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Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance

A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073). This special issue belongs to the section "G: Energy and Buildings".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2021) | Viewed by 43517

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Faculty of Engineering, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Piazza Università 5, 39100 Bolzano, Italy
Interests: building physics; building energy performance; building performance simulation; urban simulation; indoor environmental quality; weather data for building simulation
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Buildings are responsible for more than one third of the world’s energy demand. For this reason, national governments and international organizations worldwide pay particular attention to the building sector while defining new energy policies and promote the adoption of more sustainable and energy-efficient solutions in buildings. On one hand, requirements have been defined for the design of new high-performance, nearly-zero or net-zero energy buildings. On the other hand, action plans have been proposed for the renovation of the existing building stock.

In this framework, several research projects have been dedicated to the characterization of the performance of new and existing buildings, both in terms of energy and indoor conditions. Furthermore, different typologies of building envelope and HVAC systems have been investigated, considering also complex configurations characterized by a significant use of renewable energy sources and by the implementation of advanced controls. In this regard, a growing interest has been given to building automation, recognizing the potential of smart solutions for advanced control and management of the building system, able to optimize both energy and non-energy building performance. Smart buildings and nearly-zero energy buildings are now considered not only the target for new designs but also for the refurbishment of the existing building stock. In this context, in situ monitoring campaigns and developments of building performance simulation codes have been essential to further the knowledge on building physics and to identify solutions that are able to improve building energy performance and indoor environmental conditions according to a multiobjective optimization approach.

This Special Issue aims at collecting research papers and reviews on building energy performance, with the goal of instantiating recent trends and challenges on this topic. Studies of interest to this Special Issue range from energy performance of building envelope and HVAC system components to the analysis of the efficacy of different building control strategies, dealing with either existing and new buildings and carried out by means of experimental and simulation methods.

Dr. Giovanni Pernigotto
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Building energy performance
  • Nearly zero energy buildings
  • Building renovation
  • Smart buildings
  • Building automation
  • Building envelope
  • HVAC system
  • Building ventilation
  • Building management
  • Building performance optimization
  • Building energy simulation

Published Papers (17 papers)

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17 pages, 5959 KiB  
Article
Cool Roofs in the US: The Impact of Roof Reflectivity, Insulation and Attachment Method on Annual Energy Cost
by Athanasios Tzempelikos and Seungjae Lee
Energies 2021, 14(22), 7656; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14227656 - 16 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2940
Abstract
While it is well-known that cool roofs can efficiently reduce cooling demand in buildings, their overall energy performance in mixed and cold climates has been a topic of debate. This paper presents a comprehensive simulation study to evaluate the combined impact of roof [...] Read more.
While it is well-known that cool roofs can efficiently reduce cooling demand in buildings, their overall energy performance in mixed and cold climates has been a topic of debate. This paper presents a comprehensive simulation study to evaluate the combined impact of roof reflectivity, insulation level, and construction type (adhered vs attached) on annual energy demand and energy costs in the United States, for different buildings and climate zones. EnergyPlus was used to model three building types (retail, office, and school buildings) for the 16 most climate-representative locations in the US using typical reflectivity and insulation values. The results show that (i) roof reflectivity is equally important to roof insulation in warm climates; (ii) for low-rise offices and schools, the benefits of reflective roofs vs dark-colored roofs are clear for all US climatic zones, with higher savings in warm climates; (iii) for big-box-retail buildings, reflective roofs perform better except for cold climate zones 7–8; (iv) dark-colored, mechanically attached roofs achieve slightly better performance than reflective roofs in mixed and cold climates. Decision makers should consider building type, climatic conditions, roof insulation levels, and durability performance, along with roof reflectivity, when assessing the overall potential benefits of cool roofs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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15 pages, 849 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Multiyear Weather Data Effects on Hygrothermal Building Energy Simulations Using WUFI Plus
by Michele Libralato, Alessandra De Angelis, Giulia Tornello, Onorio Saro, Paola D’Agaro and Giovanni Cortella
Energies 2021, 14(21), 7157; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14217157 - 01 Nov 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1519
Abstract
Transient building energy simulations are powerful design tools that are used for the estimation of HVAC demands and internal hygrothermal conditions of buildings. These calculations are commonly performed using a (often dated) typical meteorological year, generated from past weather measurements excluding extreme weather [...] Read more.
Transient building energy simulations are powerful design tools that are used for the estimation of HVAC demands and internal hygrothermal conditions of buildings. These calculations are commonly performed using a (often dated) typical meteorological year, generated from past weather measurements excluding extreme weather conditions. In this paper the results of multiyear building simulations performed considering coupled Heat and Moisture Transfer (HMT) in building materials are presented. A simple building is simulated in the city of Udine (Italy) using a weather record of 25 years. Performing a multiyear simulation allows to obtain a distribution of results instead of a single number for each variable. The small therm climate change is shown to influence thermal demands and internal conditions with multiyear effects. From this results it is possible to conclude that weather records used as weather files have to be periodically updated and that moisture transfer is relevant in energy and comfort calculations. Moreover, the simulations are performed using the software WUFI Plus and it is shown that using a thermal model for the building envelope could be a non negligible simplification for the comfort related calculations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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17 pages, 4408 KiB  
Article
Labeling of Installed Heating Appliances in Residential Buildings: An Energy Labeling Methodology for Improving Consumers’ Awareness
by Diego Menegon, Daniela Lobosco, Leopoldo Micò and Joana Fernandes
Energies 2021, 14(21), 7044; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14217044 - 28 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1620
Abstract
In the EU 28, the installed heating appliance stock is quite old, with an actual replacement rate of 4%. This is directly reflected in the average efficiency of the installed heating systems, where around 60% of the stock is rated with an energy [...] Read more.
In the EU 28, the installed heating appliance stock is quite old, with an actual replacement rate of 4%. This is directly reflected in the average efficiency of the installed heating systems, where around 60% of the stock is rated with an energy class of C or D (the lowest classes of the energy label scale). The European project HARP aims at raising consumers’ awareness of the planned replacement of their old and inefficient heating appliances with more efficient and renewable solutions. In this direction, an energy labeling methodology for old appliances has been developed to rate the installed stock before the introduction of the EU energy label. The methodology has been developed for space heating appliances and water heaters, targeting two types of users: end consumers and professional users. The validation considered about 4600 space heating appliances and 800 water heaters built between 1972 and 2019. Three heating appliances and two water heaters were tested in the laboratory, confirming the reliability of the proposed methodology. The expected impact of defining an energy labeling methodology for installed heating appliances increases the current replacement rate of these appliances in the EU from 4% to 5%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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22 pages, 31578 KiB  
Article
Accuracy of Simplified Modelling Assumptions on External and Internal Driving Forces in the Building Energy Performance Simulation
by Giovanna De Luca, Franz Bianco Mauthe Degerfeld, Ilaria Ballarini and Vincenzo Corrado
Energies 2021, 14(20), 6841; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14206841 - 19 Oct 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1956
Abstract
The recently issued EN ISO 52016-1 technical standard provides a new simplified dynamic method for the building energy performance assessment. Since an extensive validation of the EN ISO 52016-1 hourly method is still missing, the present work investigates the effect of the main [...] Read more.
The recently issued EN ISO 52016-1 technical standard provides a new simplified dynamic method for the building energy performance assessment. Since an extensive validation of the EN ISO 52016-1 hourly method is still missing, the present work investigates the effect of the main modelling assumptions—related to the heat balance on the outdoor and the indoor envelope surfaces—on the building thermal behaviour. The model validation was carried out by assessing the accuracy variation consequent to the application of the EN ISO 52016-1 modelling assumptions to a detailed dynamic calculation tool (EnergyPlus). To guarantee a general validity of the outcomes, two buildings, two levels of thermal insulation, and two Italian climatic zones were considered, for a total of eight case studies. To explore different applications of the standard method, the analysis was performed both under a free-floating condition—to evaluate the accuracy of the model in predicting the indoor operative temperatures—and to assess the annual energy needs for space heating and cooling. Results show that the assumptions related to the definition of the external convective and the shortwave (solar) radiation heat transfer lead to non-negligible inaccuracies in the EN ISO 52016-1 hourly model. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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22 pages, 6994 KiB  
Article
Comparative Analysis between Dynamic and Quasi-Steady-State Methods at an Urban Scale on a Social-Housing District in Venice
by Tiziano Dalla Mora, Lorenzo Teso, Laura Carnieletto, Angelo Zarrella and Piercarlo Romagnoni
Energies 2021, 14(16), 5164; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14165164 - 20 Aug 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2330
Abstract
The residential building stock represents one of the major players in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions; thus, it is fundamental to reduce the energy used. Simulation tools are becoming more and more accurate in compliance with the new requirements both at the [...] Read more.
The residential building stock represents one of the major players in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions; thus, it is fundamental to reduce the energy used. Simulation tools are becoming more and more accurate in compliance with the new requirements both at the single-building and at the district scale, although they are not affordable by non-specialist users such as policymakers. The research concerns the evaluation of the energy demand for space heating for a historical district that is representative of the Italian building stock. The work compares dynamic and specialist-oriented urban scale tools such as Energy Urban Resistance Capacitance Approach (EUReCA) and City Energy Analyst (CEA)) as well as a quasi-steady-state calculation method (Excel spreadsheet), which is more affordable for non-specialist users. The work was carried out to assess the possible deviation of the results between the dynamic and quasi-steady-state calculation methods, as well as to identify any limits and opportunities in the application of the latter procedure, which is currently the official national calculation tool for the implementation of Directive 2010/31/EU. The study shows how the quasi-steady-state method predicts a reliable building energy demand, in line with the results obtained by the two dynamic tools, when considering only geometry and infiltrations as input. However, the limits of the quasi-steady-state method emerge when introducing internal loads, significantly underestimating the energy demand compared to CEA and EUReCA simulations. The results underline the potential application of the quasi-steady-state method to predict energy demand, although dynamics tools are more reliable but far more complex. Major findings through two methods concern the impact of solar heat gains on the overall heating demand at both the single building and the district scale. The different results between the tools provided evidence of a gap in the use of the simplest tool and demonstrated the accuracy and reliability of the proposed approach with a lower computational effort. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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24 pages, 7925 KiB  
Article
Improving the Efficiency of Maritime Infrastructures through a BIM-Based Building Energy Modelling Approach: A Case Study in Naples, Italy
by Giovanni Barone, Annamaria Buonomano, Cesare Forzano, Giovanni Francesco Giuzio and Adolfo Palombo
Energies 2021, 14(16), 4854; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14164854 - 09 Aug 2021
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2527
Abstract
Worldwide, the design, renovation, and sustainable management of port buildings play a crucial role for sustainability. In this framework, a computer simulation of a building’s thermal behaviour is an almost mandatory tool for making informed decisions. However, the development of a building energy [...] Read more.
Worldwide, the design, renovation, and sustainable management of port buildings play a crucial role for sustainability. In this framework, a computer simulation of a building’s thermal behaviour is an almost mandatory tool for making informed decisions. However, the development of a building energy model is a challenging task that could discourage its adoption. A possible solution would be to exploit an existing Building Information Modeling (BIM) model to automatically generate an accurate and flexible Building Energy Modeling (BEM) one. Such a method, which can substantially improve decision-making processes, still presents some issues and needs to be further investigated, as also detectable from the literature on the topic. In this framework, a novel workflow to extrapolate BIM data for energy simulation is proposed and analysed in this paper. Here, the BIM to BEM approach was tested as a useful tool for the maritime industry to improve the implementation of effective energy-saving measures. Specifically, in order to prove the capabilities of the proposed method, a maritime passenger station in Naples was chosen as case study and investigated by comparing different strategies to reduce the annual primary energy consumption. The optimal level of modelling detail required by a trustable building energy assessment was also investigated. By the proposed method, interesting primary energy savings (ranging from 24 to 41%) are achieved and CO2 emissions avoided (ranging from 16 to 34 tons CO2/year) for the investigated building, proving the potential of this approach. Definitely, this paper proves the validity of the proposed methodology and emphasizes its numerous benefits towards the achievements of the most modern sustainability standards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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18 pages, 3810 KiB  
Article
A Hybrid Simulation Model to Predict the Cooling Energy Consumption for Residential Housing in Hong Kong
by Kwok Wai Mui, Ling Tim Wong, Manoj Kumar Satheesan and Anjana Balachandran
Energies 2021, 14(16), 4850; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14164850 - 09 Aug 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2600
Abstract
In Hong Kong, buildings consume 90% of the electricity generated and over 60% of the city’s carbon emissions are attributable to generating power for buildings. In 2018, Hong Kong residential sector consumed 41,965 TJ (26%) of total electricity generated, with private housing accounting [...] Read more.
In Hong Kong, buildings consume 90% of the electricity generated and over 60% of the city’s carbon emissions are attributable to generating power for buildings. In 2018, Hong Kong residential sector consumed 41,965 TJ (26%) of total electricity generated, with private housing accounting for 52% and public housing taking in 26%, making them the two major contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, air conditioning was the major source consuming 38% of the electricity generated for the residential building segment. Strategizing building energy efficiency measures to reduce the cooling energy consumption of the residential building sector can thus have far-reaching benefits. This study proposes a hybrid simulation strategy that integrates artificial intelligence techniques with a building energy simulation tool (EnergyPlus™) to predict the annual cooling energy consumption of residential buildings in Hong Kong. The proposed method predicts long-term thermal energy demand (annual cooling energy consumption) based on short-term (hourly) simulated data. The hybrid simulation model can analyze the impacts of building materials, construction solutions, and indoor–outdoor temperature variations on the cooling energy consumed in apartments. The results indicate that using low thermal conductivity building materials for windows and external walls can reduce the annual cooling energy consumption by 8.19%, and decreasing the window-to-wall ratio from 80% to 40% can give annual cooling energy savings of up to 18%. Moreover, significant net annual cooling energy savings of 13.65% can be achieved by changing the indoor set-point temperature from 24 °C to 26 °C. The proposed model will serve as a reference for building energy efficiency practitioners to identify key relationships between building physical characteristics and operational strategies to minimize cooling energy demand at a minimal time in comparison to traditional energy estimation methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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17 pages, 2614 KiB  
Article
Enhancing PV Self-Consumption through Energy Communities in Heating-Dominated Climates
by Nicola Franzoi, Alessandro Prada, Sara Verones and Paolo Baggio
Energies 2021, 14(14), 4165; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14144165 - 09 Jul 2021
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 2325
Abstract
The European Union, in accordance with its decarbonization objectives, has enacted the Directive (EU) 2018/2001 and subsequently the Directive (EU) 2019/944 that legally recognizes and regulates the formation of citizen energy communities. These are believed to be key enablers for reducing buildings’ carbon [...] Read more.
The European Union, in accordance with its decarbonization objectives, has enacted the Directive (EU) 2018/2001 and subsequently the Directive (EU) 2019/944 that legally recognizes and regulates the formation of citizen energy communities. These are believed to be key enablers for reducing buildings’ carbon footprint by allowing for a wider diffusion of on-site renewable energy generation and by maximizing renewable energy self-consumption. In this study, the benefits of the energy community are assessed through simulations of average Italian buildings of various sizes, different energy efficiency levels, equipped with a photovoltaic system and a heat pump-driven heating system, and located in heating-dominated climates. The work focuses on energy communities both at the apartment scale—i.e., in a multi-family building—and at the building scale—i.e., in a neighborhood. The net energy consumption, the self-consumption, and the self-sufficiency of all the possible energy communities obtainable by combining the different buildings are compared to the baseline case that is represented by the absence of energy sharing between independent building units. The energy community alone at both the building-scale and the neighborhood-scale increases self-consumption by up to 5% and reduces net energy consumption by up to 10%. However, when the energy community is combined with other maximization strategies such as demand-side management and rule-based control, self-consumption can be raised by 15%. These results quantify the lower bound of the achievable self-consumption in energy communities, which, in the rush towards climate neutrality, and in light of these results, could be considered among the solutions for rationalizing the energy consumption of buildings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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17 pages, 12961 KiB  
Article
The Effect of the Thermal Mass of the Building Envelope on Summer Overheating of Dwellings in a Temperate Climate
by Tadeusz Kuczyński, Anna Staszczuk, Piotr Ziembicki and Anna Paluszak
Energies 2021, 14(14), 4117; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14144117 - 08 Jul 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1688
Abstract
The main objective of this paper is to demonstrate the effectiveness of increasing the thermal capacity of a residential building by using traditional building materials to reduce the risk of its excessive overheating during intense heat waves in a temperate climate. An additional [...] Read more.
The main objective of this paper is to demonstrate the effectiveness of increasing the thermal capacity of a residential building by using traditional building materials to reduce the risk of its excessive overheating during intense heat waves in a temperate climate. An additional objective is to show that the use of this single passive measure significantly reduces the risk of overheating in daytime rooms, but also, though to a much lesser extent, in bedrooms. Increasing the thermal mass of the room from light to a medium heavy reduced the average maximum daily temperature by 2.2K during the first heat wave and by 2.6K during the other two heat waves. The use of very heavy construction further reduced the average maximum temperature for the heat waves analyzed by 1.4K, 1.2K and 1.7K, respectively, giving a total possible reduction in maximum daily temperatures in the range of 3.6 °C, 3.8 °C and 4.3 °C. A discussion of the influence of occupant behavior on the use of night ventilation and external blinds was carried out, finding a significant effect on the effectiveness of the use of both methods. The results of the study suggest that in temperate European countries, preserving residential construction methods with heavy envelopes and partitions could significantly reduce the risk of overheating in residential buildings over the next few decades, without the need for night ventilation or external blinds, whose effectiveness is highly dependent on individual occupant behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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19 pages, 2160 KiB  
Article
Hygrothermal and Acoustic Performance of Two Innovative Envelope Renovation Solutions Developed in the e-SAFE Project
by Gianpiero Evola, Vincenzo Costanzo and Luigi Marletta
Energies 2021, 14(13), 4006; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14134006 - 02 Jul 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1921
Abstract
In order to reach the ambitious decarbonizing goals set by the European Union for 2030, deep renovation of the existing European building stock is a key issue. Within this context, the recently funded H2020 project “e-SAFE” is investigating market-ready wooden envelope renovation solutions [...] Read more.
In order to reach the ambitious decarbonizing goals set by the European Union for 2030, deep renovation of the existing European building stock is a key issue. Within this context, the recently funded H2020 project “e-SAFE” is investigating market-ready wooden envelope renovation solutions for non-historic buildings, which encompass both energy and seismic improvement. The research carried out in the project aims at developing, testing and demonstrating these solutions on a real pilot. More specifically, this paper presents preliminary analyses to verify that the solutions satisfy the requisites set by the national regulations in force in most European countries, in terms of hygrothermal and acoustic performance. The analysis, carried out following relevant technical European Standards and based on calculations, considers different climate conditions and existing wall structures, selected amongst those most commonly adopted in Europe. The results show that the addition of a Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) layer with some wooden-based insulation on the outer side allows reaching very good thermal and acoustic performance. However, interstitial condensation may occur in cold climates under high indoor humidity values. This aspect deserves further investigation accounting for the transient behavior of the walls and all vapor transport mechanisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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20 pages, 3624 KiB  
Article
A CFD-Based Parametric Thermal Performance Analysis of Supply Air Ventilated Windows
by Shiva Najaf Khosravi and Ardeshir Mahdavi
Energies 2021, 14(9), 2420; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14092420 - 23 Apr 2021
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 2577
Abstract
Ventilated windows have the potential to contribute to both indoor air quality and energy efficiency in cold climates. A typical ventilated window functions as a solar collector under inward air flow direction and incident solar radiation. The ventilated window is a modification of [...] Read more.
Ventilated windows have the potential to contribute to both indoor air quality and energy efficiency in cold climates. A typical ventilated window functions as a solar collector under inward air flow direction and incident solar radiation. The ventilated window is a modification of the multiple pane windows in which air is drawn in from outside and is heated through conduction, convection, and radiation in the cavity. In this study, a detailed parametric analysis was conducted to investigate the thermal performance of ventilated windows and their capacity to preheat ventilation air. High-resolution 3D steady RANS computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations were performed for six ventilated window geometries. Model results were compared with measurements. The following geometric characteristics were evaluated in detail: (i) The height of the window, (ii) the width of the cavity, (iii) the location of double-layered glazing, and (iv) the width of the supply air opening. The results suggested that taller cavities and a smaller cavity depth can provide higher incoming air temperature. Windows with inner double-layered glazing and a smaller width of supply air opening displayed a better thermal performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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15 pages, 10096 KiB  
Article
Impact of Window to Wall Ratio on Energy Loads in Hot Regions: A Study of Building Energy Performance
by Mamdooh Alwetaishi and Omrane Benjeddou
Energies 2021, 14(4), 1080; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14041080 - 18 Feb 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2560
Abstract
The concern regarding local responsive building design has gained more attention globally as of late. This is due to the issue of the rapid increase in energy consumption in buildings for the purpose of heating and cooling. This has become a crucial issue [...] Read more.
The concern regarding local responsive building design has gained more attention globally as of late. This is due to the issue of the rapid increase in energy consumption in buildings for the purpose of heating and cooling. This has become a crucial issue in educational buildings and especially in schools. The major issue in school buildings in Saudi Arabia is that they are a form of prototype school building design (PSBD). As a result, if there is any concern in the design stage and in relation to the selection of building materials, this will spread throughout the region. In addition to that, the design is repeated regardless of the climate variation within the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This research will focus on the influence of the window to wall ratio on the energy load in various orientations and different climatic regions. The research will use the energy computer tool TAS Environmental Design Solution Limited (EDSL) to calculate the energy load as well as solar gain. During the visit to the sample schools, a globe thermometer will be used to monitor the globe temperature in the classrooms. This research introduces a framework to assist architects and engineers in selecting the proper window to wall ratio (WWR) in each direction within the same building based on adequate natural light with a minimum reliance on energy load. For ultimate WWR for energy performance and daylight, the WWR should range from 20% to 30%, depending on orientation, in order to provide the optimal daylight factor combined with building energy efficiency. This ratio can be slightly greater in higher altitude locations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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26 pages, 5952 KiB  
Article
Online Implementation of a Soft Actor-Critic Agent to Enhance Indoor Temperature Control and Energy Efficiency in Buildings
by Davide Coraci, Silvio Brandi, Marco Savino Piscitelli and Alfonso Capozzoli
Energies 2021, 14(4), 997; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14040997 - 14 Feb 2021
Cited by 24 | Viewed by 3217
Abstract
Recently, a growing interest has been observed in HVAC control systems based on Artificial Intelligence, to improve comfort conditions while avoiding unnecessary energy consumption. In this work, a model-free algorithm belonging to the Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) class, Soft Actor-Critic, was implemented to [...] Read more.
Recently, a growing interest has been observed in HVAC control systems based on Artificial Intelligence, to improve comfort conditions while avoiding unnecessary energy consumption. In this work, a model-free algorithm belonging to the Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) class, Soft Actor-Critic, was implemented to control the supply water temperature to radiant terminal units of a heating system serving an office building. The controller was trained online, and a preliminary sensitivity analysis on hyperparameters was performed to assess their influence on the agent performance. The DRL agent with the best performance was compared to a rule-based controller assumed as a baseline during a three-month heating season. The DRL controller outperformed the baseline after two weeks of deployment, with an overall performance improvement related to control of indoor temperature conditions. Moreover, the adaptability of the DRL agent was tested for various control scenarios, simulating changes of external weather conditions, indoor temperature setpoint, building envelope features and occupancy patterns. The agent dynamically deployed, despite a slight increase in energy consumption, led to an improvement of indoor temperature control, reducing the cumulative sum of temperature violations on average for all scenarios by 75% and 48% compared to the baseline and statically deployed agent respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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21 pages, 7057 KiB  
Article
Rule-Based Control Strategy to Increase Photovoltaic Self-Consumption of a Modulating Heat Pump Using Water Storages and Building Mass Activation
by Maria Pinamonti, Alessandro Prada and Paolo Baggio
Energies 2020, 13(23), 6282; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13236282 - 28 Nov 2020
Cited by 26 | Viewed by 2861
Abstract
The use of photovoltaic (PV) energy in combination with heat pump systems for heating and cooling of residential buildings can lead to renewable energy self-consumption, reducing the energy required from the grid and the carbon footprint of the building uses. However, energy storage [...] Read more.
The use of photovoltaic (PV) energy in combination with heat pump systems for heating and cooling of residential buildings can lead to renewable energy self-consumption, reducing the energy required from the grid and the carbon footprint of the building uses. However, energy storage technologies and control strategies are essential to enhance the self-consumption level. This paper proposes and analyzes a new control strategy for the operation of a modulating air-source heat pump, based on the actual PV availability. The solar energy surplus is stored as thermal energy by the use of water tanks and the activation of the thermal capacitance of the building. The efficacy of the control strategy is evaluated considering different rule-based strategies, and different boundary conditions. The effect of climate data, building insulation level and thermal inertia are investigated and compared. The results show the efficacy of the proposed strategy to decrease up to 17% the amount of electricity purchased from the grid and to increase the self-consumption by 22%, considering a high-insulated building in Bolzano, Northern Italy. The thermal mass activation is found effective to increase the self-consumption of the system. Nonetheless, the achievable energy reduction depends largely on the building characteristics and the boundary conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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16 pages, 26733 KiB  
Article
Reversible Heat Pump Coupled with Ground Ice Storage for Annual Air Conditioning: An Energy Analysis
by Simone Mancin and Marco Noro
Energies 2020, 13(23), 6182; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13236182 - 24 Nov 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1970
Abstract
During annual operation, a heat pump produces both heating and cooling effects, so it would be of great advantage to store one of the two to be then used when it is necessary. To do this, a seasonal energy storage is necessary. This [...] Read more.
During annual operation, a heat pump produces both heating and cooling effects, so it would be of great advantage to store one of the two to be then used when it is necessary. To do this, a seasonal energy storage is necessary. This paper presents results relative to the use of a ground ice thermal energy storage (I-TES) integrated with a reversible heat pump for annual air conditioning. The energy analysis is based on heating and cooling loads for a residential building located in Milan. In particular, the focus is on the most important parameters affecting the performance of both the whole system and the Ice Tank, which is the position and the thickness of the insulation layers and the shape of the ice tank. A biannual simulation of the system allows for a full description of the ice tank behavior during the charging and discharging processes. The main objective of the study is to suggest a first tentative procedure to design the I-TES integrated system with the best energy performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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Review

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30 pages, 5763 KiB  
Review
Review of Zero Energy Building Concept-Definition and Developments in Latin America: A Framework Definition for Application in Panama
by Miguel Chen Austin, Katherine Chung-Camargo and Dafni Mora
Energies 2021, 14(18), 5647; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14185647 - 08 Sep 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3157
Abstract
In recent decades, European countries have developed concepts, definitions, and construction technologies for Zero Energy Building (ZEB) that are effective and correspond to their specific climates. Latin American countries are still trying to find adequate solutions which respond to the local climatic, cultural, [...] Read more.
In recent decades, European countries have developed concepts, definitions, and construction technologies for Zero Energy Building (ZEB) that are effective and correspond to their specific climates. Latin American countries are still trying to find adequate solutions which respond to the local climatic, cultural, social, technical, and economic context. As such, this paper aims to establish the basis of the minimum energy efficiency and the renewable threshold for the definition of ZEB in order to better understand the application in Panama, based on assessing the energy regulations implemented in Panama. To achieve this aim, a review concentrated on the concept-definition and implementation adopted by Latin American countries is presented first before the paper converges into defining a framework for application in Panama. Finally, a case-study-based theoretical framework proposing a ZEB definition for Panama is discussed. The results of this study showed a net primary energy balance, of which the range falls into a plus energy building definition, indicating that all of the cases studied could supply their electricity needs using Photovoltaic generation. All dwellings studied have the potential to become a plus energy building, depending on the available roof surface area. Finally, a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis is presented in order to assess and support the introduction of such a ZEB definition and framework. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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18 pages, 4424 KiB  
Review
Control Strategies for Daylight and Artificial Lighting in Office Buildings—A Bibliometrically Assisted Review
by Daniel Plörer, Sascha Hammes, Martin Hauer, Vincent van Karsbergen and Rainer Pfluger
Energies 2021, 14(13), 3852; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14133852 - 26 Jun 2021
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2943
Abstract
A significant proportion of the total energy consumption in office buildings is attributable to lighting. Enhancements in energy efficiency are currently achieved through strategies to reduce artificial lighting by intelligent daylight utilization. Control strategies in the field of daylighting and artificial lighting are [...] Read more.
A significant proportion of the total energy consumption in office buildings is attributable to lighting. Enhancements in energy efficiency are currently achieved through strategies to reduce artificial lighting by intelligent daylight utilization. Control strategies in the field of daylighting and artificial lighting are mostly rule-based and focus either on comfort aspects or energy objectives. This paper aims to provide an overview of published scientific literature on enhanced control strategies, in which new control approaches are critically analysed regarding the fulfilment of energy efficiency targets and comfort criteria simultaneously. For this purpose, subject-specific review articles from the period between 2015 and 2020 and their research sources from as far back as 1978 are analysed. Results show clearly that building controls increasingly need to address multiple trades to achieve a maximum improvement in user comfort and energy efficiency. User acceptance can be highlighted as a decisive factor in achieving targeted system efficiencies, which are highly determined by the ability of active user interaction in the automatic control system. The future trend is moving towards decentralized control concepts including appropriate occupancy detection and space zoning. Simulation-based controls and learning systems are identified as appropriate methods that can play a decisive role in reducing building energy demand through integral control concepts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges and Research Trends of Building Energy Performance)
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