More energy efficient than conventional air conditioning
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) defines thermal comfort as the state of mind that expresses satisfaction with the surrounding environment. In the Middle East, however, many buildings, be it commercial towers or residential complexes, are commonly plagued by freezing room temperatures.
Sebastian Foerster, Business Development Manager at REHAU, explains that 95% of air conditioning systems in the GCC are based on thermal energy transfer by convection even though the human body is transferring over 50% of its thermal energy by radiation and only less than 10% by convection.
However, he claims that the use of Underfloor Cooling (UFC) improves thermal comfort. As he explains, the system can be used in outdoor areas such as pools or mosques, where people will enjoy walking barefooted during the summer months, which is also a feature that can’t be achieved with conventional air conditioning technology.
Foerster says that UFC is often referred to as “subsurface conditioning”, owing to the possibility of being installed in walls, ceilings or directly into the concrete core elements of the building structure.
He adds that UFC has the potential to save a significant share of current and future energy demands, contributing to CO2 emissions reduction.
However, Foerster acknowledges that UFC technology is also facing a number of challenges as the system is new to the market. “People got used to the conventional types of air conditioning systems,” he says. The introduction of new thoughts is always a time consuming process.”