Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Sheltering buildings to control their climates

A new concept in climate control has been achieved. This is the micro-climatic envelope, where buildings are enclosed in a shelter. This shell reacts to the external climate and thus controls the internal climate. It was designed and tested in three prototype buildings and rigorous climatic studies were completed. The enclosure provides both cost and energy savings.

The engineers and architects worked together to design a novel way to use space in building constructions through a climatic envelope. The key point was to measure the climatic shift which occurs in constructing a shelter around the buildings. They also considered the energy performance and gas consumption of the systems. Three theoretical pilot projects were completed at different sites in Northern Europe. All were at the same latitudes, but each had a different climate. The first was an educational centre in Germany and it was in a continental climate. The second was a research centre in France. It was found in an intermediate climate. The third and final prototype was housing in Dublin which was exposed to an Atlantic climate. The partners optimized the parameters of the envelope with respect to height, air seal, ventilation and shading. The envelope proved to operate as a climate moderating device. This means that the buildings experience a more temperate climate in the winter. Overheating in the summer is prevented by shading, ventilation, water evaporation cooling and vegetation. This results in a reduced energy consumption of up to 30 % and up to 24% less carbon dioxide emitted. The buildings also do not experience the same degree of wind chill factor as they would normally. Condensation problems can be combated with draining water basins.

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