A thermal performance standard for residential buildings in warm climates: Lessons learned in Brazil

A.F. Krelling, L.G. Eli, M.S. Olinger, R.M.E.S. Machado, A.P. Melo, R. Lamberts
Energy & Buildings

This paper presents the main challenges faced and lessons learned when developing a new method to assess the thermal performance of residential buildings for the recently updated Brazilian building performance standard, NBR 15575–1:2021. It touches on subjects related to the representation of occupant behaviour, climate, and thermal acceptability in building performance simulation, as well as the use of reference models, key performance indicators, and performance levels in policies. NBR 15575 provides a thorough procedure to analyze thermal performance, allowing buildings to be assessed while in passive operation mode and also accounting for energy needs when active operation is necessary. Multiple key performance indicators are introduced to provide a comprehensive evaluation. The main difficulty found was dealing with diversity. Given the vast scale of Brazil’s territory, a high variation in culture, climate and construction techniques is expected, thus requiring a compromise between detail and scalability. There are still many opportunities for improvement, especially regarding the representation of occupants, and adjustments of the characteristics of reference models to promote high thermal performance, considering the diverse climates, regional practices, and economic needs. This paper might help researchers and other stakeholders to develop and improve other local standards and protocols, especially for warm climates.