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III

Sanja Stevanovi1
Marija Pavlii2
Aleksandra Marinkovi3



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DETERMINING OPTIMAL COMBINATION OF PASSIVE SOLAR


DESIGN PARAMETERS IN NOVI SAD
Abstract: With growing awareness for the need to lesser a reliance on fossil fuels and to increase the use
of renewable energy for heating buildings, passive solar design techniques again gain in importance in
building design. Passive solar design involves the appropriate object orientation, the proper sizing,
positioning and energy efficiency of windows, summer shading of windows and thermal mass in order to
better use available solar energy to reduce heating needs in winter, while maintaining the thermal
comfort of occupants during summer. The aim of this study is to identify the optimal combination of these
parameters on the case study of a one-family home in Novi Sad, by estimating the heating and cooling
energy needs for different parameter combinations with simulations in RETScreen software. The results
of this study can be used as recommendations in the construction of new houses, and to some extent, in
the renewal of existing homes.
Key words: Passive solar design, Building orientation,Windows sizing and efficiency, Window summer
shading

1
Research Associate, Faculty of Sciences and Mathematics, University of Ni, Viegradska 33, 18000 Ni, Serbia, e-mail:
sanja_stevanovic@yahoo.com
2
Teaching Assistant, Faculty of Technical Sciences, University of Pritina, Kneza Miloa 7, 38220 Kosovska Mitrovica,
Serbia, e-mail: mpavlicic@gmail.com
3
Teaching Assistant, School of Higher Technical Professional Education, Aleksandra Medvedeva 20, 18000 Ni, Serbia, email: alexytea@yahoo.com

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1. INTRODUCTION
Passive solar design involves the proper orientation of buildings and proper location and surface area
for windows, as well as the correct use of energy efficient windows, shading, thermal mass and envelope
insulation to reduce both heating and cooling energy demand. The primary elements in passive solar
heating systems are windows. Glass has the beneficial property of transmitting solar radiation allowing
energy from the sun to enter the building and warm the interior spaces. Glass is, however, opaque to
thermal (long-wave) radiation, thus heat is not as easily transmitted back outdoors. This greenhouse
effect is particularly useful for supplying heating energy in the winter. Clearly, the larger the windows,
the more sunlight will enter the building. However, windows are not as thermally insulating as the
building walls. A passive solar design should optimize window surface area, orientation and thermal
properties to increase the energy input from the sun and minimise heat losses to the outside, while
ensuring occupant comfort.
Our goal here is to study the influence of different passive design options on the heating and cooling
energy load of a small, two-storey house located in Novi Sad. Having in mind that the most influential
factor on the heating and cooling energy load are the thermal properties of building envelope, we have
chosen to work with two different envelope types the one that represents the current building practice in
Serbia, so-called demit-facade, and another one which is close to passive house standard and offers
much better insulation properties. Our main hypothesis is that the better insulated house will enable the
use of larger window surface area, hence allow more natural daylight within the house, without increasing
its energy needs. We are also interested in determining whether the continental climate of Novi Sad
allows for the use of significantly larger windows in the most optimal energy configuration. For the
evaluation of the annual heating and cooling energy load, we use RETScreen software [1].
Similar studies have been considered earlier in the literature. The impact of different kinds of glazing
systems (two double and two triple glazings), window size (from 16% to 41% of window to floor area
ratio), orientation of the main windowed facade and internal gains on winter and summer energy need and
peak loads of a well insulated residential building in four different European cities Paris, Milan, Nice
and Rome has been evaluated in [2]. The best orientation of the building, windows size, thermal
insulation thickness from energetic, economic and environmental point of view for typical residential
building located in Mediterranean region have been discussed in [3]. The insulation thickness of the walls
and roof, the window type, the thickness of an internal thermal mass wall, and the night ventilation air
change rate were optimised for a simple model of a detached house in Sydney in [4].
2. RETSCREEN SOFTWARE
The RETScreen Energy Efficiency Model can be used to evaluate the energy production (or savings),
life-cycle costs and greenhouse gas emissions reduction and financial performance associated with
passive solar designs and/or energy efficiency measures. The model is intended for low-rise residential
applications, and it applies in any location where there is a significant heating load. Basically, the model
can be used to determine how the more efficient windows and better insulated building envelope affect
building energy use. The calculation of solar gains to a building, and the amount of heat lost by
conduction is relatively complex, dependent upon the solar radiation and outdoor temperature, as well as
the thermal properties of the windows and building envelope. The most accurate analysis is to compute
these heat transfer on an hourly basis based on detailed characteristics of the building. However, hourly
data is rarely available for performing a detailed analysis. Simplifying assumptions of RETScreen include
calculating heat loss and gain based on monthly average solar radiation levels and outdoor temperature, as
opposed to hour-by-hour data. The utilisation of the solar heat gains in reducing heating demand is based
on a method developed by Barakat and Sander [5], with window thermal properties adjustments based on
the size of the window using an approach of Baker and Henry [6]. While some margin of error is
introduced by simplifying the models, comparison with more complex software models shows that the
RETScreen model performs accurately enough to be an acceptable pre-feasibility tool.
The RETScreen model was tested against HOT2-XP [7], a version of HOT2000 detailed hourly
energy analysis software, to assess the accuracy of the calculated energy flow by simulated the same,
typical Canadian house with two different glazing types. RETScreen underestimated the benefit of the
window upgrade by 18%, a difference acceptable at the pre-feasibility stage. The second evaluation was
to see how RETScreen ranked the energy performance of windows, compared to that predicted by the

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Energy Rating (ER) method [8], which is a Canadian standard that was developed based on hourly energy
simulations. RETScreen has closely matched the ER systems in terms of ranking window performance.
3. CASE STUDY PARAMETERS
The possible parameter values selected for the case study are listed in the following subsections. Their
choice reflect the options that are either available in Serbia or widely accepted in building practices.
3.1. Location and climate data
Location of the house is in Novi Sad, with latitude 45 15 north and longitude 19 51 east. Climate
data is available in RETScreen, where air temperature, relative humidity, daily solar radiation on
horizontal surface, wind speed, heating degree-days and cooling degree-days are based on ground
measurements, while the atmospheric pressure and earth temperature are based on NASA global
satellite/analysis data.
3.2. House design
The house is intended for four-person family. The outer dimensions of the house are: 10m x 6m in the
basis, two stories with a total 6m height. The house designs, with three different window surface areas,
are represented in Figures 1, 2 and 3.

Figure 1. House design with 12m2 of south oriented windows.

Figure 2. House design with 21m2 of south oriented windows.

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Figure 3. House design with 30m2 of south oriented windows.

We have considered two options for a building envelope: one that represents a current building
practice in Serbia and another one that represents a well-insulated house that to some extent approaches
passive building standard, obtained more-or-less by simply adding an extra layer of insulation to a
standard wall. This additional layer of insulation consists of expanded polystyrene (EPS) on walls, which
is a popular insulation material and produced by several factories in Serbia, as well as extruded
polystyrene (XPS) on the ground floor and the flat roof.
The structure of the ground floor, outer walls and roofing for both the standard and well-insulated
building envelope are shown in Table 1.
Table 1. The structure of floors, walls and roofs in standard and well-insulated building envelopes.

Building component
Ground floor

Flooring U-value
Walls

Walls U-value
Roofing

Roofing U-value

Standard envelope
Ceramic tiles
Cement screed
Vapor barrier
Expanded polystyrene (EPS)
Protective concrete
Waterproofing
Concrete
Gravel
0.509 W/m2/C
Cement plaster
Expanded polystyrene (EPS)
Brick multiple cores
Cement stucco
0.489 W/m2/C
Gravel
Extruded polystyrene (XPS)
Concrete
Brick multiple cores
Cement stucco
0.488 W/m2/C

Thickness Well-insulated envelope


1.5 cm
Ceramic tiles
5 cm
Cement screed
Waterproofing
5 cm
Concrete
4 cm
Extruded polystyrene (XPS)
0.5 cm
Gravel
12 cm
10 cm
0.171 W/m2/C
0.5 cm
Cement plaster
5 cm
Expanded polystyrene (EPS)
19 cm
Brick multiple cores
2 cm
Cement stucco
0.166 W/m2/C
10 cm
Gravel
5 cm
Extruded polystyrene (XPS)
4 cm
Concrete
16 cm
Brick multiple cores
1.5 cm
Cement stucco
0.167 W/m2/C

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Thickness
1.5 cm
5 cm
10 cm
20 cm
10 cm

0.5 cm
20 cm
19 cm
2 cm
10 cm
20 cm
4 cm
16 cm
1.5 cm

In RETScreen simulation runs, the temperature space heating set point was 20C, while the
temperature space cooling set point was 26C. In agreement with local customs in Novi Sad, a house is
heated with natural gas, with seasonal efficiency of 75%, while air conditioners are used for cooling, with
seasonal coefficient of performance 3.25.
Air change rate was selected to be 0.5 ach for both the standard and well-insulated building, so that the
ventilation leaks and natural infiltriration do not interfere with the influence of studied building
parameteres on the heating and cooling energy loads.
3.3. Building orientation
Building orientation is an important parameter for the heating and cooling energy load of buildings.
Naturally, the south side of the building is the one receiving solar energy in the Northern hemisphere and
mostly influencing the performance of a passive solar design. However, our goal was also to test the
sensitivity and the influence of the deviation of the buildings south side from true south to the energy
needs. In that respect, we have tested three different house orientations: towards true south
(azimuth = 0), towards the south-east (azimuth = -30) and towards the south-west (azimuth = +30).
3.4. Window types
One of the most important design parameters in passive solar design is the proper choice of windows
frame and glazing type, sizes and shading options. For this study, three different glazing types were
considered: double clear glazing, triple clear glazing and triple, low-emissivity glazing. Double glazing is
a current building standard in Serbia, while triple glazing is rarely found among residential buildings. The
framing for all three glazing types is taken to be aluminum with thermal break, so that only glazing type
influences the energy loads. The U-values and the solar heat gain coefficients of these three window types
are given in Table 2.
Table 2. The parameters of studied window types.

Window type
Double glazing, clear
Triple glazing, clear
Triple glazing, low-e

U-value (W/m2/C)
3.42
2.60
2.44

Solar heat gain coefficient


0.66
0.59
0.40

3.5. South-facing windows sizes


Since the size of south windows is more important than the size of windows on other three sides, we
have opted to fix the size of windows on the north side of the house to 0.72m2 (this is the total size of
north-oriented windows on both stories) and those on the east and the west side of the building to 2.80m2
each. The smallest size of north-oriented windows reduces the heat loss through windows, while a
relatively small size of west side windows is used because the building is typically warmer at the end of
the day and likely needs less solar energy for heating in the afternoon.
This is also in line with our goal to determine the largest possible size of south-facing windows that
still provides a substantial decrease in the heating and cooling energy needs. We have tested three
different choices for the total size of south-facing windows: 12m2, 21m2 and 30m2. The smallest choice of
12m2, together with the windows sizes at remaining facades, satisfies the regulatory minimum of 1/7 of
total floor area needed to ensure proper daylighting, while the other two choices are supposed to provide
more natural daylight within the house.
3.6. Summer shading of south-facing windows
Due to the large size of south-facing windows in all scenarios, we have also considered the option of
adequately shading south windows to reduce the amount of unwanted solar heat gain during the summer
months, which would increase the cooling energy load or make a building uncomfortably warm in
summer. Since the shading is provided by terrace roof above the windows, the shading coefficient was
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chosen to be 41%, in order to account for the morning and late afternoon sun which cannot be shaded.
Thus, this represents the average shading factor during summer months. There were no shading during
winter months (the shading coefficient is 0%) in order to study the influence of solar heat gain in space
heating.
Windows on other sides (east, west and north) were not shaded, as the eastern and western sun are
typically low and shading from low sunrays would also block the views from the house. Moreover, the
window sizes at the east and west building side are low compared to the south windows, thus their
influence on heating and cooling load is considered to be much lower than the influence of south
windows.
4. SIMULATION RESULTS
A total of 108 parameter value combinations were simulated with RETScreen. To resume material
from previous subsections, the following parameter choices were iterated:
Two values for building envelope insulation: standard and well-insulated;
Three glazing types: double clear, triple clear and triple low-emissivity glazing;
Three south windows sizes: 12m2, 21m2 and 30m2;
Three building orientations: south (azimuth = 0), south-east (azimuth = -30) and south-west
(azimuth = +30);
Shading of south windows during summer monts: present or not present.
The first important observation is that the impact of the building orientation on the total heating and
cooling energy needs is not too high the energy needs of south-east or south-west oriented house are at
most 2.18% larger than energy needs of south oriented house, ceteris paribus. This is an important finding
for the architects, as it provides enough freedom to orient the building in accordance to neighboring
buildings or structures, without too much sacrifice on the energy needs.
Table 3. The cooling and heating energy needs for standard envelope and well-insulated envelope

Glazing
type

Southfacing
windows
size

Summer
shading

Double,
clear

12 m2

no
yes
no
yes
no
yes
no
yes
no
yes
no
yes
no
yes
no
yes
no
yes

21 m2
30 m2
Triple,
clear

12 m2
21 m2
30 m2

Triple,
low-e

12 m2
21 m2
30 m2

Standard
envelope,
cooling energy
(electricity,
MWh)
2.675
2.163
3.686
2.789
4.696
3.416
2.432
1.974
3.323
2.522
4.214
3.069
1.875
1.565
2.491
1.948
3.108
2.332

Standard
envelope,
heating energy
(natural gas,
m3)
1,179.5
1,179.5
1,209.6
1,209.6
1,283.6
1,283.6
1,131.5
1,131.5
1,125.3
1,125.3
1,172.1
1,172.1
1,237.2
1,237.2
1,180.9
1,180.9
1,187.7
1,187.7

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Well-insulated
envelope,
cooling energy
(electricity,
MWh)
2.414
1.902
3.432
2.536
4.451
3.170
2.171
1.713
3.070
2.269
3.968
2.824
1.614
1.304
2.238
1.695
2.862
2.087

Well-insulated
envelope,
heating energy
(natural gas,
m3)
730.7
730.7
826.8
826.8
940.2
940.2
673.6
673.6
741.2
741.2
826.4
826.4
701.3
701.3
740.3
740.3
803.5
803.5

Other design parameters have far greater impact on the heating and cooling energy needs compared to
the building orientation. From that reason, we have shown in Table 3 the cooling energy needs (in MWh)
and heating energy needs (in m3 of natural gas) estimated by RETScreen for south orientation only. These
estimates offer the following insights:
Summer shading of south-facing windows appears to be the single most important parameter
influencing the cooling energy needs the presence of shading reduces the cooling energy
needs between 16.5% and 28.8%. This reduction is somewhat greater for well-insulated
building envelope.
With the shading present, compared with the standard envelope ceteris paribus, the wellinsulated envelope reduces the cooling energy needs by 7.1-13.2% for double clear and triple
clear glazing, and by 10.5-16.6% for triple, low-emissivity glazing.
The well-insulated envelope substantially decreases the heating energy needs compared with
the standard envelope: this reduction is between 26.8-38.0% for double clear glazing, between
29.5-40.5% for triple clear glazing and between 32.3-43.3% for triple, low-emissivity glazing.
For well-insulated envelope, the difference in the heating energy needs between triple clear
glazing and triple, low-emissivity glazing is almost negligible up to 4.1%; however, the
difference in the cooling energy needs is clearly in favor of triple, low-emissivity glazing
which reduces the cooling energy by a whopping 23.9-27.8%! These ratios have similar
values for the standard envelope as well.
The increase in the south-facing windows surface area ceteris paribus leads to significant
increases in both the cooling and the heating energy needs in all considered scenarios (except
for the standard envelope with triple clear glazing when taking 21m2 surface area instead of
12m2; however, the difference in this particular case is negligibly small).
5. CONCLUSIONS
The difference in the heating and the cooling energy needs is negligible for deviations in building
orientation up to 30 from the south, which is an important finding, as it gives the architect the freedom to
comply with urban requirements when positioning the building.
Summer shading turns out to be the single economically most important parameter, as its effect on
reducing the cooling energy needs (by 310-1280kWh annually) far exceeds its costs.
The simulations further reveal that the climate of Novi Sad does not allow the south-facing windows
to be much larger than the minimum regulatory area necessary to ensure proper daylighting of the house.
Having in mind that the triple, low-emissivity glazing outperforms the triple clear glazing in the
cooling energy needs, while both request similar heating energy needs, our final recommendation when
designing new houses is to combine the well-insulated envelope with the triple, low-emissivity glazing in
the continental climate of Novi Sad. The south-facing windows necessarily have to be shaded from the
summer sun, while their optimum size in this case study turns out to be 12m2.
6. REFERENCES
[1] RETScreen software online manual, passive solar heating project analysis. RETScreen
International Clean Energy Decision Support Centre, Ottawa, Canada, 2005, pp. 361-383.
Available at www.retscreen.net.
[2] A. Gasparella, G. Pernigotto, F. Cappelletti, P. Romagnoni, P. Baggio, Analysis and modelling of
window and glazing systems energy performance for a well insulated residential building, Energy
and Buildings 43 (2011), 1030-1037.
[3] S. Jaber, S. Ajib, Optimum, technical and energy efficiency design of residential building in
Mediterranean region, Energy and Buildings 43 (2011), 1829-1834.
[4] S.M. Bambrook, A.B. Sproul, D. Jacob, Design optimisation for a low energy home in Sydney,
Energy and Buildings 43 (2011), 1702-1711.
[5] S.A. Barakat, D.M. Sander, Utilisation of Solar Gain Through Windows for Heating Houses, BR
Note No. 184, Division of Building Research, National Research Council, Ottawa, Canada, 1982.
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[6] J.A. Baker, R. Henry, Determination of Size-Specific U-factors and Solar Heat Gain Coefficients
from Rated Values at Established Sizes A Simplified Approach, ASHRAE Transactions 103,
Part I, 1997.
[7] HOT-XP and HOT2000, Natural Resources Canada, CANMET Energy Technology Centre,
Ottawa, Canada. Available at www.buildingsgroup.rncan.gc.ca/software/hot2000_e.html.
[8] Energy Performance Evaluation of Windows and Other Fenestration Systems, Standard
CAN/CSA A440.2, Canadian Standards Association, Toronto, Canada, 1998.

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