When dealing with sustainable design concepts in new construction or in retrofitting existing buildings, it is useful to define both economic and environmental performance indicators, in order to select the optimal technical solutions. In most of the cases, the definition of the optimal strategy is not trivial because it is necessary to solve a multi-objective problem with a high number of the variables subjected to nonlinear constraints. In this study, a powerful multi-objective optimization genetic algorithm, NSGAII (Non-dominated Sorting Genetic Algorithm-II), is used to derive the Pareto optimal solutions, which can illustrate the whole trade-off relationship between objectives. A method is then proposed, to introduce uncertainty evaluation in the optimization procedure. A new university building is taken as a case study to demonstrate how each step of the optimization process should be performed. The results achieved turn out to be reliable and show the suitableness of this procedure to define both economic and environmental performance indicators. Similar analysis on a set of buildings representatives of a specific region might be used to assist local/national administrations in the definition of appropriate legal limits that will permit a strategic optimized extension of renewable energy production. Finally, the proposed approach could be applied to similar optimization models for the optimal planning of sustainable buildings, in order to define the best solutions among non-optimal ones.
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