Special Issue "Energy Performance in Buildings and Quality of Life"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Kristian Fabbri
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
ART-ER Energy Consultant, Bologna, Italy, and Adjunct Professor Department of Architecture, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
Interests: building energy performance; thermal comfort; energy poverty; heritage building; indoor and outdoor microclimate

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The field of research concerning building energy performance (BEP) encompasses a variety of issues: BEP and building typologies (e.g., schools, dwellings, social housing, heritage, etc.); the relationships between BEP and energy monitoring, energy consumption, and architectural design; and the impact of specific building techniques or materials on BEP.

In this Special Issue, we are highlighting the relationship between BEP and quality of life in terms of comfort (thermal comfort and IAQ), architectural design, and household smartness (smart building, smart monitoring, or smart metering, following UE Directive 844/2018), as well as the reduction of energy poverty and the impact of buildings on the environment and global warming.

Although the above list provides examples of specific topics of interest, our aim is, more broadly, to collect papers discussing the role of BEP in quality of life improvement. We look forward to your contributions.

Prof. Kristian Fabbri
Guest Editor

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 papers will be 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. Energies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly 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 2000 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

  • Building energy performance
  • Thermal comfort
  • IAQ
  • Quality of life
  • Smart building
  • Energy poverty
  • Households

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Climate Change Effect on Building Performance: A Case Study in New York
Energies 2020, 13(12), 3160; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13123160 - 18 Jun 2020
Viewed by 836
Abstract
The evidences of the influence of climate change (CC) in most of the key sectors of human activities are frequently reported by the news and media with increasing concern. The building sector, and particularly energy use in the residential sector, represents a crucial [...] Read more.
The evidences of the influence of climate change (CC) in most of the key sectors of human activities are frequently reported by the news and media with increasing concern. The building sector, and particularly energy use in the residential sector, represents a crucial field of investigation as demonstrated by specific scientific literature. The paper reports a study on building energy consumption and the related effect on indoor thermal comfort considering the impacts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2018 report about temperature increase projection. The research includes a case study in New York City, assuming three different scenarios. The outcomes evidence a decrease in energy demand for heating and an increase in energy demand for cooling, with a relevant shift due to the summer period temperature variations. The challenge of the last decades for sustainable design was to increase insulation for improving thermal behavior, highly reducing the energy demand during winter time, however, the projections over the next decades suggest that the summer regime will represent a future and major challenge in order to reduce overheating and ensure comfortable (or at least acceptable) living conditions inside buildings. The growing request of energy for cooling is generating increasing pressure on the supply system with peaks in the case of extreme events that lead to the grid collapse and to massive blackouts in several cities. This is usually tackled by strengthening the energy infrastructure, however, the users’ behavior and lifestyle will strongly influence the system capacity in stress conditions. This study focuses on the understanding of these phenomena and particularly on the relevance of the users’ perception of indoor comfort, assuming the IPCC projections as the basis for a future scenario. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Performance in Buildings and Quality of Life)
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Open AccessArticle
A GIS-Based Methodology for Speedy Energy Efficiency Mapping: A Case Study in Bologna
Energies 2020, 13(9), 2230; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13092230 - 03 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 721
Abstract
The paper reports a methodology developed to map energy consumption of the building stock at the urban scale on a GIS environment. Energy consumption has been investigated, focusing on the shift from the individual building scale to the district one with the purpose [...] Read more.
The paper reports a methodology developed to map energy consumption of the building stock at the urban scale on a GIS environment. Energy consumption has been investigated, focusing on the shift from the individual building scale to the district one with the purpose of identifying larger homogenous energy use areas for addressing policies and plans to improve the quality and the performance levels at the city scale. The urban planning zoning concept was extended to the energy issue to include the energy behavior of each zone that depends on the performance of its individual buildings. The methodology generates GIS maps providing a district scale visualization of energy consumption according to shared criteria. A case study in Bologna city (Italy) is provided. In the specific case, the last update of Emilia-Romagna regional urban planning regulation required a mapping action regarding energy efficiency of homogeneous urban portions defined by the General Urban Plan. The main achieved results are (a) a methodology to identify homogeneous areas for analyzing energy consumption; (b) an updated energy map of Bologna Municipality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Performance in Buildings and Quality of Life)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of Thermal Comfort in the Intelligent Buildings in View of Providing High Quality Indoor Environment
Energies 2020, 13(8), 1973; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13081973 - 16 Apr 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 827
Abstract
The paper analyses the indoor environment in two modern intelligent buildings located in Poland. Measurements of air and globe temperatures, relative humidity and carbon dioxide concentration in 117 rooms carried out in the space of 1.5 years were presented. Thermal comfort of the [...] Read more.
The paper analyses the indoor environment in two modern intelligent buildings located in Poland. Measurements of air and globe temperatures, relative humidity and carbon dioxide concentration in 117 rooms carried out in the space of 1.5 years were presented. Thermal comfort of the occupants has been investigated using a questionnaire survey. Based on 1369 questionnaires, thermal sensation, acceptability and preference votes were analysed in view of their interdependency as well as their dependency on operative temperature, which proved to be very strong. It has been found that the respondents did not completely rate thermal comfort and indoor environment quality as very high, although the overwhelming sensations were positive. Apart from the operation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, this might have also been the cause of individual human factors, such as body mass index, as tested in the study, or the finding that people were generally in favour of a warmer environment. Moreover, thermal environment proved to be the most important element for ensuring the well-being of the occupants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Performance in Buildings and Quality of Life)
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Open AccessArticle
Multi-Criteria Optimisation of an Experimental Complex of Single-Family Nearly Zero-Energy Buildings
Energies 2020, 13(7), 1541; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13071541 - 25 Mar 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 875
Abstract
The Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings has introduced the standard of “nearly zero-energy buildings” (NZEBs). European requirements place the obligation to reduce energy consumption on all European Union Member States, particularly in sectors with significant energy consumption indicators. Construction is [...] Read more.
The Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings has introduced the standard of “nearly zero-energy buildings” (NZEBs). European requirements place the obligation to reduce energy consumption on all European Union Member States, particularly in sectors with significant energy consumption indicators. Construction is one such sector, as it is responsible for around 40% of overall energy consumption. Apart from a building’s mass and its material and installation solutions, its energy consumption is also affected by its placement relative to other buildings. A proper urban layout can also lead to a reduction in project development and occupancy costs. The goal of this article is to present a method of optimising single-family house complexes that takes elements such as direct construction costs, construction site organisation, urban layout and occupancy costs into consideration in the context of sustainability. Its authors have analysed different proposals of the placement of 40 NZEBs relative to each other and have carried out a multi-criteria analysis of the complex, determining optimal solutions that are compliant with the precepts of sustainability. The results indicated that the layout composed of semi-detached houses scored the highest among the proposed layouts under the parameter weights set by the developer. This layout also scored the highest when parameter weights were uniformly distributed during a test simulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Performance in Buildings and Quality of Life)
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Open AccessArticle
Measurements of Energy Consumption and Environment Quality of High-Speed Railway Stations in China
Energies 2020, 13(1), 168; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13010168 - 30 Dec 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 703
Abstract
In recent years, the energy performance of public buildings has attracted substantial attention due to the significant energy-saving potential. As a semi-open high-space building, the high-speed railway station is obviously different from other public buildings and even traditional stations in terms of energy [...] Read more.
In recent years, the energy performance of public buildings has attracted substantial attention due to the significant energy-saving potential. As a semi-open high-space building, the high-speed railway station is obviously different from other public buildings and even traditional stations in terms of energy consumption and internal environment. This paper investigates the current energy consumption situation and environmental quality of 15 high-speed railway passenger stations in China. Results show that the energy consumption of the high-speed railway station is between 117–470 kWh/(m2·a). The energy consumption of the station is related to the area and the passenger flow. The energy use of the station using district heating is higher than that of the station without district heating in the same region. The higher glazing ratio induces good natural lighting in the station, but the uniformity of the lighting in the station is not good. The acceptable temperature range of passengers in winter is larger than that in summer. The average air change rate of the high-speed railway station is 3.2 h−1 in winter and 1.8 h−1 in summer, which is the main reason of high energy consumption of the HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) system in this kind of building. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Performance in Buildings and Quality of Life)
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Open AccessArticle
Analysis of the Effect of Using External Venetian Blinds on the Thermal Comfort of Users of Highly Glazed Office Rooms in a Transition Season of Temperate Climate—Case Study
Energies 2020, 13(1), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13010081 - 23 Dec 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 685
Abstract
Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is among the most urgent social development tasks due to the scale of energy consumption in this industry. At the same time, it is essential to meet high requirements for indoor environmental quality and thermal comfort. The [...] Read more.
Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is among the most urgent social development tasks due to the scale of energy consumption in this industry. At the same time, it is essential to meet high requirements for indoor environmental quality and thermal comfort. The issue of overheating is most often analysed in summer but it also occurs in transition seasons, when the cooling systems do not operate. The paper attempts to evaluate the effectiveness of external mobile shading elements on the microclimate of rooms with large glazed areas in the transition season. Passive solutions, such as shading elements, which limit the increase of indoor temperature, do not always allow the acquisition and maintenance of comfortable solutions for the duration of the season, as demonstrated by the authors. Temporary cooling of the rooms may be necessary to maintain comfortable conditions for the users, or other solutions should be devised to improve comfort (e.g., reduction of clothing insulation characteristics). The novelty of the study consists in the analysis of comfort in a “nearly zero energy consumption” building (NZEB) during a period not analyzed by other scientists. This is a transition period during which heating/cooling systems do not operate. The research task set by the authors involved the assessment of the possibility to reduce office space overheating in the transition season (spring) by using external shading equipment in rooms with large glazed areas. An additional research task aimed at checking the extent to which user behaviour, such as reduction in clothing insulation characteristics, can improve comfort in overheated rooms. The results of the tests reveal that the difference in the ambient air temperature between a room with external venetian blinds and an identical room with no venetian blinds in the transition season, i.e., from 27 March to 6 April 2017, ranged from 12.3 to 2.1 °C. The use of a shading system (external venetian blinds positioned at an angle of 45°) reduced the number of discomfort hours by 92% (during working hours) compared to the room without external venetian blinds. A reduction in the thermal insulation of the clothes worn by people working in the room with no venetian blinds helped to reduce the number of discomfort hours by 31%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Performance in Buildings and Quality of Life)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Future Design Approaches for Energy Poverty: Users Profiling and Services for No-Vulnerable Condition
Energies 2020, 13(8), 2115; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13082115 - 24 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 973
Abstract
Analyzing data from the Energy Poverty Observatory in Europe, it emerges that more than 50 million households in the EU live in energy poverty (people that cannot heat their homes during winter; cannot make their homes comfortable during the summer; pay their energy [...] Read more.
Analyzing data from the Energy Poverty Observatory in Europe, it emerges that more than 50 million households in the EU live in energy poverty (people that cannot heat their homes during winter; cannot make their homes comfortable during the summer; pay their energy bills late). Research studies realized in the last 20 years highlight that making energy demand efficient and effective is the more significant and socially important the more it is able to involve users who are unable to sustain energy demand. The evolution of the research sees a narrowing of the field of investigation by focusing on the user dimension of energy poverty, stressing the role of citizens not only as consumer but also as producers of solutions to tackle energy poverty, real energy communities of agents. The paper aims to provide a systematic literature review highlighting the major findings of the topic, investigating the relationship between spatial and social issues, and looking at the state of energy poverty by addressing the profiling of users and consequently of services useful to overcome their current vulnerable condition. The paper is structured in two core sections. The first one gives the results of a systematic literature review on the energy/fuel poverty topic, the second one deepens the role of communities and individuals need, crucial in defining new design approaches for supportive solutions to tackle energy poverty. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Performance in Buildings and Quality of Life)
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Open AccessReview
Outdoor Wellbeing and Quality of Life: A Scientific Literature Review on Thermal Comfort
Energies 2020, 13(8), 2079; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13082079 - 21 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1000
Abstract
While indoor comfort represents a widely investigated research topic with relation to sustainable development and energy-demand reduction in the built environment, outdoor comfort remains an open field of study, especially with reference to the impacts of climate change and the quality of life [...] Read more.
While indoor comfort represents a widely investigated research topic with relation to sustainable development and energy-demand reduction in the built environment, outdoor comfort remains an open field of study, especially with reference to the impacts of climate change and the quality of life for inhabitants, particularly in urban contexts. Despite the relevant efforts spent in the last few decades to advance the understanding of phenomena and the knowledge in this specific field, which obtained much evidence for the topic’s relevance, a comprehensive picture of the studies, as well as a classification of the interconnected subjects and outcomes, is still lacking. This paper reports the outcomes of a literature review aimed at screening the available resources dealing with outdoor thermal comfort, in order to provide a state-of-the-art review that identifies the main topics focused by the researchers, as well as the barriers in defining suitable indexes for assessing thermal comfort in outdoor environments. Although several accurate models and software are available to quantify outdoor human comfort, the evocated state of mind of the final user still remains at the core of this uncertain process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Performance in Buildings and Quality of Life)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Energy Poverty and Protection of Vulnerable Consumers. Overview of the EU Funding Programs FP7 and H2020 and Future Trends in Horizon Europe
Energies 2020, 13(5), 1030; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13051030 - 25 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 884
Abstract
Energy poverty—involving a combination of factors, such as low household incomes, high energy prices, and low levels of residential energy efficiency—is identified as a complex and increasing issue affecting people’s physical health, well-being, and social inclusion. Even though a shared identification of energy [...] Read more.
Energy poverty—involving a combination of factors, such as low household incomes, high energy prices, and low levels of residential energy efficiency—is identified as a complex and increasing issue affecting people’s physical health, well-being, and social inclusion. Even though a shared identification of energy poverty is not yet agreed, this phenomenon has been recognized as an EU priority. Several EU legislative documents address the topic, trying to outline its boundaries and provide a framework for mitigative actions. At the same time, different research and demonstration projects have been funded to experiment and evaluate innovative approaches, strategies, and solutions and to promote good practices at national, regional, and local levels. This review paper presents some results of the “ZOOM” project (“Energy zoning for urban systems. Models and relations for the built environment”, funded by University of Bologna in the framework of Alma Idea 2017–ongoing), proposing a critical overview of the EU projects directly or indirectly connected to energy poverty—funded under the 7th Framework Program (FP7) and under Horizon 2020 Program (H2020). The aim of such a review is to highlight the main objectives, trends, and related topics of ongoing and concluded projects addressing energy poverty, in order to identify gaps and open issues and to understand the possible orientation and placement of this subject in the future EU research and innovation framework project, Horizon Europe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Performance in Buildings and Quality of Life)
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