Thermal Comfort and Building Design Strategies for Low Energy Houses in Libya: Lessons from the vernacular architecture

Gabril, N. 2014. Thermal Comfort and Building Design Strategies for Low Energy Houses in Libya: Lessons from the vernacular architecture. PhD thesis University of Westminster Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment

TitleThermal Comfort and Building Design Strategies for Low Energy Houses in Libya: Lessons from the vernacular architecture
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsGabril, N.

Since the last century a growing movement of individuals and organizations that seek the redefinition of how buildings are designed, built and operated to be more responsible to the environment. The critical contribution of the residential building in this matter emphasizes the need to study the houses thermal performance and its impact on environment, considering the human thermal comfort requirements. The reduction of the energy demand for heating and cooling is the key factor in the low energy houses and minimizing environmental damage caused by the emissions of carbon dioxide.

In this thesis the traditional vernacular houses in Libya have been used as a vehicle of the research. The houses have been selected from three cities, Tripoli, Ghadames and Gheryan; analyzed and appraised to the climate and culture requirement in addition to context, house form and building materials. The study endeavors to examine the Traditional Vernacular Architecture in Libya, which is conceptually understood as a shelter that fulfilled people’s needs according to their socio-cultural criteria as well responding positively to the climatic factors. Therefore, studying the socio-cultural forces that form the vernacular houses outlines the guidelines for a low energy building
that encounters people’s contemporary need.

The research has been assessed by means of computer monitoring, field survey and computer energy simulation. Monitoring the thermal performance of the traditional vernacular houses provides lessons that act as catalyst and model for future low energy
house. Sets of passive heating and cooling strategy have been underlined from each of the three vernacular houses in three climatic regions in Libya. The field survey of thermal comfort has been conducted to examine the thermal comfort in Libya’s traditional houses. The outcome of the survey is two main findings, first it sets the value of thermal insulation of the Libyan traditional clothing, and secondly, the survey assigns
the thermal comfort temperature in three climatic zones in Libya. The energy simulations results of the three models induced that the vernacular traditional houses can augment the future low energy housing in Libya.

A low energy house models have been proposed by the author and tested with positive results in the three cities, using the available local building material and the traditional environment solutions can establish an indoor comfort environment that is acceptable.

The findings of the study fill part of the gap in the thermal comfort standards for Libya, and prove the possibility to lower the energy use in the future house compared to the contemporary house in the three climatic region of Libya, with nearly 80% in winter and
60% in summer. The study also provides guidelines for use in building standards in Libya. It also concludes that number of research avenues should be carried out for a comprehensive answer to the issue of thermal comfort and building design strategies for a low energy house in Libya.


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