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Beyond Arrows: Natural Ventilation in a High-Rise
Building with Double Skin Façade

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

INTRODUCTION The results indicated that an integrated facade can
reduce 30 percent of energy consumption (52 days
Naturally Ventilated Double Skin Facades operated in natural mode) (Frisch, 2005).

The concept of DSF is not new and dates back to Even though most of the research has been done
many years ago where in central Europe; many in temperate climate conditions, studies have re-
houses utilized box-type windows to increase ther- vealed a close link between natural ventilation de-
mal insulation (Oesterle, 2000). The double-skin sign and the DSF function. Grabe et al. (2002) de-
façade is an architectural phenomenon driven by veloped a simulation algorithm to investigate the
the aesthetic desire for an all-glass façade and the temperature behavior and flow characteristics of
practical desire to have natural ventilation for im- natural-convection DSFs through solar radiation. It
proved indoor air quality in buildings. Until recently was found that the air temperature increased near
the use of double-skin facades had became more heat sources that are close to window panes and
popular in many high-rise buildings in Europe. shading device. Gratia and Herde (2007a, 2007b,
2007c) attempted to look at natural ventilation
A number of studies, research and several simulation strategies, greenhouse effects, and the optimum
programs have been done on employing the natural position of sun- shading devices for DSFs facing
ventilation in buildings and thermal performance of south in a northern hemisphere temperate climatic.
double skin facades. Most of them have been carried They found that a sufficient day or night ventilation
out for solar chimneys -one way to increment natu- rate can be reached by a window opening, even if
ral ventilation and to improve indoor air quality- and wind characteristics are unfavourable.
Trombe walls prior to double skin facades. Most of
them found out the natural ventilation is possible in METHODOLOGY
summer even for multistory buildings (Wong, 2006).
The potential of using a double façade for natural Natural ventilation is an essential part of sustain-
ventilation of the building in climates other than eu- able building design. Energy conscious designers
rope has not been fully studied though. A number of harness the cooling capacity of natural wind to
interesting investigations and findings are reported increase indoor thermal comfort and ultimately
in the literature pertaining to passive ventilation in save energy for active-space conditioning. Wind
buildings with double-skin facades. can cause air movement and perception of cool-
ing, wind can bring in air of a different temperature
It was found that significant energy savings are and humidity. By numerically solving a series of
possible if natural ventilation could be exploited conservation equations related to mass, momen-
through the use of a double-skin facade (DSF). For tum, and energy, computational fluid dynamics
example, the Loyola University Information Com- (CFD) tools help designers predict detailed airflow
mons and Digital Library in Chicago integrated nat- for special design cases and plan a building with
ural ventilation with a DSF to cool the buildings. optimal natural ventilation.

and includes 12 actual months. it is a lengthy process. For this loads. only wind direction which is perpendicular to into buildings. Wind Effects on High Rise Building tational fluid dynamics software. Based the macroclimate were carried out through Ecotect. and number of nec- essary iterations determined.35Vmeth0. Initial studies of and  Vmet  is the meteorological wind speed. the behavior of natural the DSF has been considered. computational fludid dynamics tool. In this study. and. local climatic conditions. the appropriate wind profile was as- of Chicago (Midway airport). Fluent. natural cooling strategies can be incorporated study. To that end. The geometric model of the entire building is con. the months of May. the pressure distribution is represented bit. and October were chosen. the offices’ thermal comfort was calculated layers are approximated by taking the wind speed and presented. es and in order to include wind force. In this study. and air velocity within the DSF’s cavity and the in- ternal office space were simulated by Fluent. The wind speed from the meteorological data cor- Assumptions responds to the wind speed at 10 m height in open country. wind driven ventilation to be proportional to the height raised to some improved with stack effect in the noble configura- power – a power law variation (Davenport. June. such the wind. Natural ventilation is possible during the shoulder season in Chicago. the boundary conditions were solved. the airflow . compu.  h. = wind pressure. ventilation in a new double skin facade (DSF) config- uration will be studied. the pressure at the surface boundary was calculated. el solved for wind velocity along with buoyancy forces. BEYOND ARROWS 327 To preserve thermal comfort and reduce cooling needed to be solved for the external wind. structed using a matrix of numbers to represent the points at which surfaces meet. First. The temperature profile speed varies with height.1965) tion of DSF will be tested to see if it can maintain the simple expression which is used extensively adequate comfort during summer and spring time has the form : in Chicago.35 and 0.25 ence which will be used as a boundary conditions in Where  Vh  is the local wind speed at height. For WIND PRESSURES this study.25 are the constants which recorded by the World Meteorological Organization depends on the train in the vicinity of the buildings). wind velocity which the building produces. In ac- struct a simple model of the innovative enclosure cordance with the elementary pressure-velocity re- system the combined shaft-corridor DSF in Gam. as Vertical profiles of mean wind speed for boundary a result. = wind speed at specified height. The distribution of wind pressure around a building depends very closely upon the local variation in The first stage of the air flow modeling is to con. condition for the inlet and outlet pressure in Fluent. The model used to solve the iteration was This formula has been used to calculate the boundary bousinesqe in order to consider the buoyancy forc. Since the building is located in an urban Simulations were performed with climatic data environment. Weather data were sumed to be (0. was used to study the office airflow path. lationship. EnergyPlus-DesignBuilder important to consider the characteristic nature of was used to solve some boundary conditions. and this means as solar thermal energy. the grid size refined. Pa In the next stage. The numerical model is three-dimensional and by a dimensionless pressure coefficient : the model is based on a control volume method. = Where. wind has been calculated for spe- which allowed for the efficient visualization of the cific times that the CFD analysis was performed. The first step would be study the ambi- Vh=0. In order to define the external boundary condition. on this formula. September. The wind is turbulent. Developing a CFD model is In assessing the effects of wind on buildings. The generated mod.

5 m cavity corridor in front of the offices in the Gambit. Figure 2. The DSF construction has one opening (inlet) at the outer pane and two openings (air inlet and exhaust) at Figure 1. height between the inlet and outlet openings. or stack effect. Intuitive diagrams Natural Ventilation and DSF the inner pane. The most distinguishing feature of this configuration is its cooling stack towering over the south side of the building. is determined by the in- let air temperature. .328 DIGITAL APTITUDES + OTHER OPENINGS The Geometry of the Cfd Model The new configuration take the advantages of the strategies include ventilation driven by different combinations of wind and external stack. Vertical cross section of the new configuration of DSF The effectiveness of ventilation driven by thermal buoyancy. stagnant summer days so the building can always remain cool within reasonable comfort levels. Figure 2 shows the section of the modules and the configu- ration of openings inlet and exhasut. The vertical height of the glass chimney creates stron- ger uplift forces due to increased stack effect.5 m ceiling height and 1. Air gap inlet draw in fresh air at a low level and di- rect the fresh air into the room. This configuration combined both two shaft and corridor type through the building’s facade. Multi-storey chimneys suck exhausted air via a bypass opening at the top of the inner level. The cooling stacks allow for further ventilation on hot. with 3. Figure 1 shows how air flows through the chimney and provide ventilation inside each office module. The air exhausted through the outlet at the high-level gap of inner pane. size of these openings. The simplified single skin facade of the model has openings on panes with 6mm thick glass. MODEL DESCRIPTION The first stage of CFD modeling is to construct a seven-story module with geometrical dimensions of 27x7 m. The model is constructed in 3-D in (section of the new configuration) Gambit as shown in the figures below.

To calculate thermal comfort. the DSF has a Figure 4. BEYOND ARROWS 329 SIMULATION RESULTS DEMONSTRATION For the analysis of airflow and temperature in DSF and adjacent space.5 m with two open. Cavity and Room Air Temperature The location of the chimney openings in this shaft- corridor type in relation to the chimney exhaust will have an effect on the indoor thermal comfort and airflow velocity. The results of Fluent model of this seven story block looked at the velocity profile. The other factor that impacts on air velocity are inlet and outlet sizes. Due to the ventu- Figure 3. As displayed in fluent analysis of room ventilated shaft. It is a fact that the higher the ex- haust opening is located from the inlet. Cavity temperature gradient . and the internal office space. Figure 5. Model boundary settings CFD MODEL BOUNDARY CONDITIONS This study is going to model levels from the six- teenth to the twenty-third stories of a high-rise building. the level of thermal comfort within the space will be predicted. This study introduces a shaft to improve the possibility of natural-ventilation stack effect to extract heat from the offices and improve airflow rates required to reach thermal comfort level within the interior. the stronger stack effect within the air gap. In the new configuration. This effect will then pull more air from office spaces to circulate through- out the building. the combined shaft-corridor DSF has been generated and airflow patterns and temperature profile within the DSF has been illus- trated for specific times of the year. the boundary conditions for wind velocity.5x1. temperature profile ings on the lower and high chimney levels. which is 1. external temperature and relative humidity were set to the ranges similar to Chicago climatic conditions and are presented in the Table 1. temperature within the double skin. Based on those data. airflow pat- terns.

the interior air the cavity is ventilated. the more the velocity. The room air temperature temperature is slightly higher than the exterior increases towards the top as shown in Figure 4.5 long. in the half of the room closer to the cavity and also in the half upper part. 1 atm Reference pressure 100. Buoyancy reference temperature Outdoor air temperature.5 m deep. Shaft and opening details Shaft size 1. glass: standard 6 mm clear glass.93 W/ Walls heat 25 W/ Velocity inlet 5 m/s Cavity Details Cavity size 3. top.9 gradient temperature from the inlet to the outlet °C at the top opening. Back boundary conditions Adiabatic solids (concrete) with depth = cavity Depth. external pressure at atmospheric pressure. external conditions temperature = outdoor air temperature at inflow only.5 m high by 7 m wide by 1. The temperature goes Figure 5 clearly illustrates an increase in the from 19 °C at the bottom opening to about 19. air gap size (inlet and 300 mm exhaust). Cavity internal facade External plate with surface temperature base on heat source. There is some temperature variation as As illustrated in previous figures. where higher-surface temperatures were reached Figure 4 illustrates the room’s temperature gradient. Model assumptions and inputs required by fluent ry effect. Boundary Conditions Side. the smaller the size. bottom.330 DIGITAL APTITUDES + OTHER OPENINGS Domain Domain material Air at 20°C. which is clearly lower than the outside temperature of 20 ˚C.000 Pa (atmospheric pressure) Reference temperature 295 K Sources Buoyancy model Boussinesq-calculates airflow from temperature difference rather than density difference. due to accumulated heat and buoyancy effect. Gravitational acceleration -9.81 m/s in the y-direction. Figure 6 illustrates how the . Heat source (external glass) 11.5 m high DSF opening size for inner pane.43 W/ Heat source (internal glass) 7.5 deep. Cavity external facade Internal plate with surface temperatures on both sides is calculated based on heat source. & front domain boundary Openings with “deduced” air velocities.1. Table 1. 24.

the upper floors would be hottest and probably uncomfortable for occupants during the summer month. The wards the top of the chimney in a fairly linear pro. . greatest velocity is near the inlet to the chimney gression.3 m/s. and it is quite high. It is interesting to dis- cover that the office’s mid-portion for all the floors are having higher temperatures compare to the Figure 8. The stack air temperature increases to. one-story high cavity. Velocities are greatest near the opening. Cavity temperature profile-output from fluent Figure 7. as shown qualitatively in Figure 7. air velocities ancy and wind forces. air The velocity in this model ranges from 7 m/s in.3 m/s outlet of the chimney. air velocity to the chimney averages 1.5 °C at the top haust airflow is 0.46 m/s on average. The temperature goes from 18 °C screen inflow velocity is 0. This could be due to the airflow pattern shown in the next section. BEYOND ARROWS 331 temperature stratification ranges from low on the floor to highest close to the ceiling. Figure 6. Figure 9 shows the section of airflow at the open- Airflow ing of one story horizontally. As illustrated in the figure below. Fig. All these and exhaust from the stack. The inflow wall of the chimney. while the ex- at the bottom opening to about 19. and it is generally laminar when from the external screen is 1 m/s and the internal driven only by buoyancy without wind effects. are high as they move toward the exhaust to get out ure 8 shows the building’s air velocity model. from the stack. when the air is forced through the The air velocity through the cavity is due to buoy.45 m/s. velocity in the chimney is higher close to the back let to 2. the velocities are increased relative to the air temperature and 480 watts/m2 incident solar en. ergy obtained from the weather data. Chimney air temperature profile Figure 6 shows the cavity air temperature near the interior glazing. The interior air temperature is slightly higher than the lower half of the chimney air in average 1°C per floor. In the back of the room. The exhaust opening. A temperature contour study has shown that the office space’s lower floors have lower internal tem- peratures compared to the higher floors. As we in- crease the shaft height. Model of air velocity vector in the building front part. smaller area. As shown in the figure figures depict the cavity model with 20° C outdoor below.

the maximum velocity at the inlet is about 11 m/s.46 m/s away from the surface and 0. Horizontal velocity gradient Figure 10 shows the horizontal velocity profile in the cavity and chimney. The greatest velocities are near the cavity outlet opening openings where the wind impacts the airflow rate. Figure 13. Model of air velocity close to the inlet opening quite high and it extracts hot stuffy air from offices . is forced through the smaller area. when air it is only driven by buoyancy. The velocity ranges from 0. Figure 15 shows velocity vectors at the openings of A small turbulent flow forms at the stack inlet and the chimney cavity model as analyzed in Figure 1 outlet. The velocity is Figure 11.332 DIGITAL APTITUDES + OTHER OPENINGS Figure 9.97m/s near the Figure 12. and stack airflow is generally laminar when Velocities are greatest near the openings. airflow through the chimney well is around 5 m/s and is driven by both wind and stack effect. In this model. Air velocity vectors in the cavity and chimney Figure 13 shows a vertical profile of air velocity vectors to the stack from the cavity. Other than at the openings. Horizontal velocity profiles Figure 10. Airflow patterns and velocity at the chimney’s opening.

The air is basically in- duced to flow upwards by a buoyancy effect cre- ated by the accumulated heat.1 0.6 0.66 21.8 23. The figure shows an air-movement trend from lowest operative temperature due to the stack ef- laminar close to the wall boundaries to turbulent in fect provided by the DSF configuration. 7 24.76 21. which could be due to slower internal air velocity generated.5 which is then extracted from the offices through hours the chimney opening.32 tilated spaces with 80 percent acceptable limits in- 5 7 22.20 0.50 50.4 24 5 23.38 7 24.000 1000 13.16 22.3 m opening for exter- 5 22.3 nal temperature 23˚C. vide better internal thermal comfort condition.3 50. Calculated air velocity in the office room: 0.2 102.5 to be more effective in extracting heat when the meter from the windows and 1 meter from the floor.19 56.19 37. 22 0.98 56.35 0. Velocity vectors in the room Figure 14 shows the section of air-flow path inside the cavity and shafts and how air from the office outlet is directed outside.11 0.8 0.71 25. The airflow inside the rooms is enhanced the natural ventilation strategy to pro- less than 1 m/s and more than 0.64 27 45. wind velocity is high and the temperature gradient K℮ RNG Turbulence Model occurs in the shaft increase the buoyancy effect.15 27. The airflow inside the cavity is much higher than what Figure 15.7 0. Average PMV index first floor months under is measured by typical examples in the literature. Results for the combined shaft- corridor DSF type as shown in Figure indicate that the DSF air gap size of 300 mm gives a comfortable result for these particular conditions in a natural ventilated space.7 0.30 from ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 55-2004. according to the Thermal June 7 3 24. Figure 15 illustrates how the flow reaches higher velocities within the inlet and outlet where pressures are higher. BEYOND ARROWS 333 to the stack and outdoors. As de- picted.19 23. are tabulated in Table 2.93 40. respectively. Run Details Model Results ∆T cavity Grid Run Model iterations inlet and Airflow rate( ) number time Figure 13 shows how air comes inside the chimney.60 0.37 0.28 22.6 42.3 0. Table 2. The simulation results are illustrated in the table There is an internal temperature difference of 1 below: ˚C for the DSF mid-floor.4 45.000. combined shaft- corridor DSF with external wind velocity of 5 m/s and 50 percent air humidity.25 57.27 26.54 25.22 acceptability limit for the 0. This has the room’s center.09 Sep 3 23. This graph shows .27 23. The airflow is likely Table 3.3 0.20 33. flow tends to be turbulent near the glazed surfaces and openings where forces are higher.4 0.04 dicated for the third floor in May.7 0.23 22.80 22.68 0.56 20 Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy 5 24 0. Figure 14.20 26. FINDINGS AND ANALYSIS The results for a south-facing.4 0.3 22.20 Figure 16 shows the PMV ranges for naturally ven- Oct 3 22 0.18 20.5 20. study The airflow inside the room is illustrated in figure The office space’s lower floors would generate the 15.40 0.1 m/s.4 .2 0.59 51.53 47.13 25.3 36.29 20.4 0.11 0. The south- Simulation Floor Level Temp C Air Velocity Radiant Temp RH % PMV OT facing DSF configuration produced an 82 percent May 3 20 0.4 24. exhaust 72 5.

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