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The impact of thermal transmittance variation on building design in the Mediterranean region

Fernandes, Marco S., Rodrigues, Eugénio, Gaspar, Adélio Rodrigues, Costa, José J., Gomes, Álvaro
Applied energy 2019 v.239 pp. 581-597
air conditioning, buildings, energy, geometry, latitude, residential housing, transmittance, Mediterranean region, Northern European region
Contrarily to what happens in northern European countries, buildings in the Mediterranean region are prone to overheating. Consequently, it is important to better understand the role that the thermal transmittance of the building envelope elements has on air-conditioning consumptions. This paper analyzes the effect of different U-values on building design in the Mediterranean area. 192000 residential buildings were randomly generated for sixteen distinct locations and the energy consumption was assessed for each. It was found that in northern Mediterranean locations, as U-values decreased, energy consumption also decreased. However, in warmer climates, low thermal transmittances tended to significantly increase energy consumption. Hence, the lower the latitude, the higher the U-values should be, in order to prevent increasing the cooling demands. Additionally, geometry-based indexes were correlated with the building’s energy performance. For high U-values, it was found that bigger buildings worsen the energy performance and larger windows tended to improve it. For low U-values, bigger north-facing windows were beneficial. There is an adequate interval of values for which the geometry has a lower impact, which is wider and higher for lower latitudes, thus meaning that not only does the building performance improve but architects are also freer to explore alternative designs.