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Building-integrated greenhouses raise energy co-benefits through active ventilation systems

Lookup NU author(s): Joan Munoz Liesa, Dr Mohammad Royapoor, Dr Eva Cuerva



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


© 2021 The Authors. Buildings and greenhouses consume vast amounts of energy and natural resources for heating and ventilation. It is still unclear how the synergetic effect of combining greenhouses and buildings' forced waste airflows could improve both systems' energy efficiency. This study quantified the energy recovery potential of exchanging airflows in a rooftop greenhouse (iRTG) integrated with an office building HVAC system in a Mediterranean climate. Using monitored and calibrated energy model data, the results showed that the iRTG can act as a solar collector and as a sink for a building's low-grade waste heat. The magnitude of harvested thermal energy that could be recirculated into the building by the integrated HVAC system was 205.2 kWh/m2y−1 and was limited by greenhouse low transmissivity (54%). The magnitude of building exhaust air was 198 kWh/m2y−1 at temperatures sufficient to heat and cool the iRTG. Compared to a passive ventilated configuration, the integration of active ventilation strategies doubled the energy benefits. Building ventilation requirements directly determined building and greenhouse waste flows and energy benefits, which increased by 63.1% when air changes per hour moved from 1.59 to 3.16. Overall, this demonstrates that greenhouse and building functionalities could be coupled to contribute to urban circularity and sustainability.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Munoz-Liesa J, Royapoor M, Cuerva E, Gasso-Domingo S, Gabarrell X, Josa A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Building and Environment

Year: 2021

Pages: Epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 16/11/2021

Acceptance date: 12/11/2021

Date deposited: 13/12/2021

ISSN (print): 0360-1323

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.buildenv.2021.108585


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Funder referenceFunder name
FI-DGR 2020