University of Hertfordshire

From the same journal

From the same journal

By the same authors

Self-Organized Approach to Designing Building Thermal Insulation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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Original languageEnglish
Article number5764
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2020


Traditionally, the uniform application of thermal insulation is practiced within the built environment sector to achieve desired building regulation standards for energy efficiency. However, that approach does not follow the building heat loss field, and it is therefore poorly matched to the actual heat loss from the building, thus achieving sub-optimum energy performance. This article reports on research that aims to visualize building heat loss field in three dimensions and to create self-organised thermal insulation patterns that are proportional in thickness to the intensity of heat loss. This is achieved using a 3D agent based model, in which each agent that represents a miniature object of thermal insulation, moves up the gradient of the heat loss representation, and competes for its position with the neighbouring thermal insulation components, depending upon the gradient intensity. This creates a self-organised thermal insulation pattern through the competition between the thermal insulation components and through overcrowding in the areas with higher heat loss intensity. This helps to visualize the heat loss field and create a representation of thermal insulation that is ideally matched to it. The result is assessed for its energy performance using a conventional energy performance analysis. That analysis shows that this approach leads to reductions in energy consumption and carbon emissions in comparison with the conventional approach that uses the same amount of thermal insulation material. The overall result increases our understanding of three-dimensional heat loss and it introduces a new approach for designing building thermal insulation.


© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

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