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Computational modeling of natural ventilation in low-rise non-rectangular floor-plan buildings

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Natural ventilation (NV) is a relevant passive strategy for the design of buildings in seek of energy savings and the improvement of the indoor air quality and the thermal comfort. The main aim of this work is to present a comprehensive NV modeling study of a non-rectangular floor-plan dwelling. Given the arbitrary shape of the building, recourse is made to computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to determine the surface-averaged pressure coefficients (\(\overline {{C_p}} \)). The CFD model was calibrated to match experimental data from an extensive wind tunnel database for low-rise buildings. Then, \(\overline {{C_p}} \) computation via CFD is used to feed the building performance simulation software EnergyPlus, in replacement of the built-in Swami and Chandra parametric model that is only valid for estimating \(\overline {{C_p}} \) in rectangular floor-plan buildings. This computational tool is used to investigate the effect of NV on the thermal performance and the airflow rate in a social housing located in the Argentine Littoral region. Simulation results of the considered building show that NV enables to reduce even more than 65% of the cooling degree-hours. Furthermore, regarding to the \(\overline {{C_p}} \) source (either CFD or Swami and Chandra’s), it is also found that this data has a considerable effect on the airflow rates, but a little effect on the thermal performance.

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For funding this work, we would like to thank Universidad Nacional del Litoral via CAI+D 2016 PJ 50020150100018LI. Also, we would like to thank the Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation (ASaCTeI) of the Province of Santa Fe (Argentina) via the Research Project 2010-022-16 “Optimization of the energy efficiency of buildings in the Province of Santa Fe”. The present work uses the computational resources of the Pirayú group, acquired with funds from ASaCTeI through Project AC-00010-18, Resolution N° 117/14. This equipment is part of the National System of High Performance Computing of the Argentine Ministry of Science and Technology.

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Correspondence to Juan M. Gimenez.

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Gimenez, J.M., Bre, F., Nigro, N.M. et al. Computational modeling of natural ventilation in low-rise non-rectangular floor-plan buildings. Build. Simul. 11, 1255–1271 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12273-018-0461-9

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  • natural ventilation
  • airflow network model
  • pressure coefficient
  • computational fluid dynamics
  • building performance simulation
  • EnergyPlus