Urban Energy Simulation of a Social Housing Neighbourhood in Bogota, Colombia
High demographic dynamics and greater poverty in developing countries carry the urgent need to provide low cost housing to the poorest in urban regions. In Colombia the development of social housing settlements is characterized by two deficits, a quantitative one (related to urban density) and a qualitative one (related to indoor building conditions). It is therefore imperative to identify solutions that may lead to the adequate development of social housing in Colombia. This paper studies the relation between urban density and indoor thermal conditions of buildings of a social housing neighbourhood located in Bogotá, with the help of an urban energy simulator. The particular location of the case study, close to the Equator, brought up many challenges. At first, remarkable differences were found when comparing the simulation results with the international norm CEN (EN 13790). The thermal model had to be slightly adapted for a good dynamic behaviour of the room temperatures. Moreover, as the constructional model of social housing is realised without any insulation, the thermal behaviour is very sensitive to the infrared exchanges with the environment, and as such the estimation of the ground temperature had to be refined. This latter point reinforces the idea of the importance of the infrared exchanges between adjacent buildings. Finally, satisfactory results were obtained from the models’ improvements leading to an increase of confidence on the simulation results. With the optimised performance of the simulation tool, numerical simulations of radiatively interacting shelters were carried out heading to an analysis of the relation between different urban variables (such as site coverage, plot ratio, building and urban forms) and the thermal comfort of buildings’ occupants. The study comprises the verification of the thermal model for simulations, the definition of a thermal discomfort indicator, and finally simulations of a social housing neighbourhood in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. Results show that it is possible to maintain the same high human density and to improve thermal behaviour of the settlement by combining lower site coverage with higher buildings, which can provide architects and urban developers with helpful insights to improve social housing planning in Colombia.