Abstract: Offices and retail spaces are among the most energy-intensive building typologies. Designing office buildings without proper consideration of their form, orientation, envelope, and other variables can lead to a considerable increase in energy usage. This research investigates how integrated usage of an atrium and courtyard can improve a building’s energy performance. Thermal performance of both atrium and courtyard spaces as well as their energy-efficient integrated usage in office buildings have been investigated within the scope of this research. DesignBuilder as an interface and EnergyPlus (based on ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) as analytical software have been used to investigate the thermal behavior of an atrium and courtyard in two stages. From the results it appeared that a courtyard with 40% window-to-wall ratio and triple glazing has the best energy performance, while those with single glazing and an 80% window-to-wall ratio represent maximum energy consumption in all climates. The findings also revealed that the integrated usage of a courtyard and atrium can save energy if it is used as a courtyard type of building during summer in all climates and if it is used as an atrium in the cold months. This research is original and will contribute to the literature, as it investigates the integrated usage of an atrium and courtyard with respect to energy efficiency. This research is expected to be beneficial to professionals and academics, especially with respect to the energy-efficient use of courtyards, atria, and their integrated modes. Furthermore, the findings can contribute to the sustainability performance of the built environment through an integrated atrium-courtyard building, resulting in minimal energy consumption.
Abstract: The development of “smart” residential thermostats—both in terms of wider connectivity and higher intelligence—has revealed great opportunity for energy conservation, as well as providing comfort and convenience. This paper focuses on the interaction design of such a novel system, and analyzed user requirements for input, output, and level of intelligence systematically through both in-depth interviews and a survey.
Abstract: Energy Efficient Building (EEB) design, construction, and operations require the development and sharing of building information among different individuals, organizations, and computer applications. The Representational State Transfer (RESTful) Building Information Modeling (BIM) web service is a solution to enable an effective exchange of data. This paper presents an investigation into the core RESTful web service requirements needed to effectively support the EEB project lifecycle. The requirements include information exchange requirements, distributed collaboration requirements, internal data storage requirements, and partial model query requirements. We also propose a RESTful web service design model on different abstraction layers to enhance the BIM lifecycle in energy efficient building design. We have implemented a RESTful Application Program Interface (API) prototype on a mock BIMserver to demonstrate our idea. We evaluate our design by conducting a user study based on the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). The results show that our design can enhance the efficiency of data exchange in EEB design scenarios.
Abstract: The study investigated the relationship between students’ perceived thermal discomfort and stress behaviours affecting their learning in lecture theatres in the humid tropics. Two lecture theatres, LTH-2 and 3, at the Niger Delta University, Nigeria, were used for the study. Two groups of students from the Faculties of Agriculture and Engineering and the Department of Technology Education constituted the population. The sample size selected through random sampling for Groups A and B was 210 and 370 students, respectively. Objective and self-report instruments were used for data collection. The objective instrument involved physical measurement of the two lecture theatres and of the indoor temperature, relative humidity and air movement. The self-report instrument was a questionnaire that asked for the students perceived indoor thermal discomfort levels and the effect of indoor thermal comfort level on perceived stress behaviours affecting their learning. The objective indoor environmental data indicated thermal discomfort with an average temperature of 29–32 °C and relative humidity of 78% exceeding the ASHARE  and Olgyay .The students’ experienced a considerable level of thermal discomfort and also perceived that stress behaviours due to thermal discomfort affected their learning. Further, there were no significant differences in the perceived thermal discomfort levels of the two groups of students in LTH-2 and 3. Furthermore, stress behaviours affecting learning as perceived by the two groups of students did not differ significantly. In addition, no correlation existed between the perceived indoor thermal discomfort levels and stress behaviour levels affecting learning for students in LTH-2, because the arousal level of the students in the thermal environment was likely higher than the arousal level for optimal performance [3,4]. However, a correlation existed in the case of students in LTH-3, which was expected because it only confirmed the widely-accepted view that stress behaviours exhibited by students in any learning can have a profound effect on learning. It was recommended that teaching-learning indoor environment should be thermally comfortable by providing adequate window openings with proper orientation and also by ensuring that the learning space only accommodated the required student capacity to reduce the stress behaviours that affect learning.
Abstract: This research concerns the design of an agricultural building with a high degree of sustainability, located in a farm in the south of the Tuscany region, Italy. The building, intended mainly as a wine cellar, offers innovative construction solutions of high deconstructability and has features of low environmental impact, economic competitiveness and constructive simplicity. In particular, the design of the basement cellar involves the use of gabions and stones for the realization of the foundations, the ground retaining walls and all other bearing walls. A different solution is adopted for the external wall which remains entirely above ground. It is also made by gabions, but it is externally covered with a coat of straw bales and is plastered with clay or lime. The roof-bearing structure is made of steel beams and galvanized steel sheets. A layer of fertile soil is arranged on the roof to form a green roof system. This research aims to spread the design criteria of deconstructable buildings, based on the use of natural materials with low environmental and economic impact. Where it is not possible to employ natural materials, reusable or recyclable materials are used.
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.