The Potential of Smart Glazing for Occupant Well-Being and Reduced Energy Load in a Central-Mediterranean Climate


The ever-increasing aesthetically driven demand for fully glazed façades poses a design challenge; not least in controlling the cooling demand and occupant well-being of such buildings, especially in a central Mediterranean climate. This paper outlines the ever-important need to design for occupants and for designers to keep in mind, first and foremost, occupant well-being rather than aim solely to create energy-efficient buildings. The original objective of buildings was to provide shelter. Today however, the need for occupant comfort and its direct effect on productivity cannot be ignored. This need, therefore, ought to feature a central role in any building design. Studies show that occupant well-being is directly related to a range of environmental factors, particularly daylight distribution, glare and indoor air temperature. The use of external shading devices and more commonly, indoor blinds are often the adopted approaches to attempt to achieve indoor occupant comfort, often to the detriment of views. Adaptive facades seek to address the need to somehow strike a balance between occupant comfort and energy efficiency. These facades range from exterior and interior shading devices with varying control strategies, to the different forms of adaptive/switchable glazing technologies intended to control the visual light transmittance and solar radiation transmitted into a building’s interior. In the opinion of the authors, electrochromic glazing has a great potential in a cooling-dominated central Mediterranean climate, to achieve a compromise between occupant visual and thermal comfort whilst retaining unobstructed outdoor views at all times. Research shows that the potential benefits of electrochromic glazing have not yet been studied enough in real-life scenarios,and this paper further introduces the objectives for field study within two identical offices, having a South-South-East orientation, located in a central Mediterranean climate.

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