Overheating and health risks in refugee shelters: assessment and relative importance of design parameters

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There are now more than four million refugees living in camps around the world. The majority of such camps are within inhospitable environments, often with extreme climates. This paper focuses on the thermal conditions of shelters in the Azraq refugee camp (Jordan), subject to an arid climate with high temperatures during the hot season. Due to political and other sensitivities, whole-, or multi-year monitoring of occupied shelters—and hence the empirical determination of overheating—is difficult. Instead, internal conditions in the shelters were monitored for three weeks in summer and used to validate computer models of the accommodation. These models were then used to generate annual predictions of overheating assessed through overheating criteria based on thermal discomfort and physiological indicators of heat stress. Building on these results, the performance of alternative designs specifications or shelter operation strategies were investigated through parametric analysis. The results show maximum indoor temperatures over 45°C. Overheating thresholds were exceeded for more than 20% of the year and physiological indicators suggest the possibility of health-threatening conditions. The use of alternative designs and strategies reduced overheating to nearly 2% of the year, with a steep reduction of severe heat stress indicators.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPLEA 2017 Proceedings
Subtitle of host publicationDesign to Thrive
EditorsL. Brotas, S. Roaf, F. Nicol
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9780992895754
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
EventPassive Low Energy Architecture: Designing to Thrive - Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Jul 20175 Jul 2017


ConferencePassive Low Energy Architecture
Abbreviated titlePLEA 2017
Country/TerritoryUK United Kingdom
Internet address


  • refugees
  • shelters
  • overheating
  • health risks
  • thermal comfort


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