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Monitored thermal performance of passive solar designed display homes in Perth, Western Australia

James, G.M., Anda, M. and Mathew, K. (2006) Monitored thermal performance of passive solar designed display homes in Perth, Western Australia. In: 44th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Solar Energy Society (ANZSES), 13 - 15 September, Canberra, ACT, Australia.



A number of sustainable demonstration homes have been built in Perth over the last 5 years. This paper will report on data gathered at two of them, provide a comparative assessment and present lessons learnt. A fundamental inclusion in a sustainable house is Passive Solar (PS) design. PS design is a simple methodology for the design of energy efficient buildings that can reduce the need for mechanical heating and cooling, therefore reducing the need for energy to operate active systems. PS design is a regionally specific design methodology whereby the general climate of a house site needs to be analysed to best ascertain what design features will be needed. In Australia, due to the extremes of conditions, house designs will vary greatly by state, which is also due to the established building industry. The uptake of this design rationale has been very slow, with houses mainly relying on air-conditioning. The design of a PS building follows several basic principles: Orientation, Glazing and Protection, Thermal Mass, Insulation, Ventilation and Zoning. A PS house uses a system of windows, walls and insulation to control the flow of energy to maintain temperatures at comfortable levels for occupation. Separate components are not monitored, just the capacity for the building to have stable internal air temperatures, which is what inhabitants will detect. The range of temperatures for Thermal Comfort (TC) is 18 to 28° Celsius. The Subiaco Sustainable Demonstration Home (SSDH) is a collaborative effort between the local council and the building industry to create a house that uses fewer resources than normally built homes during its construction, use, and eventual demolition. Harvest Lakes, the first Housing Industry Association (HIA) GreenSmart estate in Western Australia, showcases ‘The Elements’ Sustainable Demonstration Home (ESDH) as an example of a possible sustainable future of residential construction and living. With a PS design based on a standard plan, the ESDH could easily be replicated in various other locations around Australia. Each house has been monitored for at least the last year using stand-alone temperature data-loggers to record the air temperatures in different rooms to give an indication of the effectiveness of the PS design in terms of maintaining temperatures within established TC thresholds. Results collected to date indicate that a PS building can be thermally comfortable, but it does require occupants to ‘drive’ them to maximise the benefits of the design.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
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