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International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET)

Volume 8, Issue 2, February 2017, pp. 440451 Article ID: IJCIET_08_02_047


Available online at http://www.iaeme.com/IJCIET/issues.asp?JType=IJCIET&VType=8&IType=2
ISSN Print: 0976-6308 and ISSN Online: 0976-6316

IAEME Publication Scopus Indexed

PERFORMANCE EVALUATION OF TRADITIONAL


AND MODERN RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS FOR
THERMAL COMFORT BY QUESTIONNAIRE
SURVEY IN THANJAVUR
C.V. Subramanian
Associate Professor, Department of Architecture,
Periyar Maniammai University, Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India

N. Ramachandran
Professor, Department of Architecture,
Periyar Maniammai University, Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India

S. Senthamil Kumar
Professor, Department of Civil Engineering,
Periyar Maniammai University, Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India

ABSTRACT
In traditional buildings, solar passive techniques are adopted to achieve thermal comfort.
But most of the present day contemporary buildings forget and ignore the architectural
traditions. Contemporary design depends on mechanically controlled built environments in
order to achieve thermal comfort. This also increases the energy demand. Study of traditional
buildings is carried out worldwide to arrive out sustainable solutions for the design of new
buildings. To compare the thermal comfort in traditional and contemporary buildings a
detailed questionnaire survey is carried out in the present study. Traditional houses of about
100 years old and modern buildings of less than 20 years in Thanjavur region, Tamilnadu are
chosen for the survey. Survey results show that 88% of the occupants in the traditional
building feel comfortable air temperature as compared to only 54% of the occupants in
modern building. Similarly the subjective responses of other parameters humidity, airflow and
overall thermal comfort are also found to be much better in traditional buildings than the
modern buildings. This is mainly attributed that solar passive design incorporated in
traditional building plays a major role to achieve thermal comfort. Hence from the present
study it may be concluded that comfortable living environments can be created in modern
building if solar passive techniques are incorporated.
Key words: Modern buildings, Questionnaire survey, Solar passive design, Thermal comfort,
Traditional buildings.

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C.V. Subramanian, N. Ramachandran and S. Senthamil Kumar

Cite this Article: C.V. Subramanian, N. Ramachandran and S. Senthamil Kumar, Performance
Evaluation of Traditional and Modern Residential Buildings for Thermal Comfort by
Questionnaire Survey in Thanjavur. International Journal of Civil Engineering and
Technology, 8(2), 2017, pp. 440451.
http://www.iaeme.com/IJCIET/issues.asp?JType=IJCIET&VType=8&IType=2

1. INTRODUCTION
Building occupancy evaluation for thermal performance assessments are at the degree at which the
buildings modify the prevailing outdoor climate to create a comfortable indoor environment.
Contemporary architecture often forgets and ignores the architectural traditions. Achieving thermal
comfort is important for the general well-being, health and productivity of the occupants. Many solar
passive techniques like shape, orientation, fenestrations, window to wall ratio and materials contribute
comfortable environment to the traditional buildings which are lagging in modern buildings. But
contemporary designs depend on mechanically controlled built environments in order to achieve
thermal comfort. Solar passive design is a way of designing buildings that takes advantage of
prevailing climate and natural energy resources, to achieve a comfortable indoor environment thereby
minimizing energy need and reliance on mechanical system [1].
In traditional buildings, solar passive techniques adopted to achieve thermal comfort are studied
worldwide to arrive out sustainable solutions for the design of contemporary buildings [2-8]. In the
operation of the contemporary buildings, around 70% of the total energy is used for climate control
system-like ventilation, heating and cooling. Hence it is required to evaluate the indoor thermal
comfort and carryout detail research on solar passive architecture [9-13].
To validate the quantitative results, a questionnaire based field survey has been carried and
reported for Kerala, India and Accra, Ghana among the residents of the traditional and modern
residential buildings [14 - 16]. Survey on building occupancy evaluation for thermal comfort in
Thanjavur region, Tamilnadu has not been reported so far.
Tamilnadu is a state located in South India having warm and humid climate as per the
classifications of Bureau of Indian standards [17]. Due to the presence of high temperature and high
relative humidity during summer causes thermal discomfort inside the buildings designed improperly.
Hence, in the present work, to understand the effect of various thermal comfort parameters like
temperature, humidity and air movement, a questionnaire survey is conducted among the building
occupants of traditional and modern buildings in Thanjavur region. Occupants in the age group of 20-
60 with equal representation from both male and female were chosen and subjected to a questionnaire
survey during extreme summer season to assess their subjective response for Thermal comfort. A
comparative analysis of the survey results is carried to bring out how well the solar passive designs
and techniques incorporated in traditional buildings contribute for thermal comfort. The summary of
the experimental investigation already reported on Thanjavur region is also included in this paper [8]
for comparison with survey results.

2. MATERIALS AND METHODS


2.1. Selection of Building Occupants
The questionnaire was conducted among the building occupants of both traditional and modern
residences of Thanjavur region within the reach of 60 km around Thanjavur. 120 people from
traditional houses and 124 people from modern houses were selected for the study. All the 244 houses
selected were in habitable condition with people living in it. Before conducting the questionnaire
survey, all the 244 people were given sufficient input - brief introduction about the survey and how to
respond.

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Performance Evaluation of Traditional and Modern Residential Buildings for Thermal Comfort by Questionnaire
Survey in Thanjavur

The traditional houses of about 100 years old and more, built according to traditional methods and
principles were selected. The traditional houses in Thanjavur region have solar passive design
elements like courtyard, tiled roof and thick walls. Contemporary buildings less than 20 years old were
chosen for the survey. The modern buildings lack conscious effort in using solar passive design.
Modern buildings are constructed with thin walls, cement plastering and RCC roof. Glass is
extensively used in most of the buildings including glass paneled shutters. Micro level variations in
climate were not considered among the selected buildings.

2.2. Questionnaire Preparation


The questionnaire consists of three parts: Basic personal data, Comfort responses on thermal sensation
parameters and the methods adopted in control actions with building characteristic elements. Enquires
of subjective responses include temperature, humidity, air movement, overall comfort, measures to
retain thermal comfort and characteristics elements of the building. The questionnaire survey format
for both traditional and modern buildings are given in the appendix at the end.
Indoor temperature assessment was carried out using the subjective scale of cold (-3), cool (-2),
light cool (-1), neutral (0), slightly warm (+1), warm (+2) and hot (+3). Humidity assessment was
done using the subjective scale of very dry (-3), moderately dry (-2), slightly dry (-1), neutral (0),
slightly humid (+1), moderately humid (+2) and very humid (+3). Air movement inside the building
was assessed using the subjective scale of very still (-3), moderately still (-2), slightly still (-1),
Acceptable (0), slightly draughty (1), moderately draughty (2) and very draughty (3). The subjective
scale used for assessment of overall thermal comfort is very uncomfortable, uncomfortable, slightly
uncomfortable, comfortable and very comfortable.
The survey was carried out during the peak summer in the months of April and May. The
condition during the assessment is when the inhabitants are not using any of the mechanical aids like
fan, air cooler or air conditioner to improve or modify the thermal comfort of the indoor environment.
The questionnaire was prepared based on the detailed analysis of literature related to the thermal
comfort [14 16], [18 20].
The questionnaires prepared were given in two different colours - blue colour for traditional
buildings (Appendix 1) and yellow colour for modern buildings (Appendix 2). The questionnaire was
given in English and Tamil (regional language - Tamilnadu) and was made available for reference
during the conduct of the survey.

3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION


For any building or indoor space to be comfortable as an essential condition of 80% of the inhabitants
should be satisfied with the prevailing thermal conditions [18]. The results of the survey are analyzed
based on the subjective votes collected from various occupants of the buildings.
Among the subjective votes for indoor temperature, The ASHRAE standard 55 [18] states that an
acceptable thermal condition should have 80% of occupants subjective votes for the central three
categories slightly cool (-1), neutral (0) and slightly warm (1). Fig.1 shows the subjective response on
indoor temperature in summer season.

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C.V. Subramanian, N. Ramachandran and S. Senthamil Kumar

Traditional Modern
40
35

Percentage of Votes
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
Cold Cool Slightly Neutral Slightly Warm Hot
cool warm
Subjective response on Indoor temperature

Figure 1 Subjective response on indoor temperature


Air temperature is often considered as the main design parameter. Fig. 1 shows that 88% of
occupants voted within the central three categories for traditional buildings and only 54% of
respondents voted for the same in modern building. The distribution of votes are 38% for slightly cool,
28% for neutral and 22% for slightly warm in traditional buildings. In modern buildings the
distribution of votes are 8% for slightly cool, 17% for neutral and 29% for slightly warm. None of the
occupants opted for cold in both traditional and modern buildings. 17% occupants opted for hot in
modern and none of them voted for the same in traditional category. 4% voted for cool and 8% for
warm among occupants of traditional and it is 2% and 27% respectively for modern buildings. It is
evident that occupants in traditional building feel better comfortable temperature than the occupants in
modern building.
Subjective response on humidity is shown in Fig. 2 which shows that 84% of the respondents in
traditional building and 74% of respondents in modern building are comfortable. The distribution of
votes are 9% for slightly dry, 37% for acceptable and 38% for slightly humid in traditional buildings.
In modern buildings 19% voted for slightly dry, 27% for acceptable and 28% for slightly humid. 1%
of the occupants voted for very dry and none of them voted for very humid in traditional buildings. 3%
voted for very dry and 2% for very humid category in modern buildings. 7% voted for moderately dry
and 8% for moderately humid among the occupants of traditional buildings and it is 10% and 11%
respectively for modern buildings.
Traditional
40
35
Percentage of Votes

30
25
20
15
10
5
0
Very dry Moderately Slightly dry Neutral Slightly Moderately Very humid
dry humid humid

Subjective response on Humidity

Figure 2 Subjective response on Humidity

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Performance Evaluation of Traditional and Modern Residential Buildings for Thermal Comfort by Questionnaire
Survey in Thanjavur

Air movement plays a vital role in warm humid climate. Distribution of subjective responses on
air movement is shown in Fig. 3. From the air movement study it is observed that 84% of occupants
voted within the central three categories for traditional buildings and only 72% of respondents voted
for the same in modern buildings. The distribution of votes are 14% for slightly still, 54% for
acceptable, 16% for slightly draughty in traditional buildings. In modern buildings 15% voted for
slightly still, 36 % for acceptable and 21% for slightly draughty. None of the occupants opted for very
still and very draughty in modern buildings. 1% of occupants voted in both categories for traditional
buildings. 6% voted for moderately still and 8% for moderately draughty among occupants of
traditional building and it is 19% and 10% respectively for modern buildings.
Traditional Modern
60

50
Percentage of Votes

40

30

20

10

0
Very still Moderately Slightly still Acceptable Slightly Moderately Very
still draughty draughty draughty

Subjective response on Air movement

Figure 3 Subjective response on Air movement


Fig. 4 shows the distribution of subjective responses made on central three categories out of 7
point scale survey for temperature, humidity and air flow in traditional and modern buildings. Based
on the three parameters it is observed that respondents in traditional building are more comfortable
than the occupants in modern building and is also in accordance with ASHRAE comfortable standards
having clear majority of 80% and above. This is attributed mainly due to the solar passive features
included in traditional building.

Traditional Modern
100
87 84
90 83
80 74 72
Percentage of Votes

70
60 54
50
40
30
20
10
0
Temperature Humidity Air flow
Central three categories

Figure 4 Distribution of Subjective response on Central three categories

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C.V. Subramanian, N. Ramachandran and S. Senthamil Kumar

4. SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATIONS REPORTED EARLIER ON


TRADITIONAL RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS OF THANJAVUR [8]
4.1. Instrumentation
The parameters used for the analysis are indoor air temperature, humidity, air flow of the living rooms
and the solar radiation outside. The readings are taken during hot summer on various days in the
month of March. Measuring instruments and devices include (i) A digital anemometer MASTECH
MS6252B used to measure relative humidity, ambient temperature and wind velocity (ii) A solar
power meter TES 1333 used to measure the solar radiations of the location [21-23] (iii) HTC easy log
data logger for measuring air temperature and relative humidity continuously.

4.2. Investigation during Summer Season [8]


The results obtained during the summer season are presented in table 1. The diurnal swing of indoor
air temperature is very less compared to that of outdoor ambient air temperature. The low diurnal
swing of indoor temperature proves the high thermal insulation property of traditional building
envelope. In the traditional building it is also observed that there is no time lag between outdoor and
indoor temperature due to highly insulative walls and mutual shading of adjacent walls preventing
conductive heat flow and due to the presence of continuous air flow inside the building.

Table 1 Results obtained during field investigation in summer


Measurement location Air temperature (0C) Relative Humidity RH %
Min Max Variance Min Max Variance
Outdoor ambient 23.0 38.2 15.2 41.9 89.3 47.4
Indoor (Traditional) 24.0 30.8 6.8 59.0 84.1 25.1
Indoor (Modern) 28.9 33.7 4.8 56.8 78.2 21.4
During summer season in Thanjavur region of Tamilnadu, thermal discomfort is mainly due to
high temperature and high humidity. This can be minimized by promoting continuous air movement
and thereby reducing air temperature and humidity. From the study on traditional buildings, it is found
that, controlled and continuous air movement is permitted in the building envelope. At the same time
thick walls and thermal insulative roof controls conductive heat entering into the building. Walls are
also well protected by roof overhang against heat radiations.

Traditional Modern
60

50
Percentage of votes

40

30

20

10

0
Very Uncomfortable Slightly Comfortable Very
Uncomfortable uncomfortable Comfortable

Subjective response on thermal comfort

Figure 5 Subjective response on thermal comfort

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Performance Evaluation of Traditional and Modern Residential Buildings for Thermal Comfort by Questionnaire
Survey in Thanjavur

From Fig. 5 & Fig. 6, around 60% (57% comfortable and 3% very comfortable) of the residents of
the traditional residences responded for comfortable category while around 40% (39% slightly
uncomfortable and 1% uncomfortable) of them responded for uncomfortable category. In modern
residence 80% of the residents felt uncomfortable (49% slightly uncomfortable, 21% uncomfortable
and 10% very uncomfortable). Only 20% of them felt comfortable in the modern residences.

Traditional Modern
90
80
80
70
Percentage of Votes

60
60
50
40
40
30
20
20
10
0
Comfortable Uncomfortable
Subjective response on overall thermal comfort

Figure 6 Subjective response on overall thermal comfort


During the uncomfortable period both in traditional and modern buildings around 64% of residents
have used fan and air cooler to retain the thermal comfort. The usage of Air conditioner (AC) is
alarming as it is 60% in modern buildings and it is only 16% in traditional buildings during the
discomfort period.

Traditional Modern
70
60
Percentage of Votes

50
40
30
20
10
0
Fan Air cooler Air Conditioner Natural
(AC) ventilation
Mechanism used to overcome thermal discomfort

Figure 7 Mechanism used to overcome thermal discomfort


From the overall discussions, it is found that the modern buildings of Thanjavur region are less
comfortable to live in summer. Indoor temperature is the main discomfort factor followed by humidity
and air movement. Due to this, energy conscious efforts are essential in contemporary buildings to
achieve indoor thermal comfort.

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C.V. Subramanian, N. Ramachandran and S. Senthamil Kumar

Alarming increase in usage of air conditioner to overcome uncomfortable situation will cause high
energy demand and decrease in conventional energy source. But traditional buildings of Thanjavur
region are effective in providing indoor thermal comfort by solar passive techniques. The results are in
agreement with the experimental investigation already done [8].
Traditional Modern
90
80
Percentage of Votes

70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Courtyard Tiled roof Thick walls Natural Landscape
ventilation
Design elements present in the buildlings

Figure 8 Various design elements present in the buildings

4.3. Bioclimatic chart Analysis [8]

Figure 9 Bioclimatic chart showing the readings during maximum temperature or maximum humidity for
different buildings [22].
The evaluation with bio climatic chart shows that traditional buildings in Thanjavur region provide
better thermal comfort as compared to modern buildings. During the study period in summer, the
indoor temperature of traditional building under investigation went up to 30.8 C with humidity of
60%. This lies near the comfort zone of the Bioclimatic chart as shown in Fig. 9, offering adequate
comfort since the air velocity maintained in the building is up to 0.4 m/s [22]. The indoor comfort
condition of traditional building is not affected even when the temperature becomes as low as 24 C
during night time with the increase in humidity (up to 84.1%).
In contemporary building, when the indoor temperature in summer is high up to 33.9 C, the
humidity is 63.6%. This does not lie in the comfort region of the bioclimatic chart as the temperature

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Performance Evaluation of Traditional and Modern Residential Buildings for Thermal Comfort by Questionnaire
Survey in Thanjavur

inside the building is high and air velocity is negligible. At night times, even when the temperature
falls to 28.9 C it is found to be discomfort because of very high humidity up to 77.5% and absence of
air flow [8].

5. CONCLUSION
In the present study, questionnaire survey on subjective responses is carried out for traditional and
modern houses in Thanjavur region for various parameters of thermal comfort, rating scale of overall
thermal comfort, measures to retain thermal comfort and characteristic elements of the building.
The subjective responses provide useful indicators on suitable solar passive architectural design for
obtaining thermal comfort over environmental parameters comprising of temperature, humidity and air
flow. The survey results substantiates that traditional residential buildings of Thanjavur region are
more effective in providing comfortable thermal indoor environment as compared to modern
buildings. This is mainly due to the presence of solar passive designs in traditional buildings and
absence of such designs in the present day modern buildings.
Hence it is concluded that comfortable living environment can be created in modern buildings with
limited or no energy usage if it is designed with knowledge handed down by the traditional
architecture.

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Performance Evaluation of Traditional and Modern Residential Buildings for Thermal Comfort by Questionnaire
Survey in Thanjavur

APPENDIX 1. QUESTIONNAIRE
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR THERMAL COMFORT EVALUATION - TRADITIONAL
HOUSE
This survey is part of a study to ascertain the thermal comfort conditions of the Traditional houses in
Tamilnadu. The evaluation has to be done in a condition when you are not using any of the mechanical
devices (fan, cooler, A/C, etc.,) to improve or modify the thermal comfort of indoor environment and
while wearing normal clothing in summer.

I. Personal data of the respondent


1. Name :
2. Gender : Male..Female
3. Age group : 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60
4. House location:

II. Feedback on Thermal comfort parameters (without usage of fan, cooler, A/C, etc.,)
1. How would you explain the following indoor conditions of your traditional house in summer
season?
a) Indoor Temperature (please tick one)
Cold Cool Slightly cool Neutral Slightly warm Warm Hot
(-3) (-2) (-1) (0) (1) (2) (3)

b) Humidity Moisture content in the atmosphere (please tick one)


Very dry Moderately Slightly dry Neutral Slightly humid Moderately Very humid
(-3) dry (-2) (-1) (0) (1) humid (2) (3)

c) Air movement inside the building (please tick one)


Very still Moderately Slightly still Acceptable Slightly Moderately Very
(-3) still (-2) (-1) (0) draughty (1) draughty(2) draughty (3)

2. What is your ranking for the overall thermal comfort of your house in summer season? (tick one)
Very Uncomfortable Slightly Comfortable Very
Uncomfortable uncomfortable Comfortable

III. Your Opinion on the Residence


1. How do you overcome if there is any uncomfortable situation in summer? (please tick)
Fan Air cooler Air Conditioner (AC) Natural ventilation Others if any

2. Which of the following is/are available in your traditional building? (please tick)
Courtyard Tiled roof Thick walls Natural ventilation Landscape Any other

THANK YOU FOR YOUR FEEDBACK

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C.V. Subramanian, N. Ramachandran and S. Senthamil Kumar

APPENDIX 2. QUESTIONNAIRE
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR THERMAL COMFORT EVALUATION - MODERN HOUSE
This survey is part of a study to ascertain the thermal comfort conditions of the Modern houses in
Tamilnadu. The evaluation has to be done in a condition when you are not using any of the mechanical
devices (fan, cooler, A/C, etc.,) to improve or modify the thermal comfort of indoor environment and
while wearing normal clothing in summer.

I. Personal Data of the Respondent


1. Name :
2. Gender : Male..Female
3. Age group : 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60
4. House location:

II. Feedback on Thermal comfort parameters (without usage of fan, cooler, A/C, etc.,)
1. How would you explain the following indoor conditions of your traditional house in summer
season?
a) Indoor Temperature (please tick one)
Cold Cool Slightly cool Neutral Slightly warm Warm Hot
(-3) (-2) (-1) (0) (1) (2) (3)

b) Humidity Moisture content in the atmosphere (please tick one)


Very dry Moderately Slightly dry Neutral Slightly Moderately Very humid
(-3) dry (-2) (-1) (0) humid (1) humid (2) (3)

c) Air movement inside the building (please tick one)


Very still Moderately Slightly still Acceptable Slightly Moderately Very
(-3) still (-2) (-1) (0) draughty (1) draughty(2) draughty (3)

2. What is your ranking for the overall thermal comfort of your house in summer season? (tick one)
Very Uncomfortable Slightly Comfortable Very
Uncomfortable uncomfortable Comfortable

III. Your Opinion on the Residence


1. How do you overcome if there is any uncomfortable situation in summer? (please tick)
Fan Air cooler Air Conditioner (AC) Natural ventilation Others if any

2. Which of the following is/are available in your traditional building? (please tick)
Courtyard Tiled roof Thick walls Natural ventilation Landscape Any other

THANK YOU FOR YOUR FEEDBACK

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