Cooling demands of commercial buildings present a relevant challenge for a sustainable future. They account for over half of the overall energy needs for the operation of an average office building in warm climates, and this situation is expected to become more pressing due to increasing temperatures in cities worldwide. To tackle this issue, it is widely agreed that the application of passive strategies should be the first step in the design of energy efficient buildings, only using active equipment if it is truly necessary. Nonetheless, there is still further need for information regarding the potential limits derived from their application.
This paper explores the effectiveness of selected passive cooling strategies in commercial buildings from warm climates, defining performance ranges based on the assessment of multiple scenarios and climate contexts. This task was conducted through the statistical analysis of results from documented research experiences, to define overall ranges and boundary conditions; and through software simulation of selected parameters to isolate their impact under a controlled experimental setup. General findings showed that the mere application of passive strategies is not enough to guarantee relevant savings. Their effectiveness was conditioned to both the harshness of a given climate and different building parameters. Specific recommendations were also discussed for the selected passive strategies considered in the evaluation.