed involved the use of orthogonal arrays, statistical analyses and the listing method. It was found that the optimal envelope thermal design, which registered up to 18% lower discomfort hours than that of the typical urban residential building, consists of a 50 mm concrete floor slab, 230 mm burnt brick walls with an external layer of 19 mm EPS, tiled roof with an internal layer of sarking and 50 mm EPS, double Low-E Glazing with a transparency ratio of 45% and 0.2408 m2 of adaptable operational surface area for the air bricks. Out of all the envelope features that were studied, air infiltration registered the most significant contribution towards the ultimate residential building thermal performance. It was demonstrated that controlled air infiltration through the use of operable air bricks whose operational surface area is adaptable can be very effective in enhancing the building’s comfort levels. It was further observed that excessive insulation of the building envelope generally has a detrimental effect on the indoor space thermal comfort levels. View Full-Text
Keywords: building envelope; thermal design; optimization; passive design; Malawi building envelope; thermal design; optimization; passive design; Malawi
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Kalua, A. Envelope Thermal Design Optimization for Urban Residential Buildings in Malawi. Buildings 2016, 6, 13.

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