Feature Article

Natural Ventilation: The Nine Biggest Obstacles and How Project Teams Are Beating Them

Designers are reinventing the art and science of passive comfort control even where climate and culture favor mechanical systems.

August 3, 2014

The Eastgate building in Harare, Zimbabwe, is world-famous for its biomimetic passive cooling system, inspired by termite mounds. The fan-assisted network of thermal labyrinths and chimneys cools the space economically and “uses about 10% of the energy” consumed by a mechanically conditioned building next door, architect Mick Pearce told EBN.

Necessity was the mother of Pearce’s invention. The expense of importing the equipment needed for a mechanical HVAC system drove the strategy. Ten years later and seven thousand miles away in Melbourne, Australia, Pearce employed natural ventilation again for Council House 2, with profoundly different results. That’s because the natural ventilation system pulls in air “for breathing, not for cooling.” Instead, radiant cooling makes the ceiling “like the roof of a cave.”