An Ectothermic Approach to Heating and Cooling in Buildings

Oct 02, 2020

In this paper, we explore the potential for a building boundary that actively heats and cools a building by forming dynamic relationships with surroundings. Most decarbonizing efforts today focus on realizing net-zero operational carbon either via the production and distribution of renewable energy or via passive house strategies that target the reduction of the active energy demand. We propose a third alternative. Instead of an endothermic model for heating and cooling in which energy is brought in the interior, transformed by a mechanical system and then distributed, we propose an ectothermic envelope system that dynamically forms a relationship with its environment, by choosing to absorb or release heat directly from or to the environment. From a design perspective, we will show a modular building energy system, comprised of a double hydronic heating and cooling layer. In essence, we are developing for a building, the equivalent to a vascular system that can move liquids at different locations to thermo-regulate. We will show how this vascular system can use ambient heat as heating and cooling sources for a building.

Keywords: Building Envelope, Climate-Adaptive System, Building Thermoregulation, Ectothermic Approach, Heating and Cooling

Alexandros Tsamis (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
Theodorian Borca-Tascuic (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
Youngjin Hwang (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
Presented at: 
2020 AIA/ACSA Intersections Research Conference: CARBON
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
The American Institute of Architects (AIA)
Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA)

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