- One, we park the car in the shade
- Two, we roll down a couple of windows of the car down a crack
Cut to how a building works for a bit. The body of the car can be compared to the building shell- the walls, the roof, the windows, etc. The windows of the car are akin to the openings on a building- windows, ventilators, clear storeys, etc. How the skin of the car works in affecting the internal thermal environment is comparable to that of the building shell.
Let us now apply the same logic to how a building is designed. Current practises take into consideration local climatic conditions and then design the building shell with materials (or composites) with the desired u-values to ensure an appropriate thermal flow balance. Like in the case of the car, this extra insulation of the building can be reduced by first starting with a modelling method that adopts aspects of shading and venting on a shell with conventional specs. In hotter climates (like most areas in the plains of India) where it is all about keeping the heat out, this would apply greatly.
A double shell for instance could also be designed to provide extra strength.... a greater base level of air-exchanges would also ensure better internal air quality.... and eventually, a building so designed would end up spending less on air-conditioning costs.
Similarly, other thermal comfort influencers like humidity, can also be addressed by drawing on such parallels/inspiration. Ever wondered why when it is uncomfortably humid, and you are driving, you feel much better, by just rolling the windows down? The breeze helps remove the perspiration, and one starts feeling better. Now, in the building context, when it is humid, all one has to do, is to induce such an air movement. It is not necessary to jump straight to air-conditioning.
Many of us hasten to switch on the AC in the car and do so primarily because we cant stand the dust and pollution of our cities. A similar scenario of dust is played out in buildings, and somehow and air-conditioned environment is always seen as the universal solution. When all we needed was a dust screen! We know that plants perform that role and so do artificial louvres and 'jaalis'. Incorporating such measures would surely address dust control but don't you think that it could also add some vitality to otherwise banal façades?
So, what say we take one hard look at the experience of driving and how we deal with thermal comfort...again?