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Introduction to Environmental/Climatic Design Climatic Design Factors

History and Background : Types of Climates and Corresponding Characteristics

Climatic Data and Analysis
Comfort: Concepts, Indices and Analysis
Climatic Concepts, Elements and Factors
Microclimatic Considerations
Tropical Design Theories
Tropical Climates: Hot, Humid Climates
Tropical Climates: Hot, Dry Climates
Shading: History and orientation
Fixed Shading Devices
Movable Shading Devices
Shading Designs for south windows
Design guidelines for fixed overhangs
Design guidelines for movable overhangs
Shading for east and west windows
Design of east and west horizontal overhangs
Interior Shading devices
Passive cooling; history
Passive cooling systems
Basic principles of air flow
Comfort ventilation
Building materials used in tropical design
Discussion on tropical design problem

History and Background : Types of Climates and
Corresponding Characteristics
- characterized by long,
cold winters and short,
cool summers.
- nearly all parts of the
Arctic experience long
periods with some form
of ice on the surface
- Average January temp.
range : 40 to 0 C (winter)
- Average July temp. range
: 10 to +10 C (summer)

- lie between the tropics and
the polar regions.
- changes in these regions
between summer and winter
are generally relatively
moderate, rather than
extreme hot or cold.

Tropical & Subtropical
- tropical temperature
remains relatively
constant throughout the
- seasonal variations are
dominated by
- is a tropical climate
usually (but not always) found
along the equator
- climate typically
feature tropical rainforests
- Tropical rainforest
climate is a type of tropical
climate in which there is little or
no dry season all months have
mean precipitation values
- concerned with countries where discomfort is due to
heat and humidity are the dominant problems.

Classification of Tropical, Sub-
Tropical and Equatorial Climates
Warm Humid
- Tropical Islands, one where the air
is very moist- lot of water in the air.
Usually hot and steamy.
Hot Dry
- Maritime Desert
- Minimal rain all year
- Tropical uplands, where heavy
rains alternate with dryer periods

Characteristics of Tropical Climates
Warm Humid
DBT High temperature during the
day, low diurnal change
RH relatively high
Precipitation heavy rains
especially during monsoon
Sky cloudy and glaring
Ground less vegetation
Hot Dry
DBT Very high temperature during
the day. Large diurnal range which
can be quite low during winter.
RH Low and very constant
throughout the year.
Precipitation often very low
Sky little or no cloud. Cold and
non-glaring sky
Ground sparse and often bare
-This is a mixture of warm/humid
and hot/dry climate.
-1/3 to 2/3 ratio of monsoon period
-Can be quite cold in winter.
Elements of Climate
Needed in Design
Macro Climate climate of a region and/or the entire country.
It provides the basis upon which micro-climate can be estimated.
Micro Climate climate of a site and its immediate environs.
Dry Bulb Temperature(DBT) measurement of air
temperature measured under a shade.
Relative Humidity (RH) amount of moisture in the air.
Sky (or celestial dome) is everything that lies a certain distance
above the surface of Earth, including the atmosphere and the rest
of outer space. It is here defined as only the denser portions of the
atmosphere. Some of the natural phenomena seen in the sky are
clouds, rainbows, and aurorae. Lightning and precipitation can also
be seen in the sky during storms. Due to human activities, smog
during the day and light pollution during the night are often seen
above large cities.

The design of buildings that respond to the
environment involves the use of principles of solar
design as also a detailed understanding of the complex
interrelationship between architectural design, building
materials, human behavior and climatic factors. This
kind of design, not restricted just to the use of solar
energy but including the utilization of all forms of
natural energy to provide required comfort conditions
within the built-up space may be defined as climatic
design. Before elaborating on the ways and means to
achieve human comfort in the built-space, it would be
useful to define what exactly constitutes comfort.
Thermal comfort criteria

Comfort levels are influenced by three main factors:
Mean radiant temperature (MRT):
Humidity :
Air Movement :

Modifiying Factor
Air Temperature
Mean radiant temperature (MRT):
Temperature is one of the main parameters on which comfort of the
inhabitants depends. In summer the acceptable temperature is considered to
be 24-25 degrees C while in winter/cold season it is 22-23 degrees C.
maintaining a temperature of 24 degrees C within the structure when the
outside temperature is 35-37 degrees C puts a huge strain on the HVAC
system leading to huge energy costs.
Therefore, it would be wise to revise our criteria for thermal comfort and
accept a standard for thermal neutrality instead, i.e. the person feels neither
too hot nor too cold, nor feels any local discomfort due to asymmetric
radiation, drafts, cold floors and furniture, non-uniform clothing, etc.
At same time there has to be a willingness to adapt to the local weather
conditions so as not to make unrealistic demands from the air-conditioning
system. We should realize that the days of wasteful spending are now over
and a measure of austerity has to be there in our energy spending.

The moisture content present in the air is called humidity.
The level of humidity greatly influences evaporative cooling. Greater the
moisture content in the air lesser is the effect of evaporative cooling.

Therefore efforts to reduce humidity levels within a space result in better

In the design of HVAC systems humidity level of 40-50% is considered
acceptable, but one should also remember that this standard is not a law and
human adaptability can be stretched to farther limits.
Air movement or ventilation
can be used to considerably cool the interiors of a building.

Air movement over the skin results in Evaporative cooling- as the air moves over
the skin, the perspiration on the skin surface evaporates leading to cooling of the
surrounding area.

Air movement also affects conductive-convective heat transfer between skin and
air. The velocity of the air is also important as stagnant air creates a suffocating
effect as the air turns stale due to respiration, foul odors, smoke, etc.

Therefore removal of this air and its replacement with fresh air is very important
which directly depends on adequate cross ventilation of the spaces, which results
in proper air movement and velocity.
A combination of these three factors is responsible
for the maintenance of proper living conditions
within the space.

It is therefore, possible to maximize the cooling
effect of these factors by making use of proper
design elements and the
principles of solar architecture
to reduce our dependency on external energy to
maintain a comfortable living environment.
Principles and Strategies of
Climatic Design

The objectives in the design of a structure that responds to the environment
should be to maximize solar gain in winter and minimize heat gain in summer.
Heat gain can take place in one of the following ways of natural thermal
transmission-conduction, convection and radiation in addition to evaporation,
which plays a major role in cooling of indoor environment. There is thus an
inherent contradiction in the tasks that the building envelope has to perform
in summer and cold season.

In a climate such as ours, cooling is the main factor affecting building design.
Humidity levels are also quite high along with high summer temperatures in
the high 30s. Therefore the control of solar heat gain is the most important
factor to be considered.
Sources of heat gain

The proper use of shading devices can prevent direct solar radiation from
reaching all or part of the roof, walls or windows of a building. Natural
vegetation, neighboring buildings or the surrounding landscape can provide
shading - for example on the north-facing slope of a hill or valley.
Shading devices on the building (fixed or movable, the latter being manually
or automatically controlled) can prevent radiation from reaching critical parts
such as windows, doors and even roofs. Indirect solar gain from the sky or
reflected from the surrounding buildings or the ground and air heated by
irradiated surfaces such as roads and pavements can also contribute
significantly to cooling load.

A significant amount of heat is also produced by appliances, electric lighting
and occupants, which during the overheating season can lead to
uncomfortably high temperatures. The use of Natural Daylight to replace
artificial light where appropriate and the use of high efficiency artificial
lighting can reduce cooling costs drastically, especially in commercial
buildings. Heat producing appliances should be placed such that the heat can
be quickly removed from the building to reduce cooling load.
Control of heat gain

Solar control involves the prevention of
unwanted solar heat gain taking into
consideration the following factors in design:

Microclimate and site design
Building envelope
Control of internal gains.
The Architectural Approach
(Building Envelope)
Control of internal gains.
Creating Thermal Conditions of the
Air temperature
Relative Humidity
Air Velocity
Mean Radiant Temperature
The Psychrometric Chart(s)
The Comfort Zone and various types of
discomfort outside that zone are shown on the
Psychrometric Chart
We must begin by taking note of the countries
and climates in which homes are to be built if
our design for them are to be correct. One type
of house seems appropriate for Egypt, another
for Spain one still different for Rome It is
obvious that design for homes ought to conform
to diversities of climate.
Architect, first century B.C.

Microclimate and site design
Landscaping can improve the
microclimate in both summer and
cold/stormy season, providing shading,
evaporative cooling and wind channelling
in summer, or shelter in cold season.
Vegetation absorbs large amounts of
solar radiation in summer helping to
keep the air and ground beneath cool
while evapotranspiration can further
reduce temperatures.
However some care should be taken in
the choice and placement of vegetation
on or near the building to avoid
structural damage.

Grass and other ground cover planting
can also influence the microclimate,
keeping the ground temperature lower
than most hard surfaces as a result of
evapotranspiration and their ability to
reduce the effect of solar radiation. This
happens due to the shading provided by
the grass which prevents radiation from
reaching the ground resulting in a
difference between asphalt and lawn
being as much as 25 degrees F (figures
taken from Climatic design, Energy
efficient building principles & practises/
Donald Watson and Kenneth Labs).

Windbreaks can enhance air pressure
difference around buildings and improve
cross ventilation. Hedging, for example,
can allow a gentle breeze to filter
through the foliage, while a masonry
windbreak can create a calm, sheltered
zone behind it. Gaps in windbreaks,
openings between buildings or openings
between the ground and canopy of trees
can create wind channels, increasing
wind speeds by about 20%.
Water can also be used effectively for
cooling of internal as well as surrounding
environment. Ponds, streams, fountains,
sprays and cascades can be used where
water is available in summer. These are
particularly effective in dry conditions
where relative humidity levels are low.
Microclimate and site design
Orientation to sun and wind
The orientation of the building on
site is very important to achieve
reduced heat gain and improved
wind circulation and ventilation. The
major openings in the building
envelope should be placed on the
North while the south face should be
adequately protected from heat gain
by using shading devices or
vegetation. Prevailing wind direction
should be taken into consideration
while deciding the position and size
of the openings to ensure proper
cross ventilation. This can go a long
way in improving comfort conditions
within the building.

Building shape and Planning
The configuration of the building and the arrangement of
internal spaces according to function can help to
influence the exposure to incident solar radiation, the
availability of natural daylight and airflow in and around
the building.
In general, a compact building will have a relatively small
exposed surface, or in other words a low surface to
volume ratio (SVR). This can offer advantages for the
control of heat gains through the building skin without
conflict between design priorities for winter and summer
months. There are a range of other options to improve
thermal performance including courtyards, construction
on pilotis, use of wing walls, etc. however the
relationship between form and thermal transmission are
not very critical as a number of strategies are available to
counteract its negative effects. More important are the
effect of building form on wind channelling and airflow
patterns and the opportunities for enhancing the use of

Natural Ventilation
Ventilation provides cooling by
using air to carry heat away
from the building and from the
human body. Air movement
may be induced either by
natural forces (wind and stack
effect) or mechanical power.
Airflow patterns are a result of
differences in pressure patterns
around and within the building.
Neighbouring landforms such as
slopes and valleys can be used
to increase the exposure to
summer breezes along with
proper orientation to wind.
Openings should be oriented to
catch the prevailing summer

Air moves from high-pressure regions to low pressure ones.
When the outside air temperature is lower than the inside air
temperature, building ventilation can exhaust internal heat
gains or solar heat gain during the day and cool air during the
night if required. Indoor air movement enhances the
convective exchange at skin surface and increases the rate of
evaporation of moisture from the skin. Evaporation is a very
powerful mechanism for cooling which may bring a feeling of
comfort to the occupants under hot conditions. However, to
be effective the surrounding air should not be too humid
(relative humidity less than 85%). Turbulent air movement
will hinder both of these mechanisms of heat removal.

Both the design of the building itself as well its surrounding
spaces can have a major impact on the effectiveness of
natural cooling through ventilation. The rate of air flow
through the building will be affected by location, sizing and
air flow characteristics of the openings (wing walls, louvers,
overhangs can be used to direct summer wind flow into the
interior), the effect of indoor obstacles to air movement
(open plan spaces promote air flow), the effects of the
external shape of the building in relation to wind direction,
etc. The total airflow normally depends on a combination of
buoyancy and wind pressure differences, and is affected by
the size and location of openings.
Proper placement of openings
along with the use of wing
walls can greatly enhance the
effect of ventilation by
increasing wind pressure
differences and consequently
air velocity within the space.

Other strategies for improving
ventilation are wing walls,
wind towers and solar

Solar chimney
Solar chimneys use the sun to warm
the internal surface of the chimney.
The buoyancy generated due to the
temperature difference help induce
an upward flow along the plate. The
chimney width should be close to the
boundary layer to prevent backward

Wing walls
Many buildings having rooms with lust
one external wall are difficult to ventilate
naturally. Even rooms with two windows
placed as far as possible will offer limited
ventilation. However, research has found
that airflow in rooms with two windows
on one wall can be further augmented by
the use of wing walls (small walls
perpendicular to the main wall). These
projections create positive pressure over
one window and negative over the other,
achieving cross ventilation of the room
by drawing air in on one side and forcing
it out on the other side.
Wind towers
Wind towers draw upon the force of
wind to generate air movement within
the building. There are various systems
based on this principle. The wind-scoop
inlets of the tower oriented toward the
windward side capture the wind and
drive the air down the chimney. The air
exits through leeward openings in the
building. Alternatively, the chimney cap is
designed to create low pressure at the
top of the tower, and the resultant drop
in air pressure causes the air to rise
through the chimney. A windward
opening should be incorporated in the
system as an inlet. The buoyancy of the
warm air inside the building aids this
process. Both these systems can be
combined in a single tower providing
both admittance and exhaust of air thus
creating a self sustained system.

Microclimate and site design
Limitations of wind induced ventilation

Wind induced ventilation would be an ideal strategy if
winds were in a steady direction and intensity (greater
than 3m/s). In reality, however winds are extremely
variable and detailed weather data is not readily
available for most sites. Also the rate of air changes in a
naturally ventilated system will vary and therefore
cause some inconvenience. Also a detailed study of the
effect of measures taken to enhance ventilation has not
been made due to which reliable information on the
subject is not available.
Design of Openings
Shading systems
Fixed shading systems
Movable shading systems
Thermal insulation
Air infiltration
Design of openings
The balance between heating, cooling and day-lighting is a critical consideration for
the choice of orientation and size of opening. Building type and Building Regulations
also influence this choice. However, the use of additional devices such as overhangs,
shutters, blinds and louvers allow some scope to correct or limit the unfavourable
orientations for large glazed areas. The sizing of north facing openings is less affected
by seasonal variations and may be determined largely by day lighting and cross
ventilation requirements. North facing openings can provide an almost uniform
daylight source. Effective cross ventilation typically requires openings distributed
across opposing facades, with minimal internal barriers to impede airflow. The proper
treatment of south and west facing windows is therefore very important to prevent
unnecessary heat gain. For single sided ventilation the shape of opening becomes
important, horizontal formats being more economical in simulating internal air
velocities. The design of openings should be undertaken in conjunction with the
overall solar strategy.

The building envelope design strategy must encompass winter and summer conditions
so that, for example, excessive solar heat gain can be avoided in summer while
adequate daylight is available throughout the year, thus avoiding the need for artificial
lighting during the day, consequently reducing cooling loads.
Shading systems
Blocking the solar radiation from reaching the building,
particularly the glazed, but also the other opaque
surfaces (including the roof) and reflecting the solar
radiation is fundamental to the prevention of heat gain.
While shading systems must provide good solar
protection in summer, they should not reduce solar
gain in winter, impede natural lighting or obstruct cross
ventilation. Well-designed shading systems can actually
enhance natural day lighting and ventilation. Shading
systems can be either fixed or movable and placed
internally, externally or between double glazed panels.
Vegetation can also be used to provide shading.
The type of glazing used can also affect the solar heat
gain of the building. Glazing may be either clear or may
have special coatings or treatments to enhance its
reflective or heat absorbing properties. Electrochromic
glass allows the radiation transmission properties to be
altered by varying an electric current that is passed
through the glass panel. Other new types of high
performance glass called low-e glass are also now
available which have low emission values compared to
normal glass. The use of sun films can also reduce the
penetration of solar radiation.

Fixed shading systems
Fixed shading systems include structural elements such as balconies and
projecting fins or shelves and non-structural elements such as canopies,
blinds, louvers and screens. The orientation and shape of the opening to be
shaded, relative to the position of the sun at different times of the day and
year is critical to the design of fixed shading systems. Each orientation will
need to be examined separately, taking account of direct and diffuse and
reflected components of solar radiation throughout the day and year.
Typically horizontal shading is used for south facades while vertical fins or
louvers are more efficient for east and west facades. Fixed shading systems
are generally used externally as when used internally heat build-up between
the system and glazing can reduce the effectiveness of the system by as much
as 30%.
Movable shading systems
Movable shading is use either internally or externally. Control can be either manual or
power assisted and may be automated to respond to changing conditions such as
current radiation levels and daylighting or thermal requirements.

Awnings can reduce heat gain by up to 65% in summer on south facades and up to
80% on east or west facades. The geometry of awnings is similar to that of horizontal
overhangs but efficiency will also depend on how opaque the material is to both
direct and diffused radiation and the presence of dust which might change the
absorption and radiation characteristics of the awning. Normally, an air gap should be
provided between the awning and glazing for air circulation. The efficiency of awnings
may also deteriorate with age and weather damage.

Venetian blinds can permit simultaneous ventilation and shading which is controllable
and may allow daylight to be reflected, to the ceiling, for example. With the exception
of reflective blinds, curtains and blinds fitted internally are less satisfactory as they
provide shade only after radiation has passed through the glazing. The use of curtains
and internal blinds may often conflict with the daylighting or ventilation needs.
Vegetation can be used effectively for shading of the building. A major
advantage of natural shading using vegetation is that plants constantly
rearrange and reposition their leaves for maximum solar exposure and
therefore maximize shading, while artificial shading is generally inflexible.

A curtain of vines or creepers in the external walls will reduce heat
penetration and help maintain cooler temperatures within the rooms.

Shady trees will control the light and heat reflected off the roads and
pavements onto the walls and roof of the structure if it is within the shadow

Terrace gardens can further reduce heat transmission through the roof. As the
roof is responsible for 50% of the heat load this can achieve temperature
drops of 3 degrees C to 5 degrees C.

Thermal insulation
Thermal insulation may combine two physical processes;
reducing the thermal transmittance of the envelope and
maximizing long wave radiation. Usually, only the first is taken
into consideration, but both these processes can be incorporated
in the concept of radiant barriers. The development of higher
quality foil products and research showing the most efficient way
to install these, have resulted in major energy savings in hot
regions, for example, a low emissivity material like aluminium
foil, next to an air gap will impede radiation, thus reducing the
temperature of the inner layer and also radiant room
temperature. At night, the foil blocks radiant heat exchange,
reducing night cooling. When properly installed, radiant barriers
can reduce cooling loads by as much as 10%.

Air infiltration

Air infiltration represents a major cooling load in hot climates. By
sealing areas or introducing air infiltration barriers where
different building materials join together, summer heat gain and
excessive use of mechanical equipment for cooling can be
dramatically reduced.