Exploring membrane-assisted radiant cooling for designing comfortable naturally ventilated spaces in the tropics! Read about it here in our new publication on Building Research and Information!

Exploring membrane-assisted radiant cooling for designing comfortable naturally ventilated spaces in the tropics

Kian Wee Chen, Eric Teitelbaum, Forrest Meggers, Jovan Pantelic, Adam Rysanek

First 50 copies free: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/CCYCIJKUCAY4GI9JNN42/full?target=10.1080/09613218.2020.1847025

Full access to the paper here: https://doi.org/10.1080/09613218.2020.1847025


This research proposes the use of membrane-assisted radiant panels to improve the thermal comfort of naturally ventilated spaces in hot and humid climates. These radiant panels are capable of conditioning naturally ventilated spaces, which is impractical with conventional mechanical cooling systems. For conventional systems, a permeable envelope will result in energy wastage from conditioned air escaping or condensation occurring on the radiant surfaces. In our system, there is no air-conditioning and we avoid condensation by separating the radiant surfaces from humid air using a membrane transparent to thermal radiation. The membrane-assisted radiant panels are an unutilized technology for architects to design comfortable naturally ventilated spaces. We propose a cooling system based on the technology and discuss the architectural implications, particularly the permeability of the building envelope and requirements for mechanical spaces, of employing this system in a case study that is a naturally ventilated classroom. Our system is compared to conventional cooling systems. Although our system requires a ceiling space reconfiguration, it does not require duct works and envelope retrofits. The comparative case study shows a potential 52% reduction in cooling energy demand from initial estimation. Considering the trade-offs, our system can be a good alternative for retrofit projects.

Architectural implications of the retrofits (a) membrane-assisted panel system (b) decentralized membrane-assisted panel system with chiller and water tank, and centralized membrane-assisted panel system (c) decentralized air-based system (split unit) (d) centralized air-based system.