Performance evaluation and users' perception of courtyards role in indoor areas of mediterranean social housing

J Environ Manage. 2023 Nov 1:345:118788. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.118788. Epub 2023 Aug 25.


Cities confront two critical challenges: general overheating and inefficient use of energy resources within their housing buildings, both adversely affecting urban citizens' daily lives. To mitigate these issues, passive techniques offer promising solutions on enhancing building comfort levels from a sustainable approach. Although this energy efficiency of air-conditioning systems in buildings in warm climates has been extensively analysed, the influence of the microclimate of transitional spaces attached to them on this performance has not yet been properly assessed. Investigating the potential benefits of the implementation of courtyards within Seville's social housing infrastructure for passive conditioning purposes is one way of reducing this research gap. Furthermore, the study also includes the subjective perception of users' thermal well-being around these spaces and their own social relationship related to their use. The work relies on detailed data analyses carried out using DesignBuilder software to quantify the benefit effectively accrued from courtyard utilization. Concurrently, user surveys conducted help determine perceived thermal comfort aiding better configuration management and passive design strategies of urban social housing. Findings from monitoring and simulation reveal that courtyards work faultlessly as a highly effective and efficient passive cooling system whilst promoting energy efficiency up to 20,5%. Surveys confirmed these findings with data revealing significant improvements in thermal comforts perception inside courtyards and within indoor spaces adjacent to the courtyards. This research provides novel insights into how architects and urban managers might integrate passive strategies into future designs for optimizing comfort levels in social housing using courtyards as one possible environmental measure for achieving sustainability targets.

Keywords: Courtyards microclimate; Passive cooling; Simulation tools; Social housing; Thermal comfort surveys.

MeSH terms

  • Cities
  • Climate*
  • Housing*
  • Microclimate
  • Perception