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Thermal comfort in buildings with low-energy cooling (THERMCO)

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Energy-optimised buildings abandon air-conditioning and employ energy-efficient and sustainable solutions for cooling. As low-energy cooling concepts use environmental energy from the ground, ground water and outdoor air, these buildings cannot necessarily guarantee a certain, specific room temperature. However, energy-optimised buildings with low-energy cooling concepts provide for a good indoor environment considering adaptive thermal comfort criteria. In spite of highly-developed and many successfully realised projects with passive or low-energy cooling in all European climate zones, there is a strong uncertainty among all persons concerned with building design (architects, HVAC engineers and real estate owners) due to conflicting requirements and standards on the European level and also in the member states. The ThermCo project evaluated existing data, summarising the experiences with low-energy buildings and providing guidance on how to reach low energy cooling.


  • Evaluation of low-energy cooling concepts all-over Europe using a standardised method based on existing monitoring data from good and best practice examples
  • Design guidelines for typical building concepts in the European climate zones
  • Knowledge transfer into a proposal for a CEN-standard annex which will act as a commonly accessible knowledge pool for passive and low-energy cooling techniques
  • Application of the combined comfort-energy approach to eight demonstration projects in different climatic zones of Europe
  • A REHVA handbook for practitioners is under preparation: Low-energy cooling

Lessons learned

  • Across Europe there are differing definitions of low energy cooling. The ThermCo approach and the REHVA Handbook help to address that issue.
  • People have different perceptions of low energy cooling and comfort and 'limited cooling capacity' can be seen in negative terms, by designers and clients alike.
  • High performance buildings that consume little energy can go well beyond the requirements of existing legislation. However, there is a strong uncertainty in day-to-day design practice and designers need support and guidance in order to be confident that their design is correct. The REHVA Handbook will contribute to this significantly.

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Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V.
Contact point: 
Edelgard Gruber
0049 721 6809159
Thomas Erge
0049 0 761/4588-5337
Jens Pfafferott
Mario Ragwitz


Key documents

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In brief

01/11/2007 to 30/10/2009
Contract number: 

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