Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction


Date of this Version



Sustainability 2012, 4, 1999-2021; doi:10.3390/su4091999


Copyright © 2012, the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Open access, Creative Commons Attribution license 4.0.


Pitch value is an important consideration in residential gable roof design and construction. However, how roof pitch, coupled with air flows in attic space, affects the energy performance of building attics has been barely investigated. In this paper, a 2D unsteady computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model is employed to investigate the effects of roof pitch on air flow and heating load of both sealed and vented attics for gable-roof residential buildings. The simulation results show that air flow in the sealed attics is steady and asymmetric, while that in the vented attics is a combination of an essentially symmetric base flow and a periodically oscillating flow. For both the sealed and vented attic cases, the heating load is found to increase with the roof pitch, and the heat transfer of turbulent air flow in attic space can be satisfactorily correlated by a simple relationship between appropriately defined Nusselt number and Rayleigh number.