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Key Drivers for building designs in the tropics
Design of buildings should be responsive to the requirements of tropics climate. One of the key factors that are put in consideration is thermal comfort. The analysis of the site is necessary to have an idea of important factors such as windbreaks and shade. In the tropics, windbreaks are not desirable since the block cooling breezes and most buildings are designed in such a way, free air movement is allowed (Lipig & Hien, 2007). Effective shading includes plantings, pergolas, and window awnings. One of the often ignored sources of extra unwanted heat are unprotected glasses, by adding shade, this ensures heat is not reflected in the building, and the temperature remains cool (Colding, 2007).
Another factor that is considered is ventilation. The building forms should be designed in such a way they are open, built on slits, and are outward-oriented (Ng, Chen et.al, 2012). The form that a house takes depends on whether it will depend on artificial air conditioning such as electrical fans or will be naturally air conditioned by taking advantage of natural breeze. Open forms are best for a naturally ventilated building while compact forms are suitable for houses that will be electrically air-conditioned. However, with the increased rate of population growth and declining land available for construction, compacted forms are more preferred (Sadineni, Madala& Boehm, 2011).
Another factor that is considered is utilization of natural energy. To benefit from the weather in the tropics the building design must be done under consideration of the natural energy that can be utilized. Design orientation refers to how the building or the rooms will be built to take full advantage of climatic features such as thermal heating and cooling breezes. Good building or room orientation is essential in reducing the need for extra cooling and extra heating. The tropic structure should be designed in such a way solar access is improved (Haase& Amato, 2009). With right orientation, people can live in comfortable buildings that are cheaper to run. Design depends on the direction of the wind, fortunately in most tropic areas, solar protection does not conflict with wind flow (Dear& Brager, 2002).
Space is another factor of significant consideration. According to the majority of architectures and structural engineers, building forms with larger surfaces favor heat emission and ventilation during the night compared to compact buildings. Proper spacing in designs supports the efficient flow of air and also allows the occupants to connect with the environment (Ahmed, 2003). Adequate space will allow for tree and flower planting which offer humidity modifications and psychological benefits for the owners or inhabitants of the building. Dimensions for building commercial buildings are not adequate to provide enough space for planting trees (Emmanuel et al. 2007).
Environmental Psychology Theories
There are many theories related to environmental psychology; they include Cyclonic theory. The theory asserts that the weather in the northern temperate zones was a critical contributing factor to the high levels of civilization and technology attained by the occupants and those born there. According to the theory, there is a significant relationship between the weather in the specific areas and the achievements realized by the inhabitants. Another significant theory in, environmental psychology is the limited processing theory. The idea was developed by Dawes, who asserts that in almost all situations people do not behave in a rational manner (Kaplan & Kaplan 2009). Individuals fail to pay as much attention to what they are doing as they should. For example, people still act nonrational even when they have substantial understanding of social dilemmas. The decisions they make and their choices do not reflect the knowledge they possess.
The general theory is another common theory in environmental psychology. The theory is driven by three motives of conformity decisions, self-interest and the desire to act responsibly which are the basis of sustainability-related decisions. According to the theory, decisions are influenced by regulations such as taxes, fees as well as by experiences and values. Those close to the individual including friends and family members also influence the decision made. The theory indicates that the outcomes of the decision can either be financial or social outcomes such as poverty, admiration and wealth. The decision maker can also experience emotional results such as frustration or satisfaction. Another theory involved in environmental psychology is the goal expectation theory. The theory indicates that cooperation in any situation is only possible when certain set of conditions are met. The parties involved must agree that there are benefits for each one of them that will result from the cooperation. The parties must be convinced of the necessity to make required changes such as structural changes that will increase the effectiveness.
Ahmed, K.S. (2003). Comfort in Urban Areas: Defining the Boundaries of Outdoor Thermal
Comfort for the Tropical Urban Environments. Journal of Energy and Buildings. 35(1): 103-110.
Colding, J. (2007). Ecological land use complementation for Building Resilience in Urban
Ecosystems. Journal of Landscape and Urban Planning. 81(1-2): 46-55.
Dear, R., & Brager, G. (2002). Thermal Comfort in Naturally Ventilated Buildings: Revisions to
ASHRAE Standard 55. Journal of Energy and Buildings.34 (6): 59-561.
Emmanuel, R., Rosenlund, H., & Johansson, E. (2007). Urban shading—a Design Option for the
Tropics? A study in Colombo, Sri Lanka. International Journal of Climatology, 27(14), 1995-2004.
Haase, M., & Amato, A. (2009). An Investigation of the Potential for Natural Ventilation and
Building Orientation to Achieve Thermal Comfort in Warm and Humid Climates. Solar Energy, 83(3), 389-399.
Kaplan, S. & R. Kaplan (2009). Creating a Larger Role for Environmental Psychology: The Reasonable Person Model as an Integrative Framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 29, 329-339.
Liping, W., & Hien, W. (2007). The Impacts of Ventilation Strategies and Façade on Indoor
Thermal Environment for Naturally Ventilated Residential Buildings in Singapore. Journal of Energy and Buildings. 42(12): 4006-4015.
Ng, E., Chen, L., Wang, Y., & Yuan, C. (2012). A study on the Cooling Effects of Greening in a
High-density city: An experience from Hong Kong. Building and Environment, 47, 256-271.
Sadineni, s. Madala, S., & Boehm, R. (2011). Possible Building Energy Savings: A review of
Building Envelope Components. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 15(8): 3617-3631.
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