September 16 2007

Solar Chimneys: York University

Solar chimneys have been used for thousands of years to increase the effectiveness of stack ventilation. For instance, in Iraq, badgirs are still used today and use a combination of wind and heat energy to remove hot air from buildings and create air movement. These indigenous technologies are sophisticated, simple, and elegant.

Yet it is not so easy to emulate these indigenous technologies today. The technological wisdom and thorough understanding of building materials, site, and occupant use has been diluted over time. It is worth a lengthy discussion in the future. Today I want to present a great modern example of a Solar Chimney.

The following images are from the York University Computer Sciences Building in Toronto, Canada. The solar chimneys lie above a large atrium designed to draw heat away from interior spaces and expel the heat energy in the summer time. In the winter, the atrium is closed and allowed to warm and then releases heat back into the surrounding spaces. The solar chimneys are the main system for venting the atrium.

They are remarkable because they derive their shape from the solar altitude and azimuth. A dot matrix pattern is painted on the inside of the specially shaped drum which absorbs more or less heat depending on the exposure to the sun (time of day/year). In summer months, when the suns rays strike a dense area of black dots deep in the drum, the surface heats up and aids the stack effect. During the winter the more shallow sun angles only strike the less densely spaced dots and create less stack effect, thus keeping more heat in the atrium.


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September 18th, 2007 at 1:19 AM

Greenline » Blog Archive » York University - Pond Road Student Residence

[...] is going headlong into the frontier of sustainable buildings.  Following its much lauded York University Computer Sciences Building, the university just announced another solid example commitment to high performance design, [...]