Author Topic: looking for definitive energy design book  (Read 13697 times)

Nick Grant

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looking for definitive energy design book
« on: February 05, 2005, 07:28:45 AM »
I'm looking for a good building energy design primer at the sort of level of 'Design with Energy' by Littler and Thomas from 1984. Things have moved on but many popular 'passive solar' books dont seem to have.

Not looking for a cofee table book of solar buildings without any evidence of actual performance.

Thanks

Nick

David OLIVIER

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Re: looking for definitive energy design book
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2005, 01:59:38 PM »
I think there's just a lack of good recent books. I agree about Littler's book which is/was the best from the UK but the three most-used volumes on my bookshelf giving accurate and useful advice all date from about 20 yrs. ago and are foreign:

1979 Mazria, Passive Solar Design (USA)
1983 Eyre, Air Vapour barriers (Canada)
1980 Carlsson et al, Airtightness & Thermal Insulation (Sweden)

Of more recent books the only one that I found very interesting was the Vales' The New Autonomous House. Even that book's somewhat idiosyncratic as it describes how two architects devised a house design for one particular urban site, not how one might approach other kinds of site or make it work using other construction systems.

There are good self-build books including Bob Matthews's and Mark Brinkley's but they don't give much definitive guidance on energy design.

I am in fact writing something to fill the perceived gap but can't devote full time to it - if I could it might come out sooner.

David.

Mark Siddall

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Re: looking for definitive energy design book
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2007, 08:35:35 PM »
I know this thread has got a little aged by now but I thought that this little review of books on energy/building science may be of interest. A number of the books are listed under the 'books' heading: -

INTRODUCTION TO ARCHITECTURAL SCIENCE: THE BASIS OF SUSTAINABLE DESIGN BY STEVEN SZOKOLAY.
Though it is not UK specific (whereas Little/Thomas is) in terms of currency and accessibility this is the best all rounder I have come across so far. The book does venture into the discussing ASHRAE standards as well as those of the UK/Europe thus giving a convincing overview of building science as it currently stands. Offering insight over a range of topic areas including comfort, thermal performance (U-values, thermal mass and thermal bridging), acoustics and lighting. For those inclined the book also has some handy worksheets at the back.

ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN (PAPERBACK) BY RANDALL THOMAS
Competing for best building science book is Thomas’s regularly updated book. Useful and informative though it caters for a broader audience than Design with Energy i.e. it examines commercial buildings also. The book has an impressive array of case studies, the main criticism being that they all belong to the practice that Thomas works for. NOTE: The third edition of the book is now available whereas my criticism relates to the second.

THERMAL ANALYSIS AND DESIGN OF PASSIVE SOLAR BUILDINGS BY A.K. ATHIENITIS AND M. SANTAMOURIS
This is a detailed examination that goes into the building physics of passive solar design. This is not a coffee table book, quite the opposite. It made me realize just how much calculation is involved in the design of a truly successful passive solar building. Most of the algorithms discussed went straight over my head. This book is not for the faint hearted rather it is for the serious building scientist.
From reading this book I also concluded that some serious software is needed to assist with the design of a true passive solar house.

PASSIVE SOLAR ENERGY BOOK BY MAZRIA, EDWARD
Having tracked a copy of this book down as a consequence of David O’s suggestion above I have to agree that this book is a classic. Structured in a manner similar to ‘A Pattern Language’ I have not come across a book that tackles passive solar design in such a thorough or pragmatic way. My only concern is that as time has moved on more detailed modeling techniques have developed and new technologies have been developed, particularly with regard to glazing. This may impact upon a number of the books propositions.

THE NEW AUTONOMOUS HOUSE: DESIGN AND PLANNING FOR SUSTAINABILITY, B AND R VALE
I have read a number of books on the subject of environmental science/passive solar design (the best I’ve read so far being covered in this review) but this is the only book offers detailed insight into the full range of selecting and specifying for a domestic setting. It offers insight into the specification of cooking appliances through to a useful concept for assisting with the preliminary stages of a design; what could be termed the “Vales Room.” The book also has some astonishing, and frankly amusing, heat load calculations regarding the thermal performance of cats. A quirky lovable classic.

Mark
« Last Edit: January 28, 2007, 01:58:37 PM by Mark Siddall »

Mark Siddall

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Re: looking for definitive energy design book
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2007, 06:17:00 PM »
David,
I was hoping that you might be able to comment upon currency of Ed Mazria’s book “The Passive Solar Energy Book” (1980). In the intervening decades since the book was published high performance glazing has been developed considerably. This has had two impacts 1) to reduce heat losses 2) to reduce the energy transmission (SHGC) of the glazing.
Given that the book has the potential for being a veritable treasure trove of information I have a number of concerns that arise from the two points raised above, all of which stem from concerns that the rules of thumb are no longer current.
Concerns include: -
a) Comfort conditions could be compromised as a consequence of the reducing heat loss through glazing. (The reasoning being that the decrement delay of the thermal mass will peak at such a level that over heating occurs in the early evening)
b) Heat loads and/or comfort conditions could be compromised as a consequence of the reduced solar transmission of the glazing and, by having used the rules of thumb, the glazing area being undersized.
c) Comfort conditions could be compromised as a consequence of over sizing the required thermal mass (this pretty much the same as point ‘b’ but the inverse issue.)

I would be grateful if could you pass comment upon whether you consider these concerns to be warranted or not. If they are warranted do you have any recommendations.

Thanks,
Mark

David OLIVIER

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Re: looking for definitive energy design book
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2007, 11:59:00 PM »
Most of the best stuff from last ten years is all on the web I think esp Canadian and US govt literature and design guidance which is often superb.

I was told Swiss architects learned a lot from Mazria's work but didn't publish much feedback even in German as all their passive solar houses were high thermal capacity and worked well no matter what you did (i.e. added glass) to the south facade. (I heard today of a high-thermal-capacity house 30 km from here with a 100% glazed south wall which doesn't overheat; reassuring to know it might also be possible in UK.)

Mazria's book was better for warning you what not to do than for fine-tuning. We know the winter overheating here isn't as severe here as in say New Mexico which is as far south as the Atlas Mountains or New Hampshire which is about the same latitude as Florence (but of course much colder).

The most useful work since then I know of is simulations done in Canada on high and low mass houses in the climate of Vancouver (good insulation and modern glazing) and the monitoring done in Germany by the Passive House Institute which clearly informed the numbers which they put into their PHPP worksheet. I've almost stopped looking for books since there seem to be hardly any. There are some in German but the language barrier can be a struggle. Also try the Passive House Conf Proceedings.

D.

Andrew Tomlins

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Re: looking for definitive energy design book
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2007, 04:40:03 PM »
A book which hasn't been mentioned is:
Solar Heating in Cold Regions by Jean-Francois Rozis & Alain Guinebault published by Intermediate Technology Publications, 1996.
At 166 pages it is fairly short but reasonably technical. They refer to Mazria in  a few places. Does anyone have an opinion on this book?

Mark Siddall

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Re: looking for definitive energy design book
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2007, 08:04:38 PM »

Andrew,
David O. recommended it in the first place, see above, so I tracked down a second hand copy was pretty impressed and wrote a little review, also see above.

Mark

Mark Siddall

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Re: looking for definitive energy design book
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2007, 07:58:48 PM »
I just recieved a copy of the books "Eyre, Air-Vapour barriers (Canada)" that David O recomended above. A bit old, a bit battered but an absolutely fantastic document on the subject, far more comprehensive than anything that I have seen from the BRE in the last year or two....and Air-Vapour Barriers was published in 1981! Another absolutely fantastic find by David.

Mark

Mark Siddall

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Re: looking for definitive energy design book
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2007, 08:50:26 PM »
Solar Architecture in Cool Climates, Colin Porteous

A cracking little book. The body text of the book seeks to maintain an approachable informal style whilst being supported by useful and informative footnotes (usefully presented alongside the relevant text rather than at the base of the page.)

After making the case for exploiting passive solar in northern climates - with high levels of cloud cover - (the author has worked/researched extensively in Scotland) the book examines passive solar design theory and then tests it against the reality by referring to a good number of post occupancy evaluations.

It is in this respect the chapters on Environmental Comfort and Well-being and Adaptive Controls are, to my mind, particularly revealing and will no doubt aid designers and occupants alike to develop suitable, and realistic, control strategies for their passive solar systems. I do not believe that it is unfair to say that the dominant part of the discussion dwells on a number of Scottish passive solar projects though a reasonable number of English and European projects also fall into the mix.

The key piece of design awareness that I have drawn from the book are the advantages and disadvantages of the Sun Space, aka the much maligned conservatory, and the tremendous variety of ventilation systems that can used to seek to exploit it, and the way in which they can be used/misused. Given that it's all backed up by real case studies it makes it all the more revealing.

In general it is from these case studies (which deal with far more than sun spaces) a number of critical observations can be made and a range thought provoking questions and design dilemmas can be raised.

As I say, well worth the read.

Mark

Mark Siddall

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Re: looking for definitive energy design book
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2008, 08:32:12 PM »
Nick,
You could try Hugo Hens "Building Physics -  Heat, Air and Moisture"
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Building-Physics-Fundamentals-Engineering-Exercises/dp/3433018413/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1229459467&sr=1-2

More equations than you can shake a stick at! This is the kind of book that scares the hell out of me whenever I open it. For the serious building science enthusiast!

Mark