Design guidelines prescribed by climate analysis tools are broad and similar for various cities under the same climate zone overlooking the impact of altitude, latitude, and surrounding geographical features. Boundary conditions determined by International Standards underestimate the cooling potential of passive strategies in the free-running mode in warm-humid climates. Thus, a climate file-based study is conducted to determine city-specific requirements for the residential building program. Indices like Climatic Potential for Natural Ventilation and Climatic Cooling Potential are used in conjunction with the Indian Model for Adaptive Comfort to define boundary conditions for Natural Ventilation, Nocturnal Ventilation Potential, and Thermal Mass Potential in four inland and coastal cities in the warm-humid climate of South India. With the least Natural Ventilation Potential, mixed-mode operation of buildings is feasible in Nagercoil. Elevated airspeeds benefit Tiruchirappalli and Chennai during the day. With a Nocturnal Ventilation Potential of 10–20%, passive dehumidification is favorable in all cities. Results show that the climatic potential for each strategy varies with location and plays an important role in developing city specific design inputs for residences.

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