Special Issue "Advanced Innovative Solutions for Final Design in Terms of Energy Sustainability of Nearly/Net Zero Energy Buildings (nZEB)"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 February 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Domenico Mazzeo
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Mechanical, Energy and Management Engineering (DIMEG), University of Calabria, P. Bucci 46/C, 87036 Rende (CS), Italy
Interests: phase change materials; green roofs; solar-wind hybrid systems; dynamic behavior of building envelopes; nZEB; heat pumps; air conditioning systems; indoor thermal comfort; electric vehicles; solar and wind source modeling; thermal storage; multi-objective optimization
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Giuseppe Oliveti
Website
Co-Guest Editor
Department of Mechanical, Energy and Management Engineering (DIMEG), University of Calabria, P. Bucci 46/C, 87036 Rende (CS), Italy
Interests: energy efficiency in buildings; dynamic thermal behavior of building walls; solar and wind radiation modeling; solar energy; wind energy; infrared heat exchange in buildings; thermal energy storage; phase change materials; mathematical modelling of heat transfer; heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning; electric vehicles
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

EU Directives have reinforced both studies and research for the development of innovative technological solutions to improve building energy performance and to achieve a reduction in total energy consumption, with benefits in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as in economic terms.

In order to realize nearly/net Zero Energy Buildings (nZEB), sustainability has become a significant aspect and has been integrated into the design, construction and operation of buildings. For this reason, innovative sustainable technological solutions have been proposed to improve the thermal performance of the building envelope and to increase the use of energy from renewable sources. For example, they concern: (i) the stratigraphy of walls and the windows, through the use of phase change materials, of new silica aerogel-based insulating, of green vertical system and of green and cool roofs, etc.; (ii) the integration of systems that employ renewable heat sources, namely solar radiation, wind, geothermal, etc.

The aim of sustainable buildings is the ability to integrate and adapt buildings to environmental factors and climate conditions and convert them for space and comfort. The selection of proper sustainable building materials or technologies is an important issue in the building design. A correct selection should lead to high durability, energy efficiency, recyclability, maintainability, economic saving, and use of local materials to reduce the environmental impact of construction.

In this context, there is a lack of common understanding in the field and this Special Issue aims to collect contributions regarding the evaluation of the sustainability of nZEB, in terms of improvement of energy and thermal dynamic behavior of the building envelope, of thermal comfort in the indoor environment, of energy produced from renewable sources, of conventional fossil fuels savings, of decreasing of emissions of greenhouse gases, and of economic savings.

The studies are expected to address:

  • energy and dynamic thermal behavior of sustainable technologies/materials integrated or unintegrated in new, existing, renovated and historic buildings;

  • new simplified or articulated mathematical models implemented in new simulation tools or in existing ones;

  • definition of new metrics or parameters for the evaluation of the energy, environmental, and economic impact.

The studies could be addressed with mathematical model or by experimental investigation or preferably with both of them and should regard local contexts, with the support of case studies, or general procedures that could be applied to every technology and to every climate condition.

I believe that this Special Issue may help bridge the gap between sustainability and improvement of the energy efficiency of building.

Thank you for your contributions.

Dr. Domenico Mazzeo
Prof. Giuseppe Oliveti
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Net Zero Energy Building

  • Sustainable innovative technologies

  • Wall stratigraphies

  • Dynamic thermal behavior

  • Renewable technologies

  • Energy performance

  • Environmental and economic impact

  • New metrics

Published Papers (14 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Energy-Saving Potential of Applying Prefabricated Straw Bale Construction (PSBC) in Domestic Buildings in Northern China
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3464; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083464 - 24 Apr 2020
Abstract
The Prefabricated Straw Bale Construction (PSBC) has been proven as one of the most efficient construction methods to achieve low-energy buildings with low environmental impacts. This research presents analysis of the rationale for using straw bale constructions in northern China and a discussion [...] Read more.
The Prefabricated Straw Bale Construction (PSBC) has been proven as one of the most efficient construction methods to achieve low-energy buildings with low environmental impacts. This research presents analysis of the rationale for using straw bale constructions in northern China and a discussion of feasible constructions of PSBC to meet the local building codes following evaluations of potential energy performance of domestic buildings with PSBC in severe cold regions and cold regions in China. The results show that the buildings with PSBC reduce both heating and cooling energy uses, as well as heating intensities across the severe cold and cold regions, compared to the domestic buildings with conventional constructions. The findings of this research will contribute to reducing energy consumption in building industries in China. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Decrepit Building Monitoring Solution for Zero Energy Building Management Using PLC and Android Application
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 1993; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051993 - 05 Mar 2020
Abstract
Since power line communication (PLC) technology has been considered a platform technology for smart metering, this study introduces an analogous system technology for the PLC-based monitoring systems in zero energy building management. This technology allows a system operator or an operation center to [...] Read more.
Since power line communication (PLC) technology has been considered a platform technology for smart metering, this study introduces an analogous system technology for the PLC-based monitoring systems in zero energy building management. This technology allows a system operator or an operation center to monitor, calculate, or manage power use remotely through the existing power line so that individual suppliers will be able to grasp the present condition of power use and respond to any unexpected incidents. As in any country, many old buildings in Korea are repaired to be used for 40–50 years or even longer since constructing new ones is expensive. Because remodeling old buildings is not only expensive but also generates construction waste, repairing is the preferred alternative in many cases. With the expectation that the proposed platform technology will be one of the promising technologies for sustainable building, its uninterrupted power usage monitoring and remote power control/management functions will be quite useful for economizing power with convenience. A system with such a PLC-based design and algorithm can be quite scalable as well. As the major contribution of this study, a solution suitable for decrepit buildings or apartments has been developed by using the PLC technology, and the test bed experiment was conducted for it. The result showed that the solution worked flexibly and efficiently. Since it is impossible to install a new network especially in the case of decrepit buildings, PLC must be used through the existing power line. Thus, a decrepit building monitoring system has been proposed in this study for a sustainable building. The proposed solution was simulated with OPNET simulation first. Following the mounting of the actual PLC product and development of a monitoring application to complete the platform/solution, it is being tested at the test bed in a decrepit building. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Integrated Dedicated Outdoor Air System to Optimize Energy Saving
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 1051; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031051 - 02 Feb 2020
Abstract
Outdoor air supply is required to maintain good indoor air quality (IAQ). For tropical or subtropical regions, warm and humid outdoor air would cause excess air-conditioning energy use. This study has proposed an integrated dedicated outdoor air system (IDOAS), which integrates the enthalpy [...] Read more.
Outdoor air supply is required to maintain good indoor air quality (IAQ). For tropical or subtropical regions, warm and humid outdoor air would cause excess air-conditioning energy use. This study has proposed an integrated dedicated outdoor air system (IDOAS), which integrates the enthalpy exchange and outdoor air cooling into a unitary system. IDOAS could operate independently of central air-conditioning systems thus saving tremendous piping cost and energy needed to deliver chilled water to outdoor air unit in a conventional centralized system. An experimental unit of IDOAS was built to prove this novel concept. Enthalpy exchange efficiency was tested to be about 44%. The test results show that about 44% of energy needed to condition the outdoor air can be saved. A reverse Rankine refrigeration cycle was integrated to cool the outdoor air. Due to this integrated configuration, the air passing through the condenser would be at a lower temperature. The consequent lower refrigerant condensing temperature would improve the cooling cycle efficiency. The cooling coefficient of performance (COP) was improved by about 46%. In addition, the outdoor air could be conditioned to a lower humidity before being supplied to space, which would improve the thermal comfort. The test results of this novel IDOAS show that it could provide good air quality at lower energy use. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Numerical Study of Balancing between Indoor Building Energy and Outdoor Thermal Comfort with a Flexible Building Element
Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6654; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11236654 - 25 Nov 2019
Abstract
This study analyzed the environmental role of a flexible canopy as a microclimate modifier in balancing indoor energy demands and outdoor thermal comfort. Flexible building elements are often installed in traditional buildings, depending on the local climate in southern Europe. The architectural performance [...] Read more.
This study analyzed the environmental role of a flexible canopy as a microclimate modifier in balancing indoor energy demands and outdoor thermal comfort. Flexible building elements are often installed in traditional buildings, depending on the local climate in southern Europe. The architectural performance of a canopy was analyzed using several environmental software packages (Ecotect, Rayman, WinAir, DaySim, and EDSL TAS). Coupling methods were applied to determine the environmental influence of the attached building element, a canopy with fixed and operable panes in different orientations and locations. The results showed that the flexible canopy played a crucial role in reducing indoor energy demands (heating and electricity for lighting) and increasing outdoor thermal comfort under the canopy area. Outdoor thermally comfortable conditions ranging between 13 and 29 °C in the canopy space could be enhanced by 56.3% over the entire year by manipulating a flexible canopy, compared with a fixed canopy with 90% transparency in London. The flexible canopy with higher transparency helped increase outdoor thermal comfort in Glasgow, while one with lower transparency showed better performance during summer in London. The findings of this research will help broaden the range of architectural elements used in buildings. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Experimental Confirmation of the Reliability of Fanger’s Thermal Comfort Model—Case Study of a Near-Zero Energy Building (NZEB) Office Building
Sustainability 2019, 11(9), 2461; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11092461 - 26 Apr 2019
Cited by 10
Abstract
Designing and constructing near zero energy buildings (NZEBs) is a challenge not only from a structural point of view, but also from the point of view of ensuring appropriate climate comfort for users. The standards describing how to ensure comfort were created in [...] Read more.
Designing and constructing near zero energy buildings (NZEBs) is a challenge not only from a structural point of view, but also from the point of view of ensuring appropriate climate comfort for users. The standards describing how to ensure comfort were created in times when the challenges of building ZEB/NZEB were not yet explored and energy issues were not as important as they are today. Therefore, the assessment of the thermal and climatic comfort of people living and working in such buildings requires a new or revised approach to the methodology of thermal comfort assessment. In this article, the authors present the results of a thermal comfort study based on measurements and thermal sensory tests. Testing was carried out in an experimental office building (passive standard). The main goal of the experiment was to compare the thermal comfort measurement method based on the ISO-Fanger model with the actual comfort results obtained by the panellists in the model office condition. The tests allowed the lowest operating temperature providing thermal comfort (predicted mean vote (PMV) = 0 and −0.5) to be determined. Sensory tests were conducted using three types of questions. The results were compared to the other researchers’ findings. It was noted that the panellists showed better thermal comfort sensation at lower temperatures than would result from the traditional Fanger distribution, so the authors proposed the experimental function of percentage of dissatisfied (PPD) = f(PMV). The authors hope that it contributed to the actual state of knowledge as a “small and specific scale” validation of the existing thermal comfort model. The results also revealed that the method of heating has an influence on the subjective thermal sensation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Optimization of Visual Comfort and Energy Consumption Induced by Natural Light Based on PSO
Sustainability 2019, 11(1), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11010049 - 21 Dec 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
This paper presents the “model construction method”, an optimization method and industrial internet of things (IIoT) technology that is proposed for nearly zero energy buildings (nZEB), providing a comfortable visual environment by only utilizing natural light while improving its induced indoor air conditioner [...] Read more.
This paper presents the “model construction method”, an optimization method and industrial internet of things (IIoT) technology that is proposed for nearly zero energy buildings (nZEB), providing a comfortable visual environment by only utilizing natural light while improving its induced indoor air conditioner energy consumption (ACEC). The incident light is sampled by light sensors, and this data is sent to the cloud server. The visual comfort and indoor ACEC, both of which are induced by incident light, are combined as the optimization objective, and the area of windows covered by curtains is used as the optimal parameter in the particle swarm optimization (PSO). The visual comfort and indoor ACEC induced by incident light are modeled, and the construction method is independent of the geographical location. Five modes are defined for applications with different purposes, the performance of which are investigated and compared carefully. The result shows that natural light could provide comfortable visual comfort, while the ACEC induced by it could be reduced effectively. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Energy and Hydraulic Performance of a Vegetated Roof in Sub-Mediterranean Climate
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3473; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103473 - 28 Sep 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
Widespread overbuilding, the prevalence of asphalt surfaces on green areas, and the use of building materials with low heat dissipation abilities are among the main causes of Urban Heat Islands. Within urban areas, evapotranspiration and shade from plants can significantly reduce the UHI [...] Read more.
Widespread overbuilding, the prevalence of asphalt surfaces on green areas, and the use of building materials with low heat dissipation abilities are among the main causes of Urban Heat Islands. Within urban areas, evapotranspiration and shade from plants can significantly reduce the UHI phenomenon, help in stormwater management, and reduce building energy consumption. The goal of this work is to analyze the hydraulics and energy performances of an experimental extensive green roof at the University of Calabria (Italy) in Mediterranean area. This study confirmed that green roofs significantly mitigate storm water runoff generation in terms of runoff volume reduction and peak attenuation, and improve the thermal performance of buildings and the internal comfort of indoor spaces. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Novel Dynamic Insulation System for Windows
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2907; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082907 - 16 Aug 2018
Abstract
One of the measures to reduce energy consumption in buildings in Nordic countries is limiting the window area, as windows contribute to significantly higher heat loss than walls during a long hot season. This conflicts with user needs for daylight and views out, [...] Read more.
One of the measures to reduce energy consumption in buildings in Nordic countries is limiting the window area, as windows contribute to significantly higher heat loss than walls during a long hot season. This conflicts with user needs for daylight and views out, especially in buildings situated in dense urban areas. The purpose of the project was to test if dynamic insulation can be used to reduce heat loss through windows during periods when view out is not needed. The paper presents a new dynamic insulation system for windows in a form of an exterior sliding shutter. The development of the system started from an existing poorly insulating sliding door system that has been equipped with vacuum insulation panels and re-designed according to the new purpose. The new system was both numerically simulated using THERM and tested in full-scale in a Hot-box apparatus at the laboratory of SINTEF Building and Infrastructure. The results are promising and encourage further development towards a commercial product. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Study on Policy Marking of Passive Level Insulation Standards for Non-Residential Buildings in South Korea
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2554; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072554 - 20 Jul 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
This study presented a methodology and process to establish a passive level for policy making of building energy in South Korea. A passive level in Korea specified in the 2017 Roadmap for non-residential buildings, which was 15 kWh/m2·year, was defined as [...] Read more.
This study presented a methodology and process to establish a passive level for policy making of building energy in South Korea. A passive level in Korea specified in the 2017 Roadmap for non-residential buildings, which was 15 kWh/m2·year, was defined as the heating energy requirement to strengthen the building energy saving design standards, which were typical building energy regulations in Korea. This study also presented insulation standards of roofs, floors, outer walls, and windows in Pyeongchang, Seoul, Gwangju, and Jeju, which were represented cities of four zones in Korea (Middle 1, Middle 2, Southern, and Jeju). Furthermore, the study results were extended to 66 cities around the nation to calculate the heating energy requirements and a severely cold region was added to existing three regions (Middle, Southern, and Jeju) to extend this to four regions (Middle 1, Middle 2, Southern, and Jeju). Afterwards, insulation standards for four represented regions were presented to derive a measure that minimized an energy loss through outer walls or windows in buildings. Finally, this study derived that a return of investment can be achieved in 10 years, which was determined through the comprehensive economic feasibility analysis due to strengthening insulation performances, proving the rationalization of the legal strengthening. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Consumers’ Willingness to Pay for Net-Zero Energy Apartment in South Korea
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1564; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051564 - 14 May 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
In South Korea, buildings account for more than 25% of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the government aims to make zero energy buildings mandatory from 2025, onward. For the housing sector, the government has recently built and operated a pilot net-zero [...] Read more.
In South Korea, buildings account for more than 25% of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the government aims to make zero energy buildings mandatory from 2025, onward. For the housing sector, the government has recently built and operated a pilot net-zero energy apartment (NZEA) and plans to expand it to several cities. This article attempts to obtain information about the consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for the NZEAs. To this end, households’ additional WTP for the NZEAs over a conventional apartment was investigated, applying the contingent valuation (CV) approach. The data on the WTP were gathered from a CV survey of 1000 interviewees and analyzed, employing a dichotomous choice question and the spike model, respectively. The mean value of the additional WTP is obtained as KRW 0.46 million (USD 424) per m2, which is statistically significant. This value corresponds to 17.0% of the conventional apartment price per m2 (KRW 2.76 million, USD 2436). It can be concluded that the households in South Korea place a significant value on a NZEA over a conventional apartment. In addition, we have investigated the characteristics of consumers which affect the probability that consumers accept additional payment of an amount of money for NZEA over a conventional apartment, finding that higher income earners, higher education, and male consumers have a higher probability. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Analysis of Heating and Cooling Loads of Electrochromic Glazing in High-Rise Residential Buildings in South Korea
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1121; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041121 - 09 Apr 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
This study compares the impact of the recently developed electrochromic glazing technology on load reduction by comparing it with the double-glazing and shading devices that are sold commercially for high-rise residential buildings in Korea. These buildings are similar to large office buildings in [...] Read more.
This study compares the impact of the recently developed electrochromic glazing technology on load reduction by comparing it with the double-glazing and shading devices that are sold commercially for high-rise residential buildings in Korea. These buildings are similar to large office buildings in terms of their high window-to-wall ratio. The energy consumption of such buildings was simulated using an analytical model of a high-rise residential building. The patterns between the heating and cooling loads were found to be similar to that of office buildings, in that the cooling load was considerably higher than the heating load. This study hypothesizes that the load reduction performance of electrochromic glazing with variable solar control and high solar radiation rejection is superior to that of existing double-glazing products and shading devices. This hypothesis was tested by analyzing the cooling and heating loads of buildings with different types of double glazings. Bleached electrochromic glazing exhibited lower transmittance than colored glass double glazing, low-e double glazing, and double glazing with a shading device, and is thus not effective in reducing heating load. Colored electrochromic glazing provided higher solar radiation rejection than colored glass double glazing and low-e double glazing, and thus is effective in reducing cooling load. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Phase Change Material (PCM) Application in a Modernized Korean Traditional House (Hanok)
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 948; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10040948 - 24 Mar 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Social and policy interest in the modernization and revitalization of the Korean traditional house (Hanok) has increased recently in Korea but its low thermal performance is one of its weaknesses. A feasibility study was conducted to evaluate the suitability of a [...] Read more.
Social and policy interest in the modernization and revitalization of the Korean traditional house (Hanok) has increased recently in Korea but its low thermal performance is one of its weaknesses. A feasibility study was conducted to evaluate the suitability of a Phase Change Material (PCM) in a modernized Hanok. The research method involved a test of the heating and cooling load reduction and Predicted Mean Vote (PMV) analysis for human comfort using an Esp-r simulation adopting multi variable PCM types as the building wall composite. The influence of PCMs on reducing the building energy load was assessed as a criterion for upgrading materials and infiltration to the passive house regulation. Compared to the base case, the heating and cooling load reduction ratio were as follows: Case 1 (old-Hanok), 10%; Case 2 (Korean Building Act), 21%; and Case 3 (passive house regulation), 53%. The optimal phase change temperatures of the PCMs were Case 1 (24–26 °C), Case 2 (23–25 °C) and Case 3 (24–26 °C). PMV analysis showed that the use of a PCM can narrow the comfort range and centralize the optimal point. Therefore, the following contents can be presented as the design and material guidelines. First, the optimal PCM temperature can vary according to the combination of materials and local climate. In addition, the infiltration and insulation should be verified and a certain portion of them should be secured. Finally, the addition of insulation to a passive house level should be considered actively using a PCM as a supplement for net zero energy building (nZEB). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Influence of Adaptive Comfort Models on Energy Improvement for Housing in Cold Areas
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 859; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030859 - 18 Mar 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
The evaluation of construction standards using adaptive thermal comfort models has a great impact on energy consumption. The analysis of a user’s climate adaptation must be one of the first steps in the search for nearly/net Zero Energy Buildings (nZEB). The goal of [...] Read more.
The evaluation of construction standards using adaptive thermal comfort models has a great impact on energy consumption. The analysis of a user’s climate adaptation must be one of the first steps in the search for nearly/net Zero Energy Buildings (nZEB). The goal of this work is to analyze the standards recommended by the Chile’s Construction with Sustainability Criteria for the building of housing, applying the ASHRAE 55-2017 and EN 15251:2007 adaptive comfort models in social housing. The study produces concrete recommendations associated with construction strategies, to increase the number of hours the user finds themselves with acceptable thermal comfort levels, without repercussions for energy consumption. Sixteen parametric series were evaluated with a dynamic simulation of the most common prototype of social housing in the Bio-Bio Region. The study shows that thermal comfort conditions can be increased through a combination of improvement measures compared to the ECCS standard (Construction Standards with Sustainability Criteria): 27.52% in the case of applying EN 15251:2007 and 24.04% in the case of ASHRAE 55-2017. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Solar Heat Gain Reduction of Ventilated Double Skin Windows without a Shading Device
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010064 - 28 Dec 2017
Cited by 4
Abstract
With global efforts to strengthen various energy-saving policies for buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in South Korea, new laws and regulations have been in force since May 2015 to install shading devices in public buildings and to include the solar heat gain [...] Read more.
With global efforts to strengthen various energy-saving policies for buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in South Korea, new laws and regulations have been in force since May 2015 to install shading devices in public buildings and to include the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) reduction performance of shading devices in the evaluation of building performance. By making a ventilated air layer outer glass and inner glass to lower the temperatures of the air layer and glass surface, it is possible to reduce the amount of heat flowing into the building while maintaining the same level of light transmission as plain window systems. This study proposes a double-skin façade window with a 20 mm ventilated air cavity, and assumes that insolation inflow indoors would be reduced through ventilation in the air cavity. The artificial solar lab test results show that the SHGC can be lowered through ventilation by 28% to 52.9%. Additionally, in an outdoor test cell experiment, the results show that the mean temperature was 0.6 K and the peak temperature was 0.9 K lower with ventilation in the air cavity than that without ventilation in the air cavity. Full article
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