With the cheap and once over-abundant presence of fossil energy, generic design of buildings and cities could be copied everywhere (Fig. 6.7) across the world, ignoring local characteristics and thus causing an enormous increase in consumption of primary energy.
Mankind has almost lost the ingenuity of optimally deploying vernacular qualities and site-bound features and peculiarities in the design of the living environment. Startingpoint for an effective use of energy should be the fundamental knowledge of the climatic zone in which a plan is developed. Figure 6.8 shows the climatic zones of the earth.
Temperature and its diurnal and seasonal differences define the boundary conditions and constraints to planning and design. Examples are the desirability of solar irradiation in cold climates and the reflection and obstruction in warmer climates, the use of the soil or building mass to stabilise great temperature differences and the necessity of inter-seasonal storage in cases of excess and shortage of heat or cold.
Humidity defines the perception of heat and the (im-) possibility of certain passive cooling techniques. These differences are clarified by the extreme climate difference of the cities in Fig. 6.9.
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