Passive climate control for tourist facilities in the coastal tropics: (Far North Queensland)

Bromberek, Zbigniew (1996). Passive climate control for tourist facilities in the coastal tropics: (Far North Queensland) PhD Thesis, Dept. of Architecture, The University of Queensland.

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Author Bromberek, Zbigniew
Thesis Title Passive climate control for tourist facilities in the coastal tropics: (Far North Queensland)
School, Centre or Institute Dept. of Architecture
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1996
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor -
Total pages 254
Language eng
Subjects 770102 Climate variability
150606 Tourist Behaviour and Visitor Experience
870502 Commercial Building Management and Services
850701 Commercial Energy Conservation and Efficiency
Formatted abstract World statistics show the increasing demand for tourist services in warm climate countries. Australia is no exception. Demand is growing and so are problems related to embedding the tourist architecture into its natural environment. Related employment of materials and design solutions which are alien to a fragile natural environment, widespread use of mechanical means for providing climatic comfort, and subsequent unacceptable increases in demand for power supply are all noticeable signs of prevailing but undesirable trends.

This research deals with the energy component of the problem by replacing the 'conventional' building design, together with its fossil fuelpowered heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, with the 'bioclimatic' design. The main feature of this type of design is the passive control over the building's indoor climate. The indoor environment is created by appropriate responses to the locality climate rather than by breaking links with the building's surroundings and creating an environment of its own.

This research suggests that the climatic response is being accomplished by the reliance on the building's displacement, orientation, landscaping and envelope design. However, it is also suggested that passive climate control should involve specific requirements of the users and exploit the identified differences between tourists (itinerants) and residents.

This research seeks to determine what factors are actually perceived as properties of the tropical coastal environment in Australia, and what are the constraints imposed by the environment on these perceptions. It aims to examine specific climate conditions relevant to operations of tourist facilities located in Queensland's coastal zone of the tropics.

The tropical climate is defined and the data required for an accurate description of each of its elements are discussed. The global tropics are presented as a setting for an understanding of Australian climatic patterns. Reference is made to some of the various classifications of tropical climates which have been offered in the past and to building recommendations derived from these classifications. Their relevance to the resort design is examined. Local climatic and topographic conditions are discussed as factors which might have over-riding importance.

The question of environmental comfort is considered. Processes involved in responses of the human body to thermal, visual and aural stimuli are discussed. Comfort indices are reviewed and an attempt is made to single out tourists in regard to the definition of comfort conditions for tropical climates. Variability of these conditions is discussed, and implications for the resort design are drawn. Research done to date is surveyed and it is concluded that for the determination of indoor comfort conditions the model based on the 'adaptation model of thermoregulation' (Auliciems, 1983) is the most appropriate.

This thesis considers the possibility of controlling the indoor climate through means at the disposal of architectural designers. The main body of the thesis is devoted to an attempt at revealing and establishing a possible set of architectural measures enhancing and channelling the possible development of the passive climate control for tourist facilities in this environment.

The heat exchange processes in buildings are discussed. The means of controlling heat flows are examined and recommendations are proposed. The importance of the attitudes and actions of building occupants in achieving the goals of passive climate control are highlighted. Thorough examination of the functional patterns unveiled some of the factors constituting the micro-climate of the tourist facility.

Applicability and limitations of various simulation techniques for predicting thermal performance of buildings are reviewed. The results of a computer simulation of the indoor environment through the use of ARCHIPAK are presented. In the simulation a 'conventional' building is opposed to a 'passive' building.

This research analyses the feasibility of passive climate control in these conditions and positions it against "traditional" mechanical approaches. It revealed a widespread belief among researchers that passive climate control solutions are economically and environmentally justified alternatives to mechanical systems. The project proved the working usefulness of passive climate control for functionally and technically multi-folded objects such as tourist facilities—even in the harsh climatic conditions of the tropics.

The results of an opinion survey in the research area are presented and implications from the analysis are suggested. In a conclusion to the survey it is pointed out that many tourists are prepared to "trade-off" their comfort for the benefit to the environment. However, a further action aiming at the conscience of the community in general and particularly tourist operators may be required.

This research has been carried out by studying literature and other available sources, eg. maps, plans and charts, meteorological data, photographic documentation, and drawings. It has also involved computer simulation of the indoor climate for a tourist facility in a hypothetical location, produced on the basis of an alternative climate control design. Valuation criteria of the tropical architecture design were reviewed and concluding suggestions outlined both theoretical and practical guidelines for the industry in Australia and the region.

There are two dissimilar hierarchies of needs: one concerning human comfort as applied to temporary visitors and permanent residents, and the other regarding manners and costs of providing energy to power necessary comfort devices. The latter, while being a matter of concern to tourist operators, shows in the consequences to the natural environment and long-term viability of the industry. Assuming the uniqueness of the coastal tropics there must be ways of preserving it, somehow combining the heritage values of Queensland's tropical ecosystems with tourist developments, and established patterns of land use with the new requirements.
Keyword Buildings -- Cooling -- Queensland
Buildings -- Energy conservation -- Queensland
Additional Notes The author has given permission for this thesis to be made open access.

 
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