An examination of development models for innovative, low carbon, ecological dwellings for rural areas of Wales
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The provision of housing in rural areas has been identified as crucial for the long term sustainability of rural communities. However, there are questions about how rural developers are responding to legislative requirements to reduce carbon emissions, whether the fulfilment of a need for affordable housing in rural areas can be reconciled with higher energy performance and whether higher energy performance will affect thermal comfort when climate change is taken into account. To understand these issues a review of published and monitored case studies in rural areas of the UK was undertaken which highlighted a number of development models that might be applied by house builders in the Welsh context. An analysis of two exemplar projects in Pembroke Dock, West Wales, examined the following: the social, economic and legislative context of rural development; the significance of energy and carbon used to construct rural houses; and the quantity of energy required to keep rural dwellings at a comfortable temperature in a typical year. Dynamic thermal modelling was then used to investigate a number of design approaches highlighted in the earlier studies as significant including: increasing thermal mass; increasing south facing glazing; adjusting building form and the layout of the site; and higher levels of insulation. The application of these approaches on a housing scheme in West Wales established the benefits of incorporating thermal mass into the building fabric, maintaining a compact form and, where reasonable, using passive solar gain, to reduce heating load. This study identified that these approaches, if carefully combined, could achieve significant (i.e. 16.4%-29.8%) reductions in heating load without compromising the affordability of the original scheme. However, the study also identified that one possible consequence of improving the energy performance would be a reduction in thermal comfort as a result of higher internal temperatures. To gain a better understanding of this further modelling examined the potential for overheating using the following: current and future climate files; an algorithm based on window opening behaviour; detailed simulation of airflow; and bivariate data analysis techniques. The results from this study identified that thermal mass and ventilation techniques could be employed to address the issues of overheating.
PhD Thesis - School of Art and Design
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