Facade design principles for nearly zero energy buildings in a cold climate

Martin Thalfeldt*, Ergo Pikas, Jarek Kurnitski, Hendrik Voll

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


Cost optimal and as energy efficient as possible façade solutions, including window properties, external wall insulation, window-to-wall ratio and external shading were determined with energy and daylight simulations in the cold climate of Estonia. Heating dominated in the energy balance and therefore windows with higher number of panes and low emissivity coatings improved energy performance. The window sizes resulting in best energy performance for double and triple glazing were as small as daylight requirements allow, 22-24% respectively. For quadruple and hypothetical quintuple glazing the optimal window-to-wall ratios were larger, about 40% and 60% respectively, because of daylight utilization and good solar factor naturally provided by so many panes. The cost optimal façade solution was highly transparent triple low emissivity glazing with window-to-wall ratios of about 25% and external wall insulation thickness of 200 mm (U = 0.16). Dynamic external shading gave positive effect on energy performance only in case of large window sizes whereas due to high investment cost it was not financially feasible. Limited number of simulations with Central European climate showed that triple glazing with double low emissivity coating and window-to-wall ratio of about 40%, i.e. slightly larger and with external shading compared to Estonian cost optimal one, clearly outperformed conventional design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-321
Number of pages13
JournalEnergy and Buildings
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cost optimality
  • Daylight
  • Energy simulations
  • Façade design
  • Fenestration
  • Nearly zero energy buildings
  • Windows

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Facade design principles for nearly zero energy buildings in a cold climate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this