Ahmed Waqas Mahar
Methodology for the design of climate-responsive houses for improved thermal comfort in cold semi-arid climates
akistan is facing a severe energy crisis which results in power cuts across the country. This situation seriously disturbs everyday life, business, and economic activities. The household sector in Pakistan is the primary consumer of electricity. A reasonable sum of this electricity is used for heating and cooling residential buildings, which can be reduced by adopting passive design strategies. This PhD research aims to provide informed decision support to design and construct climate-responsive houses in the cold semi-arid climate of Quetta, considering the appropriate and locally adapted low-tech solutions to improve residential buildings' indoor thermal comfort. Firstly, a literature review was done to understand the existing housing, comfort, and energy situation in Pakistan. An inventory of the current housing stock was then created to identify housing characteristics, construction types, and materials. The most common housing type was analysed for indoor climate, including monitoring indoor temperature and humidity, comfort perception and energy usage behaviour. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the residents to get insights on their comfort perception, clothing, behaviour, living style etc. Then a benchmark study was performed by selecting the most representative house. The representative house's virtual model was analysed using dynamic simulation and calibrated based on actual monitored data. Four comfort models were compared to identify the best fit-t-context model. A parametric analysis was conducted using passive design strategies to improve indoor thermal comfort. A sensitivity analysis of 21 design variables was performed to identify the most influential passive design strategies, which can be used in the climate of Quetta. A materialization survey was done to determine the locally available and manufactured materials. Based on this PhD research analysis and findings, a prescriptive guide was developed to provide informed decision support for architects to design comfortable and climate-responsive houses. The prescriptive guide was then tested and validated. A usability test was performed among the architects and architecture. The results show that the prescriptive guide provides enhanced decision support compared to the Building Code of Pakistan. In the end, recommendations are made for the regulators and further research.