Buildings with environmental quality management, part 2: Integration of hydronic heating/cooling with thermal mass Academic Article uri icon

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  • The quest for a sustainable built environment brought dramatic changes to architectural design because of the integrated design process. The integrated design process is the modern way to realize “performance architecture,” that is, design with a view to field performance. Integrated design process permits merging of concepts from passive-house designs, solar engineering, and an integration of the building enclosure with mechanical services. In part 1 of this series, the emergence of many new multi-functional materials was discussed. Yet, current innovation is guided by lessons from history. Thermal mass in heavy masonry buildings allowed periodic heating. The authors postulate integration of a hydronic heating system with the walls and the use of smart temperature control of the heating system to modify and optimize the thermal mass contribution. To use the mass of a building, one must accept transient temperature conditions where the indoor temperature varies but is confined by comfort requirements for both summer and winter conditions. On the other side, resiliency requirements dictate that in the absence of electricity the air temperature does not fall below about 12°C over a period of several hours. This requirement implies that summer cooling will likely be separated from the heating systems and that operation of a low-energy building is heavily dependent on the design of smart control systems. Analysis of control systems provided in this article for earth-to-air heat exchangers and cooling of houses with lightweight walls lead us to the requirements of separation between heating and ventilation and needs for different sources of fresh air. Finally, a new concept emerges.


  • Romanska-Zapala, A
  • Bomberg, Mark
  • Fedorczak-Cisak, M
  • Furtak, M
  • Yarbrough, D
  • Dechnik, M

publication date

  • March 2018