Online educational resource on achieving indoor environmental quality with radiant based HVAC systems
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Fundamentals of indoor environmental quality / thermal comfort and air quality solutions using radiant based HVAC


Energy and Indoor Environmental Quality in Modern or Modernized Buildings

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Using building orientation for energy efficiency and IEQ
Copyright 2012 Robert Bean, R.E.T., P.L.(Eng.) and content providers. All world rights reserved

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The following is a brief overview of site and building orientation. Many problems associated with energy and the indoor climate are a function of the site geography and its climatology, and above and below grade geology and hydrology; as well as how the building is orientated on the site in relation to the prevailing flows of natural forces and by-products of man made inventions and interventions. forces of nature flow from hogh to low
Figure 1. Forces of nature flow from high to low as they seek to create balance and remember building science principle #1: What is on the outside wants in, what is on the inside wants out.

Figure 2. I took this aerial photo to show all our readers how this natural force thing works with man made activities...if you follow the plume of pollutants from its source to the diffused and dispersed zone you will see a farm yard...all I can say is it matters where you build - and it matters how you build, in relationship to your environment including the predominant directions of wind and precipitation. Even small details such as how windows open (think wind "sail") to choice in blinds to location of fresh air intakes are not trivial concerns - it all matters.

building orientation

Figure 3. When placing a building on its site, consider how the forces of nature will impact each surface of the structure as well as the indoor environment. Click image to enlarge.

3D analysis

Figure 4. Try to think in three dimensions and understand what is outside wants inside and what is inside will want outside.


Figure 5. When zoning buildings for heating and cooling loads consider all the impacts from internal elements such as interior design materials, room use, geometry etc.

other loads

Figure 6. In addition to heating and cooling loads for thermal comfort; define the other loads such as snow melting and imagine how these will be impacted by building orientation.

solar gains - seasonal

Figure 7. Solar gains can be a positive and negative load depending on geography, orientation and architectural features. Consider choices in windows, over hangs and location and type of shading devices.

location of shading

Figure 8. If solar gains will become a problem there are several choices in window types but also shading and where that shading should be placed. Best solution is to prevent the short wave radiation from entering the building which includes such strategies as external shading devices.

horizontal versus verical shading

Figure 9. Not all shading devices are equal in performance. Be sure to analyze vertical versus horizontal shades and choose the the appropriate type for the orientation.

TransSolar's Thomas Auer shares their approach to indoor climate engineering.

Figure 10. Transsolar is a climate engineering firm whose scope is to ensure the highest possible comfort in the built environment with the lowest possible impact on the environment. This is accomplished by developing and validating climate and energy concepts through the recognition that environmental conditions are influenced by all aspects and stages of design.

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