Within the European Union, buildings account for around 40% of the energy use and 36% of CO2
emissions, thus representing a significant challenge in the context of recent EU directives that require all new buildings to be nearly zero-energy by 2020. Reduced consumption of water, and hot water in particular, provides a significant opportunity to reduce energy consumption. While there have been numerous studies pertaining to the water-energy nexus of residential buildings, the complexity of water networks in larger buildings has meant that this area has been relatively unexplored. The paper presents a comprehensive investigation of the hot water use profile, associated energy use, on-site pumping energy use, carbon emissions, and solar energy harvesting potential in an Irish university building over periods before and after water conservation efforts. Total water-related energy consumption (including the heating and pumping losses) were analysed using the WHAM model and modified pumping energy expressions. The results revealed that water heating including losses contributed to as high as 30% of total building energy consumption, and stringent water conservation measures reduced the average hot water use rate by 8.5 m3
/day. It was found that 10% of the total pumping energy was constituted by pump start-ups. Simulation results for solar harvesting potential in the study site found that around 60% of water heating energy demand could be met by solar energy in the new water demand scenario. The study results can act as a benchmark for similar buildings, and the model combination can be emulated in future studies.
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