Build Test Iterate Repeat

Constructing Low-Tech, Low-Cost Thermal Testing Strategies in Building Facades

Overview

Authors

Photo of Elizabeth L McCormick, RA, CPHC, LEED AP

Elizabeth L McCormick, RA, CPHC, LEED AP

Assistant Professor

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

lizmccormick@uncc.edu


Keywords


Abstract

The global increase in atmospheric temperature rise combined with the rapid growth of previously underdeveloped climate zones presents a growing need for low cost solutions that serve those without access to modern technologies. However, when an emphasis on emerging issues in high performance building design exists in core architectural education, there is often a tendency towards expensive, high-tech strategies. In fact, students without a comprehensive understanding of basic building physics are exploring flashy, high-tech building facades as the primary means to reduce energy consumption. The integration of digital simulation and energy modeling tools often empowers innovation yet enables an already tech-savvy generation to lean on digital outputs without a solid understanding of the physical metrics.

In response, this study employs project-based learning to empower students to use tangible, physical experiments as part of the design process to make informed, climate-specific decisions about building systems and façades. It addresses methods to analyze, explore, and communicate underlying building science principles with low-cost, low-tech tools to enable the development of accessible technologies, materials and assemblies. Using the hand in tandem with digital tools, students use advanced methods to explore the most basic of building science principles. Students created devices, which are used to quickly and affordably communicate thermal and hygric phenomena, without specifically quantifying heat and mass transfer values. The author discovered that the design of the experimental setup was often more meaningful than the data itself. Student projects explored, among others, the thermal properties of air, latent heat, solar shading, and passive dehumidification strategies.

Introduction

The global increase in atmospheric temperature rise combined with the rapid growth of previously underdeveloped climate zones presents a growing need for low-cost solutions that serve those without access to

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Background

The integration of digital simulation and energy modeling instruments can empower innovation, yet these increasingly user-friendly tools can enable an already tech-savvy generation to lean on digital outputs without a

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Method

The course was open to upper-level undergraduate or graduate students of all disciplines with a basic understanding of thermodynamic principles in buildings & materials. Architecture students were expected to have

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Data

Student projects not addressed in this paper explored thermal properties of air, latent heat, solar shading and sound transfer, among others. This section explores the experimental procedures and performance implications

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Explanation

The projects presented in this paper are significant not because of the specific findings, but because of the experience gathered while generating these results. The data from the first project

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Conclusion

An interdisciplinary group of students created small-scale apparatuses, which were used to quickly and affordably communicate thermal and hygric phenomena in building materials without specifically quantifying heat and mass transfer

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Rights and Permissions

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