CUED Publications database

Improving thermal comfort in refugee shelters in desert environments

Moran, F and Fosas, D and Coley, D and Natarajan, S and Orr, J and Ahmad, OB (2021) Improving thermal comfort in refugee shelters in desert environments. Energy for Sustainable Development, 61. pp. 28-45. ISSN 0973-0826

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Empirical studies have shown that internal temperatures in refugee shelters are impacting morbidity, and possibly mortality. Within a displacement setting, solutions are often constrained by time, cost, material availability and local requirements. This often results in “deemed suitable” designs rather than optimal solutions. In this study, we ask which route is most appropriate to optimise thermal comfort: prototyping design improvements, which requires time but may not require significant domain expertise, or thermal modelling, which can be quickly carried out if there is expertise. In a unique experiment, a laboratory of 12 shelters, built in a desert refugee camp, was adapted by the refugees themselves with variants to improve thermal comfort. Thermal modelling and field results were compared. Prototyping, though requiring additional time, was found to offer several advantages over modelling: (a) it gives a more visceral answer, in that the agency staff and refugees can experience the improvement - this could be important as most people might not be able to relate to a numeric statement about temperature; (b) the difficulty of constructing variants can be compared; (c) the financial and time costs are identified accurately. This suggests that such prototyping experiments have great utility, conferring substantial advantages over computer-based modelling. Significantly, we show that simple adaptations can improve conditions by up to 6 °C, and that the skills exist in camps to complete such improvements.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Div D > Structures
Depositing User: Cron Job
Date Deposited: 30 Dec 2020 23:15
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2021 01:02
DOI: 10.1016/j.esd.2020.12.008