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Thermal mass and thermoregulation: A study of thermal comfort in temperate climate residential buildings

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Parsons, S (2011) Thermal mass and thermoregulation: A study of thermal comfort in temperate climate residential buildings. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The thermoregulatory influence of building materials to improve the thermal comfort of buildings has been examined primarily using climate modelling based on the work of Fanger (1972). This modelling has limitations because it does not accept that building occupants are active participants in controlling their thermal environment. This thesis addresses this knowledge gap by examining how thermal comfort in the temperate climate of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia is influenced by thermal mass in buildings. This research assessed: how the temperate climate of Hobart impacts the thermal environment of a building; how past research in passive design for energy efficiency has been adopted, and; what methods of modelling and studying thermal comfort are appropriate. The nine case studies examined a range of building and occupant types. An analysis was undertaken for each building including zoning and layout, building materials and insulation. Occupants were interviewed at the commencement of each case study which included examining acclimatisation to the local climate and thermal satisfaction with the dwelling. Seasonal temperature data were recorded in the central living space of buildings over a three month period. The research gathered dry bulb temperatures, surface temperatures, and humidity data in each building. Direct observations were made on the activities of the occupants within their thermal environment and they were surveyed regarding thermal comfort levels. Results indicate that thermal mass impacts thermal comfort levels of occupants. However, this impact can be negative or positive depending on other external factors such as the placement of thermal mass within the building, exposure of thermal mass to insolation and insulating materials around the thermal mass. In dwellings with poor thermal performance occupants can increase thermal comfort levels by more closely adapting to the thermal environment. Such techniques for adaptation include: the adjustment of clothing; the use of controls such as windows and blinds; relocation within the building; changes in posture and levels of physical activity; and acclimatisation to the local climate. The results of this research are widely applicable to Hobart‟s housing stock and could be implemented into the passive design of new buildings and retrofitting of existing buildings to improve thermal efficiency. This research shows the importance of thermal mass in passive design concepts of residential buildings. It provides details on how thermal mass should be ideally implemented in a building, including placement, orientation, and access to solar gain.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: thermal comfort, thermoregulation, passive design, thermal mass
Additional Information: Copyright the Author
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2011 22:34
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2012 06:56
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/12494
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