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Using Passive Façade Design Strategies

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Mike Flood
26 Jan 2020
3 min read
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Introduction

Energy-efficient design requires us to design different types of buildings in different climates. We’ve seen this historically as indigenous builders built very climate responsive homes and gathering spaces intuitively, without codes, without BIM, and without energy modelling. Passive design is all about designing within the limitation of the relevant climate.  

FenestraPro is a design tool that promotes passive design strategies – whether that be by controlling internal heat gains, the design of sun shading, thermal comfort requirements, or optimizing natural daylight within a space. Architects and designers can understand the impact that aesthetic or geometric design of the envelope can have on performance and vice versa.  

Climate Consultant in Dublin, Ireland

We’ve been playing with a great tool recently called Climate Consultant that allows designers to understand the resources of their unique local climate and how it might influence the performance of their buildings, before putting pen to paper. It provides simple passive design strategy guidelines that can be applied as designers use FenestraPro to optimize the building design to yield huge energy savings. Let’s look at an example!

If we take a site in our hometown of Dublin, Ireland and input some basic data, Climate Consultant will display a psychrometric chart, with each dot representing the temperature and humidity of each of the 8760 hours per year. Different passive design strategies are represented by specific zones on this chart. Climate Consultant 4.0 analyzes the distribution of this psychrometric data in each Design Strategy zone to create the unique list of design guidelines, with the most effective passive heating or passive cooling strategies for that climate zone.

FenestraPro Dublin Ireland
ASHRAE FenestraPro passive design strategies
FenestraPro passive design strategies

From there, FenestraPro provides a simple list of priorities for the designer to consider as they develop conceptual or schematic designs. But crucially, using FenestraPro can quantify the impacts of some of the highest priority advice. For example, for passive solar heating face most of the glass south to maximize winter sun exposure, we can quantify the appropriate wall-to-window ratio and optimize WWR to South to maximize exposure to reflect this.  

FenestraPro passive design strategies

We can ‘design appropriate overhangs to fully shade in summer’.

We can select from a range of different glass types to provide double pane high performance glazing (Low-E)  on west, north and east, but clear on south for maximum passive solar gain.

Other climate zones may have further advice related to the façade such as controlling and quantifying internal overheating. 

And accounting for solutions such as higher performing glazing specification or shading devices, we can quantify and understand outline daylighting performance. We can organise floorplans and programming so winter sun can penetrate into daytime spaces with specific functions, while also accounting for shading and glass specification. 

Conclusion

So, by understanding the climate, identifying the key design strategies, and using FenestraPro to develop these strategies towards key design decisions, architects can quickly optimize their envelope.  Furthermore, we can understand the impact these performance metrics will have on the aesthetic of the envelope, and how specific climates will affect architectural designs.

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Mike Flood
About the author

BIM Applications Manager @ FenestraPro. Passionate about Revit and finding more efficient BIM workflows.

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