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Design rules of thumb for naturally ventilated office buildings in Canada Edwards, Craig

Abstract

Using natural ventilation to provide ventilation and/or cooling in commercial buildings has a number of direct benefits to the environment, building occupants, building owners, and architects. Despite advances now occurring in design methods, major obstacles still need to be overcome before a wide spread adoption of natural ventilation technologies will be seen. Most importantly, simple tools that can be used by architects in the initial stages of design of naturally ventilated buildings are required. Existing natural ventilation design rules of thumb were identified from published literature and building codes and standards. A computer model, capable of simulating both naturally induced airflow rates and building thermal performance, was used to evaluate natural ventilation performance in terms of ability to avoid overheating and provide ventilation for indoor air quality. First the effect of changes to building design parameters on the natural ventilation performance of a base case office building were investigated. Secondly, the validity and limitations of existing rules of thumb were evaluated. The base case building was a three story cross ventilated office building surrounded by large local wind and solar obstructions, simulated with climate data for the cities of Vancouver and Toronto. It was found that the development of most of the existing rules of thumb has been based on incomplete research, and the conditions under which they can be applied are poorly defined. When the limitations of these rules of thumb were investigated, it was found that the original rules of thumb are generally not accurate for either the climates of Vancouver or Toronto. More accurate ranges of applicability were developed for each rule of thumb for each of the two climates. The relative influence of design parameters on reducing overheating and increasing ventilation rates for indoor air quality were also established, and can be used to provide guidance into how changes made to the building form and fabric can effect overheating and indoor air quality.

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