Architectural Design to use pressure differences for cooling
While working with a client on her alteration to her home here in the Waikato, she asked me a good question.
She asked me if the second floor of her home was going to get warmer than the ground floor. The second story addition to her home, is to give her additional bedrooms for her children, to accommodate their needs as they grow up. As a concerned Mum, she wanted to know that her children would sleep well and not be too hot in summer.
Yes, I replied, but we don’t have to rely on air conditioning to cool it.
I explained to her that while hot air rises naturally, we can use the stairwell with an easily accessible window to help ventilate the heat out of the home. Using spaces that can have vertical airflow, actually helps to cool the lower levels as well, drawing the hot air from the ground floor and releasing it outside the building envelope. The heavier colder air has higher pressure, and the warmer air rising creates a lower pressure when released, causing the cooler air to be drawn up higher into the internal spaces. Like a weather pattern but without the rain.
I explained to her how you can open up windows below, best on the south side of the building which has colder air, and then using the natural behavior of air to moderate your internal temperatures.
I made an intentional note in the design to explain how this would work for her project. And I was so grateful for her question. I really love how clients are becoming more and more curious about how their spaces work and how they are going to live and feel in them. This is when we start building more quality and fit for purpose homes.
This may seem rather common sense to some, but I find very few people use this in their homes, let alone have it architecturally designed and considered. Knowledge of something is great, but when you have the tools and understanding to put it into practice, that is when you get results.
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