A simple yet innovative form of roof ventilation could dramatically reduce the energy consumption and associated carbon footprint of suburban residential housing.

Researchers in Spain’s sun-drenched Valencia region have developed a modular roof ventilation that is capable of cooling down buildings passively without the need for further energy consumption.

The ventilation system developed by researchers from Universitat Jaume I of Castellon (UJI) enhances heat dissipation by facilitating the flow of air through roofing structures using simple modular frameworks that are easy to produce as well as fit together and install.

Diagram of the roof modules

Diagram of the roof modules

The modules themselves are essentially flat, extended frames with a sectional profile consisting of an upside-down “U” shape. When connected together, the modules produce a conduit through which air can flow from the outside via openings in the eaves before exiting via outlets on the ridge.

“Several frames, which lock together, are used to coat the entire cover,” said Juan Antonio Garcia Esparza, a researcher at the Technology, Quality and Sustainability in Building Group of UJI. “In addition, there are eaves with several openings also designed to allow airflow. In order to place them, there are some openings near the ridge of the roof.”

The flow of air through the roof produce a cooling effect that reduces the temperature of building interiors situated directly beneath it without the need to consume electricity.

UJI’s roof ventilation system has immense potential for deployment in residential areas, given that it’s designed specifically for the pitched rooftops that are characteristic of suburban houses around the world.

This in turn could translate into huge reductions in CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, given that air-conditioning usage is a major source of energy consumption. Data from the US Energy Information Administration’s Residential Energy Consumption survey indicates that roughly half of energy consumption in US homes over the past two decades can be attributed to heating and cooling purposes.

According to Garcia Esparza, a major advantage of the ventilation system is the ability to retrofit it to older buildings with antiquated, less efficient designs – including heritage or historic buildings – without affecting the original structure or causing permanent damage to the underlying base material.

The technology has already been patented by researchers from UJI, who plan to find industrial partners in order to assist in its commercialisation.