Earth, Wind & Fire – natural air-conditioning

Ben Bronsema*, Regina Bokel, Wim van der Spoel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


The invention of air-conditioning in the early 20th century and its development since then has brought many advantages to mankind. In spite of this many people are not very satisfied with the indoor environment at their workplace. They complain about the air quality, the cold draught they experience, fan noise and dry air, causing dry eyes and throats, notorious elements of the so-called Sick Building Syndrome. As an experienced HVAC designer I asked myself if we could do better. Looking at termite hills, where termites closely work together, build their dwellings with natural air-conditioning but high Indoor Environmental Quality, a doctoral research was started. This implies a building designed as a "climate machine", activated by gravity and the ambient energy of the earth mass, the wind, and the sun, metaphorically referred to as Earth, Wind & Fire. After 5 years of modelling, simulating, testing and validating it was demonstrated that natural air-conditioning in buildings is feasible. An air-conditioning without fans, nevertheless able to maintain an excellent indoor climate. This paradigm shift in air-conditioning not only promises an excellent Indoor Environmental Quality, but also an improved relationship of architect and engineer and much lower energy use of buildings.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHealthy Buildings Europe 2015, HB 2015 - Conference Proceedings
PublisherInternational Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
EventHealthy Buildings Europe 2015, HB 2015 - Eindhoven, Netherlands
Duration: 18 May 201520 May 2015


ConferenceHealthy Buildings Europe 2015, HB 2015


  • Architectural engineering
  • Climate cascade
  • Climate responsive architecture
  • Natural air-conditioning
  • Solar chimney


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