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Climate Responsive
Design Principles

Background to energy efficiency
The best known building design system for buildings achieving energy efficiency is "passive solar". This approach seeks to achieve interior comfort by encouraging solar light and heat entry into the building, where thermal mass will absorb the heat and re-radiate the heat into the spaces to maintain comfort much of the time.
This approach is well suited to cooler climate locations where external temperatures are often lower than ideal for human comfort. This approach is embodied in a few projects of the architectural practice of Emilis Prelgauskas where these projects are situated on elevated or in poor solar gain locations.
Because there is an extensive body of literature on "passive solar", the theory and application will not be referred to in more detail here.

To design energy efficient buildings situated in warm locations, an adaptation of the "passive solar" approach is to incorporate into the building design shading to shield interior spaces from direct solar gain, use high thermal mass internal to the buildings to absorb excessive heat load out of the indoor air, and to use ventilation paths between internal and external spaces to maintain adequate cooling in these buildings. Because of its extensive application in that region, this building design approach is characterised as "Mediterranean", and often features thick masonry walling, light colours, small openings and buildings with single room depth arranged around enclosed open spaces including courtyards.
Elements of such building design approach are embodied in some of the projects of the architectural practice of Emilis Prelgauskas.
Both these building design methods emphasise resistance to the unfavourable effects of weather.

Climate Responsive building design principles
The practice's location has encouraged a progressive evolution of a further building design approach which is characterised as "Climate responsive in the South Australian Context". Because this design approach uses weather forces actively in securing the building's comfort performance, it differs substantially from the other building design philosophies.
Climate responsive building design expects that the comfort performance of the building is achieved through the composite effects from the site, the building and the landscape.

As described in detail on other pages, the projects of the architectural practice of Emilis Prelgauskas vary individually, at all times utilising the 'climate responsive' approach, but where appropriate also integrating aspects of the other building design approaches.

Design elements which are complimentary to each of the building design approaches are often integrated - notably sunward orientation of the building's long faces.
Sometimes the design approach of 'passive solar' and 'climate response' are contradictory; then each project is developed around the most suitable of these philosophies to suit each individual circumstance.

For example, one project may embody a sunward facing shading pergola consistent with the shading goal of 'passive solar' for a cool to temperate location.
Another project instead will embody a shade side pergola used as an active cooling device consistent with 'climate response' principles suited to an arid location.

Because climate responsive design principles are infrequently described in publications, the philosophies and technologies are shown here on other pages. Climate responsive embodies:-

  • comfort control in warm climates by using the forces inherent in the weather through solar heating, winds and moisture changes
  • the air movement generated by heat differential across a building between external sunward and shade sides
  • air movement generated by air pressure differential across a building between windward and low pressure areas on the roof form
  • air movement generated by air pressure differential across a building by moisture expiration both by vegetation and generated with built-in technologies to the building Technologies
  • thermal courtyards on the sunside of buildings
  • shade pergolas on the shade side of buildings
  • greenhouses
  • clerestoreys
  • vegetation integral to the building
  • subsidence towers
Experience with the completed projects demonstrates that rather than creating just energy efficient buildings; the climate responsive approach results in low energy demand buildings. As the remnant energy demand of these projects is about 20% of that of conventional buildings in similar locations; the resultant projects can be operated from modest size renewable energy supply systems. This energy supply option is described further in the ESD technologies section.

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