How can buildings be adapted to summer heat?


Overheating risk in residential and non-residential buildings reduces human performance and can be life-threatening, especially for the elderly. Due to the above-average warm summers of recent years, the topic of climate adaptation of buildings has become increasingly relevant. Passive measures, i.e. adaptation options without cooling energy consumption (e.g. air conditioning systems) are preferable for climate mitigation reasons. Effective for this purpose are, for example:

  • The installation of external shading devices for south-facing, but especially also east- and west-facing windows as well as skylights (e.g. roller blinds or awnings) significantly reduces the heating of rooms.
  • Allowing buildings to cool down well at night by opening windows, especially effective in the early morning hours and with possible cross-ventilation, which means leaving room doors open and, if possible, opening windows for different compass directions.
  • Technical ventilation of buildings at night with high air exchange rates can, in buildings where the windows cannot be opened at night due to external circumstances, transport cool outside air into the building and cool it by removing the warm inside air (however, a ventilation system requires electricity).
  • Rooms in solid construction (i.e. made of bricks or similar) reduces the temperature peaks in the room due to their heat storage, but these dwellings require a long cooling period at night.
  • A highly reflective, interior sunshade (e.g. honeycomb pleated blinds) can also bring about a significant reduction in the heat stress of a room, but to a lesser extent than exterior shading devices (curtains and permeable fabrics, on the other hand, have almost no effect).

Our investigations using indoor temperature measurements and thermal building simulations have examined these effects in apartment buildings (Wilhelminian style and prefabricated buildings) as well as in non-residential buildings (day-care centres, schools, administrative buildings). In our building tool for the initial assessment of the heat stress of a room as well as the effectiveness of various adaptation measures, you can carry out a quick, initial test of the heat stress.

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