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Thulasi Narayan
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ 85281

ABSTRACT In desert climates, thermal comfort attains particular prime

importance. Of the various parameters that go into
The success of any architectural design (particularly a improving thermal comfort in the desert, natural ventilation
passive system) depends on its ability to deliver thermal plays a pivotal role. However it is also the most difficult
comfort to the inhabitants of the building. Hence it becomes parameter to measure and control. Natural ventilation in
very important to be able to quantify the improved indoor houses is achieved by a variety of ways, through windows,
comfort conditions. The subject of analysis in this paper is a courtyards, openings etc. In desert cities, where the harsh
design entry that we submitted to the ‘Eco-House Design hot and dry climate makes it necessary to have a closed
Competition 2004’ that won a special honorary mention. façade- inward looking courtyard homes, wind towers have
The site is situated in Jaipur, India which has a typical been used over the ages to successfully increase thermal
desert climate, hot and dry in the day and cold-dry in the comfort.
night. The design solution, a high mass courtyard house
with an integrated cool tower-wind scoop system, was an
architect’s intuitive response to the site and climate 2. THE DESIGN
The climate of Jaipur is extreme with hot, humid summers
This paper concerns itself with analyzing the performance and chilly winters. The maximum temperatures during
of the design, examining the improved quality of ‘thermal summer reach a high of 45º Celsius. Winters have sunny
comfort’ in the indoor living spaces achieved with the high and pleasant days with bitterly cold nights. The temperature
thermal mass and integrated cool tower – wind scoop can touch a low of 5 º Celsius at night. Fog envelopes the
configuration. To serve this end, a CFD simulation tool was city during winter evenings. Monsoon starts in the third
selected as the analysis tool. week of July, but the city doesn’t experience much rain.

The Psychometric chart (Fig 1) shows the ASHRAE

1. INTRODUCTION summer and winter comfort zones. The maximum and
minimum temperatures every month fall outside the comfort
The essence of good architectural design is to achieve not zones giving us an indication of the extreme harsh climate.
only spatial delight but more importantly human comfort. In High air conditioning costs, the rising concern for the
the broader arena of sustainable design, passive methods of depleting fossil fuels and pollution to the environment from
achieving human comfort are very important criteria in the production of electricity necessitate the use of passive
working towards the goal of energy conservation. In cooling measures and natural lighting and ventilation to
addition to being a good architectural space – acoustical achieve thermal comfort.
standard, adequate level of lighting, thermal requirements
and indoor air quality are all very important criteria for a Based on the analysis of the Bio-climatic charts, fig.2 and
successful design. fig.3, the following design strategies were adopted:
1) High thermal mass – stone masonry
2) Natural ventilation – Combination of wind scoop and
solar chimney
3) Evaporative Cooling – Cool tower with evaporative pads
4) Passive solar heating for selected months – louvered
courtyard roof
5) Zoning of night zones activities away from evening sun

Fig. 3: Bio-Climatic chart with design strategies -

Minimum Temperatures

The basis of CFD calculations are the Navier- Stokes

equations derived in the late 1800s by Claude Navier, and
Fig. 1: Psychometric chart for Jaipur later developed by George Stokes. These equations are very
complicated, too complicated to enable hand calculations.
The great leap in computational technology and processing
2. DESIGN EVALUATION power has resulted in the wide use of CFD programs today.
The CFD software used in this study is FloVent produced
2.1 Tools used for Analysis by Flomerics ltd.

CFD is an acronym for Computational Fluid Dynamics. It is The field of passive energy design provides a unique
a computational technology that has enabled the real-time opportunity to use CFD, because of the variables involved.
study of the dynamics of things that flow (i.e. heat and fluid Till recently the tools used to model and analyze passive
flow). Using this technology the modeled study object is energy systems have been relatively crude, and have not
subjected to the fluid flow and heat transfer physics which been equipped to provide a comprehensive thermal comfort
cause the flow dynamics. Repeated complex iterations based analysis. Since the success of any system (particularly a
on user specified inputs, on convergence, output the flow passive system) depends on its ability to deliver thermal
pattern of fluid dynamics. comfort to the inhabitants of the building, it is important to
have a simulation tool that allows to model the various
parameters that affect thermal comfort.

2.2. Model Setup in FloVent

The geometry of the residential building (Fig 4&5) is

modeled in FloVent. Thermal mass is provided by Quartzite
stone walls 12” thick and concrete used as the roofing and
flooring material. Table1 gives the properties of the
materials applied in the model.


Material Conductivity Density Specific Heat

BTU/hr.ft.ºF lb/ft3 BTU/lbºF
Quartzite 1.08 106 0.24
Fig. 2: Bio-Climatic chart with design strategies -
Concrete 0.91 140 0.20
Maximum Temperatures
Glass 0.54 1.90 0.38
The wind scoop-cool tower configuration has been designed ‘fine’ setting allows dense gridding at the points of interest
to serve the four daytime zones designated as Living area, with less dense gridding away from the building. This
Kitchen area, staircase area, courtyard area. The bedrooms / allows for accurate outputs at the desired points without
‘night spaces’ are oriented to the north shielded from greatly affecting the computing time. The ambient
exposure to the late evening sun. The model in FloVent has conditions at the edge of the solution domain were set as
been limited to the four-day time zones to decrease 110°F.
complexity of the model. During certain night runs, the
wind tower setup is completely closed allowing the 2.2.2 Wind simulation
opportunity to simultaneously study the behavior of the
model due to only thermal mass. The wind flow is simulated using the wind generator option
available in FloVent’s website. The generator comprises of
six small uniform wind sources stacked one above the other
to simulate the increase in wind speed with increase in
height from the ground. For Jaipur, a wind generator option
of 6 km/hr blowing east was found suitable.

2.2.3 Model Run periods

Since the analysis was carried out as a steady state model,

the runs were setup for five study periods capturing the
variation in the annual climatic condition in Jaipur. Ten
different runs were setup for the same basic model. Fig 7
shows an isometric view of the model in FloVent. Based on
the bio-climatic charts the dampers in the wind tower were
set to completely open/completely closed/partially open for
particular runs.

2.2.4 Physical Model

The dimensions of the various components of the design

Fig. 4: Ground floor plan showing the four designated configuration:
zones 1) The wind tower - 6’ X 8.75’ X 30’ high.
2) The wind scoop opening - 6’ X 7.5’ high
3) The wind tower outlet opening -
3’ X 4.5’ high
4) The solar chimney - 8.5’ X 7’ X 20’ high
5) The solar chimney opening to the leeward side
- 5’ X 3’ high

Fig. 5: Section through the wind scoop-cool tower

configuration and solar chimney

2.2.1 Model parameters

The model was setup as a steady state model within a

boundary solution domain of 100’X50’X50’. The
turbulence type was set to Ke turbulent model. The grid
setting was set to fine, with a maximum size at 7’-0”. The Fig. 6: FloVent model setup for January 12 -1500 hrs
Fig. 6: Five selected study periods capturing the variation in annual climate

2.2.5 Evaporative cooling and Night sky radiation Td = Dew Point Temperature (in Kelvin)
Ta = Dry bulb temperature (in Kelvin)
In a cool tower-wind scoop configuration analysis, two main Tn = Night sky temperature (in Kelvin)
factors of study would be the evaporative cooling effect due
to air passing over the evaporative pads and the flow
patterns generated in different parts of the model. Though 3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
FloVent is an excellent tool to model and analyze flow
Patterns; it has no direct capability to model for evaporative The data from the runs are analyzed separately for each
cooling effects. Therefore a negative cooling energy was designated zone. The wind tower faces the dominant wind
assigned to the cooling pad for each run based on the direction and the solar chimney with its opening to the
methodology validated by Vikram Sami (2003). An 80% leeward side creates a flowing current through the house.
resistance was applied to the pads to simulate the resistance The high thermal mass creates a shift in the thermal lag.
to airflow under the fully open condition. A 60% This can be derived from the MRT being lower than the
evaporation efficiency (capacity of the media to transfer outside ambient temperature.
moisture to the air) of the pads was assumed. Table2 gives
the negative cooling energy and vapor transfer rate used for During the summer months in May-June-July, for all the
the different runs. four zones, the MRT is much lesser than the outdoor peak;
we can see that the thermal mass is keeping the heat out.
TABLE 2: NEGATIVE COOLING ENERGY AND The indoor ambient temperature is lower than the outside
NIGHT SKY RADIATION ambient by 8-14 ºC due to the effect of evaporative cooling.

The average wind speeds under fully open dampers for the
living, kitchen, and staircase and courtyard zones are 30
cm/sec, 60 cm/sec, 55 cm/sec and 70 cm/sec respectively.
The courtyard and kitchen areas are directly served by the
wind tower and experience higher wind speeds and greater
thermal comfort. The staircase area is adjacent to the solar
chimney and experiences accelerated exit wind. The
otherwise high operative temperature in the living room due
to the lower wind speed is dampened by the north
For all runs, the solar radiation option was turned on
(automatically turned off based on the sun position). For
The combined effect of evaporative cooling, natural
night runs a night sky radiation value was applied to the
ventilation and thermal mass produce a combined drop of 6
upper face of the solution domain. The night sky radiation
to11 ºC in the peak operative temperature. But the operative
was calculated using the equations:
temperature is still outside the comfort zone. Increasing the
wind speed to about 120 cm/sec would bring the operative
Ne = 0.787 + (0.864 * loge (Td/273)) (Yellot, 1985)
temperature into the comfort zone. As Jaipur has a wind
Tn = Ne0.25 * Ta (ASHRAE, 1978)
speed ranging from 5.5 km/hr to 7 km/hr only we are forced
to either introduce the use of a ceiling fan to move the
Where: Ne = Night sky Emissivity
Chart 1: Showing conditions within the Living Room Zone

Chart 2: Showing conditions within the Courtyard Zone

Chart 3: Showing conditions within the Kitchen Zone

Chart 4: Showing conditions within the Staircase Zone

operative temperature into the comfort zone or increase the 6. REFERENCES
thermal mass to offset the thermal peak further into the day.
1. Sami, V. (2003). Modeling thermal comfort delivered
The bio-climatic chart shows passive heating as the required by wind towers using computational fluid dynamics.
strategy for night time. Hence the wind-tower was Tempe, AZ, Arizona State.
completely shut down for all five night runs. But in May, 2. Flomerics (2003). Introduction to version 4.1.
June and July the operative temperature moved above the Southborough, MA, Flomerics Incorporated.
comfort zone, showing the need for partial ventilation or 3. American Society of heating, refrigerating and Air-
increased thermal mass to shift the thermal peak. Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE, 2001), Handbook
of Fundamentals, Atlanta, GA: ASHRAE inc
During winter the bioclimatic chart indicates that average 4. Yellot, J.I. (1982), solar Cooling in Dry Climates.
monthly daytime temperatures are already within the
comfort zone. With no need for ventilation as a cooling
strategy in winter the wind tower dampers are completely 7. APPENDIX
closed. In peak winter nights, the operative temperature falls
below the comfort zone by 5ºC indicating the need for more
thermal mass or can be alternatively compensated for by
electric heating.

The courtyard, the focal space of the architectural design, is

also the most ‘thermally delightful’ daytime space in the
building - served directly by the wind tower and having no
solar exposure.


CFD is an extremely good tool to study the combined

effects of radiation, ventilation and evaporation on the
indoor thermal comfort. The result trends show that the
design strategies of thermal mass, natural ventilation and
evaporative cooling are good strategies to achieve thermal
comfort in the extreme climate of Jaipur, India. The next Figure 1. Section through wind tower showing operative
step would be to fine tune the model. The understanding that temperatures – July 12, 1500 hrs
there is an increased requirement for thermal mass to
achieve thermal comfort year round needs to be explored
further. Transient runs for the identified five time periods
would allow us to map the shift in thermal peak. The
thermal lag can then be used to identify the optimum
thermal mass. Adding another layer to the analysis is to
validate the selective passive heating strategy – louvered
courtyard roof, achieving a totally passive home for a hot
arid climate in Jaipur, India.


The author would like to express her appreciation to

1) FLOMERICS India Pvt. Ltd for providing the
author with a student version of the FloVent 5.0
2) Weiran Xu, PhD, Flomerics Inc. for technical Figure 2. Section through solar chimney showing
assistance in FloVent modeling. operative temperatures – July 12, 1500 hrs
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