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Bioclimatic architecture: a type of sustainable construction

Bioclimatic architecture: a type of sustainable construction

Bioclimatic architecture and construction represent a transformative paradigm in the world of building and architectural design. These approaches not only seek to create efficient, comfortable and sustainable living spaces, but also establish a deep commitment to harmony between the building and the natural environment.

By taking advantage of local climatic conditions, natural resources, building geometry and the geographical characteristics of a place, bioclimatic architecture and construction emerge as smart solutions to address the challenges of energy efficiency and sustainability.

This article thoroughly explores the foundations and strategies of bioclimatic architecture and construction, unraveling how these innovative approaches can not only reduce the environmental impact of buildings, but also improve the quality of life of those who inhabit them.

From the orientation of buildings to the use of sustainable materials, optimizing natural light and integrating green technologies, we will discover how the symbiosis between architecture and nature can pave the way to a more sustainable and resilient future.

What is bioclimatic arquitecture?

Bioclimatic architecture: a type of sustainable constructionBioclimatic architecture is a building design approach that seeks to take advantage of local climatic conditions and natural resources to create sustainable and energy-efficient living spaces. It is based on understanding and adapting the surrounding environment to maximize occupant comfort and minimize environmental impact.

This is achieved through orientation, the use of energy efficient materials, the maximization of natural light, thermal management, natural ventilation and the integration of sustainable technologies, such as solar panels and water harvesting systems. rain.

Bioclimatic architecture focuses on energy efficiency, sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint of buildings, thus contributing to the preservation of the environment and the well-being of the people who occupy them.

Objective of the bioclimatic construction

The objective of a bioclimatic home is the control of the internal microclimate, with passive design strategies. These strategies minimize the use of mechanical systems and maximize the efficiency of heat exchanges between the building and the environment.

In general, in temperate climate regions there are three thermal phases that correspond to different requirements of a bioclimatic building:

  • Winter: solar irradiation on walls and windows should be encouraged to heat the interior. The high thermal insulation of the enclosure is also necessary to conserve the accumulated heat. The main objective is the reduction of heating energy consumption.

  • Summer: it is necessary to protect the building from solar radiation with shading systems and have high mass covers. This aims to have a high thermal inertia, as well as to promote the natural ventilation of the building. The objective is to reduce the energy consumption of air conditioners.

  • Mid-season: requires the combination of cooling and heating solutions.

Types of bioclimatic architecture

Bioclimatic architecture: a type of sustainable constructionThere are several approaches and types of bioclimatic architecture that are currently used, depending on the characteristics of the environment and specific needs.

Here we show you some examples of types of bioclimatic architecture:

  • Passive design: Passive design is based on the orientation and shape of the building to maximize the use of solar energy, natural heat and ventilation. This may include the strategic placement of windows, the use of thermal materials to maintain a constant interior temperature, thermal water walls, trombe walls and solar greenhouses.

  • Almost Zero Energy Buildings (EECN): These buildings are designed to minimize their energy consumption as much as possible, using efficient thermal insulation systems, high-quality windows and renewable energy systems, such as solar panels.

  • Natural ventilation design: Bioclimatic design can incorporate natural ventilation systems that take advantage of air currents to cool and ventilate the interior of buildings.

  • Green roofs and walls: Vegetation on roofs and walls not only improves energy efficiency, but also contributes to air purification and the reduction of the urban heat island effect.

  • Leveraging local materials: Using local materials reduces the carbon footprint associated with transporting materials and can improve energy efficiency and sustainability.

  • Earth or rammed earth houses: These houses use rammed earth or adobe to provide thermal insulation and take advantage of the thermal mass of the earth to maintain stable temperatures inside.

  • Efficient shading design: Proper shading through well-placed eaves, blinds or trees can reduce heat gain in summer and allow heat in in winter.

  • Water Collection and Treatment: Bioclimatic architecture can incorporate rainwater collection systems, gray water treatment systems, and water-efficient landscaping.

  • Net-zero buildings: Net-zero buildings are designed to generate the same amount of energy they consume, using renewable energy sources such as solar panels and energy efficiency technology.

  • Window and glazing design: Choosing double or triple glazed windows with advanced thermal properties can improve energy efficiency and thermal comfort.

  • Design of outdoor spaces: Bioclimatic architecture can also include planning outdoor spaces, such as patios and terraces, to take advantage of natural light and provide shade in living areas.

Forms of energy capture

In bioclimatic architecture we can distinguish three types of energy capture: Direct capture, indirect capture and separate capture.

1. Direct capture

Architectural systems that represent immediate and easy use are called passive direct capture systems.

An example of direct collection is homes oriented in such a way that they capture solar energy from the sun directly (passive solar energy).

Direct systems must also include components to control:

  1. The energy losses of winter nights

  2. The exaggerated temperature rises in summer.

2. Indirect capture

Architectural systems in which, using a collector, heat is conducted into the interior of the cabin integrated within its structure are called passive indirect collection systems.

Of the passive indirect collection systems, the Trombe wall stands out. The Trombe wall is a glass on top of a solid matte black wall that acts as a heat accumulator and diffuser inside the house. This simple device can represent significant energy savings.

In hot climates, however, the problems with excess heat experienced in summer must be taken into account. These problems can be solved with the implementation of spoilers or umbrellas that keep the wall in the shade.

Another system consists of replacing a wall with black metal drums filled with water or the ceiling with black collectors. These elements would be isolated from the outside. In both cases, the water tanks will be heated during the day. During the night, isolated from the outside, they would release thermal energy inside the house.

With this technique, the thermal comfort of the bioclimatic home is improved.

3. Separate collection

Passive separate collection systems are architectural systems that, through a collector, conduct thermal energy into the interior of the home and that are separated from the home, but not far away.

In the case where they were far away, they could not be called passive solar energy systems. In this case, forced transportation would be needed and we would be talking about solar air heaters.

In this system, solar radiation is collected in a glass chamber, which can be used as an agricultural greenhouse, separated from the home by a capturing surface.

Renewable energies used

In buildings that have been considered bioclimatic architecture, in addition to the use of passive solar energy, additional renewable energy systems are usually installed.

By integrating renewable energy sources, it is possible for all energy consumption to be self-generated and non-polluting. In this case, the objective is to build buildings with 0 emissions and a very reduced environmental impact.

Energy plus buildings are those buildings that generate more energy than they consume.

The renewable energy sources most used in a bioclimatic building are:

  • The eolic energy.

  • Photovoltaic solar energy.

  • Solar thermal energy and even geothermal energy.

Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Last Revision: October 24, 2023