Thermal analysis of traditional adobe dwellings in Riyadh City, Saudi Arabia
Global warming is being introduced into our ecosystem as one of the most dangerous instabilities. As a result, the choices we make in the way we use energy in our homes and their relationship to global warming is becoming increasingly crucial. Energy used in Riyadh homes is responsible for about 88% of the total electrical consumption of the city. Saudi Arabia also suffers from environmental problems due to pollutants that are produced by electricity consumption in Saudi Arabia, mostly generated by the use of gas. This is a major contributor to global warming and, therefore, improved energy efficiency is a key element of necessary changes. The purpose of the research presented here was to determine if there was any potential in the adaptive re-use of traditional adobe dwellings in Riyadh City to reduce overall energy use. As these buildings were originally designed to adapt to the climate without using additional or auxiliary energy not already present on their site, they may be able to meet the thermal comfort requirements of modem occupants at only a fraction of the energy cost of modem western-style buildings currently popular in Riyadh. Thus, the work involves an analysis of the thermal performance of these dwellings to develop an understanding of exactly how well they are adapted and to measure how they perform. This study reviews traditional building characteristics of Saudi in general and Riyadh traditional buildings in particular, and also of modem building. In addition, field measurements were conducted to assess the actual thermal performance of traditional adobe dwellings in Riyadh City, Saudi Arabia. A range of computer programs have been used throughout this investigation to predict the best passive cooling strategies that can be used in hot weather. These models were then used to determine the design parameters to which the different passive systems were most sensitive. The findings of this work showed that, using only passive cooling strategies, it is possible to reduce average internal temperatures in these buildings by 4-6 °C, and peak temperatures by as much as 12 °C. This required the careful control of ventilation at all times, making use of night-cooling and the conditioning of daytime air using evaporative systems within the courtyard. Parametric analysis showed that the spaces were most sensitive to internal gains and ventilation effects, and relatively insensitive to solar and orientation effects. Interestingly, there was some sensitivity to surface colour, suggesting that the whitewashing of exposed surfaces is beneficial if they can be kept sufficiently. Finally, recommendations have been produced from the analysis to inform the restoration and refurbishment process.