Special Issue "Novel Technologies to Enhance Energy Performance and Indoor Environmental Quality of Buildings"

A special issue of Buildings (ISSN 2075-5309). This special issue belongs to the section "Building Energy, Physics, Environment, and Systems".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2021) | Viewed by 20882

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Special Issue Editors

Dr. Alessandro Cannavale
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Department of Civil Engineering Sciences and Architecture (DICAR), Polytechnic University of Bari, Via Orabona 4, 70125 Bari, Italy
2. National Research Council, Institute of Nanotechnology (CNR-NANOTEC), Via Monteroni 73100, Lecce, Italy
Interests: chromogenics; semitransparent photovoltaics; building integration of innovative technologies; energy saving; visual comfort and daylighting; applied thermodynamics and thermal sciences
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Francesco Martellotta
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Ingegneria Civile e dell’Architettura, Politecnico di Bari, 70125 Bari, Italy
Interests: architectural acoustics; acoustic properties of materials; measurement techniques in acoustics; psychoacoustics; indoor environment quality; thermal comfort; innovative technologies for energy saving
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Francesco Fiorito
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil, Environmental, Land, Building Engineering and Chemistry (DICATECh), Polytechnic University of Bari, via E. Orabona 4, 70125 Bari, Italy
Interests: facade engineering and design; building construction technologies; energy savings in buildings; local and global climate change and buildings

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue aims at reporting current investigations on emerging materials and devices taking up the challenge of pursuing a significant improvement in the energy performance of buildings and indoor comfort. What is the contribution of innovative technologies in the epochal transition to low environmental impact buildings? This is the question to be answered with this Special Issue of the Buildings journal, in order to offer a wide and heterogeneous amount of data to readers and results of high scientific impact concerning the application of innovative technologies in construction.

The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change following the COP 21 Conference on Climate Change, organized by United Nations, required the States to reduce carbon emissions in the building stock. In the European Union, almost 50% of final energy consumption is used for heating and cooling; out of this huge amount, 80% is used in buildings. It makes sense, then, that the Union’s goals are inherently linked to the real effort to renovate the building stock. To do this, in the EU and worldwide, the priority is to enhance energy efficiency, by deploying low-cost renewable energies and innovative technologies, especially deriving from recent achievements in the field of nanomaterials research, with special reference to building integration of novel technologies, spanning from chromogenics to semitransparent photovoltaics, superinsulating materials, and phase change materials. Articles may therefore deal with every construction or plant component of the building organism, taking advantage of novel technologies to improve their performance, from the envelope to structures, HVAC, and other technical systems, as well as indoor climate analyses in buildings and indoor environmental quality (IEQ), as well as visual comfort indoor. Studies concerning nearly zero energy buildings (NZEB) are especially welcome in this issue.

Dr. Alessandro Cannavale
Prof. Francesco Martellotta
Prof. Francesco Fiorito
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Buildings is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Energy performance
  • Nanomaterials
  • Chromogenics
  • Semitransparent photovoltaics
  • Building integration
  • Phase-change materials
  • Aerogel
  • HVAC systems
  • Indoor environment quality
  • Nearly zero energy buildings
  • Visual comfort

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Novel Technologies to Enhance Energy Performance and Indoor Environmental Quality of Buildings
Buildings 2021, 11(7), 303; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11070303 - 11 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 870
Abstract
Here, we overview the Buildings journal Special Issue dedicated to the following topic: “Novel Technologies to Enhance Energy Performance and Indoor Environmental Quality of Buildings” (https://www [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Analysis of Incorporating a Phase Change Material in a Roof for the Thermal Management of School Buildings in Hot-Humid Climates
Buildings 2021, 11(6), 248; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11060248 - 09 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1058
Abstract
Strategies to reduce energy consumption are presently experiencing vigorous development. Phase change materials (PCMs) are novel materials that can reduce indoor temperatures via the change in material phase. Regarding the situation in Taiwan, there is no practical utilization of PCMs in school buildings [...] Read more.
Strategies to reduce energy consumption are presently experiencing vigorous development. Phase change materials (PCMs) are novel materials that can reduce indoor temperatures via the change in material phase. Regarding the situation in Taiwan, there is no practical utilization of PCMs in school buildings at present, especially in combination with rooftops. In this paper, we discuss the feasibility and utilization potential of installing PCMs in the rooftops of school buildings. School buildings located in northern and southern Taiwan (Taipei and Kaohsiung) were selected to analyze the energy-saving potential and optimization of indoor thermal comfort by installing PCMs with different properties in rooftops over two time periods, including the air conditioning (AC) and natural ventilation (NV) seasons. Based on the simulation results, the feasible patterns of PCM simultaneity are found to be appropriate for improved indoor comfort and energy saving during the different seasons. Specifically, the efficient phase change temperature (PCT) for different PCM thicknesses is clarified to be 29 °C. The economic thickness of PCM was clarified to be 20 mm for Taipei and Kaohsiung. Through the recommendations proposed in this study, it is expected that the PCMs may be efficiently implemented in school buildings to realize the goal of energy conservation and improve thermal comfort. Full article
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Article
Economic Evaluation of the Indoor Environmental Quality of Buildings: The Noise Pollution Effects on Housing Prices in the City of Bari (Italy)
Buildings 2021, 11(5), 213; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11050213 - 19 May 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1092
Abstract
Among environmental factors, noise represents one of the most relevant determinants on human health and on the urban quality level and, consequently, on real estate values. Thus, the noise pollution issue plays a significant role in public urban policies aimed at increasing the [...] Read more.
Among environmental factors, noise represents one of the most relevant determinants on human health and on the urban quality level and, consequently, on real estate values. Thus, the noise pollution issue plays a significant role in public urban policies aimed at increasing the acoustic comfort level and creating more sustainable and comfortable cities. The real estate market is highly sensitive to noise factor and the residential prices can be strongly influenced by a high acoustic pollution rate. The present research aims to analyze the functional relationships between noise pollution and selling prices in four municipal areas of the city of Bari (Southern Italy). For each area, a study sample constituted by two hundred residential properties sold in 2017–2019 was detected for the identification of the main influential factors on prices and the investigation of the contribution of noise on them. The implementation of an econometric technique was used to obtain four different models (one for each municipal area of the city of Bari) able to explain the specific impact of noise pollution level on selling prices. From the comparison of the results obtained for each area, the outputs confirm the expected phenomena in terms of a decrease of noise component influence on residential prices from the central area to the peripheral. For the suburban area of the city of Bari, the model obtained does not include the noise pollution factor, showing a lower (scarce) importance of the environmental factor among the buyer and seller bargaining phases. Full article
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Article
Deep Learning Optimal Control for a Complex Hybrid Energy Storage System
Buildings 2021, 11(5), 194; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11050194 - 03 May 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1137
Abstract
Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) proved to be successful for solving complex control problems and has become a hot topic in the field of energy systems control, but for the particular case of thermal energy storage (TES) systems, only a few studies have been [...] Read more.
Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) proved to be successful for solving complex control problems and has become a hot topic in the field of energy systems control, but for the particular case of thermal energy storage (TES) systems, only a few studies have been reported, all of them with a complexity degree of the TES system far below the one of this study. In this paper, we step forward through a DRL architecture able to deal with the complexity of an innovative hybrid energy storage system, devising appropriate high-level control operations (or policies) over its subsystems that result optimal from an energy or monetary point of view. The results show that a DRL policy in the system control can reduce the system operating costs by more than 50%, as compared to a rule-based control (RBC) policy, for cooling supply to a reference residential building in Mediterranean climate during a period of 18 days. Moreover, a robustness analysis was carried out, which showed that, even for large errors in the parameters of the system simulation models corresponding to an error multiplying factors up to 2, the average cost obtained with the original model deviates from the optimum value by less than 3%, demonstrating the robustness of the solution over a wide range of model errors. Full article
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Article
Energy Performances Assessment of Extruded and 3D Printed Polymers Integrated into Building Envelopes for a South Italian Case Study
Buildings 2021, 11(4), 141; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11040141 - 01 Apr 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 900
Abstract
Plastic materials are increasingly becoming used in the building envelope, despite a lack of investigation on their effects. In this work, an extruded Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene panel has been tested as a second-skin layer in a ventilated facade system using a full-scale facility. The experimental [...] Read more.
Plastic materials are increasingly becoming used in the building envelope, despite a lack of investigation on their effects. In this work, an extruded Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene panel has been tested as a second-skin layer in a ventilated facade system using a full-scale facility. The experimental results show that it is possible to achieve performances very similar to conventional materials. A numerical model has then been developed and used to investigate the performances of plastic and composite polymer panels as second-skin layers. The experimental data has been used to verify the behavior of the numerical model, from a thermal point of view, showing good reliability, with a root mean square error lower than 0.40 °C. This model has then been applied in different refurbishment cases upon varying: the polymer and the manufacturing technology (extruded or 3D-printed panels). Eight refurbishment case studies have been carried out on a typical office building located in Napoli (Italy), by means of a dynamic simulation software. The simulation results show that the proposed actions allow the reduction of the thermal and cooling energy demand (up to 6.9% and 3.1%, respectively), as well as the non-renewable primary energy consumption (up to 2.6%), in comparison to the reference case study. Full article
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Article
Influence of Ausforming Treatment on Super Elasticity of Cu-Zn-Al Shape Memory Alloy for Seismic Energy Dissipaters
Buildings 2021, 11(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11010022 - 06 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 891
Abstract
In order to develop the application of the more cost-effective copper-based shape memory alloys (SMAs), rather than nickel–titanium as earthquake energy dissipaters, the influence of ausforming-induced plastic deformation on phase transformations, microstructure, super elasticity and mechanical properties of the shape memory alloy Cu-26Zn-4Al [...] Read more.
In order to develop the application of the more cost-effective copper-based shape memory alloys (SMAs), rather than nickel–titanium as earthquake energy dissipaters, the influence of ausforming-induced plastic deformation on phase transformations, microstructure, super elasticity and mechanical properties of the shape memory alloy Cu-26Zn-4Al was examined. These specific SMA properties were targeted by applying appropriate parameters of the thermomechanical (the so-called ausforming) process: beta-phase homogenization at 800 °C for 20 min, one-step hot rolling at 800 °C and water quenching. The results showed significant microstructural changes, increased mechanical resistance and change in the phase transformation behavior. The SMA treated by ausforming retained the reversible austenitic–martensitic transformation ability, with the appearance of the super-elastic effect up to 6% of strain recovery. Although some strengthening occurred after hot rolling (an increase in true yield strength of 125 MPa was detected), all phase transformation temperatures were decreased. The smallest decrease was detected for the austenite finish temperature (32.8 °C) and the largest for the martensite finish temperature (42.0 °C), allowing both the expansion and the lowering of the temperature range of super elasticity, which is favorable for construction applications. It is concluded that it is possible to achieve an optimal combination of adequate strength and improved transformation behavior of Cu-Zn-Al alloy by applying the ausforming treatment. Full article
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Article
Definition of Optimal Ventilation Rates for Balancing Comfort and Energy Use in Indoor Spaces Using CO2 Concentration Data
Buildings 2020, 10(8), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings10080135 - 24 Jul 2020
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 2381
Abstract
Air ventilation rate plays a relevant role in maintaining adequate indoor air quality (IAQ) conditions in public buildings. In general, high ventilation rates ensure good indoor air quality but entail relevant energy consumption. Considering the necessity of balancing IAQ and energy consumption, a [...] Read more.
Air ventilation rate plays a relevant role in maintaining adequate indoor air quality (IAQ) conditions in public buildings. In general, high ventilation rates ensure good indoor air quality but entail relevant energy consumption. Considering the necessity of balancing IAQ and energy consumption, a correlation between the number of occupants obtained from analysis of CO2 concentration variation is presented as a general element for controlling the operation of heating ventilation and air cooling (HVAC) systems. The specific CO2 exhalation rate is estimated using experimental data in some real conditions in university classrooms. A method for the definition of optimal values of air exchange rate is defined, highlighting that the obtained values are much lower than those defined in current technical standards with possibilities of relevant reduction of the total energy consumption. Full article
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Article
A Framework to Achieve Multifunctionality in Biomimetic Adaptive Building Skins
Buildings 2020, 10(7), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings10070114 - 27 Jun 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2589
Abstract
Building skins should host multiple functions for increased performance. Addressing this, their design can benefit by learning from nature to achieve multifunctionality, where multifunctional strategies have evolved over years. However, existing frameworks to develop biomimetic adaptive building skins (Bio-ABS) have limited capabilities transferring [...] Read more.
Building skins should host multiple functions for increased performance. Addressing this, their design can benefit by learning from nature to achieve multifunctionality, where multifunctional strategies have evolved over years. However, existing frameworks to develop biomimetic adaptive building skins (Bio-ABS) have limited capabilities transferring multifunctionality from nature into designs. This study shows that through investigating the principles of hierarchy and heterogeneity, multifunctionality in nature can be transferred into biomimetic strategies. We aim at mapping the existing knowledge in biological adaptations from the perspective of multifunctionality and developing a framework achieving multifunctionality in Bio-ABS. The framework is demonstrated through the case study of Echinocactus grusonii implemented as a Bio-ABS on a digital base-case building. The methods include the Bio-ABS case study demonstrating the framework and simulating the performance of the case study and base-case building to comparatively analyze the results. The outcomes are a framework to develop multifunctional Bio-ABS and simulation results on the performance improvement Bio-ABS offer. The performance comparison between the Bio-ABS and base-case building show that there is a decrease in the discomfort hours by a maximum of 23.18%. In conclusion, translating heterogeneity and hierarchy principles in nature into engineered designs is a key aspect to achieve multifunctionality in Bio-ABS offering improved strategies in performance over conventional buildings. Full article
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Article
Non-commercial Air Purifier—The Effectiveness and Safety
Buildings 2020, 10(6), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings10060104 - 31 May 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2636
Abstract
(1) Background: On the Internet, we can find the guidelines for homemade air purifiers. One of the solutions includes the use of a low-cost ozone generator to decrease the level of odors and biological contaminants. However, the authors do not notify about hazardous [...] Read more.
(1) Background: On the Internet, we can find the guidelines for homemade air purifiers. One of the solutions includes the use of a low-cost ozone generator to decrease the level of odors and biological contaminants. However, the authors do not notify about hazardous effects of ozone generation on human health; (2) Methods: We elaborated our test results on the bacterial and fungal aerosol reduction by the use of two technical solutions of homemade air purifiers. First, including a mesh filter and ozone generator, second including an ozone generator, mesh filter, and carbon filter. (3) Conclusions: After 20 min of ozone generation, the concentration of bacteria decreased by 78% and 48% without and with a carbon filter, while fungi concentration was reduced in the lower range 63% and 40%, respectively. Based on our test results, we proposed a precise periodical operation of homemade air purifier to maintain the permissible level of ozone for the occupants. Full article
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Article
Modeling of an Aerogel-Based “Thermal Break” for Super-Insulated Window Frames
Buildings 2020, 10(3), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings10030060 - 18 Mar 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2324
Abstract
Research activities in the field of innovative fixtures are continuously aiming at increasing their thermal and optical performances to offer optimal exploitation of daylight and solar gains, providing effective climate screen, according to increasing standards for indoor comfort and energy saving. Within this [...] Read more.
Research activities in the field of innovative fixtures are continuously aiming at increasing their thermal and optical performances to offer optimal exploitation of daylight and solar gains, providing effective climate screen, according to increasing standards for indoor comfort and energy saving. Within this work, we designed an innovative aerogel-based “thermal break” for window frames, so as to consistently reduce the frame conductance. Then, we compared the performance of this new frame both with currently used and obsolete frames, present in most of the existing building stock. Energy savings for heating and cooling were assessed for different locations and confirmed the potential role played by super-insulating materials in fixtures for extremely rigid climates. Full article
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Review

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Review
Perovskite Solar Cells for BIPV Application: A Review
Buildings 2020, 10(7), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings10070129 - 13 Jul 2020
Cited by 23 | Viewed by 4069
Abstract
The rapid efficiency enhancement of perovskite solar cells (PSCs) make it a promising photovoltaic (PV) research, which has now drawn attention from industries and government organizations to invest for further development of PSC technology. PSC technology continuously develops into new and improved results. [...] Read more.
The rapid efficiency enhancement of perovskite solar cells (PSCs) make it a promising photovoltaic (PV) research, which has now drawn attention from industries and government organizations to invest for further development of PSC technology. PSC technology continuously develops into new and improved results. However, stability, toxicity, cost, material production and fabrication become the significant factors, which limits the expansion of PSCs. PSCs integration into a building in the form of building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) is one of the most holistic approaches to exploit it as a next-generation PV technology. Integration of high efficiency and semi-transparent PSC in BIPV is still not a well-established area. The purpose of this review is to get an overview of the relative scope of PSCs integration in the BIPV sector. This review demonstrates the benevolence of PSCs by stimulating energy conversion and its perspective and gradual evolution in terms of photovoltaic applications to address the challenge of increasing energy demand and their environmental impacts for BIPV adaptation. Understanding the critical impact regarding the materials and devices established portfolio for PSC integration BIPV are also discussed. In addition to highlighting the apparent advantages of using PSCs in terms of their demand, perspective and the limitations, challenges, new strategies of modification and relative scopes are also addressed in this review. Full article
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