Thermal Performance of Closed Cavity Facades

Performance Assessment of Closed Cavity Facade in California Climate



Closed cavity facades (CCF), a configuration of Double Skin Facade (DSF), consists of a double-glazed unit on the inner layer and single glazing on the outer one forming a sealed non-ventilated cavity with automated blinds in between. A CCF compared to a traditional ventilated DSF prevents accumulation and settlement of dust and particles in the cavity, increasing the service life of components inside the cavity. Additionally, the cavity will be constantly supplied with dry clean air to prevent the formation of condensation. A CCF, given the enhanced thermal performance and dynamic behavior, can contribute to balance the demand for energy saving, thermal, and visual comfort. However, existing CCFs have been designed and installed mainly in cold climates, such as northern Europe; therefore, different conditions and challenges must be considered when designing a CCF in hot climates like California. High temperatures, high peaks of solar radiation coupled with low cloud coverage during the day can lead to critical overheating of the cavity that can influence the overall thermal performance of the system and affect the service life of components.

The paper aims to present the thermal performance of CCF for three different California climates (San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento), in terms of energy consumption, winter/summer thermal comfort and system durability. Using Energy Plus and detailed transient thermal simulations, several glass build-up configurations were investigated, shading materials to minimize energy demand and maximize occupant thermal comfort over the year inside office buildings. The results show that CCF has a positive impact on energy consumptions, winter thermal performance, and comfort with a decrement of 20-25% of thermal transmittance compared to a traditional unitized system (thermally improved frame and insulated glass). In addition, results prove that glass coating and shading solar reflectance play a crucial role in limiting overheating and maintain temperatures below the critical threshold of 90-100 C and interior surface temperature under 35 C.


Photo of Andrea Zani

Andrea Zani

Project Engineer


Photo of Carmelo Guido Galante

Carmelo Guido Galante

Senior Project Engineer

Photo of Lisa Rammig

Lisa Rammig

Senior Associate

Eckersley O'Callaghan (EOC Engineers)



Sustainable building design is rapidly moving towards a more holistic design approach, where an integrated design between the facade and mechanical systems is fundamental to meet the always more stringent

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DSFs consist of three distinct layers – an interior glazed wall system, a ventilated air cavity with solar shading, and an exterior glazed wall system. The ventilated air cavity works

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Different modeling and simulation tools were used in the research to evaluate heat transfer, temperature distribution, interior thermal comfort, and the energy-saving potentials for CCFs with different glazing and Venetian

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Case Study

The study is focused on comparing the performance of a CCF system with a standard aluminum unitized DGU system considering a typical office building internal boundary conditions and schedule of

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Energy consumptions

Results of the energy analysis performed in EnergyPlus are displayed in Figure 5; the graphs show the improvement achieved from an energy point of view when using a CCF

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Conclusion and future work

The paper investigates the thermal performance of a novel facade system named Closed Cavity Facade (CCF) in California climates. The combination of annual energy simulations and detailed transient analyses show

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We thank everyone that provided helpful comments and insights during the development of this document. A special thanks to Eckersley O’Callaghan for research funding and Alessandro Baldini from Eckersley O’Callaghan R&D team for the review.

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