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Macrolaboratory, Xochitepec, Mexico

By Karen Duffin on Monday 20 August 2018

ECOstudioXV were commissioned to assess strategies to passively climatise the interior of a laboratory located within Xochitepec, Morelos, Mexico. This posed a unique challenge due to the extremely hot climate experienced in the region, with temperatures in the range of 36ºC and 68% relative humidity.

Whilst similar buildings on the industrial site depended on air conditioning to achieve internal comfort, the client (a physicist) had observed that many historic buildings in the region, dating back to the 16th century, were relatively fresh and delivered reasonable levels of thermal comfort, despite not having any heating or air conditioning. The client was concerned by the costs involved in supplying air conditioning to existing buildings in his portfolio and was therefore interested to see how principles taken from the 16th century buildings could be applied to a 21st century building. The ultimate aim of the project was to achieve an internal temperature of 28ºC within the new laboratory i.e. 8ºC below external temperatures.

ECOstudioXV used the IESVE software –in particular the ModelIT, MacroFlo, ApacheSim & Suncast applications - to test various bioclimatic strategies incorporating the building form and orientation, solar shading, natural and cross ventilation, thermal mass, lighting and materials. IESVE proved to be a very effective tool in this analysis, particularly when compared to other software programs that the client had experienced. In fact, prior to appointing ECOstudioXV to the task, the client had worked with another consultancy on this project but decided a more robust thermal analysis was required when it became apparent that the previous consultants’ chosen software failed to return accurate results as different strategies were applied to the model. ECOstudioXV, by using IESVE, were able to deliver the level of detailed analysis required.

The client requested they began with a simple analysis using a basic model to compare the internal and external temperatures. Starting from that simple simulation, ECOstudioXV gradually applied a series of environmental strategies to the model in order to reduce internal temperature and promote passive cooling, thermal comfort and daylighting. Overall, they performed approximately 60-70 simulations, each time adding a new feature and repeating the simulation in order to understand the impact of each strategy in terms of ventilation, thermal comfort and daylighting. This enabled them to develop an informed environmental strategy for the building to deliver internal temperatures of 29ºC, through purely passive means. 

“To achieve a passive building requires a combination of smart strategies integrated from the early stages of the project. Although the internal temperatures demonstrated in this project were slightly higher than the 28ºC target set, the client was still extremely happy with the strategy we proposed. We are now working with them on another new building on the site and, through a combination of IESVE modelling and site verification, we expect to identify new passive strategies capable of achieving internal temperatures of no more than 26ºC.”  Xavier Valladares, Director, ECOstudioXV