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Buildings, Volume 7, Issue 1 (March 2017)

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Cover Story Photovoltaic semi-transparent materials (STPV) integrated into glazing offer good potential for [...] Read more.
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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Buildings in 2016
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 7; doi:10.3390/buildings7010007
Received: 12 January 2017 / Revised: 12 January 2017 / Accepted: 12 January 2017 / Published: 12 January 2017
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Abstract
The editors of Buildings would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2016.[...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review, Other

Open AccessArticle Monitoring a Pre-Normative Multi-Family Housing Case-Study in a Mediterranean Climate
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 1; doi:10.3390/buildings7010001
Received: 19 September 2016 / Revised: 11 December 2016 / Accepted: 15 December 2016 / Published: 23 December 2016
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Abstract
In Spain, a significant percentage of the residential building stock presents deficient indoor conditions regarding current energy standards, due to having been constructed before the Norma Básica de la Edificación in 1979 (NBE CT 79) regarding thermal conditions in buildings. Current environmental policies
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In Spain, a significant percentage of the residential building stock presents deficient indoor conditions regarding current energy standards, due to having been constructed before the Norma Básica de la Edificación in 1979 (NBE CT 79) regarding thermal conditions in buildings. Current environmental policies pursue a cut in energy consumption and seek improvements in indoor conditions by refurbishing current stock, mainly that constructed between 1950 and 1980. Before any retrofitting action, housing monitoring has become essential for a better understanding of real and passive environmental behavior. This paper aims to present the monitoring in hourly intervals, real-time and post-occupancy conditions of a residential building in Seville, built in the 1950s and belonging to national heritage. The results obtained show major discrepancies between thermal indoor data collected and comfort conditions, both in summer and winter, which are solved by the sporadic use of cooling and heating devices present in the dwellings, thus leading to less energy consumption than expected. This is a common occurrence in multi-family housing units from the Mediterranean arc: there are many periods of the year in which a vast number of the population lives in poor energy conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Building Refurbishment and Energy Performance)
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Open AccessArticle Investigating the Physical Characteristics of Non-Structural Lightweight Aggregate Blocks of Built with Region Materials
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 2; doi:10.3390/buildings7010002
Received: 12 October 2016 / Revised: 13 December 2016 / Accepted: 15 December 2016 / Published: 26 December 2016
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Abstract
Given the importance of light construction in terms of better performance of structure, in case of earthquake, reduction of life and financial casualties, as well as shortage of studies in this field, the present research studied building non-structural lightweight blocks using lightweight aggregates
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Given the importance of light construction in terms of better performance of structure, in case of earthquake, reduction of life and financial casualties, as well as shortage of studies in this field, the present research studied building non-structural lightweight blocks using lightweight aggregates of Scoria, Pumice and Leca. On the other hand, density, compressive strength, and water absorption volume of these blocks have been investigated in this research in order to replace traditional materials with them. The experiments’ results show that, due to hardness and strong texture, high mechanical resistance of their lightweight aggregate Scoria blocks have higher compressive strength and density but lower water absorption volume compared to Pumice and Leca lightweight aggregate blocks. Despite desirable compressive strength and lower density compared to the other two blocks, pumice blocks have higher water absorption volume, and they do not meet standards. This makes them less interesting. Among these Leca blocks with density of 1151.94 (kg/m3) below 2000 kg/m3 of Iran density standard of 7782 (28-day compressive strength of 2.57 MPa), higher than 2.5 MPa of Iran compressive strength standard of 7782 (and water absorption volume of 282.92 kg/m3) and below 288 kg/m3 of Iran water absorption volume standard of 7782 (as a non-load-bearing lightweight block), has been recognized desirable. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Rethinking of Critical Regionalism in High-Rise Buildings
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 4; doi:10.3390/buildings7010004
Received: 11 October 2016 / Revised: 20 December 2016 / Accepted: 26 December 2016 / Published: 30 December 2016
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Abstract
The character of height and density of newly high-rise cities, along with the force of globalization, have jeopardized the character of dwellings once entailing a regional flavor. The critical regionalism which serves as a resistant medium against placelessness and lack of identity in
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The character of height and density of newly high-rise cities, along with the force of globalization, have jeopardized the character of dwellings once entailing a regional flavor. The critical regionalism which serves as a resistant medium against placelessness and lack of identity in the International Style has focused more on mid-rise or low-rise solutions rather than providing direct high-rise resolutions. Additionally, high-rise endeavors are not compatible with critical regionalism theories. This has happened partly due to critical regionalism theories multi-facet character inherent in its dialectic structure. Thus, to remedy the inadvertency of texts in the discourse of architectural regionalism, the present study seeks rethinking of critical regionalism by focusing on the pathology of high-rise buildings in the issues pertaining to place and identity. Finally, the architectonic articulation to place-making and identity-giving is discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vertical Urbanism and Placemaking)
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Open AccessArticle Performance Evaluation of Well-Insulated Versions of Contemporary Wall Systems—A Case Study of London for a Warmer Climate
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 6; doi:10.3390/buildings7010006
Received: 19 November 2016 / Revised: 27 December 2016 / Accepted: 4 January 2017 / Published: 11 January 2017
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Abstract
Climate change and its consequences are of a great concern and the likely increasing temperature would add more dilemmas for the choice of passive design options. The performance of building envelopes is one of the key determinants of energy use and thermal comfort.
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Climate change and its consequences are of a great concern and the likely increasing temperature would add more dilemmas for the choice of passive design options. The performance of building envelopes is one of the key determinants of energy use and thermal comfort. This research presents an evaluation of commonly used construction systems (lightweight and heavyweight) with different levels of thermal mass. The performance of different construction combinations is quantified on the basis of their impact on thermal comfort and energy consumption for current and future time slices in London, UK where climate change impact is expected to be extreme. A flat model is examined as a case study to model the performance of the construction systems with low, medium and high level of thermal mass. The dynamic thermal simulation software used was DesignBuilder, which employs EnergyPlus as its calculation engine. In essence, this study establishes a new approach for assessing the performance of well-insulated contemporary construction systems on the basis of overall annual thermal comfort hours and energy consumption. Results indicate limited advantage of heavyweight construction systems in a changing climate. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle High Energy-Efficient Windows with Silica Aerogel for Building Refurbishment: Experimental Characterization and Preliminary Simulations in Different Climate Conditions
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 8; doi:10.3390/buildings7010008
Received: 29 November 2016 / Revised: 4 January 2017 / Accepted: 10 January 2017 / Published: 16 January 2017
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Abstract
The paper deals with the potential of high energy-efficient windows with granular silica aerogel for energy saving in building refurbishment. Different glazing systems were investigated considering two kinds of granular silica aerogel and different glass layers. Thermal transmittance and optical properties of the
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The paper deals with the potential of high energy-efficient windows with granular silica aerogel for energy saving in building refurbishment. Different glazing systems were investigated considering two kinds of granular silica aerogel and different glass layers. Thermal transmittance and optical properties of the samples were measured and used in building simulations. The aerogel impact on heat transfer is remarkable, allowing a thermal transmittance of 1.0–1.1 W/(m2·K) with granular aerogel in interspace only 15 mm in thickness. A 63% reduction in U-value was achieved when compared to the corresponding conventional windows, together with a significant reduction (30%) in light transmittance. When assembled with a low-e glass, the U-value reduction was lower (31%), but a moderate reduction in light transmittance (about 10%) was observed for larger granules. Energy simulations for a case study in different climate conditions (hot, moderate, and cold) showed a reduction in energy demand both for heating and cooling for silica aerogel glazing systems, when compared to the conventional ones. The new glazings are a suitable solution for building refurbishment, thanks to low U-values and total solar transmittance, also in warm climate conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Building Refurbishment and Energy Performance)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Energy Saving Assessment of Semi-Transparent Photovoltaic Modules Integrated into NZEB
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 9; doi:10.3390/buildings7010009
Received: 7 December 2016 / Revised: 12 January 2017 / Accepted: 18 January 2017 / Published: 24 January 2017
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Abstract
Photovoltaic semi-transparent materials (STPV) integrated into glazing systems can offer good potential for energy saving to buildings, influencing heating loads, cooling loads, and lighting, as well as electricity production. Moreover, with the new stringent regulations issued by various European countries, following the Energy
[...] Read more.
Photovoltaic semi-transparent materials (STPV) integrated into glazing systems can offer good potential for energy saving to buildings, influencing heating loads, cooling loads, and lighting, as well as electricity production. Moreover, with the new stringent regulations issued by various European countries, following the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD, 2010/31/EC), the building envelope, including the glazing elements, needs to have high thermal performance to guarantee Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB) behavior. This work presents an assessment of energy saving potential of 4 different types of STPV with respect to conventional double pane glass. Dye sensitized solar modules (DSM) and thin film modules were considered in the study. Simulations based on an IEA reference office building (STD) and on reference buildings prescribed by the new Italian building energy performance regulation (NZEB) were carried out. All the glazing peculiarities could be simulated using only one simulation tool, namely IDA ICE 4.7.1. Dye sensitized solar modules resulted as the best performing devices for all orientations and climate zones. The work also evidenced how the requirements of NZEB seem to be too stringent for insulation properties, especially for the climate zone of Rome. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Building Refurbishment and Energy Performance)
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Open AccessArticle Real-Time Monitoring of Occupants’ Thermal Comfort through Infrared Imaging: A Preliminary Study
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 10; doi:10.3390/buildings7010010
Received: 23 November 2016 / Revised: 1 January 2017 / Accepted: 19 January 2017 / Published: 4 February 2017
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Abstract
Thermally comfortable indoor environments are of great importance, as modern lifestyles often require people to spend more than 20 h per day indoors. Since most of the thermal comfort models use a variety of different environmental and personal factors that need to be
[...] Read more.
Thermally comfortable indoor environments are of great importance, as modern lifestyles often require people to spend more than 20 h per day indoors. Since most of the thermal comfort models use a variety of different environmental and personal factors that need to be measured or estimated, real-time and continuous assessment of thermal comfort is often not practically feasible. This work presents a cheap and non-invasive approach based on infrared imaging for monitoring the occupants’ thermal sensation and comfort in real time. Thanks to a mechatronic device developed by the authors, the imaging is performed on the forehead skin, selected because it is always exposed to the environment and, thus, facilitating the monitoring activity in a non-invasive manner. Tests have been performed in controlled conditions on ten subjects to assess the hypothesis that the forehead temperature is correlated with subjects’ thermal sensation. This allows the exploitation of this quantity as a base for a simple monitoring of thermal comfort, which could later be tuned with an extensive experimental campaign. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Thermal Conductivity of Straw Bales: Full Size Measurements Considering the Direction of the Heat Flow
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 11; doi:10.3390/buildings7010011
Received: 6 December 2016 / Revised: 20 January 2017 / Accepted: 25 January 2017 / Published: 5 February 2017
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Abstract
The thermal conductivity of straw bales is an intensively discussed topic in the international straw bale community. Straw bales are, by nature, highly heterogeneous and porous. They can have a relatively large range of density and the baling process can influence the way
[...] Read more.
The thermal conductivity of straw bales is an intensively discussed topic in the international straw bale community. Straw bales are, by nature, highly heterogeneous and porous. They can have a relatively large range of density and the baling process can influence the way the fibres are organised within the bale. In addition, straw bales have a larger thickness than most of the insulating materials that can be found in the building industry. Measurement apparatus is usually not designed for such thicknesses, and most of the thermal conductivity values that can be found in the literature are defined based on samples in which the straw bales are resized. During this operation, the orientation of the fibres and the density may not be preserved. This paper starts with a literature review of straw bale thermal conductivity measurements and presents a measuring campaign performed with a specific Guarded Hot Plate, designed to measure samples up to 50 cm thick. The influence of the density is discussed thoroughly. Representative values are proposed for a large range of straw bales to support straw-bale development in the building industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insulation Materials for Residential Buildings)
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Open AccessArticle Rough Set Theory for Real Estate Appraisals: An Application to Directional District of Naples
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 12; doi:10.3390/buildings7010012
Received: 22 November 2016 / Accepted: 4 February 2017 / Published: 8 February 2017
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Abstract
This paper proposes an application of Rough Set Theory (RST) to the real estate field, in order to highlight its operational potentialities for mass appraisal purposes. RST allows one to solve the appraisal of real estate units regardless of the deterministic relationship between
[...] Read more.
This paper proposes an application of Rough Set Theory (RST) to the real estate field, in order to highlight its operational potentialities for mass appraisal purposes. RST allows one to solve the appraisal of real estate units regardless of the deterministic relationship between characteristics that contribute to the formation of the property market price and the same real estate prices. RST was applied to a real estate sample (office units located in Directional District of Naples) and was also integrated with a functional extension so-called “Valued Tolerance Relation” (VTR) in order to improve its flexibility. A multiple regression analysis (MRA) was developed on the same real estate sample with the aim to compare RST and MRA results. The case study is followed by a brief discussion on basic theoretical connotations of this methodology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Real Estate Economics, Management and Investments)
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Open AccessArticle The Effectiveness of Thermal Insulation in Lightweight Steel-Framed Walls with Respect to Its Position
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 13; doi:10.3390/buildings7010013
Received: 15 December 2016 / Revised: 7 February 2017 / Accepted: 14 February 2017 / Published: 16 February 2017
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Abstract
Lightweight steel-framed (LSF) construction, given its advantages, has the potential to reach high standards in energy and environmental performance of buildings, such as nearly zero-energy buildings (nZEB). When compared with traditional construction, LSF system offers distinct benefits in such fields as sustainability, cost-effectiveness,
[...] Read more.
Lightweight steel-framed (LSF) construction, given its advantages, has the potential to reach high standards in energy and environmental performance of buildings, such as nearly zero-energy buildings (nZEB). When compared with traditional construction, LSF system offers distinct benefits in such fields as sustainability, cost-effectiveness, constructive process, and safety at work. Despite the benefits of this constructive system, the effect of thermal bridges in LSF elements, caused by the high thermal conductivity of the steel structure, can be a disadvantage. The excessive heat losses or gains through these thermal bridges are more relevant in buildings’ exterior envelope, such as facade walls. These building components’ thermal performance is crucial in the buildings’ overall energetic behaviour, with a direct impact on energy consumption and resulting monetary costs during their operational stage. In this work the influence of the thermal insulation position on its effectiveness is evaluated in LSF facade walls. For this purpose, several LSF wall types are assessed, namely cold, warm, and hybrid construction. The influence of thermal bridges instigated by the steel studs in the LSF walls’ overall thermal performance is evaluated as well. The computations are performed using specialized finite element software (THERM). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insulation Materials for Residential Buildings)
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Open AccessArticle Experimental Study on Use of Sound Absorption Treatment for Reduction of Environmental Sound Propagation and Reverberation in Staircases: A Case Study in Housing
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 14; doi:10.3390/buildings7010014
Received: 15 December 2016 / Revised: 9 February 2017 / Accepted: 14 February 2017 / Published: 18 February 2017
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Abstract
In recent years, many open-plan houses have been proposed not only for comfort reasons, but also as a place to engage in family life. However, in contrast to the fact that this kind of plan makes it easy for people to interact, the
[...] Read more.
In recent years, many open-plan houses have been proposed not only for comfort reasons, but also as a place to engage in family life. However, in contrast to the fact that this kind of plan makes it easy for people to interact, the daily life household sounds that occur inside the home may be perceived as noise. It is especially difficult to suppress the propagation of sound and reverberation in staircase and stairwell areas due to the absence of sound-absorbing furniture. In this study, we focused on addressing sound management within the staircase area in open-plan housing where sound absorption is particularly difficult. In order to suppress sound propagation on the upper and lower floors and the reverberation of sound, we placed a thin sound absorption panel on the wall, ceiling, and riser of the staircase. As a result, we were able to confirm that the propagation of sound on upper and lower floors can be suppressed by carrying out the sound absorption treatment on the staircase. Furthermore, we found that in stairway landing areas, the suppression effect of the propagation of sound varies depending on the position of the sound source and the positioning of the sound absorption panel, and that there is a position for placing the sound absorption panel where the sound-absorbing effect is effective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insulation Materials for Residential Buildings)
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Open AccessArticle A Multi-Parametric Mathematical Approach on the Selection of Optimum Insulation Thicknesses in Buildings
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 15; doi:10.3390/buildings7010015
Received: 10 January 2017 / Revised: 13 February 2017 / Accepted: 15 February 2017 / Published: 21 February 2017
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Abstract
Detailed simulations have indicated optimum insulation thicknesses of walls’ insulation for a variety of cases. Simplified analytical relations have also been proposed to the same aim, allowing the extraction of more general results, with limited accuracy however, as imposed by mathematical simplicity requirements.
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Detailed simulations have indicated optimum insulation thicknesses of walls’ insulation for a variety of cases. Simplified analytical relations have also been proposed to the same aim, allowing the extraction of more general results, with limited accuracy however, as imposed by mathematical simplicity requirements. In this sense, a variety of important parameters are ignored, such as: the existence of any glazing at the wall, the absorptance of the wall, the base temperature of the heated space which the referred to wall belongs to and its variation with insulation, the thermal characteristics (thermal capacitance, total heat losses coefficient) and the heat and solar gains of the heated space. An alternative analytical approach is consequently developed here, incorporating all above parameters and in this context accessing the wall as part of the whole heated space, instead of considering it solely as an isolated fabric element. The approach consists of a set of two implicit equations which are easily solved, and enables the investigation of the effects of all principal and secondary parameters on the optimum thickness. The ignorance even of the secondary of these parameters has proved to lead to significant errors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insulation Materials for Residential Buildings)
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Open AccessArticle Buildings Energy Performance in a Market Comparison Approach
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 16; doi:10.3390/buildings7010016
Received: 16 December 2016 / Revised: 14 February 2017 / Accepted: 15 February 2017 / Published: 22 February 2017
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Abstract
The current regulations on the energy certification of buildings represent for the real estate market and the building sector a real cultural revolution. In recent years, the focus on the energy efficiency of buildings has grown exponentially. It is therefore necessary that the
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The current regulations on the energy certification of buildings represent for the real estate market and the building sector a real cultural revolution. In recent years, the focus on the energy efficiency of buildings has grown exponentially. It is therefore necessary that the property valuations and methodologies used for this purpose bear in mind the energy quality of buildings. This study aims to determine the contribution of an energy performance feature to the real estate property value. This information can help, on the one hand, to understand the energy savings and the corresponding savings income in the property management and, on the other, to control the air pollution from CO2 emission reduction. The energy performance hedonic price and the CO2 emission price are appraised in the Market Comparison Approach (MCA). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Real Estate Economics, Management and Investments)
Open AccessArticle The Role of Vernacular Construction Techniques and Materials for Developing Zero-Energy Homes in Various Desert Climates
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 17; doi:10.3390/buildings7010017
Received: 17 November 2016 / Revised: 7 January 2017 / Accepted: 14 February 2017 / Published: 27 February 2017
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Abstract
Hot desert regions, like Saudi Arabia, are very challenging in terms of building energy consumption. The role of the housing sector in the country is critical as it accounts for half of the total national electricity consumption. It is important to apply sustainable
[...] Read more.
Hot desert regions, like Saudi Arabia, are very challenging in terms of building energy consumption. The role of the housing sector in the country is critical as it accounts for half of the total national electricity consumption. It is important to apply sustainable energy concepts in this sector, and the application of Zero-Energy Homes (ZEHs) could be an appropriate option in this regard. In ZEHs, the energy demand needs to be reduced significantly before employing renewable energy, and a way to achieve that is through applying vernacular construction techniques and materials. This study aims to investigate the role of courtyard, mushrabiyah and adobe construction for the development of ZEHs in the five main Saudi climatic zones represented by Dhahran, Guriat, Riyadh, Jeddah and Khamis Mushait. A base house is designed, modelled and compared with measured electricity values. The comparison between the base house and the houses adapted with these techniques and materials is undertaken based on the annual electricity demand and the maximum power demand, and findings reveal that mushrabiyah can reduce them by 4% and 3%, respectively, while adobe can reduce them by 6% and 19%, respectively. Courtyards are found to be not helpful in terms of energy saving. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Towards a Platform of Investigative Tools for Biomimicry as a New Approach for Energy-Efficient Building Design
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 19; doi:10.3390/buildings7010019
Received: 31 October 2016 / Revised: 17 January 2017 / Accepted: 20 February 2017 / Published: 6 March 2017
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Abstract
Major problems worldwide are environmental concern and energy shortage along with the high consumption of energy in buildings and the lack of sources. Buildings are the most intensive energy consumers, and account for 40% of worldwide energy use, which is much more than
[...] Read more.
Major problems worldwide are environmental concern and energy shortage along with the high consumption of energy in buildings and the lack of sources. Buildings are the most intensive energy consumers, and account for 40% of worldwide energy use, which is much more than transportation. In next 25 years, CO2 emissions from buildings are projected to grow faster than in other sectors. Thus, architects must attempt to find solutions for managing buildings energy consumption. One of new innovative approaches is Biomimicry, which is defined as the applied science that derives inspiration for solutions to human problems through the study of natural designs’ principles. Although biomimicry is considered to be a new approach for achieving sustainable architecture, but there is still not enough access for architects to make use of it, especially to implement biomimetic design strategy in architectural project. The main objective of this paper is to raise awareness of architects making use of biomimetic strategies with better accessible facility. We propose to create the tool setting relationship to formalize and bridge between biological and architectural knowledge, along with investigative tools to investigate the ability of reducing energy consumption by applying the biomimetic strategies on efficient-energy building design. This article hypothetically proposes an investigative tool based on Bayesian networks for testing the rapid result of choices from natural devices according to specific multi-criteria requirements in each case study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomimetics in Sustainable Architectural and Urban Design)
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Open AccessArticle Experimental Analysis of a Heat Cost Allocation Method for Apartment Buildings
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 20; doi:10.3390/buildings7010020
Received: 23 January 2017 / Revised: 24 February 2017 / Accepted: 2 March 2017 / Published: 6 March 2017
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Abstract
The correct estimate of individual thermal energy consumptions, and consequently, a fair heat cost allocation among the residents of apartment buildings with centralized heating systems, represents an important driving force towards energy saving, energy efficiency and the reduction of pollutant emissions. Nowadays, in
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The correct estimate of individual thermal energy consumptions, and consequently, a fair heat cost allocation among the residents of apartment buildings with centralized heating systems, represents an important driving force towards energy saving, energy efficiency and the reduction of pollutant emissions. Nowadays, in those contexts where direct heat meters cannot be used because of the layout of the hot water distribution system, electronic Heat Cost Allocators (HCAs) have the highest market share for the assessment of individual thermal energy consumptions. The uncertainty associated with the parameterization of heat cost allocation devices and the installation effects arising in real applications can negatively affect the accuracy of these devices, as far as the estimation of the individual fractions of thermal energy consumption is concerned. This work deals with the experimental analysis of a novel heat cost allocation method for apartment buildings and its comparison with conventional HCAs. The method allows the indirect estimation of the thermal energy exchanged by water radiators without the need for surface temperature measurements, reducing some of the drawbacks associated with the on-site installation. The experimental analysis was carried out in a full-scale central heating system test facility available at the Italian National Metrology Institute (INRIM) and characterized by SI-traceable direct heat meters installed on each water radiator. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Biomimetic Urban Design: Ecosystem Service Provision of Water and Energy
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 21; doi:10.3390/buildings7010021
Received: 2 December 2016 / Revised: 16 February 2017 / Accepted: 3 March 2017 / Published: 8 March 2017
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Abstract
This paper presents an ecosystem biomimicry methodology for urban design called ecosystem service analysis. Ecosystem services analysis can provide quantifiable goals for urban ecological regeneration that are determined by site specific ecology and climate of an urban area. This is important given the
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This paper presents an ecosystem biomimicry methodology for urban design called ecosystem service analysis. Ecosystem services analysis can provide quantifiable goals for urban ecological regeneration that are determined by site specific ecology and climate of an urban area. This is important given the large negative environmental impact that most cities currently have on ecosystems. If cities can provide some of their own ecosystem services, pressure may be decreased on the surrounding ecosystems. This is crucial because healthier ecosystems enable humans to better adapt to the impacts that climate change is currently having on urban built environments and will continue to have in the future. A case study analyzing two ecosystem services (provision of energy and provision of water) for an existing urban environment (Wellington, New Zealand) is presented to demonstrate how the ecosystem services analysis concept can be applied to an existing urban context. The provision of energy in Wellington was found to be an example of an ecosystem service where humans could surpass the performance of pre-development ecosystem conditions. When analyzing the provision of water it was found that although total rainfall in the urban area is almost 200% higher than the water used in the city, if rainwater harvested from existing rooftops were to meet just the demands of domestic users, water use would need to be reduced by 20%. The paper concludes that although achieving ecological performance goals derived from ecosystem services analysis in urban areas is likely to be difficult, determining site and climate specific goals enable urban design professionals to know what a specific city should be aiming for if it is to move towards better sustainability outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomimetics in Sustainable Architectural and Urban Design)
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Open AccessArticle Computational Combination of the Optical Properties of Fenestration Layers at High Directional Resolution
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 22; doi:10.3390/buildings7010022
Received: 19 November 2016 / Accepted: 7 March 2017 / Published: 10 March 2017
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Abstract
Complex fenestration systems typically comprise co-planar, clear and scattering layers. As there are many ways to combine layers in fenestration systems, a common approach in building simulation is to store optical properties separate for each layer. System properties are then computed employing a
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Complex fenestration systems typically comprise co-planar, clear and scattering layers. As there are many ways to combine layers in fenestration systems, a common approach in building simulation is to store optical properties separate for each layer. System properties are then computed employing a fast matrix formalism, often based on a directional basis devised by JHKlems comprising 145 incident and 145 outgoing directions. While this low directional resolution is found sufficient to predict illuminance and solar gains, it is too coarse to replicate the effects of directionality in the generation of imagery. For increased accuracy, a modification of the matrix formalism is proposed. The tensor-tree format of RADIANCE, employing an algorithm subdividing the hemisphere at variable resolutions, replaces the directional basis. The utilization of the tensor-tree with interfaces to simulation software allows sharing and re-use of data. The light scattering properties of two exemplary fenestration systems as computed employing the matrix formalism at variable resolution show good accordance with the results of ray-tracing. Computation times are reduced to 0.4% to 2.5% compared to ray-tracing through co-planar layers. Imagery computed employing the method illustrates the effect of directional resolution. The method is supposed to foster research in the field of daylighting, as well as applications in planning and design. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Settlers’ Guide: Designing for Resilience in the Hinterlands
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 23; doi:10.3390/buildings7010023
Received: 6 February 2017 / Revised: 6 February 2017 / Accepted: 28 February 2017 / Published: 10 March 2017
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Abstract
There has often been a mutually beneficial relationship between cities and their rural hinterlands. The Kapiti region outside the city of Wellington in New Zealand is a prime example: it once provided Wellington’s food, water and cultural diversity for both Māori and European
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There has often been a mutually beneficial relationship between cities and their rural hinterlands. The Kapiti region outside the city of Wellington in New Zealand is a prime example: it once provided Wellington’s food, water and cultural diversity for both Māori and European settlers. However, productivity-driven agriculture and extensive dormitory-suburbanization have affected significant parts of this once-abundant hinterland. Food production is becoming more mono-cultural, water quality is degrading, ecosystems’ biodiversity is disappearing, provincial town centres are shrinking, emigrating youth are leaving unbalanced demographics, Māori are increasingly disassociating their culture from their traditional lands and natural disasters are causing more impact—all of which is making Kapiti less resilient, and severing the once-healthy city-hinterland relationship. Our work on future settlement opportunities in Kapiti proposes alternatives, using experimental design-led research methods to develop speculative architectural and landscape architectural schemes. The schemes are framed by some of the spatial attributes of resilience: diversity, complexity, redundancy, interconnectivity and adaptability. Collectively, the work reveals design strategies that have a potential to rebuild hinterlands’ culture, town centres, housing, agriculture, community and ecosystems and to recalibrate the broader relationship between hinterlands and metropolitan systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Building in Rural Areas)
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Open AccessArticle Bioclimatic Analysis in Pre‐Design Stage of Passive  House in Indonesia
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 24; doi:10.3390/buildings7010024
Received: 14 October 2016 / Accepted: 6 March 2017 / Published: 10 March 2017
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Abstract
The objective of this study is to investigate the climate characteristics of Indonesian regions using an Olgyay Bioclimatic chart, a Givoni–Milne Bioclimatic chart and a Mahoney Table as the pre‐design stage in the development of a passive house design standard for residential house
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The objective of this study is to investigate the climate characteristics of Indonesian regions using an Olgyay Bioclimatic chart, a Givoni–Milne Bioclimatic chart and a Mahoney Table as the pre‐design stage in the development of a passive house design standard for residential house construction in Indonesia. Jakarta was the city chosen for deep analysis, because it represents most of the Indonesian regions in terms of temperature and relative humidity. The Olgyay Bioclimatic chart showed that the climate needs a high wind velocity to counteract the vapor pressure and shading in order to reduce solar gain entering the building. The Givoni–Milne Bioclimatic chart proposed natural ventilation and shading devices, while the Mahoney Table recommends open spaces for protection against hot wind, rooms single‐banked and permanent provision for air movement. The composite size of the opening at body height is better to allow the wind to counter the high levels of humidity and temperature. Heavy walls and roofs are suggested, as well as the provision of protection devices for the high amount of rainfall. Energy simulation was also done to investigate the effectiveness of the passive strategy proposed by the bioclimatic analysis. These results give a contribution as the indispensable basis for the development of a passive house standard in Indonesia. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Nearly Zero Energy Standard for Non-Residential Buildings with high Energy Demands—An Empirical Case Study Using the State-Related Properties of BAVARIA
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 25; doi:10.3390/buildings7010025
Received: 3 January 2017 / Revised: 7 March 2017 / Accepted: 10 March 2017 / Published: 15 March 2017
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Abstract
The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) 2010 calls for the Nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB) Standard for new buildings from 2021 onwards: Buildings using “almost no energy” are powered by renewable sources or by the energy produced by the building itself. For
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The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) 2010 calls for the Nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB) Standard for new buildings from 2021 onwards: Buildings using “almost no energy” are powered by renewable sources or by the energy produced by the building itself. For residential buildings, this ambitious new standard has already been reached. But for other building types, this goal is still far away. The potential of these buildings to meet a nZEB Standard was investigated by analyzing ten case studies, representing non-residential buildings with different uses. The analysis shows that the primary characteristics common to critical building types are a dense building context with a very high degree of technical installation (such as hospital, research, and laboratory buildings). The large primary energy demand of these types of buildings cannot be compensated by building- and property-related energy generation, including off-site renewables. If the future nZEB Standard were to be defined with lower requirements because of this, the state-related properties of Bavaria suggest that the real potential energy savings available in at least 85% of all new buildings would be insufficiently exploited. Therefore, it would be more useful to individualize the legal energy verification process for new buildings, to distinguish critical building types such as laboratories and hospitals from the other building types. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Valuation of Real Estate Investments through Fuzzy Logic
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 26; doi:10.3390/buildings7010026
Received: 8 January 2017 / Revised: 3 March 2017 / Accepted: 13 March 2017 / Published: 15 March 2017
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Abstract
This paper aims to outline the application of Fuzzy Logic in real estate investment. In literature, there is a wide theoretical background on real estate investment decisions, but there has been a lack of empirical support in this regard. For this reason, the
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This paper aims to outline the application of Fuzzy Logic in real estate investment. In literature, there is a wide theoretical background on real estate investment decisions, but there has been a lack of empirical support in this regard. For this reason, the paper would fill the gap between theory and practice. The fuzzy logic system is adopted to evaluate the situations of a real estate market with imprecise and vague information. To highlight the applicability of the Possibility Theory, we proceeded to reconsider an example of property investment evaluation through fuzzy logic. The case study concerns the purchase of an office building. The results obtained with Fuzzy Logic have been also compared with those arising from a deterministic approach through the use of crisp numbers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Real Estate Economics, Management and Investments)

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Open AccessFeature PaperReview Thermochromic Oxide-Based Thin Films and Nanoparticle Composites for Energy-Efficient Glazings
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 3; doi:10.3390/buildings7010003
Received: 24 November 2016 / Revised: 16 December 2016 / Accepted: 20 December 2016 / Published: 29 December 2016
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Abstract
Today’s advances in materials science and technology can lead to better buildings with improved energy efficiency and indoor conditions. Particular attention should be directed towards windows and glass facades—jointly known as “glazings”—since current practices often lead to huge energy expenditures related to excessive
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Today’s advances in materials science and technology can lead to better buildings with improved energy efficiency and indoor conditions. Particular attention should be directed towards windows and glass facades—jointly known as “glazings”—since current practices often lead to huge energy expenditures related to excessive inflow or outflow of energy which need to be balanced by energy-intensive cooling or heating. This review article outlines recent progress in thermochromics, i.e., it deals with materials whose optical properties are strongly dependent on temperature. In particular, we discuss oxide-based thin surface coatings (thin films) and nanoparticle composites which can be deposited onto glass and are able to regulate the throughput of solar energy while the luminous (visible) properties remain more or less unaltered. Another implementation embodies lamination materials incorporating thermochromic (TC) nanoparticles. The thin films and nanocomposites are based on vanadium dioxide (VO2), which is able to change its properties within a narrow temperature range in the vicinity of room temperature and either reflects or absorbs infrared light at elevated temperatures, whereas the reflectance or absorptance is much smaller at lower temperatures. The review outlines the state of the art for these thin films and nanocomposites with particular attention to recent developments that have taken place in laboratories worldwide. Specifically, we first set the scene by discussing environmental challenges and their relationship with TC glazings. Then enters VO2 and we present its key properties in thin-film form and as nanoparticles. The next part of the article gives perspectives on the manufacturing of these films and particles. We point out that the properties of pure VO2 may not be fully adequate for buildings and we elaborate how additives, antireflection layers, nanostructuring and protective over-coatings can be employed to yield improved performance and durability that make TC glazings of considerable interest for building-related applications. Finally, we briefly describe recent developments towards TC light scattering and draw some final conclusions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Building Refurbishment and Energy Performance)
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Open AccessReview Estimation and Minimization of Embodied Carbon of Buildings: A Review
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 5; doi:10.3390/buildings7010005
Received: 18 November 2016 / Revised: 19 December 2016 / Accepted: 22 December 2016 / Published: 4 January 2017
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Abstract
Building and construction is responsible for up to 30% of annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, commonly reported in carbon equivalent unit. Carbon emissions are incurred in all stages of a building’s life cycle and are generally categorised into operating carbon and embodied
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Building and construction is responsible for up to 30% of annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, commonly reported in carbon equivalent unit. Carbon emissions are incurred in all stages of a building’s life cycle and are generally categorised into operating carbon and embodied carbon, each making varying contributions to the life cycle carbon depending on the building’s characteristics. With recent advances in reducing the operating carbon of buildings, the available literature indicates a clear shift in attention towards investigating strategies to minimize embodied carbon. However, minimizing the embodied carbon of buildings is challenging and requires evaluating the effects of embodied carbon reduction strategies on the emissions incurred in different life cycle phases, as well as the operating carbon of the building. In this paper, the available literature on strategies for reducing the embodied carbon of buildings, as well as methods for estimating the embodied carbon of buildings, is reviewed and the strengths and weaknesses of each method are highlighted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact of Buildings—Linking Impacts and Tools)
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Other

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Open AccessTechnical Note The Acoustics of the Double Elliptical Vault of the Royal Palace of Caserta (Italy)
Buildings 2017, 7(1), 18; doi:10.3390/buildings7010018
Received: 13 January 2017 / Revised: 15 February 2017 / Accepted: 21 February 2017 / Published: 2 March 2017
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Abstract
This work investigates the acoustic characteristics of the double elliptical vault, which overlooks the Grand Staircase of the Royal Palace of Caserta (Italy). The Royal Palace was built by the architect Luigi Vanvitelli in the Seventeenth Century and it is the largest royal
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This work investigates the acoustic characteristics of the double elliptical vault, which overlooks the Grand Staircase of the Royal Palace of Caserta (Italy). The Royal Palace was built by the architect Luigi Vanvitelli in the Seventeenth Century and it is the largest royal building in Italy. The double elliptical vault presents a great scenography effect. Inside the vault, on the planking level, musicians used to play for the king and his guests when the royal procession, going up the grand staircase, entered the royal apartments, creating astonishment among the guests who heard the music without understanding from where it was coming. Since the musicians were inside the vault, the long reverberation made the listeners perceive the vault to be enveloped by the music. To investigate this effect, the acoustic characteristics of the double vault were measured, putting the sound source on the planking level of the vault, while the microphones were put along the staircase and in the vestibule towards the royal apartments. Finally, the spatial distribution of several acoustic parameters is evaluated also using architectural acoustic simulations. Full article
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