An investigation into the use of thermal mass to improve comfort in British housing

Rodrigues, Lucélia Taranto (2010) An investigation into the use of thermal mass to improve comfort in British housing. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

The UK Government has set ambitious targets for reducing energy use in buildings, including the target for all new homes to be zero-carbon by 2016. In addition, the government is committed to promote Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) as a solution for the shortage in housing that the country has been experiencing for a number of years. MMC have the potential to meet the new stricter building regulations and produce better quality homes that may use less energy for space heating but may also create homes that are more susceptible to overheating. Hence the paradox lies on the fact that a rising demand for cooling may be a result of the effort to reduce energy demand for heating.

This innovative research evaluates eight different construction methods built to meet the proposed targets and demonstrates by means of computer simulations and field monitoring that overheating in British homes may be a serious current issue if it is not accounted for during the design and construction of houses and that it will be a major problem in the future, when most of the houses built now will still be in use. It also shows that traditional heavyweight thermal mass integrated in a dwelling envelope may help overcome the issue but it presents limited benefits in highly insulated buildings and its integration may jeopardise some of the benefits of MMC constructions. Therefore the use of solutions such as Phase Change Materials (PCM) and Earth-Air Heat Exchangers (EAHE) may become of more importance in the near future.

These strategies have been assessed by means of computer simulation, laboratory and field experimental work and have been shown effective. Two real life applications where these strategies are combined, the Stoneguard House and the BASF House, both part of the Creative Energy Homes project, have been investigated. The houses were appraised not just in today's climate but also in the future, taking into account some of the potential effects of climate change. In addition, a novel type of low-energy space conditioning system has been proposed by the author and tested with positive results. The hybrid system integrates PCMs and EAHEs aiming to overcome the limitations of both strategies and to provide occupants with a pleasant alternative to the conventional air-condition systems.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Gillott, M.
Riffat, S.B.
Uncontrolled Keywords:thermal mass, housing, british housing, thermal comfort, domestic, modern methods of construction, lightweight buildings, thermal performance, earth to air heat exchangers, phase change materials, low-energy space conditioning
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Built Environment
ID Code:1872
Deposited By:Mr Tim Jacob
Deposited On:17 Mar 2011 15:11
Last Modified:23 Mar 2011 23:01

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