Possibilities and Challenges of Different Experimental Techniques for Airflow Characterisation in the Air Cavities of Façades

  • Emanuela Giancola Ciemat, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency in Buildings Unit
  • M. Nuria Sánchez Ciemat, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency in Buildings Unit
  • Matthias Friedrich HafenCity University Hamburg
  • Olena Kalyanova Larsen Aalborg University
  • Alessandro Nocente Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Stefano Avesani Eurac Research, Institute for Renewable Energy
  • Francesco Babich Eurac Research, Institute for Renewable Energy
  • Francesco Goia Norwegian University of Science and Technology


Ventilated façades are applied in both new and existing buildings. It has been claimed that these components help to reduce energy use in buildings and improve occupant comfort. However, their performance strongly depends on the airflow passing through the cavity. In order to characterise and to model the behaviour of the ventilation and its effectiveness, the components need to be tested in the laboratory, as well as under real dynamic weather conditions. Despite the steadily growing research in this area, there are few studies with conclusive results about the reliability of existing experimental procedures for characterisation of airflow in the ventilated cavities. The aim of this paper is to describe and review recent state of the art experimental assessments for the airflow characterisation in ventilated cavities. The paper starts with a short introduction on the potentialities and limitations of different experimental methodologies, and continues with a detailed classification and description of the most relevant monitoring techniques for airflow in air cavities of façades that have been developed in recent years.


Belleri, A., Avantaggiato, M., & Lollini, R. (2017). Ventilative Cooling in Shopping Centers’ Retrofit: The Mercado Del Val Case Study. Energy Procedia 111, pp. 669-677
Bhamjee, M., Nurick, A., & Madyira, D. M. (2013). An experimentally validated mathematical and CFD model of a supply air window: Forced and natural flow. Energy and Buildings 57, pp.289-301
Cattarin, G., Causone, F., Kindinis, A., & Pagliano, L. (2016). Outdoor test cells for building envelope experimental characterisation - A literature review, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 54, pp.606-625
Cattarin, G., Pagliano, L., Causone, F., Kindinis, A., Goia, F., Carlucci, S., & Schlemminger, C. (2018). Empirical validation and local sensitivity analysis of a lumped-parameter thermal model of an outdoor test cell. Building and Environment 130, pp. 151–161
Cuerva, A., & Sanz-Andrés, A. (2000). On sonic anemometer measurement theory. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics 88 (1), pp.25-55
Dama, A., Angeli, D., & Kalyanova Larsen, O. (2017). Naturally ventilated double-skin façade in modeling and experiments. Energy and Buildings 144, pp.17–29
Eisele, K., Zhang, Z., Casey, M. V., Gulich, J., & Schachenmann, A. (1997). Flow analysis in a pump diffuser—part 1: LDA and PTV measurements of the unsteady flow. Journal of Fluids Engineering 119(4), pp.968-977
Etheridge, D. (2011). Natural Ventilation of Buildings: Theory, Measurement, and Design. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 428
EUROPEAN STANDARD, (2015). Ventilation for buildings - Measurement of air flows on site – Methods. NS-EN 16211, European Committee for Standardization, Brussels, Belgium
Fantucci, S., Marinosci, C., Serra, V., & Carbonaro, C. (2017). Thermal Performance Assessment of an Opaque Ventilated Façade in the Summer Period: Calibration of a Simulation Model through in-field Measurements. Energy Procedia 111, pp.619-628
Giancola, E., Sanjuan, C., Blanco, E., & Heras, M. R. (2012). Experimental assessment and modelling of the performance of an open joint ventilated façade during actual operating conditions in Mediterranean climate, Energy and Buildings 54, pp.363-375
Goia, F., Schlemminger, C., & Gustavsen, A. (2017). The ZEB Test Cell Laboratory. A facility for characterization of building envelope systems under real outdoor conditions. Energy Procedia 132, pp. 531-536 Hitchin, E. R., & Wilson, C. B. (1967). A Review of Experimental Techniques for the Investigation of Natural Ventilation in Buildings. Building Science 2, pp.59-82
Jensen, R. L., Kalyanova, O., & Hyldgaard, C. E. (2007). On the use of hot-sphere anemometers in a highly transient flow in a double-skin façade. Proceedings of Roomvent 2007. FINVAC ry, Helsinki, Finland
Kalyanova, O., Jensen, R. L., & Heiselberg, P. (2007) Measurement of air flow rate in a naturally ventilated double skin façade. Proceedings of Roomvent 2007. FINVAC ry, Helsinki, Finland
Larsen, T. S. (2006). Natural Ventilation Driven by Wind and Temperature Difference. (DCE Thesis). Department of Civil Engineering, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
Laussmann, D., & Helm, D. (2011). Air Change Measurements Using Tracer Gases. In Mazzeo, N. (eds.) Chemistry, Emission Control, Radioactive Pollution and Indoor Air Quality, pp. 365-406. InTechOpen, Rijeka, Croatia doi: 10.5772/18600
Lee, S., Sang, H. P., Yeo, M. S., & Kim, K. W. (2009). An experimental study on airflow in the cavity of a ventilated roof. Building and Environment 44, pp.1431–1439
López, F. P., Jensen, R. L., Heiselberg, P., & Ruiz de Adana Santiago, M. (2012). Experimental analysis and model validation of an opaque ventilated facade. Building and Environment 56, pp. 265-275
Manz, H., Schaelin, A., & Simmler, H. (2004). Airflow patterns and thermal behavior of mechanically ventilated glass double façades. Building and Environment 39 (9), pp. 1023-1033
Marinosci, C., Semprini, G., & Morini, G.L. (2014). Experimental analysis of the summer thermal performances of a naturally ventilated rainscreen façade building. Energy and Buildings 72, pp.280-287
Marques da Silva, F., Gomes, M. G., & Moret Rodrigues, A. (2015). Measuring and estimating airflow in naturally ventilated double skin facades. Building and Environment 87, pp.292-301
Mateus, N. M., Pinto, A., & Graça, G. Cd. (2014). Validation of EnergyPlus thermal simulation of a double skin naturally and mechanically ventilated test cell. Energy and Buildings 75(0), pp.511-522
Moureh, J., Tapsoba, M., & Flick, D. (2009). Airflow in a slot-ventilated enclosure partially filled with porous boxes: Part I–measurements and simulations in the clear region. Computers & Fluids 38(2), pp.194-205
Perino, M., Serra, V., Zanghirella, F., Issoglio, R., Marques da Silva, F., & Gomes, M.G. (2008) Performance evaluation of advanced integrated façades in laboratory facilities. Proceedings of 29th International AIVC Conference, Kyoto, Japan
Park, C. S., Augenbroe, G., Messadi, T., Thitisawat, M., & Sadegh, N. (2004). Calibration of a lumped simulation model for double-skin façade systems. Energy and Buildings 36, pp. 1117-1130
Raine, A.B., Aslam, N., Underwood, C.P., & Danaher, S. (2015). Development of an Ultrasonic Airflow Measurement Device for Ducted Air. Sensors 15, pp.10705-10722
Saelens, D. (2002). Energy performance assessment of single storey Multiple-Skin Facades. (Doctoral Thesis) Laboratory for Building Physics, Department of Civil engineering, Catholic University, Leuven, Belgium
Sánchez, M. N., Sanjuan, C., Suárez, M. J., & Heras, M. R. (2013). Experimental assessment of the performance of open joint ventilated façades with buoyancy-driven airflow. Solar Energy 91, pp.131-144
Sánchez, M. N., Giancola, E., Suárez, M. J., Blanco, E., & Heras, M. R. (2017). Experimental evaluation of the airflow behaviour in horizontal and vertical Open Joint Ventilated Facades using Stereo-PIV. Renewable Energy 109, pp.613-623
Sanjuan, C., Suarez, M. J., Gonzalez, M., Pistono, J., & Blanco, E. (2011). Energy performance of an open-joint ventilated façade compared with a conventional sealed cavity façade, Solar Energy 85 (9), pp.1851-1863
Serra, V., Zanghirella, F., & Perino, M. (2010). Experimental evaluation of a climate façade: energy efficiency and thermal comfort performance, Energy and Buildings 42, pp.50-62
Strachan, P.A., & Vandaele, L. (2008). Case studies of outdoor testing and analysis of building components. Building and Environment 43, pp. 129–42
Strauss, J., Weinberg, H., Kopel, Z. (1996). U.S. Patent 5,583,301: Ultrasound Air Velocity Detector for HVAC ducts and method therefor
Suarez, C., Joubert, P., Molina, J. L., & Sanchez, F. J. (2011). Heat transfer and mass flow correlations for ventilated facades, Energy and Buildings 43, pp.3696-3703
Suomi, V.E. (1957). Sonic Anemometer, Exploring the Atmosphere’s First Mile, Vol. 1. New York: Pergamon Press, pp.356–366
Wuibaut, G., Bois, G., El Hajem, M., Akhras, A., & Champagne, J. (2006). Optical PIV and LDV comparisons of internal flow investigations in SHF impeller. International Journal of Rotating Machinery, vol. 2006
Yeh, Y., & Cummins, H. (1964). Localized fluid flow measurements with an He–Ne laser spectrometer. Applied Physics Letters, 10(4), pp.176–178
Zhang, Z., & Eisele, K. (1995). Off-axis alignment of an LDA-probe and the effect of astigmatism on measurements. Experiments in fluids 19(2), pp.89-94

Author Biography

Stefano Avesani, Eurac Research, Institute for Renewable Energy

Institute for Renewable Energy 

How to Cite
GIANCOLA, Emanuela et al. Possibilities and Challenges of Different Experimental Techniques for Airflow Characterisation in the Air Cavities of Façades. Journal of Facade Design and Engineering, [S.l.], v. 6, n. 3, p. 34-48, aug. 2018. ISSN 2213-3038. Available at: <https://journals.open.tudelft.nl/index.php/jfde/article/view/2470>. Date accessed: 12 dec. 2018. doi: https://doi.org/10.7480/jfde.2018.3.2470.