Tuna as inspiration for energy performance

Buildings energy performance depends on several factors: building services, users’ schedules, design and so on. Today, we want to focus on the last one: design. Some collaborators of this blog have written an article analysing the energy performance of a building inspired by tuna. Yes, we are again talking about biomimicry. This time, we have checked how mimicking tuna’s body distribution can help also to achieve more efficient buildings. Thanks to the simulation of a building with different configurations, we have found that tuna can be a good example of energy efficiency.

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Tuna’s energy behaviour

First of all, we should explain why tuna is so inspiring. If you take a section of it, you will find that it has a central bone and two swimming muscles. These muscles produce a lot of heat. Besides, a greatly developed web of vessels called ‘rete mirabile‘ distributes the heat generated accross the body. This strategy is really important as it allows tuna to scape from other animals. It must be taken into account that surrounding water is really cold, about 2ºC or 3ºC. However, its body has an inner temperature of 25ºC.

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A building with tuna’s shape

When we found this amazing strategy, we thought that many circular buildings have been built. We decided to choose Gamesa’s office in Pamplona (Spain) as the example for this study because its shape was similar to tuna’s one. The central part of the building has the vertical communications and building services. An intermediate area encloses closed offices designed for meetings with a high occupancy level. Finally, the outer area is an open space for workers.

Therefore, the inner area has a great occupancy level with people that produce a lot of heat. However, the outer area has a lower density and less heat produced by people. Researchers simulated the building in three different climates (Pamplona, Berlin and Oslo) and checked what would happen with different occupancy distributions: placing the highest density in the outer area or viceversa.

The results of this amazing study have been published in an article in Building Simulation.

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  1. Pingback: Bees and Peltier. Improving an HVAC unit | Building Services

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