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Energy saving potential of natural ventilation in China: The impact of ambient air pollution


  • Tong, Zheming
  • Chen, Yujiao
  • Malkawi, Ali
  • Liu, Zhu
  • Freeman, Richard B.


Natural ventilation (NV) is a key sustainable solution for reducing the energy use in buildings, improving thermal comfort, and maintaining a healthy indoor environment. However, the energy savings and environmental benefits are affected greatly by ambient air pollution in China. Here we estimate the NV potential of all major Chinese cities based on weather, ambient air quality, building configuration, and newly constructed square footage of office buildings in the year of 2015. In general, little NV potential is observed in northern China during the winter and southern China during the summer. Kunming located in the Southwest China is the most weather-favorable city for natural ventilation, and reveals almost no loss due to air pollution. Building Energy Simulation (BES) is conducted to estimate the energy savings of natural ventilation in which ambient air pollution and total square footage at each city must be taken into account. Beijing, the capital city, displays limited per-square-meter saving potential due to the unfavorable weather and air quality for natural ventilation, but its largest total square footage of office buildings makes it become the city with the greatest energy saving opportunity in China. Our analysis shows that the aggregated energy savings potential of office buildings at 35 major Chinese cities is 112GWh in 2015, even after allowing for a 43GWh loss due to China’s serious air pollution issue especially in North China. 8–78% of the cooling energy consumption can be potentially reduced by natural ventilation depending on local weather and air quality. The findings here provide guidelines for improving current energy and environmental policies in China, and a direction for reforming building codes.

Suggested Citation

  • Tong, Zheming & Chen, Yujiao & Malkawi, Ali & Liu, Zhu & Freeman, Richard B., 2016. "Energy saving potential of natural ventilation in China: The impact of ambient air pollution," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 660-668.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:179:y:2016:i:c:p:660-668
    DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2016.07.019

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    1. Alberto Meiss & Miguel A. Padilla-Marcos & Jesús Feijó-Muñoz, 2017. "Methodology Applied to the Evaluation of Natural Ventilation in Residential Building Retrofits: A Case Study," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(4), pages 1-19, April.
    2. He, Yueer & Liu, Meng & Kvan, Thomas & Peng, Shini, 2017. "An enthalpy-based energy savings estimation method targeting thermal comfort level in naturally ventilated buildings in hot-humid summer zones," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 717-731.
    3. Chen, Yujiao & Tong, Zheming & Wu, Wentao & Samuelson, Holly & Malkawi, Ali & Norford, Leslie, 2019. "Achieving natural ventilation potential in practice: Control schemes and levels of automation," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 235(C), pages 1141-1152.
    4. Peter Rafaj & Markus Amann, 2018. "Decomposing Air Pollutant Emissions in Asia: Determinants and Projections," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(5), pages 1-14, May.
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    6. Yu, Bendong & Yang, Jichun & He, Wei & Qin, Minghui & Zhao, Xudong & Chen, Hongbing, 2019. "The performance analysis of a novel hybrid solar gradient utilization photocatalytic-thermal-catalytic-Trombe wall system," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 174(C), pages 420-435.
    7. Tong, Shuiguang & Cheng, Zhewu & Cong, Feiyun & Tong, Zheming & Zhang, Yidong, 2018. "Developing a grid-connected power optimization strategy for the integration of wind power with low-temperature adiabatic compressed air energy storage," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 73-86.
    8. Nutkiewicz, Alex & Jain, Rishee K. & Bardhan, Ronita, 2018. "Energy modeling of urban informal settlement redevelopment: Exploring design parameters for optimal thermal comfort in Dharavi, Mumbai, India," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 231(C), pages 433-445.
    9. Wang, C. & Zhu, Y. & Qu, J. & Hu, H.D., 2018. "Automatic air temperature control in a container with an optic-variable wall," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 224(C), pages 671-681.
    10. Zhang, Chaobo & Xue, Xue & Zhao, Yang & Zhang, Xuejun & Li, Tingting, 2019. "An improved association rule mining-based method for revealing operational problems of building heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 253(C), pages 1-1.
    11. Tong, Zheming & Chen, Yujiao & Malkawi, Ali, 2017. "Estimating natural ventilation potential for high-rise buildings considering boundary layer meteorology," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 193(C), pages 276-286.
    12. Boya Zhou & Shaojun Zhang & Ye Wu & Wenwei Ke & Xiaoyi He & Jiming Hao, 2018. "Energy-saving benefits from plug-in hybrid electric vehicles: perspectives based on real-world measurements," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 23(5), pages 735-756, June.
    13. Cui, X. & Mohan, B. & Islam, M.R. & Chou, S.K. & Chua, K.J., 2017. "Energy performance evaluation and application of an air treatment system for conditioning building spaces in tropics," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 204(C), pages 1500-1512.
    14. Fournier, Eric D. & Federico, Felicia & Porse, Erik & Pincetl, Stephanie, 2019. "Effects of building size growth on residential energy efficiency and conservation in California," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 240(C), pages 446-452.
    15. Payam Nejat & Fatemeh Jomehzadeh & Hasanen Mohammed Hussen & John Kaiser Calautit & Muhd Zaimi Abd Majid, 2018. "Application of Wind as a Renewable Energy Source for Passive Cooling through Windcatchers Integrated with Wing Walls," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(10), pages 1-23, September.
    16. Li, Han & You, Shijun & Zhang, Huan & Zheng, Wandong & Zheng, Xuejing & Jia, Jie & Ye, Tianzhen & Zou, Lanjun, 2017. "Modelling of AQI related to building space heating energy demand based on big data analytics," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 203(C), pages 57-71.
    17. Qing He & Haiyang Zhao & Lin Shen & Liuqun Dong & Ye Cheng & Ke Xu, 2019. "Factors Influencing Residents’ Intention toward Green Retrofitting of Existing Residential Buildings," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(15), pages 1-23, August.
    18. Costanzo, Vincenzo & Yao, Runming & Xu, Tiantian & Xiong, Jie & Zhang, Qiulei & Li, Baizhan, 2019. "Natural ventilation potential for residential buildings in a densely built-up and highly polluted environment. A case study," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 340-353.
    19. Chen, Jianli & Brager, Gail S. & Augenbroe, Godfried & Song, Xinyi, 2019. "Impact of outdoor air quality on the natural ventilation usage of commercial buildings in the US," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 235(C), pages 673-684.
    20. Tong, Zheming & Chen, Yujiao & Malkawi, Ali, 2016. "Defining the Influence Region in neighborhood-scale CFD simulations for natural ventilation design," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 182(C), pages 625-633.
    21. Yu, Bendong & He, Wei & Li, Niansi & Wang, Liping & Cai, Jingyong & Chen, Hongbing & Ji, Jie & Xu, Gang, 2017. "Experimental and numerical performance analysis of a TC-Trombe wall," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 206(C), pages 70-82.
    22. Martins, Nuno R. & Carrilho da Graça, Guilherme, 2017. "Impact of outdoor PM2.5 on natural ventilation usability in California’s nondomestic buildings," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 189(C), pages 711-724.
    23. Liwei Wen & Kyosuke Hiyama, 2018. "Target Air Change Rate and Natural Ventilation Potential Maps for Assisting with Natural Ventilation Design During Early Design Stage in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(5), pages 1-16, May.

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    Natural ventilation; Energy saving; China; Air pollution; AQI; CO2 emission;

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