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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Wind and building energy consumption: an overview


The environment around a building affects its energy consumption primarily by influencing its requirement for space heating and cooling. The environmental variables influencing the amount of energy needed for heating and cooling are outside temperature, humidity, solar radiation, and wind.

Wind influences building energy consumption by affecting the following:

1. Air infiltration and exfiltration from conditioned spaces, resulting from pressure gradients and the resulting mass transfer through surface.

2. The rate of heat transmission to or from external surfaces, partially determined by the turbulent mixing of air close to the building surface.

3. Mechanical systems efficiency. Air circulation around buildings affects the thermal efficiency of air-conditioning cooling towers, and can increase fan power requirements when ventilation inlets and exhausts are poorly located.

4. The necessity for enclosing and conditioning outdoor space. Buildings commonly have uncomfortable surroundings, and architects have responded to this by enclosing the surrounding in atria or malls which need to be heated or cooled. Such enclosures might not be necessary if the site and building were designed to control air movement to an acceptable level.

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