Natural ventilation and passive cooling for energy efficiency of residential buildings in Mediterranean climate

Fabrizio Tucci, Alessandra Battisti, Marco Cimillo, Filippo Calcerano


The upcoming new energy requirements for European buildings impose Nearly Zero Energy standards within few years. In order to achieve such a result, new buildings will need to combine high performance envelopes, energy-efficient active energy systems, on site renewable energy production and passive systems. The latter seem the most difficult to be widely implemented in the conventional buildings, despite their proven effectiveness. Particularly, natural and hybrid ventilation systems in Mediterranean climate have a huge potential in terms of energy savings and indoor comfort improvement. The main obstacles for a wider use of such systems lie probably in difficulties and uncertainties inherent in the design and in the predictability of actual performance. The article describes a methodology to overcome these problems and presents two case studies that illustrate the process and give an example of the possible results.
The design process is articulated through the use of analysis and simulation tools, progressively more detailed. So the general strategies are adapted to the climate and the main building features; site and general building design depend on the microclimate specific characteristics; detailed design and systems calibration are defined on the basis of internal CFD and sub hourly energy simulations. Likewise, other aspects of passive design, such as solar systems, are determined through a similar process of progressive deepening by means of specific simulation tools.
The case studies, two public housing buildings in Tuscany (Italy), are designed on a high energy standard, with passive solar systems, natural and hybrid ventilation strategies, high-efficiency systems, integrated photovoltaic modules and, in one instance, a solar cooling system. The design process and the estimated performance are illustrated with particular regard to ventilation and cooling systems. The buildings are expected to have very low energy consumption and a high quality standard for the indoor comfort, showing a good potential for these strategies in Mediterranean climate. Namely, the cooling needs are reduced by a quantity between 74 to 100%, meaning that an effective ventilation systems (combined with other strategies, can get to completely eliminate the need of mechanical cooling.


Natural ventilation; Passive cooling; Energy efficiency; Building simulation

Read the full text

Download PDF


Santamouris, M. (2007) Advances in Passive Cooling. London. Earthscan.

Kwon, O.H., Kim, M.H., Choi, A.S., and Jeong, J.W. (2013). Energy saving potential of a hybrid ventilation system integrated with heat storage material. Energy and Buildings, Volume 57, February 2013, Pages 346-353.

Tucci F. (2012), Atlante dei sistemi tecnologici per l’Architettura Bioclimatica: Ventilazione naturale negli edifici / Atlas of technological systems for Bioclimatic Architecture: Natural Building Ventilation. Alinea Editrice, Firenze.

Grosso, M. (2011) Il raffrescamento passivo degli edifici. Maggioli.

Allard, F. (1998) Natural Ventilation in Buildings: A Design Handbook. London. James & James Ltd.

Mahdavi, A., and Pröglhöf, C. (2005). A model-based method for the integration of natural ventilation in indoor climate systems operation. Proc. 9th Int. IBPSA Conf. BS 2005 Montr. Can. 15 August 2005 18 August 2005.

Morbitzer, C. (2003) Towards the integration of simulation in the Building Design Process. PHD thesis, Energy System Research Unit, University of Strathcylde.

Chen, Q. (2009). Ventilation performance prediction for buildings: A method overview and recent applications. Building and Environment, Volume 44, Issue 4, April 2009, Pages 848-858.

Givoni, B., (1998). Effectiveness of mass and night ventilation in lowering the indoor daytime temperatures. Part I: 1993 experimental periods. Energy and Buildings, Volume 28, Issue 1, August 1998, Pages 25-32.

Cimillo M. (2013). I sistemi passive nella valutazione energetica degli edifice. Applicazioni delle simulazioni dinamiche nella progettazione e nella certificazione energetica degli edifici. Ediaizoni accademiche Italiane

Peretti C., Zarrella A., De Carli M., Zecchin R. (2013). The design and environmental evaluation of earth-to-air heat exchangers (EAHE). A literature review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 28, Pages 107–116.

Hughes B.R., Chaudhry H.N., Ghani S.A. (2011). A review of sustainable cooling technologies in buildings. Renewabl and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 15, Pages 3112-3120.

Kahn N., Su Y., Riffat, S. (2008). A review on wind driven ventilation techniques, Energy and Buildings, Volume 40, Issue 8, Pages 1586-1604.

Zhai Z., Johnson M., Krarti M. (2011). Assessment of natural and hybrid ventilation models in whole-building energy simulations.

Schulze, T., Eicker U. (2012). Controlled natural ventilation for energy efficient buildings. Energy and Buildings, Volume 56, Pages 221-232.

Freire R.Z., Abadie M.O., Mendes N. (2013). On the improvement of natural ventilation models. Energy and Buildings, Volume 62, Pages 222-229.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

CSE Journal - City Safety Energy is a semiannual journal (Two ISSUES per Year) published by Le Penseur in Brienza (PZ) - Italy | ISSN print edition 2283-8767 | ISSN online edition 2284-3418 - Journal registerd at the Court of Potenza (Italy) n. 219/2014