Free cooling strategies are gaining importance in design practice due to the increased risk of overheating in well-insulated buildings with high internal loads such as offices. The state of the art highlights that the most efficient passive solution for indoor temperature stabilization and control is the integration of thermal mass with an optimized ventilative cooling profile to enhance the thermal cycle of heat storage. Due to its cyclical behavior, thermal mass effects are difficult to predict and quantify with the traditional steady-state approach to building thermal performance. Dynamic thermal simulations help to assess a building’s behavior under transient situations, including the thermal mass influence. However, building codes usually include thermal simulations based on standard assumptions: typical meteorological year (TMY), standard occupancy, standard daily-based lighting and appliances profiles, and standard weekly-based occupancy. Thus, when assumptions change, the actual behavior of the building may vary consistently from the predicted conditions. In this paper, we focused on the ability of thermal mass to contrast the influence of variations from the standard assumptions, especially in relation to climate and ventilation profiles. The results show the necessity of encompassing different risk scenarios when evaluating a free cooling solution performance. Among the different scenarios simulated, natural ventilation misuse shows greater influence on the thermal indoor environment, especially if coupled with low thermal mass.
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