CIESOL Information | CIESOL Building

The Solar Energy Research Center (CIESOL) is situated on the University of Almería campus, in the south-east of Spain with its Mediterranean climate. It plays a part in the activities carried out through the Singular Strategic Scientific-Technological Project - ``Bioclimatic Architecture and Solar Cooling - ARFRISOL", Reference PS-120000-2005-1. ARFRISOL is a stand-alone project adopted by the National Research and Develop Plan 2004 and 2007, co-financed with FEDER funds and supported by the Spanish Ministry of Innovation and Science over 7 years (2005-2011). The main objective of this project has been to demonstrate the efficacy of bioclimatic architecture and solar energy strategies in designing buildings of the future. To fulfil this goal, we applied solar energy technology for the heating and cooling systems, as well as solar photovoltaic electricity, to guarantee the building’s self-sufficiency. ARFRISOL studied the energy performance of five different, representative office buildings, including new and renovated sites. These were located in varied climatic areas, such as Almería (the CIESOL building at the University of Almería, and another located at the Plataforma Solar de Almería), Madrid (CIEMAT building 70), Soria (the CENER building) and Oviedo (the Barredo Foundation building).

The main research goal was to carry out the study during both the design and use phases to verify the reduction in conventional energy use (expected to be around 80%) and the consequent CO2 emissions reduction into the atmosphere. In other words, in these buildings, only 20% of conventional energy is used, compared to buildings on the same sites built with conventional construction techniques.

As both passive and active technologies were adopted in the CIESOL building for further energy consumption reductions, it is essential to know the meteorological conditions in Almería; and especially the incidental radiation profile throughout the year. Almería’s climate is moderate in winter and warm in summer with average top temperatures of 20ºC from June until September. The minimums present high values for every month of the year, particularly in July and August, when they exceed 20ºC. Almería has average annual global, diffuse, and direct normal radiation levels of 1805, 527, and 1977 kWh m2. August is the hottest month in this region  while the coldest is January. Bearing in mind the considerations above, along with the fact that Almería has the advantage of some of the highest number of sun hours in Europe (more than 3,000 hours a year), we applied both passive and active strategies in the CIESOL building to reduce conventional energy consumption. This building was built using bioclimatic standards and its design is geared to efficient energy use. 


Figure 1: a) East Facade, b) North Facade,

Figure 2: c) West Facade, d) South Facade


Figure 3

The single-storey building comprises an area of 1100 m2 with 10 laboratories, 5 offices and a conference room. Approximately 45 employees presently work here although the maximum occupancy could be higher than 75 people when including the conference room. Neither the central area, the entrance hall nor any of the corridors have a cooling service; meaning only 389 m2 of the building surface is cooled by the solar-assisted air-conditioning system. The aim of this building, designed to employ passive strategies, was to maximise solar resources. Fig. 1 and Fig. 2 illustrate the general schemes of these passive strategies applied in the CIESOL building. It is oriented along a south-east axis with the internal access corridors and the workshop on the building's south facade, which is the predominant part of the building. The north facade of the building has reduced solar gains throughout the year. The offices situated along the east facade have a few small windows with overhangs to reduce solar gain during the mornings in summertime, but to still allow natural light. As can be seen in Fig. 3, this daylight strategy was applied in order to use the visible part of the solar spectrum rather than artificial lighting. As stated above, neither the central area, entrance hall nor any corridors have a cooling service, since this project promotes the benefits of natural ventilation solutions. Other passive solutions applied in the CIESOL building are the thermal surfaces on the east and south facades and the absense of windows on the west facade.

Today, the University of Almería campus' electricity grid supplies the CIESOL building. At the same time, the 9.32 kWp capacity grid-connected photovoltaic electricity production system (PV) provides electricity which is directly fed back into to the campus' grid. Heating and cooling demand is covered by a solar-assisted air-conditioning system that has been working since October 2006. In order to ensure satisfactory thermal comfort inside the building in the event of a failure in the solar-assisted air-conditioning system, a conventional HVAC system was installed. Additionally, to cover the heating and cooling demand of the building’s workshop, we installed another air-conditioning system consisting of a ground-source heat pump (GHP), supplied by a horizontal loop buried in the campus' garden. Figure 4 illustrates a schematic diagram of the electric and HVAC systems presently installed in the CIESOL building.

Figure 4