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Enhancing the façade efficiency of contemporary houses of Mashhad, using the lessons from traditional buildings

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An increase in the world population has led to a sharp decrease in fossil fuel sources; and, therefore, substituting them with renewable sources as well as optimizing energy consumption could be considered ideal solutions. One of the major problems is the excessive use of energy in residential buildings, with Iran's consumption rate in this field being five times the global average. Building façades play a fundamental role in optimizing energy consumption. This paper aims to study the factors affecting the performance of coherent façades in terms of climatic conditions, using a comparative study between traditional-indigenous and modern building façades in the city of Mashhad. In addition, it employs an analytical descriptive method and applies case analysis by numerical calculations as well as software simulations using the DesignBuilder software tool. Other researchers have conducted similar studies, but no comprehensive research has yet been done by making a comparison between traditional-indigenous buildings and modern buildings in Mashhad, Iran, with existing climatic conditions considered. By studying and comparing the window-to-wall ratio, building materials, and façade thickness, it was concluded that the ratio of openings to walls was 20–35% and 30–42% in traditional-indigenous houses and in modern houses, respectively. Similarly, the range of the thermal resistance of façades in traditional buildings was 0.56–0.87 (m2C/W), and it was 0.38–0.48 m2C/W in modern buildings. The analysis of the simulated models showed less thermal dissipation in traditional models than in modern ones. Thus, traditional-indigenous models are more optimized when it comes to energy consumption, apart from creating thermal comfort for building residents. By referring to past architecture and gaining inspiration from the features of traditional building façades in constructing modern buildings, we will be able to help reduce energy consumption in these buildings.

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    The Isfahani style is used for categorizing Iranian architecture development in history. Landmarks of this style span through the Safavid, Afsharid, Zand and Qajar dynasties starting from the sixteenth century to the early twentieth century. Examples of this style are Chehelsotun and Ali Qapu buildings in Isfahan, Aqa Bozorg Mosque in Kashan, the Shah Mosque and the Sheikh Lotf- Allah Mosque mosques in Isfahan (Saremi et al. 2017).

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    The Shahneshin, a high-ceiling room in the Iranian traditional houses, is located in the north-side of the house and is exposed to the sun radiation. These rooms have usually semi-domical roofs, many decorations on walls and ceilings, and sash windows with colored glass.



Rate of energy loss (W)


Wall thermal transfer coefficient (w/m2C)

λ :

Thermal conductivity coefficient (W/mC)


Thermal transfer coefficient (W/m2C)


Thermal resistance (m2C/W)


The surface area where the heat transfer takes place (m2)


Internal temperature (°C)


External temperature (°C)


Materials thickness (m)


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Correspondence to Fatemeh Mehdizadeh Saradj.

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Mirshojaeian Hosseini, I., Mehdizadeh Saradj, F., Maddahi, S.M. et al. Enhancing the façade efficiency of contemporary houses of Mashhad, using the lessons from traditional buildings. Int J Energy Environ Eng (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40095-020-00338-0

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  • Residential buildings
  • Façades
  • Thermal performance
  • Energy saving
  • Traditional buildings
  • Modern buildings