Energy Optimization for Fenestration Design: Evidence-Based Retrofitting Solution for Office Buildings in the UAE

Yasmin Abdou, YOUNG KI KIM, Alaa Eldin Hussein Abdou, Rim Anabtawi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


With the prevalent use of large glazings, particularly in office buildings, offices receive an abundance of light and are among the largest consumers of electricity. Moreover, in an extreme hot arid climate such as in the UAE, achieving comfortable daylighting levels without increasing solar heat gain is a challenge, in which the window or fenestration design plays an essential role. This research adopts a case study of a higher education (HE) office building on the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) campus, selected to investigate an evidence-based retrofitting solution for the west façade that can be applied in existing office buildings in the UAE in order to reduce cooling energy load as well as enhance indoor environmental quality. To achieve an evidence-based retrofitting solution, the research design built upon a comprehensive exploratory investigation that included indoor environmental quality physical monitoring and occupant satisfaction surveying. Model simulation was performed by means of DesignBuilder software to perform a single- and multiparameter sensitivity analysis for three key passive window design parameters, i.e., window-to-wall ratio, glazing type, and external shading, aimed towards minimizing annual cooling load and solar heat gain, while maintaining appropriate indoor daylight illuminance levels. The results highlight the importance of the window-to-wall ratio (WWR), as it is the single most significant parameter effecting total energy consumption and daylighting levels. The results recommend 20–30% WWR as the optimum range in the west façade. However, by utilizing high performance glazing types and external shading, equal energy savings can be achieved with a larger WWR. Double Low E tinted glazing and 0.4 projection shading overhang and side fin revealed a noteworthy reduction of energy use intensity of 14%. The study concludes with final retrofitting solutions and design recommendations that aim to contribute validated knowledge towards enhancing window performance in a hot arid climate to guide architects and stakeholders to apply a range of passive parameters towards reducing energy consumption and improving occupant comfort in office buildings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1541
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • cooling energy consumption
  • daylighting
  • external shading
  • fenestration design
  • glazing technology
  • occupant comfort
  • office building
  • retrofitting
  • solar heat gain
  • window-to-wall ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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