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Cool Materials – High Tech / Low Cost solution for energy efficiency and thermal comfort in low rise buildings in high solar radiation countries

Funding body

Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)- EPSRC Institutional Sponsorship

Principal investigator: Prof Maria Kolokotroni

 

Project description

Cool materials are most effective in locations with high solar radiation and external temperatures and poorly insulated buildings.  The project investigates experimentally and computationally energy consumption reduction and increase of occupants’ thermal comfort by the application of cool materials in low rise houses in three regions; Jamaica, (b) Volta Region, Ghana and (c) Pernambuco state, Brazil.

The main beneficiaries of the projects activity are low income residents who experience overheating in their houses.  Capital costs of cool paints is slightly higher than normal paints and unskilled labourers can apply it.  Maintenance is low; cleaning might be needed every few years to restore high solar reflectivity properties lost by dirt and replication is needed in 20 years but this is also compatible with general repainting. Improved internal thermal comfort will increase quality of life and in particular for young and old who has reduced threshold limit compared to healthy adults.  Also, sleep conditions will improve with adults sleeping better and therefore can be more productive the following day.

The activity will contribute to energy security in the regions as less electricity will be used even in buildings with air-conditioning and avoidance of air-conditioning. Cool paints and tiles can start being produced locally is a market emerges. A successful outcome of the project would be the issuing of guidelines by local legislators and policy makers advising the application of cool materials to buildings. 

This project will carry out a computational study using EnergyPlus (a widely used by academics and building  professionals and free to download energy and thermal analysis software) to quantify improvement of the internal thermal environment in low rise typical houses in three case-study countries; (a) Jamaica, (b) Volta Region, Ghana and (c) Pernambuco state, Brazil.  Solar radiation is high in these three areas (4-6 kWh/m2) while buildings are poorly insulated. 

The project will also apply the technology in a residential building in Jamaica (Portmore) and monitor its performance.  A preliminary study suggests that a 25% cooling energy demand reduction is possible in the target regions[1].

Objectives

  1. Investigate the potential of improved thermal comfort in low rise residential buildings in three ODA regions by using cool materials on external building surfaces
  2. Calculate potential electricity consumption savings by avoiding installation of air conditioning to achieve similar internal thermal comfort.
  3. Provide a computational method to local researchers to extend the results of the study to other building types
  4. Provide know-how of a high tech low cost technology with the potential to improve quality of life for vulnerable populations.
  5. Identify suppliers in the UK and Europe who can provide low cost cool materials suitable for application by local installers.

Partnerships

Academic collaboration with (a) University of Technology Kingston Jamaica, (b) Ho Polytechnic, Volta Region, Ghana and (c) Federal Institute of Technology of Pernambuco and Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife/PE – Brazil.

Collaboration with European Cool Roofs Council (http://coolroofcouncil.eu/members.php) with 15 manufacturers of cool materials.                      


[1] Kolokotroni M, Wines C, Babiker R M A and Hartmann Da Silva B (2015). Cool and green roofs to reduce cooling energy demand in storage buildings: simulation study for distinct climates, 4th International Conference on Countermeasures to Urban Heat Island, 30-31 May and 1 June 2016, National University of Singapore, Singapore