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Fifth German-Austrian IBPSA Conference

RWTH Aachen University

MEDITERRANEAN BUILDINGS REFURBISHMENT: THERMAL MASS AND


NATURAL VENTILATION SIMULATED CONTROL

F. Calcerano, C. Cecchini
PhD in Environmental Design, PDTA Department
Sapienza, University of Rome, Rome, Italy

that exploit thermal inertia and natural ventilation, it


ABSTRACT is essential to analyse the complex relationship
This paper aims to analyse the state of the art of between the two bioclimatic control strategies and
energy performance simulated control in existing environmental, technological and design-specific
buildings refurbishment. It focuses on the factor (Braun, 2003).
contribution of thermal mass and natural ventilation
as strategies aimed at improving passive buildings MEDITERREAN AREA
performance in Mediterranean climates represented The Mediterranean area is defined in the present
by three locations, Rome, Neaples and Messina. study according to the Kppen climatic classification.
As for single sided and cross ventilation combined The definition refers to those territories directly
with two different massive typologies, simulation facing the Mediterranean basin, because of their
results show an average discomfort hours and energy climatic specificity.
consumption reductions of respectively 82% and 68
% in Rome and Neaples, 45% and 28% in Messina,
where those strategies are less effective due to lesser
thermal daily range.
INTRODUCTION
The existing building stock in Europe accounts for
over 40% of the global demand of primary energy:
buildings in Europe consume approximately 40% of
economys incoming materials and are responsible Figure 1: reference areas of the Mediterranean basin
for over 45% of total amount of greenhouse gases
For the purpose of this study, the Kppen-Pinna
produced (Ardente et al., 2011). Considering that in
Mediterranean classification of Italian climate is
Europe new constructions account for 1,5% of the
compared with the national legal classification.
building stock, there is a great potential for reducing
Although the latter is valid only for the winter
global energy consumption and mitigate the
condition, it is largely employed as a reference in
environmental impact one of the main political and
architectural practice and energy certification. This
economical issues of our time through interventions
specification is intended to frame the study within a
on existing buildings (Economidou et al., 2011);
possible line of future development of legislation,
(Baek and Park, 2012). Energy refurbishment
whose climate classification is now deeply rooted in
consists in applying the best technology set to
professional practice.
achieve improved energy performance while
maintaining satisfactory levels of service and indoor Following subtypes are defined:
thermal comfort, under a given numberof operational subtropical (Csa prone to Bs): humid tropical
constraints (Ma et al., 2012). Numerous studies have climate with very hot summer prone to arid
been conducted on the application of the techniques climate with average temperature above
of upgrading the energy efficiency of residential 18C, low and irregular rainfall
buildings (Cohen et al., 1991) analyse practices and
mild temperate (Csa): humid tropical climate
intervention costs on the envelope in the nineties
with very hot and dry summer with average
showing that interventions on the opaque envelope
temperature of the hottest month above 22
insulation are more efficient in terms of both energy
and cost of replacing the glass surfaces (Hens, 2010) C.
shows how the interventions on the central plants and sub-coastal (Csb prone to Cfb): humid
optimisation of ventilation (even in terms of air temperate climate with hot summer and
tightness) are generally more impactful in terms of average temperature of the hottest month
energy efficiency compared to the benefits of solar below 22 C.
collectors and photovoltaic panels. As for retrofits

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These climatic subtypes are represented in this study THERMAL INERTIA


by respectively, Messina (M), Naples (N) and
The energy storage (primarily heat but also
Rome(R) (Italy).
electricity) is an optimisation and rationalisation
strategy that has been widely investigated in recent
years. It proved to be particularly effective where
energy demand and supply diverge. It shows
significant potential as for the exploitation of
renewable sources and the recovery of energy that
ROME would be lost (ECES, 2012). The thermal storage is
NAPLES
an essential requirement of buildings especially in the
Mediterranean area, as it allows the exploitation (and
MESSINA
management) of the solar radiation, which is the most
influencing factor in the energy balance. To this
CLIM ATIC SUBTYPES
SUBTROPICAL
CLIM ATE CLASSIFIC ATION according to D. P.R. 412/93 extent, several types of energy storage can be
B MESSINA
MILD-EMPER ATE C NAPLES distinguished (Karlsson, 2012):
SUBCOAS TAL D ROME
sensible heat storage, due to the thermal
Figure 2: reference location matching to the climatic capacitance of building materials;
subtype compared with climatic classification latent heat storage, based on the material
according to D.P.R. 412/93 phase change from the solid state to the
liquid and vice-versa, in relation to a
The temperature range amplitude a key element for thermal threshold (melting temperature);
the future legislation for the summer conditions - is a
chemical storage, a long-term chemical
prerequisite to optimal functioning of both the
process that triggers within the material
thermal mass and natural ventilation strategies, as it
itself.
enhances the heat loads dispersion of the building in
Usually, buildings apply the principle of sensible
the warm season. Rome and Naples have an optimal
heat storage, since the materials always absorb and
value (above 14 C between day and night), while
retain heat, depending on their own thermo-physical
Messina has the lowest value (9 C), below the
properties and inside/outside temperature differential.
threshold of efficient application of the strategies
The storage principle can be passive when the
examined (Givoni, 1998; Szokolay, 1985).
thermal mass is directly exposed to the air of the
EXISTING BUILDING STOCK interior space (indirect gain) or to the heat source
(direct gain), it can be active when it is due to an
The existing housing stock covers approximately
indirect action within the construction element
75% of the total building stock in Europe. Most of
(through masonry gaps or sub-flooring, ceilings or
the stock was built before the '70s. In Italy the most
crawl spaces) by both the thermal mass and a
common and energy-consuming building type refers
mechanically controlled heat transfer fluid. The
to the period between 1961 and 1981.
passive mode is the traditional way of thermal
storage as shown by the Mediterranean archetypes: in
summer, the energy provided by the high solar gains
in a given period of the day is absorbed in large part
by a massive wall and released later on. To reduce
the cooling load, the solar gain must be removed
through heat dissipation strategies, such as natural
ventilation and superficial convective motions
(Braun, 2003).
To show sufficient values of thermal inertia, the
Figure 3: data relating to the 2001 ISTAT census of construction materials must possess a proper thermal
Italian building(Corrado et al., 2012) diffusivity, that determines the depth that the diurnal
thermal wave reaches within the architectural
Typically, these buildings have massive structures component: materials with a high thermal diffusivity
with the following main features: are much more effective for the accumulation of
concrete structure with cladding of hollow cyclic heat at great depths than those with a low
brick or concrete/prefabricated concrete value (Li and Xu, 2006)
blocks or hollow masonry; A proper thermal mass design can theoretically keep
the temperature of the environment within the
no thermal insulation before 1976, low level comfort range (Balaras, 1996) by absorbing/releasing
(0.8 W/mqK) between 1976 and 1991; heat by convection between its inner surface and the
internal environment and by radiation among the
mass itself, the surrounding surfaces and the external
environment (Lechner, 2009). It is specified that the

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directly irradiated components are most effective for flow rates. This category may also include
heat storage, while, those indirectly irradiated, and Earth Pipes (EP) that use the downward
then exposed to the indoor environment, are more ventilation principle as a driver;
suitable for the management of the indoor
Upward Ventilation (UV): buoyancy-driven,
temperature in summer conditions (International
it depend on the temperature differential
PLEA Conference et al., 1989). However, the
between outside and inside, from the height
effectiveness of the thermal mass in providing the
appropriate thermal inertia of the building, depends differences between the openings, and from
on a number of environmental, design and the section of the duct.
technological factors, such as climate specificity, The ventilation strategy must ensure adequate levels
wall orientation, natural ventilation, space and of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) via air changes
activities organisation, location of insulation and throughout the whole year. However, whilst natural
thermal mass, and occupants behavior and activities. ventilation can be sufficient for achieving adequate
igrothermal comfort and IAQ in the middle season, in
NATURAL VENTILATION the cold season this supply air will constitute an heat
In the process of ventilation inside a building, air loss to be limited by a passive means (pre-treatment),
exchange occurs within the confined environment. and in the hot season the dispersions should be
Ventilation performs two main function: it regulates maximised in order to reduce energy consumption.
the concentration of air pollutants and affects Ventilation heat exchanges occur through the air
igrothermal condition of the environment (Tucci, (used as heat transfer fluid) by convection between
2012). With the increased air tightness of buildings, air and building surfaces using other natural or
Mechanical Ventilation (MV) was responsible for the artificial elements (like the same air, the ground, the
largest increase in energy consumption of the water, the sky or the building mass) as thermal
building sector in recent years (Kwon et al., 2013); flywheel. Ventilation techniques are:
(Heiselberg, 2002). Ventilation that uses simple Body Ventilation (BV): cooling purpose,
physical principles as driving force is called natural based on convective exchanges between the
(NV) and occurs through envelope openings or body of the occupants and the external air. It
spaces specifically design. The benefits of Natural depends on the speed of the air and the
Ventilation in terms of energy consumption, comfort temperature difference between air and skin)
(air velocity fluctuations arising from natural (Grosso, 1997);
ventilation are more comfortable than uniform fields
of mechanical ventilation air flow) and hygiene Structural Ventilation (SV): cooling
(connected to the phenomena of Sick Building purposes based on convective exchanges
Syndrome of mechanical ventilation systems) have between external air and the mass of the
attracted renewed attention on this strategy and its building, depending on daily thermal range,
variations in hybridisation with the mechanical the thermal inertia of the structures, flow
systems (Su et al., 2009); (Kleiven, 2003). Natural speed and direction (Siew et al., 2011). The
ventilation can be triggered by the winds (for absence of occupants allows for greater air
dynamic pressure difference) or by buoyancy (for flow and lower temperature during the night;
static pressure difference mainly resulting from a Room Ventilation (RV): both cooling and
temperature differential between external and internal heating purpose in case of air pre-treatement,
environment, and from an elevation differential based on convective exchanges between air
between the openings on the envelope) (Linden,
and the environment and charaterised by
1999; Allard, 1998; Chenvidyakarn, 2013).
igrothermal comfort limits for the occupants.
The ventilation principle can be (Grosso, 1997):
Cross Ventilation (CV): wind driven, Table 1:
efficient in terms of flow rate and dependent Natural Ventilation summary
on the wind incidence angle, on the ratio
between the height and depth of the room, HEAT
VENTILATION VENTILATION
and the presence of obstacles to the flow; EXCHANGE
TECHNIQUE PRINCIPLE
TYPE (HET)
Single-Sided Ventilation (SSV): mainly
Microclimatic,
wind-driven, less efficient in terms of flow BV,SV,RV CV,SSV,DV,UV
air (M)
rate and more influenced by the temperature Geothermal,
difference between outside and inside, and RV EP
ground (G)
the height difference between the openings; Evaporative,
RV DV
Downward Ventilation (DV): wind-driven, it Water (W)
has the advantage of capturing the winds at a Radiative,
SV,RV through collectors
greater heights than the environment to be night Sky (S)
ventilated, so that it is able to achieve higher

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The technological systems currently available for the allows both upward and downward air flow.
use of natural ventilation in an energy retrofit project They are usually associated with other
can be classified in Physical (PE) and Non-Physical ventilation systems, and generally used at the
(NPE) elements (Siew et al., 2011). beginning of the process (such as
Physical Elements underground earth pipes or openings on the
building), or at the top of the tower
Openings on the building envelope -
(windcatchers), or in synergy with the tower
Working Range (WR): hot and middle
as the evaporative system or the presence of
seasons. Heat Exchange Type (HET):
vegetation.
microclimatic. The openings act as the basis
of almost all the natural ventilation systems Non-Physical Elements
and always constitute a context-based Manual or automatic control working range: all
necessary feature for the optimisation of year. The automatic control requires the installation
natural ventilation systems. Openings of special sensors capable of measuring the necessary
positioning triggers and defines the path of parameters required for the application of control
the wind flow, reducing at the same time the strategies (Mahdavi and Prglhf, 2005). Although a
energy consumption that results from the use user is often willing to accept a wider range of
of artificial light. Artificial obstacles wing comfort when in control of the openings, automatic
walls may be used in combination with the control is usually more effective than manual control
openings to increase the pressure differential (Baker and Standeven 1995; Allard, 1998).
between two windows, and then the induced THE SIMULATION CONTRIBUTION
natural ventilation (Mak et al., 2007).
The impact of strategic decisions on energy and
Ventilated faade and roof - working range: environmental characteristics of bioclimatic design is
all year. Heat exchange type: microclimatic, higher when these decisions are close to the early
radiative night sky. Ventilated facades and stages of the process (Lechner, 2009). In order to
roofs are constitutive elements of the maximize comfort and reduce energy consumption
envelope. They consist of two layers the design of a naturally ventilated massive building
separated by an air gap with openings to the has to adapt to site-specific microclimatic conditions
outside and / or inside, which allow the air on a daily basis. A proper simulation analysis can be
passage to and from the interspace. In the a useful starting point for solving the problem
summer, buoyancy forces create a (Stephan et al., 2007). The Numerical Simulation
circulation of air that subtracts heat from the (NS) is the creation of a "behavioral" model of a
building by convection. During the winter building at a given stage of its development. The
the gap may be closed to exploit the effect of numerical simulation also implies that this model is
static air gap, or opened to disperse the vapor run through a computer, calculated and analysed in
avoiding condensation, particular outside- its performance post-processing the results. The
inside circulation can be allowed by passive models are elaborated by reducing to a certain level
systems like the Trombe-Michel wall; of abstraction the physical entities of the real world
and the phenomena related to them (Augenbroe,
Couryards, bioclimatic atria, sunspaces and 2002). Numerical simulation is therefore a key tool in
buffer spaces - working range: all year. Heat the energetic retrofit of the building stock, because it
exchange type: microclimatic. All these treats the building as a system of interrelated
systems act as thermal mediators (with elements that can be optimised, rather than a sum of a
courtyards being more efficient on low rise number of elements designed and optimised
buildings and bioclimatic atria being more separately for subsystems (Hensen, 2004). The use of
efficient over a certain height) (Aldawoud a correct simulative methodology does also imply the
and Clark, 2008). The buffer space and use of an appropriate scale of resolution on the
sunspaces are both thermal and ventilative model. For example, a numerical simulation is much
intermediate environments between the more effective for comparing different design
inside and the outside. During the winter, alternatives in terms of energy performance rather
they can be used as a store of pre-heated than accurately predicting the energy performance of
supply air if the exposure allows, whilst in a design solution in absolute terms (Hensen, 2004).
the summer they can be used as extractors The numerical simulation then looks for the
(Tucci, 2012). sensitive variables, those energetic trends, that are
more influent on the final result of the simulations
Wind towers, earth pipes - working range:
and then on the objectives to be achieved through
all year. Heat exchange type: microclimatic,
them (Attia et al., 2013). This paper addresses one
evaporative water, geothermal ground. The specific question: as in the Mediterranean climate
wind towers are morphological-constructive thermal mass and natural ventilation have a dominant
elements with a vertical development that

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Fifth German-Austrian IBPSA Conference
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role in the energy behavior of a building, what is the different stakeholders of the refurbishment process
impact in terms of comfort and energy savings of (Milardi, 2012). The comfort index is the most
their interaction? The following table summarizes important factor, since it represents the main
four different simulation sub-categories, including prerequisite to the refurbishment success; in parallel,
dynamic multi-zonal numerical simulation. This was the energy consumption index is used not only as a
chosen to address our question due to the fact that it key to understand the buildings behavior, but also as
represents a good compromise between computation a useful tool to verify, even if in a theoretical way,
time and the degree of knowledge acquired on the the improvements of the buildings energy
simulated building, thus allowing to get immediate performance through the selected strategies of natural
results on the igrothermic state of the simulated ventilation in combination with Thermal Mass (TM).
environments, air flow, comfort, and energy According to an approach that places the
consumption. (Chen, 2009; Clarke, 2001; Foucquier comfort as an objective and the energy
et al., 2013; Hensen, 2003; Morbitzer, 2003; consumption as a "cost" aimed to achieving comfort,
Ramponi and Blocken, 2012). the passive behavior of the building will be assessed
through a comparison of the energy performance
Table 2: index and the environmental comfort achieved (both
Simulation sub-categories summary in the hot season).
Since this study focuses on the passive thermal
SUB- STRENGTHS mass and natural ventilation simulated control in
CATEGO MAIN USE AND Mediterranean area, it will be possible to proceed
RIES WEAKNESSES according to the adaptive comfort model defined by
inaccurate EN 15251:2008 which identifies three categories in
Semi- results, low level relation to the ideal operating temperature trend To,
Broad quantitative
empirical of knowledge among which the paper chooses the second with To =
indication
model obtainable on the 0.33Te (external temperature) +18.8 3 (with an
building 80% of acceptability).
Short The above-mentioned indicator is associated with the
Application to the
computation ideal energy consumption value for cooling purpose
whole building, able
Multi-zonal time, high
to deal with the time (shown in kWh/m2y), in order to transfer the
model interoperability
evolution of the reasoning to professional practice.
with other
physical parameters. To this purpose, the considered range for the ideal
models
plants setting refers to the adaptive comfort
High
Suited to the study of Computation
temperature range, larger that the Fangers one - in
Zonal order to better evaluate the contribution of a passive
indoor comfort and air time, high degree
model strategy to the reduction of energy consumption.
flow analysis of air of expertise
required.
SIMULATION
Highest level of
Suitable for the Using openings on the building envelope and
accuracy and
Computing distribution of automatic control in their interactions with two
computing time,
fluyd contaminants in the different thermal masses, 18 cm thick concrete wall
very high degree
dynamics air and air flow (A), 30 cm thick concrete wall (B), referring to the
of expertise
analysis
required. hot season (from the 1st June to the 30th September)
for three different cities (Rome, Naples and
PERFORMANCE INDICATORS Messina), a set of numerical simulations of single-
sided and cross room ventilation is then run.
During the last two decades, the time spent by people The simplified model adopted is an isolated
in confined environments (currently around 90% of residential house, south facing, representative of the
their own life) has increased. European and national existing Italian building stock, with a floor area of 56
legislation has gradually tightened quality standards square meters (7 m width x 8 m depth), and a height
on living spaces (Lopardo, 2011), placing indoor of 3 meters. Internal gains (lights, people and electric
environmental comfort (including igrothermal equipment) are set from a hypothetical residential
comfort and indoor air quality, IAQ) as the ultimate occupancy pattern.
goal, and as main condition for the success of The single-sided ventilation is triggered by a
adopted refurbishment strategies. window, the cross-ventilation by two windows on
As such, it is necessary to translate the buildings opposite sides, both with low-emissivity glass (to
behavior through a series of synthetic indicators represent the most disadvantaged condition in terms
measuring the buildings trend in various fields of of ventilation and ach point of view), whose areas are
investigation: indicators are generally a combination (individually or in pairs) one-eighth of the floor area
of several quantifiable and verifiable factors, which of the apartment according to the hygiene regulations
should preferably be of widespread use to easily in force in Italy.
understand how to promote communication between

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Table 3: sharp rise in the city of Messina (on average 1.7


Model envelope thermo physical properties times the hours of discomfort, 2.5 times the energy
consumption).
CONSTR. U YIE FD
TYPE [W/(m2K)] [W/(m2K)] [h] - Table 4:
Roof 0.88 0.20 10.45 0.23 Simulation results
Ground floor 0.43 0.11 10.31 0.26
18 CLS wall 2.41 1.13 6.00 0,47 Model DR EC
DBS DNV EBS ENV
30 CLS wall 2.01 0.48 9.14 0,24 Type P P
Window 1.00 / / [kW
[kWh/
/ [h/y] [h/y] % h/m2 %
m2y]
The software adopted for the simulations is Energy+ y]
(Henninger and Witte 2011). For each interpolation R_A_
1.688 286 -83 23 9 -61
between locations, envelope type and natural SSV
ventilation principle (es. R, _A_SSV), two R_A_
1.657 235 -86 22 6 -71
CV
Benchmark Simulations (BS), set with a minimum of
R_B_
0,5 ach from infiltration, paired with two natural 1.776 50 -97 21 6 -72
SSV
ventilation simulation, are run. The first benchmark R_B_
simulation, called Discomfort Benchmark Simulation 1.621 82 -95 20 4 -80
CV
(DBS), calculates the model as it is and shows the N_A_
total hours of discomfort during the simulation 1.464 497 -66 28 11 -60
SSV
running period (expressed in hours/yearly in N_A_
1.431 484 -66 27 10 -63
reference to the heat excess discomfort in the CV
summer period). Associating to this simulation its N_B_
1.494 260 -83 25 8 -69
Naturally Ventilated Relative Simulation (DNV) SSV
allows to obtain an estimate of the Discomfort hours N_B_
1.724 270 -84 24 7 -71
CV
Reduction Potential (DRP), expressed as a
M_A_
percentage, of the passive systems in examination. 2.761 1.694 -39 64 51 -21
SSV
The other benchmark simulation, called Energy M_A_
Benchmark simulation (EBS), has a thermostat that 2.607 1.366 -48 63 43 -31
CV
activates (on adaptive comfort range) a theoretical M_B_
plant whenever the igrothermal condition of the 2.665 1.578 -41 58 44 -24
SSV
building goes beyond the limits of comfort, taking
into account the subsequent primary energy
consumption (expressed in kWh/m2y for cooling
purpose). Energy Naturally Ventilated simulation
(ENV) along with thermostat and theoretical plants
shows the Energy Consumption reduction Potential
(ECP). The relationship between these two
reductions and the effectiveness of natural ventilation
and thermal mass are then investigated. In order to
simulate this combination, the Airflow Network
model of Energy+ that allows for calculation of
multizone airflows due to wind and surface leakage,
is adopted (NREL, 2013). A ventilation control mode
based on the temperature differential between inside Figure 4: Discomfort hour analysis
and outside temperature is set: if the room
temperature (Troom) > outdoor temperature (Tout) and
Troom > summer threshold temperature (Tst = 21C),
windows are opened with an opening factor set to
0,5, and Troom and Tout difference lower and upper
limit set to 5C and 10C.
ANALYSIS OF THE RESULTS
In terms of absolute values of discomfort hours and
energy consumption, the benchmark simulations
confirm the results of previous research (Cesaratto
and De Carli, 2010; Sibilio et al., 2009) revealing
comparable Rome and Naples values (around 24
kWh/m2y and 1600 discomfort hours per year) and a Figure 5: Energy consumption analysis

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Similarly, the natural ventilation simulations show an REFERENCES


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