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On Comfort in Tropical Climates. The design and operation of Net Zero Energy Buildings

Abstract : This thesis investigates a comfort approach for the design and the operation of Net Zero Energy Buildings (Net ZEBs) in tropical climates. The work is part of an international research project, Task 40 / Annex 52 led by the International Energy Agency (IEA), that concerns net zero energy solar buildings. The case study of the ENERPOS building located in Reunion Island is one of the 30 Net ZEBs selected by the IEA to create a database of demonstration projects worldwide. The point of departure of the study is the observation that one of the challenges facing the intertropical zone today is the growing energy demand. Passive design is suggested as a possible solution to reduce the energydemand of buildings. This approach leads to dealing with comfort issues rather than energy issues, as is usually the case. In spite of the inherent subjective nature of occupant comfort, there is an essential need for methods and tools to characterise comfort in relation to the physical parameters of the environment, for instance, temperature, humidity, air speed and illuminance. Different approaches to thermal and visual comfort are introduced, with the aim of proposing comfort evaluation criteria that are adapted to the design offices. A thermal comfort survey of the occupants of the ENERPOS building, based on over 2,000 feedbacks was conducted from 2008 to 2011. The results have led to the recommendation of modifications in the Givoni comfort zones, notably by extending the maximum humidity level, for passive buildings combining the use of natural ventilation and ceiling fans. An innovative methodology using simulations and taking the passive behaviour of the building into account, as opposed to the conventional approach with regard to energy use, is proposed to facilitate the optimisation of the design of passive buildings. The study focuses on the design of solar shading, given the extensive role it plays in tropical climate, as well as the direct impact it has on both thermal and visual comfort of building occupants. Although the design phase aims to optimise the building to limit both discomfort and energy consumption, the operation of the building remains the critical phase that is often neglected or overlooked by design teams. A broad examination of the operation phase of the ENERPOS building, since its construction, from both energy and users’ point of view, illustrates that a building can reduce its energy consumption significantly, and thus, its environmental impact while maintaining an acceptable level of comfort for its users.
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Submitted on : Monday, July 13, 2020 - 1:59:28 PM
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Aurélie Lenoir. On Comfort in Tropical Climates. The design and operation of Net Zero Energy Buildings. Architecture, space management. Université de la Réunion, 2013. English. ⟨NNT : 2013LARE0038⟩. ⟨tel-02898132⟩



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