Field study of the building physics properties of common building types in the Inner Himalayan valleys of Bhutan
Traditionally, buildings in the Inner Himalayan valleys of Bhutan were constructed from rammed earth in the western regions and quarry stone in the central and eastern regions. Whilst basic architectural design elements have been retained, the construction methods have however changed over recent decades alongside expectations for indoor thermal comfort. Nevertheless, despite the need for space heating, thermal building performance remains largely unknown. Furthermore, no dedicated climate data is available for building performance assessments. This paper establishes such climatological information for the capital Thimphu and presents an investigation of building physics properties of traditional and contemporary building types. In a one month field study 10 buildings were surveyed, looking at building air tightness, indoor climate, wall U-values and water absorption of typical wall construction materials. The findings highlight comparably high wall U-values of 1.0 to 1.5 W/m²K for both current and historic constructions. Furthermore, air tightness tests show that, due to poorly sealed joints between construction elements, windows and doors, many buildings have high infiltration rates, reaching up to 5 air changes per hour. However, the results also indicate an indoor climate moderating effect of more traditional earth construction techniques. Based on these survey findings basic improvements are being suggested.