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CHAPTER 4

HYGROTHERMAL

COMFORT

IN

BUILDINGS
4.1 GENERAL ISSUES
Having an enclosed indoor space, in the form
of a building, means more than to be dry. It
includes most basic ideas of comfort, well- being
and security.
An essential function of civil buildings (i. e. of
those buildings whose main users are people)
consists in creating an indoor climate adapted to
human needs, whose global characteristic can be
described as comfortable.
In a broad sense, the term comfort has the
meaning of a state of satisfaction expressed by
people with respect to environment.
1

The comfort offered by building indoor


spaces takes into consideration a great number of
agents acting simultaneously on people who use
these spaces; hygrothermal, acoustical, visual,
and

olfactory/respiratory

agents

must

be

accounted for in the first place.


Hygrothermal comfort is but a component of
comfort in indoor spaces.
Since it is necessary a certain amount of energy
to be consumed in order to achieve hygrothermal
comfort, a very special attention is being given
lately to this component.
Owing to their dual character, objective and
subjective, it is quite difficult to identify the
performance exigencies of indoor spaces related
to hygrothermal exigencies of building users. The
human body normal internal temperature of about
2

37o C is obviously an objective matter; on the


other hand each person has his own metabolism,
his own thermo-regulator system, his own
sensitiveness to the action of external stimuli etc,
which are, of course, subjective elements.

It is in thermal performance that the

building enclosure still has its most urgent need


of improvement by far. Earlier the 20th century,
enclosures lightened, windows became larger and
central heating and cooling systems improved.
Energy was still cheap and there came a tendency
to under-emphasise enclosures thermal role and
rely on climate services to put things right. Not
very long ago, people became aware of what had
come to be called the energy crisis. Insulation
standards and requirements have risen sharply in
many countries but there are also other things
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crucial to thermal performance that must be


accounted for.
4.2. CLIMATE INFLUENCE ON THERMAL
PERFORMANCE
Good thermal protection provided by the
enclosure means grater comfort for building users
and, increasingly more important, less energy
consumption in heating and cooling.
Thermal performance has mainly to do with
reducing

heat

transmission

(outwards

or

inwards) through the enclosure. Where there is a


temperature difference between two places, heat
tends to flow from the higher temperature to the
lower

nature

always

trying

to

correct

imbalances and the transmission can occur in


4

three ways, namely conduction, convection and


radiation.
Conduction is encountered when heat passes
through a solid, e. g. a wall. If one of its faces is
heated, the vibrations of the atomic particles on
the surface will intensify, pass their added
excitement to the particles behind them and so on
as a jostling chain-reaction through the wall. The
energy moves but the matter does not.

In convection, the matter does move since it is


heat transmission by the flow of a liquid or gas at
the interface with a solid. Air currents, generated
by local temperature differences, collect heat
from warmer surfaces and impart it to cooler
ones. This is natural convection, as opposed to
forced convection by mechanical fans.

Radiation involves no matter at all in the


commonly accepted sense, being energy transfer
by electromagnetic waves. This phenomenon is
characteristic to gaseous or liquid environment, as
being the only cases in which energy transfer as
electromagnetic wave is possible.

1.

In fig. 4.2. is illustrated, in a suggestive manner,


heat transmission by conduction, convection and
radiation.

Fig. 4.2. Heat Transmission/Loss by Conduction,


Convection and Radiation
Obviously, heat transmission through building
enclosure varies with the temperature difference
across it, so that the first determinant factor is
climate.
8

The influence of site location represents a


starting point, especially in case of small
buildings.
In the extremely unlikely situation of there
being a free choice, and assuming the climate is
temperate so that cold stresses in winter count
more than hot stresses in summer, the site located
half-way up the sun-facing slope of a hill is
advantageous (Fig. 5.3.). It avoids the valley
floor, where cool dense air tends to collect and
hence hold the temperature several degrees below
the prevailing average. Similarly, it avoids the
wind-prone hill crest, where heat lost by
convection increases sharply with the velocity of
the surrounding air stream. There could be around
30 % heat-loss difference between exposed and
sheltered locations.
9

Fig. 5.3. Influence of Site Location on Thermal


Performance
Conversely, in hot climates, the criteria may
reverse, with buildings sited specifically for shade
or for catching whatever cooling breeze is going.

The influence of climate on building shape

is an accepted fact. A buildings heat loss or gain


increases with the area of surfaces it exposes to
the air outside. Nature adapts form to climate and
so does tradition in small buildings practice all
around the world
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d, as illustrated
Fig. 4.4. Form Adaptation to Climate
There is an influence of solar radiation on
optimum plan shape and orientation which,
especially in temperate climates, tends to offset
the compactness argument. It would obviously be
a good thing if a building could be shaped to
collect as much solar heat as possible in winter,
and yet avoid collecting to much in summer;
interestingly, it is possible to obtain such a result.
11

For instance, in the northern hemisphere,


during the winter most of the suns heating effect
occurs in the middle of the day, since in the
morning and afternoon the sun is low on the
horizon and its effect is weak. So, if the building
is elongated on the east-west axis, thus
presenting a relatively longer southern wall, it
will be exposing a larger collecting surface to
available sun radiation. But what may appear, at
first, surprising is that this plan shape and
orientation is also one of the best suited for
avoiding excessive summer heat gain. The long
south wall is not so vulnerable then, simply
because the summer sun is so much higher in the
sky. This means that the radiation on this wall is
very oblique and, hence, diluted. In summer, the
vulnerable times during the day are fairly early
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morning and late afternoon, when the sun is lower


in the sky, and thus its rays arrive at an angle
closer to normal to the walls. This is exactly why
the elongated east-west plan behaves favourable
again, because it presents its shorter east and west
elevations to the sun at those times of the day.
This situation is illustrated in Fig. 4.5.

Fig. 4.5. Influence of Solar Radiation on Building


Configuration and Orientation
13

The effect of window sizing on different


wall elevations is also present in the balancing act
between reducing heat transmission and yet
capturing solar radiation; the overriding influence
is more urgently between providing adequate daylighting while satisfying thermal needs as a
whole. Even double glazing has less than half of
the insulating value of a good block/brick cavity
wall and is at least 20 times more admissive to
radiation, so thermal questions arise sharply.
The extend to which daylighting and thermal
requirement align or conflict depends on climate.
In the hot, dry climate they are convergent, since
the very bright hot conditions favour relatively
small windows. In moderately warm climates, the
windows can be larger, and the southerly oriented
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ones may useful add solar gain in winter time. In


the temperate, cool climate, daylight and thermal
needs tend to conflict. Basically, the windows
should be as small as daylighting needs allow;
however, a larger southerly window will have the
merit of allowing solar gain in winter. Of course,
large southern windows increase conductive
losses to the outside air, which may persist even
when radiation gain occurs; hence, they are
prime candidates for multiple glazing.
4.3. EXIGENCIES RELATED TO
HYGROTHERMAL INDOOR
MICROCLIMATE
4.3.1. Man-Indoor Space Heat Exchange

The study of hygrothermal comfort and of

the possibilities to achieve it requires, as a first


15

step, the investigation of human body perception


and reaction to temperature variations of the
indoor environment.
Due to metabolic processes, there is a
permanent heat production inside the human
body, which must be partially eliminated in order
to keep its internal temperature within normal
limits (i.e. around 37o C). A certain amount of heat
is received by the human body, through various
specific mechanisms, from its environment.
Theoretically, bodys thermal balance should
equal zero, but actually a relation of the form
(5.1) operates:
Q = Qinternal + Qreceived Qeliminated (5.1)
where:
Q = residual heat (no matter the sign);
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Qinternal = amount of heat produced by the human


body during a given interval of time;
Qreceived , Qeliminated = amount of heat received,
respectively eliminated, by the human body
during the same interval of time.
Due to a kind of brain-controlled thermal
regulator

system,

the

human

body

can

momentarily adapt itself to slightly unfavourable


indoor thermal conditions, that is it can take over
a limited amount of residual heat Q. If this
amount becomes significant, a feeling of thermal
discomfort appears. Building indoor spaces,
which act as environment for their users, must
create conditions for ensuring properly balanced
heat exchanges, thus avoiding overstressing of
human thermal regulator system.
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4.4. MAIN PHENOMENA,


CHARACTERISTICS AND PARAMETERS
IN HYGROTHERMICS OF BUILDINGS
4.4.1 Heat, Temperature, Thermal Flow,
Density of Thermal Flow

Heat is a special form of energy, whose

presence is detected by the human body which


can make the difference between warm and
cold.

The quantity of heat held by a body is

expressed by means of its absolute temperature


(T), measured in degrees Kelvin (K). This is
related to the temperature (t or ), measured in
degrees Celsius (o C) by:
T= t + 273
18

(5.4)

Currently, the notation t is used for air


temperature, whereas is used for the
temperature of solid bodies.
In case of two bodies with different
temperatures that are in direct or indirect contact,
heat passes naturally from the warmer to the
cooler body. This thermal exchange, which stops
only when the temperatures of the two bodies
become equal is generally expressed in terms of
quantities of heat, i. e. in quantities of thermal
energy.
The unit for measuring heat quantity is watthour [Wh], that has replaced Kilocalorie [Kcal];
however, this later is sometimes still in use. Their
relationship is given by:
1Kcal= 1.16 Wh
19

(5.5)

The thermal flow () represents the


quantity of heat exchanged
during a time-unit (an hour), measured in watts
(W).
The density of thermal flow (q) represents
the thermal flow passing
through a unit area ( 1 m2) whose points have the
same temperature; it is measured in W/m2.
4.4.2. Mass Heat, Thermal Conductivity,
Thermal Diffusivity, Thermal Absorption
The mass heat (c) of a material represents
the quantity of heat required by a mass-unit (1 kg)
to increase its temperature by 1o C (or 1 K);
accordingly, the mass heat is measured in
Wh/KgoC. However, there is still a common
20

engineering

practice

to

use

the

so-called

technical values of mass heat (given in


handbooks tables) expressed in KJ/KgoC. The
conversion is based on the relation:
1[Wh/KgoC]= 0.278[KJ/KgoC]

(5.6)

The thermal conductivity of a material

expresses its aptitude to transmit heat through its


mass, from one particle to another. This aptitude
is quantified by means of a coefficient
thermal

conductivity

(),

whose

of

physical

significance is density of thermal flow passing


through a plane element 1 m thick, when a
difference of 1o C exists between the temperature
on its two faces; accordingly, the coefficient of
thermal conductivity whose value is determined
21

on experimental basis for any material is


measured in W/moC.
The thermal conductivity of a material is
mainly dependent on its apparent density, type
and structure of pores, humidity and temperature.
Materials with low apparent density (i. e. with
high porosity) have small thermal conductivity
(due to the air contained by pores, which has very
small value) and are conveniently used for
thermal insulation. When getting wet and having
pores filled with water, thermal insulating
materials diminish drastically their efficiency
(water is about 25 times greater than air).
The design values of for various materials
are conventional values accounting for the
probable humidity under service conditions, as
well as for influence of other unfavourable factors
22

(e. g. increase of apparent density due to


settlement of the material).
A layer of immobile air, 3...5 mm thick, has
the lowest known value of the coefficient of
thermal conductivity (= 0.024 W/moC) among
current

materials.

Highly

efficient

thermal

insulating materials (such as cellular polystyrene,


polyurethane,

mineral

wool

et

al)

exhibit

extremely small values for (0.020...0.050


W/moC). For comparison, for several other
construction materials are given below:
- solid brick masonry.......................0.80
- cellular concrete block masonry....0.27...0.34
- mortar..........................................0.70...0.93
- reinforcedconcrete.........................1.62..1.74

23

The thermal diffusivity (a) of a material

expresses its aptitude to spread heat, i. e. to


equalise its temperature. Its value is computed
with the relation:
a=/c

[m2/h]

(5.7)

where:
=

coefficient

of

thermal

conductivity

[W/moC]
= apparent density [kg/m3]
c= mass heat [Wh/KgoC]
Current values of a range from 0.0016 m2/h
for cellular concrete and gypsum plates to 0.049
m2/h for cellular polystyrene.
24

The thermal absorption (or assimilation) of


a material represents its capacity to absorb (to
assimilate) heat through the surface in contact
with a warmer (solid or fluid) medium. This
capacity is quantified by means of a coefficient of
thermal

absorption

(s),

whose

physical

significance is ratio between the variation


amplitude of density of heat flow acting on the
plane surface of a material and the variation
amplitude of temperature on the respective
surface.
4.5. MODELLING THERMAL BEHAVIOUR
OF ENCLOSURE ELEMENTS
4.5.1 General Issues

25

The special complexity of problems related


to achieving correct and efficient hygrothermal
layout of buildings strongly requires in the first
place to set up a systemic framework for analysis.
As it is well known, the simplest scheme of a
functional system is represented like a physical
entity (of the black box type) which transforms
an input function into an output function (Fig.
4.16). In general, the input consists in external
actions that generate perturbations of state of the
system frequently of random character thus
triggering its running. The output represents
results or effects of input actions.

INPUT x ()
(cause)

SYSTEM
SYSTEM

26

OUTPUT y ()
(effect)

Fig. 4.16. Schematical Representation ("Black


Box" Type) of a System
The notion of system is intrinsically related to
that of model, usually having mathematical
features. A mathematical model represents, in
mathematical terms, the running of a system and
hence offers the possibility to predict qualitative
and quantitative evolution of its output (response)
to various inputs (external actions).
In case of problems concerning thermal
dynamics of the systems, input and output
functions are essentially thermal excitation and
thermal response, respectively.
The basic scheme to solve problems
concerning thermal analysis of the systems can
27

be represented as in Fig. 4.17. According to this


scheme, the relevant characteristics are specified
for both thermal excitation and system subjected
to investigation. The scope of this analysis
consists in assessing systems thermal response
to variation of thermal excitation.
THERMAL
EXCITATION

SYSTEM
SYSTEM

THERMAL
RESPONSE
output data to
be computed

input data specified initially

Fig. 4.17. Basic Scheme of Thermal Analysis of


Systems
In case of problems concerning thermal
layout of the systems, the basic scheme is
illustrated in Fig. 4.18, where initially specified
input data are those characterising both thermal
excitation and thermal response. The scope of
28

thermal layout of a system consists in designing


it so that its response to a given thermal
excitation (real or conventional) ranges between
pre-established values. Hence, the results of
computations should substantiate geometrical and
thermophysical characteristics to be requested
from the system.
input data specified initially

THERMAL
EXCITATION

SYSTEM
SYSTEM

THERMAL
RESPONSE

Output data

Fig. 4.18. Basic scheme for Designing Thermal


Layout of Systems

29

4.5.2. Problems of Defining Enclosure System


and Its Physical- Geometrical Model
For reasons aimed to simplify the design
process, in the current practice both modelling
and analysis are performed on enclosure elements
and sub-ensembles. In most situations, thermal
exchanges occur through building elements of
wall-type (mainly, exterior walls) and of floor
slab-type;
Any enclosure element is physically and
functionally connected to other elements of same
kind situated in its plane, as well as to different
30

other elements situated, as a rule, in planes


orthogonal to its own.

The thermal response of an exterior wall,


taken as a whole, is obviously influenced by its
connections to other building elements that
introduce more or less significant thermal
effects. A rigorous assessment of its thermal
response should, therefore, be based on 3dimensional models with adequate coverage of
connection zones (Fig. 4.19).

31

Fig.4.19. 3D-Model for Thermal Analysis of an


Exterior Wall
4.5.3.

Problems

of

Defining

Thermal

Excitation

The enclosure of a building can be

considered
environments,

as

interface
having

between

different

two
thermal

characteristics which are inherently variable in


time. Consequently, any enclosure element acts

32

like a filter performing heat exchanges between


two environments of different temperatures.

Fig.4.25.
Schematical Representation of Thermal Actions
Exerted on Enclosure simplified representation of
an equivalent thermal convective exchange
each of the two environments separated by
enclosure elements can be characterised by an
unique
general,

parameter
these

of

temperature-type.

temperatures

exhibit

In

time-

variations, each governed by its own laws, but


having close correlation.
33

As long as the difference ti te, is not 0,


there is a heat exchange between indoor and
outdoor environment through the enclosure, this
phenomenon being strongly influenced by its
geometrical and thermophysical characteristics,
and by the exterior conditions.
In general, these data represent hourly
average

temperatures

recorded

during

significant period in winter (or summer) time


and extended over relatively many successive
years.

In case of common-type buildings, the

current design practice takes into consideration,


instead of a conventional variation of te during the
day (24 hours), just its average value. For
example, the parameter te,conv used for establishing
the

required

characteristics
34

of

heating

installations represents the average value of


outdoor air temperature corresponding to a winter
conventional day; for Bucharest this average
value is equal to 15.3o C.
Present

Romanian

technical

regulations

provide a map of the territory, defining a number


of 4 macro-zones from the viewpoint of the
outdoor

air

temperature

during

winter

conventional day, as shown in Fig. 5.26.


Similarly, another map defines 3 macro-zones
from the viewpoint of outdoor air temperature
during a summer conventional day (Fig. 5.27).

35

Fig.5.26. Winter Climatic Zoning of Romanian


Territory

36

Fig.5.27. Summer Climatic Zoning of Romanian


Territory

37

4.6.

BASIC

ISSUES

RELATED

TO

THERMAL RESPONSE OF ENCLOSURE


ELEMENTS

In case of single-layer elements (with

homogenous structure in all directions), the


differential equation of thermal conduction takes
for a stationary unidirectional thermal regime
the simple form (Fig. 4.31):
d2/dx2= 0

(4.16)

whose integration gives the solution:


(x)= C1x+C2
38

(4.17)

Fig. 4.31. Convention for the Reference System


a) in winter time; b) in summer time

The two constants are obtained by means of limit


conditions, i.e.:
-

for winter conditions


(0)= si and (d)= se

- for summer conditions


(0)= sse and (d)= si
The solution results as follows:
39

- for winter conditions:


(x)= -(si se)x/d + si

(4.18)

- for summer conditions:


(x)= -( se - si)x/d + se

(4.19)

Since the values of si and se are not known,


the relations (4.18) and (4.19) are not
operational. In order to get these values, one
should make use of the limit conditions stating
that, in case of stationary thermal regime, the
density of thermal conductive-radiant flow
that penetrates one of the elements surface
is conserved during its passage and also
when getting out through the opposite
surface. This is expressed by (Fig. 5.32):
qiC-R= qk= qeC-R
40

(5.20)

Fig. 5.32. Conservation of the Density of Thermal


Flow in Case of Stationary
Regime
For instance, under winter condition, one can
write:
qiC-R= (ti-si)/Rsi

(5.21)

qk = (si-se)/R

(5.22)

qeC-R= (se-te)/Rse

(5.23)

Hence, eqs. (5.20) can be written as follows:


(ti-si)/Rsi= (si-se)/R= (se-te)/ Rse= (ti-te)/RT
(5.24.)

41

where:
Rsi and Rse represent resistance to surface
thermal exchange (for inner and outer surface,
respectively)
R= d/ represents resistance to thermal
conductive transfer through elements thickness
d, for a material with coefficient of conductivity
. This also termed resistance to thermal
permeability.
In eqs. (4.24), the notation: RT= Rsi+R+Rse has
been introduced, RT having the significance of
resistance to thermal transfer (or, for the sake of
simplicity, just thermal resistance) and being
measured in [m2 oC/W].
The inverse value: U= 1/RT, [W/m2 oC] is
currently termed thermal transmittance.
42

By operating conventional transformations,


eqs. (5.24) will yield to the following relations:
si= ti-Rsi(ti-te)/RT
se= te+Rse(ti-te)/RT

(4.25)
(4.26)

corresponding to winter conditions.


In a similar manner, the following relations
are established for summer conditions:
si= ti+Rsi(te-ti)/RT

(4.27)

se= te-Rse(te-ti)/RT

(4.28)

Getting back to eqs. (4.18) and (4.19), and


introducing the expression of si and se from eqs.
(4.25)...(4.28), one can write the following
relations:
- for winter conditions
(x)= ti-(Rsi+x/)(ti-te)/RT
43

(4.29)

- for summer conditions


(x)= te-(Rse+x/)(te-ti)/RT

(4.30)

which can be further transformed to:


(x)= [-(ti-te)/RT]x+[ti-Rsi(ti-te)/RT]

(4.31)

and
(x)= [-(te-ti)/RT]x+[te-Rse(te-ti)/RT] (4.32)
for

winter

and

for

summer

conditions,

respectively.
A graphical representation of these linear
functions of temperature field is shown in Fig.
4.33. Obviously, their gradient is inversely
proportional to the value for , hence illustrating
the fact that temperature fall increases along
with

the

increase

of
44

thermal

insulating

characteristics of the material the element is made


of.

Fig. 4.33.Variation of the Function "Temperature


Field" Inside Enclosure
Elements a) in winter time; b) in
summer time
Any of the diagrams in Fig. 4.33 can be
completed to account for temperature variation
occurring in the air layers adjacent to elements
surfaces (Fig. 4.34). The temperature fall tisi, as well as se-te can be interpreted as the
effect of resistance to thermal permeability
45

presented

through

the

convection-radiation

phenomenon between air and the solid element.

Fig. 4.34. Variation of the Function "Temperature


Field" For Enclosure Elements, Accounting for
Temperature Variation in the Air Layers Adjacent
to Element's Surfaces (Winter Time)

In case of multi-layer elements (with non

homogenous structure on x axis only) one


should make use of limit condition imposing
46

conservation

of

the

density

of

thermal

conductive flow when passing from one layer to


another. This is expressed by (Fig.4.35):
qiC-R= q1k= q2k=...= qnk= qeC-R

(4.33)

With the notations previously used in case of


single-layer elements eqs. (5.33) can be put in the
form:
(ti-si)/Rsi = (si-1)/R1= (1-2)/R2=...=(n-1-se)/Rn=
(se-te)/Rse= (ti-te)/RT

(5.34)

where:
RT= Rsi+(R1+ R2+... Rn)+Rse= Rsi+R+Rse
R=jdj/j represents resistance to thermal
conductivity transfer (or, resistance to thermal
permeability) of a multi-layer element.

47

Fig.4.35.Conservation of the Density of Thermal


Conductive Flow in Case of Multy-Layer
Enclosure Elements (Non Homogeneous
Structure in x-Direction Only)

48

Fig, 4.36. Variation of Winter-Time Temperature


inside a Multy-Layer Enclosure Element, in Case
of Stationary Regime

49

Within the large picture of thermal bridges,


the most common are those created by linear
(vertical or horizontal) inclusions of materials
with high thermal conductivity. Another category
is represented by joining and connecting zones of
enclosure elements; very frequently, in these
zones are also present highly thermal conductive
materials. From another viewpoint, thermal
bridges can be categorised into:

current-field

bridges (partially penetrating into or completely


breaking through the element), intersection (or
corner) bridges, complex-type bridges (typically
encountered at the joints of prefabricated large
panels used for exterior walls).
Some typical examples of thermal bridges in
building enclosure elements are illustrated in
Figs. 4.39 and 4.40.
50

Fig.4.39.

Examples of Thermal Non-Homogeneities


(Generating Thermal Bridges) in Enclosure Elements
Horizontal Sections Through Exterior Walls
51

Fig.4.40.
Examples
of
Thermal
NonHomogeneities (Generating Thermal Bridges ) in
Enclosure Elements-Vertical Sections Through
Exterior Walls

52

4.7.2. Temperature Variation Around Thermal


Bridges
In order to analyse the characteristics of thermal
field associated to a thermal bridge zone in an
enclosure element, one of the simplest case
(already considered as classic) is in the fig.below:

53

Fig. 4.50. Layout of an Exterior Structural Wall


Made of Brick Masonry With Additional Thermal
Protection
54