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Vital Signs Project: Waverley Mansion

Waverley Mansion
Passive Cooling: Past and Present

Stacey Johnston, Mississippi State University
Kyle Wagner, Mississippi State University

(Background) (Methodology) (Building Results) (Model Results) (Conclusion) (References).

This case study won third prize in the 1996 Vital Signs Student Case Study Competition. The authors of the case study are Tracey Johnson and Kyle Wagner, undergraduate students in the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University. The field work was conducted in November of 1996 and the report was written that fall. The faculty advisor for the study was Jane Greenwood.


Waverley Mansion, a plantation house located in the hot humid climate of West Point, Mississippi.

This case study tests how well Waverley Mansion passively cools itself using its four-story central atrium space and the principles of thermal buoyancy. Temperature changes and air motion tests were performed in the house under four different conditions, including all operable windows, doors, and transoms open, and no windows, doors, or transoms open. These tests were performed using devices easily obtainable by other students so that they may conduct similar tests for other case studies.

Since its construction in 1852, many of Waverley's passive cooling systems have been modified. These changes could reduce Waverley's passive cooling success. Therefore, a model was constructed to test Waverley in its original condition (all windows, doors, and transoms operable). Test results from the house and the model indicate that Waverley is not cooled primarily by the stack effect, but by cross ventilation.

A Roadmap for this Report

This report is broken into six main sections.

The first section, Background and Hypothesis provides information describing the setting of West Point, Mississippi and a bit of history on Waverley Mansion. It also includes the hypothesis we set out to prove or disprove.

In Methodology, we explain the process used to test the hypothesis.

In the Building Results section we present the findings of our on-site building study.

In the Model Results section we present the findings of our study of a 1/2" = 1'-0" scale model of Waverley Mansion..

In the Final Conclusions section, we offer our conclusions from the tests we conducted and present some recommendations.

A list of References is also included.

To read this entire document, simply follow the "next" buttons at the bottom of each page. These will take you sequentially through the whole report. Please read on to find out more about this investigation of the design and performance of two houses in a hot climate.

Comments to author: vitalsigns@

All contents copyright (C) 1998. Vital Signs Project. All rights reserved.

Created: 04/08/97
Revised: 09/09/02