Geotechnical Engineering Award of Excellence: Panorama Tower, Miami

Danilo Nanni
Senior Associate
DeSimone Consulting Engineers, Miami

The Impact of Double-Skin Façade Configurations on Natural Ventilation in Supertall Buildings

Supertall buildings (i.e., buildings above 1,000 feet high) are on rise worldwide. Their energy-efficiency and healthy environments have become important concerns, given the current environmental challenges and health problems. Most supertall buildings rely on mechanical ventilation and hinder the occupants from the physical and mental interaction with nature. Nowadays, the extensive energy consumption and health problems caused by solely relying on mechanical systems call for natural ventilation in buildings. Natural ventilation has proven to be an effective passive strategy in saving energy and improving working environments in many types of buildings. However, it is still a challenge to apply the strategy in supertall buildings due to unique unfavorable outdoor conditions, such as strong winds, that are experienced at high levels.

Double-skin façade (DSF) systems can provide more opportunities to apply natural ventilation strategy to supertall buildings compared to single-skin façade (SSF), as they can regulate the wind speed and pressure through the air cavities. Specifically, properly designed DSF elements such as air inlets, outlets, shading devices, and cavities can not only create better indoor airflow behavior for natural ventilation, responding to harsh outdoor conditions, but also harness the strong winds as a driving force of air circulation. This presentation is a part of an ongoing research that investigates the indoor airflow behavior affected by climatic and design parameters in supertall buildings with DSFs. Expected results such as the optimum configuration with quantified natural ventilation performance and qualified conditions of indoor spaces can make natural ventilation with DSFs more feasible for supertall buildings. The outcomes will contribute to the paradigm shift from sealed and fully air-conditioned supertall buildings toward a new type of supertall buildings.

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