sustainability-logo

Journal Browser

Journal Browser

Special Issue "Thermal Behavior and Energy Efficiency of Buildings"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2022) | Viewed by 13248

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Nelson Soares
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Coimbra, 3000 Coimbra, Portugal
Interests: phase change materials (PCM); passive thermal energy storage systems; building physics; thermal behavior and energy efficiency of buildings; dynamic simulation of energy in buildings; heat transfer; LSF construction; sustainable construction; sustainability
Dr. Luisa Dias Pereira
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Architettura>Energia Research Centre, Department of Architecture, University of Ferrara, 44100 Ferrara, Italy
Interests: preventive conservation and energy efficiency in buildings; thermal comfort and indoor air quality; indoor microclimate; historic buildings and cultural heritage
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue calls for cutting-edge papers covering aspects of science and technology concerned with the whole life cycle of new and/or existing buildings, which contribute to a transition to a more sustainable built environment. The shortage of some non-renewable energy sources and the noticeable climate changes caused by greenhouse gas emissions are currently a major global concern that calls for the reduction of energy consumption in buildings during the several stages of their lifetime; energy efficiency improvement to guarantee thermal comfort expectations; mitigation of environmental impacts from the early design phase through to construction, operation, maintenance, and end-of-life; search for alternatives to conventional materials, processes, and systems; need for innovation in construction technology; improvement of use of technologies based on renewable energy sources; development of new design approaches; widespread use of validated modeling tools and optimization approaches; and finally, development of transdisciplinary engineering and multidisciplinary studies to evaluate the thermal performance and energy efficiency of buildings during their life span. 

Authors are encouraged to publish their original theoretical and/or experimental research on technology development, improvement, and integration along with system analysis, environmental issues, thermal performance, and energy assessment. Interdisciplinary studies and papers that incorporate more than one topic or more than one methodology (e.g., experimental, modeling, analysis, and optimization) are encouraged. Review papers are also welcomed. This Special Issue’s topics include but are not limited to:

  • Assessment of the thermal behavior and energy efficiency of buildings;
  • Advances in construction technology towards a low carbon built environment;
  • Resilience and adaptation of buildings to climate changes;
  • Thermal comfort and indoor environmental quality;
  • Thermal performance of historical and cultural heritage buildings;
  • Building energy audits, rehabilitation, retrofitting, and refurbishment;
  • Building certification, energy, and environmental labels and declarations;
  • Transition towards a circular economy in the buildings sector;
  • Education for sustainable construction;
  • Transdisciplinary engineering, multidisciplinary studies, and holistic approaches;
  • Advances in building envelope solutions;
  • Advances in building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV);
  • Advances in ground-coupled heat exchangers;
  • Advances in heat, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems;
  • Advances in nearly zero energy buildings and passive houses;
  • Environmental impacts and life cycle assessment (LCA);
  • Potential of building information modeling (BIM) for sustainable construction.
Dr. Nelson Soares
Dr. Luisa Dias Pereira
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. Sustainability 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 physics
  • thermal behavior
  • thermal comfort
  • indoor environmental quality
  • energy efficiency
  • building envelope
  • eco-design
  • sustainable construction
  • sustainable materials and technologies
  • thermal energy storage systems
  • HVAC systems
  • heritage buildings and conservation measures
  • dynamic simulation tools and methodologies
  • multidimensional optimization
  • multi-objective optimization
  • life cycle assessment (LCA)
  • life cycle costs assessment (LCC)
  • building information modeling (BIM)
  • retrofitting and refurbishment
  • adaptation to climate changes
  • low carbon built environment
  • circular economy
  • sustainability

Published Papers (9 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

Article
Long-Term Techno-Economic Performance Monitoring to Promote Built Environment Decarbonisation and Digital Transformation—A Case Study
Sustainability 2022, 14(2), 644; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14020644 - 07 Jan 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 825
Abstract
Buildings’ long-term techno-economic performance monitoring is critical for benchmarking in order to reduce costs and environmental impact while providing adequate services. Reliable building stock performance data provide a fundamental knowledge foundation for evidence-based energy efficiency interventions and decarbonisation strategies. Simply put, an adequate [...] Read more.
Buildings’ long-term techno-economic performance monitoring is critical for benchmarking in order to reduce costs and environmental impact while providing adequate services. Reliable building stock performance data provide a fundamental knowledge foundation for evidence-based energy efficiency interventions and decarbonisation strategies. Simply put, an adequate understanding of building performance is required to reduce energy consumption, as well as associated costs and emissions. In this framework, Variable-base degree-days-based methods have been widely used for weather normalisation of energy statistics and energy monitoring for Measurement and Verification (M & V) purposes. The base temperature used to calculate degree-days is determined by building thermal characteristics, operation strategies, and occupant behaviour, and thus varies from building to building. In this paper, we develop a variable-base degrees days regression model, typically used for energy monitoring and M & V, using a “proxy” variable, the cost of energy services. The study’s goal is to assess the applicability of this type of model as a screening tool to analyse the impact of efficiency measures, as well as to understand the evolution of performance over time, and we test it on nine public schools in the Northern Italian city of Seregno. While not as accurate as M & V techniques, this regression-based approach can be a low-cost tool for tracking performance over time using cost data typically available in digital format and can work reasonably well with limited resolution, such as monthly data. The modelling methodology is simple, scalable and can be automated further, contributing to long-term techno-economic performance monitoring of building stock in the context of incremental built environment digitalization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermal Behavior and Energy Efficiency of Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
A Sensitivity Analysis for Thermal Performance of Building Envelope Design Parameters
Sustainability 2021, 13(24), 14018; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132414018 - 19 Dec 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1493
Abstract
Sensitivity analysis is crucial in building energy assessments. It is used to determine the major variables influencing building thermal performance, using both observational research and energy simulation models. This study investigates the most influential envelope design parameters on the thermal performance of a [...] Read more.
Sensitivity analysis is crucial in building energy assessments. It is used to determine the major variables influencing building thermal performance, using both observational research and energy simulation models. This study investigates the most influential envelope design parameters on the thermal performance of a typical residential building in Budapest, Hungary. Sensitivity analysis is used in conjunction with the IDA-Indoor and Climate Energy (IDA-ICE 4.8) simulation tool to assess the effects of 33 envelope design parameters for energy consumption and carbon dioxide concentrations. The input parameters include thickness, materials, density, specific heat and thermal conductivity of the basement, exterior floor, interior floor, exterior wall, interior wall, roof, ground slab, glazing type, and infiltration rate. The results show that exterior floor materials have the biggest impact on annual delivered energy for heating and cooling, whereas the density of all structural elements and thickness of the basement, exterior floors, interior floors, and walls have minimal effects on energy consumption. It is also shown that the impact of all investigated parameters is not sensitive to the carbon dioxide concentration in the building. The authors consider that the findings of the paper assist designers to assess the performance of existing buildings and more efficiently generating alternative solutions in the energetic retrofitting of existing and energy design of new residential buildings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermal Behavior and Energy Efficiency of Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Effect of Aggregate and Binder Type on the Functional and Durability Parameters of Lightweight Repair Mortars
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 11780; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132111780 - 25 Oct 2021
Viewed by 990
Abstract
The subject matter of the work presented here is the development and evaluation of novel lightweight mortars that meet the functional and technical criteria imposed on repair mortars. In a broad experimental campaign, lime, natural hydraulic lime, and lime–cement mortars were designed and [...] Read more.
The subject matter of the work presented here is the development and evaluation of novel lightweight mortars that meet the functional and technical criteria imposed on repair mortars. In a broad experimental campaign, lime, natural hydraulic lime, and lime–cement mortars were designed and tested. Lightweight aggregate, expanded perlite, granules from expanded glass and zeolite were used as full replacements for quartz sand. The hardened mortars were tested at the ages of 28 days and 90 days. The conducted tests and analyses were focused on the assessment of structural, mechanical, hygric and thermal parameters. The salt crystallization resistance and effect of salt presence on the hygroscopicity of the investigated mortars were also investigated. The use of lightweight aggregates in the composition of mortars resulted in their high porosity, low density, satisfactory mechanical parameters, improved water vapor transmission capability and water absorption. The mortars with expanded perlite and glass granulate were ranked among thermal insulation mortars of classes T1 and T2, respectively. The use of lightweight aggregates enabled the development of mortars with great durability in terms of salt action, which was almost independent of binder type. The ability to accommodate water vapor was increased by the effect, i.e., the use of lightweight aggregates and the presence of salt in mortars increased porous space. Taking into account the compatibility, functional, and technical criteria, lime- and natural hydraulic lime-based lightweight mortarswere classified as repair mortars, providing improved thermal performance. The lime–cement lightweight plasters can be recommended only for repair of building structures where cement and lime–cement materials were original applied. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermal Behavior and Energy Efficiency of Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
The Importance of In Situ Characterisation for the Mitigation of Poor Indoor Environmental Conditions in Social Housing
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9836; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179836 - 01 Sep 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 906
Abstract
The energy efficiency improvements in existing buildings have become priority concerns of the European Union to encourage energy efficiency amongst residents and buildings as well as facility managers. The characterisation of the building stock plays an important role in the definition of energy [...] Read more.
The energy efficiency improvements in existing buildings have become priority concerns of the European Union to encourage energy efficiency amongst residents and buildings as well as facility managers. The characterisation of the building stock plays an important role in the definition of energy renovation strategies. In Portugal, there are over 120,000 social housing flats. This paper focused on the holistic characterisation of a social housing neighbourhood concerning the “in situ” assessment of the indoor environmental conditions and thermal comfort over one year as well as air permeability tests of the flats and evaluation of the energy consumption. The hygrothermal monitoring campaign was carried out using thermo-hygrometer sensors to record the indoor air temperature and relative humidity of a large number of flats over a 12-month period. The airtightness of these flats was determined resourcing fan pressurisation test (blower door test). A relationship between the users’ modifications in the flats and their consequence over the air permeability was pursued and the importance of balconies and exhaust fans for the flats’ air permeability was discussed. The hygrothermal monitoring campaign of the case study was carried out, in order to assess the indoor thermal comfort according the ASHRAE 55 standard. The results show a significant discomfort rate, suggesting that the users are living in unhealthy environmental conditions and the issues that most contribute to the poor indoor environmental conditions that characterise this building stock. In addition, the energy, gas, and water consumption of the flats were collected, and a statistical analysis was performed. Correlations between the variables were observed and two clusters were identified. Cluster 1 includes the lower energy consumption flats, but no real impact on the thermal comfort was found as the entire dataset presented low indoor air temperatures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermal Behavior and Energy Efficiency of Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Assessment of the Annual Transmission Heat Loss Reduction of a Refurbished Existing Building with an Advanced Solar Selective Thermal Insulation System
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7336; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13137336 - 30 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1199
Abstract
A numerical parameter sensitivity analysis of the design parameters of the recently published solar selective thermal insulation system (SATIS) has been carried out to enhance its thermal and optical properties. It turned out that the insulation properties of SATIS can be effectively improved [...] Read more.
A numerical parameter sensitivity analysis of the design parameters of the recently published solar selective thermal insulation system (SATIS) has been carried out to enhance its thermal and optical properties. It turned out that the insulation properties of SATIS can be effectively improved by reducing the length of the glass closure element. Increasing the area share of the light conducting elements (LCEs) and decreasing their length-to-diameter (L/D) ratio were identified as key parameters in order to increase the solar gain. Two SATIS variants were compared with the same wall insulation without SATIS in a yearly energetic performance assessment. The SATIS variant with 10 mm length of the closure element, 44.2% area share of LCE, as well as front and rear diameters of 12 mm/9 mm shows an 11.8% lower transmission heat loss over the heating period than the wall insulation without SATIS. A new methodology was developed to enable the implementation of the computed solar gains of SATIS in 1D simulation tools. The result is a radiant heat flow map for integration as a heat source in 1D simulation models. A comparison between the 1D and 3D models of the inside wall heat fluxes showed an integral yearly agreement of 98%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermal Behavior and Energy Efficiency of Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
The Importance of Stud Flanges Size and Shape on the Thermal Performance of Lightweight Steel Framed Walls
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3970; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13073970 - 02 Apr 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1321
Abstract
Energy production still relies considerably on fossil fuels, and the building sector is a major player in the energy consumption market, mainly for space heating and cooling. Thermal bridges (TBs) in buildings are very relevant for the energy efficiency of buildings and may [...] Read more.
Energy production still relies considerably on fossil fuels, and the building sector is a major player in the energy consumption market, mainly for space heating and cooling. Thermal bridges (TBs) in buildings are very relevant for the energy efficiency of buildings and may have an impact on heating energy needs of up to 30%. Given the high thermal conductivity of steel, the relevance of TBs in lightweight steel framed (LSF) components could be even greater. No research was found in the literature for evaluating how important the size and shape of steel studs are on the thermal performance of LSF building elements, which is the main objective of this work. This assessment is performed for the internal partitions and exterior façade of load-bearing LSF walls. The accuracy of the numerical model used in the simulations was verified and validated by comparison experimental measurements. Three reference steel studs were considered, six stud flange lengths and four steel thicknesses were evaluated, and five flange indentation sizes and four indent filling materials were assessed, corresponding to a total of 246 modelled LSF walls. It was concluded that the R-value decreases when the flange length and the steel studs’ thickness increases, being that these variations are more significant for bigger flange sizes and for thicker steel studs. Additionally, it was found that a small indentation size (2.5 or 5 mm) is enough to provide a significant R-value increase and that it is preferable not to use any flange indentation filling material rather than using a poor performance one (recycled rubber). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermal Behavior and Energy Efficiency of Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Improvement of the Performance Balance between Thermal Comfort and Energy Use for a Building Space in the Mid-Spring Season
Sustainability 2020, 12(22), 9667; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12229667 - 19 Nov 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1025
Abstract
In thermal controls in buildings, recent statistical and data-driven approaches to optimize supply air conditions have been examined in association with several types of building spaces and patterns of energy consumption. However, many strategies may have some problems where high-control precision may increase [...] Read more.
In thermal controls in buildings, recent statistical and data-driven approaches to optimize supply air conditions have been examined in association with several types of building spaces and patterns of energy consumption. However, many strategies may have some problems where high-control precision may increase energy use, or low energy use in systems may decrease indoor thermal quality. This study investigates a neural network algorithm with an adaptive model on how to control the supply air conditions reflecting learned data. During the process, the adaptive model complements the signals from the network to independently maintain the comfort level within setting ranges. Although the proposed model effectively optimizes energy consumption and supply air conditions, it achieves quite improved comfort levels about 14% more efficient than comparison models. Consequently, it is confirmed that a network and learning algorithm equipped with an adaptive controller properly responds to users’ comfort levels and system’s energy consumption in a single space. The improved performance in space levels can be significant in places where many spaces are systematically connected, and in places which require a high consistency of indoor thermal comfort. Another advantage of the proposed model is that it properly reduces an increase in energy consumption despite an intensive strategy is utilized to improve thermal comfort. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermal Behavior and Energy Efficiency of Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Research

Review
Thermal Behavior and Energy Efficiency of Modified Concretes in the Tropical Climate: A Systemic Review
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 11957; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132111957 - 29 Oct 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1077
Abstract
Concrete remains the most utilised construction material for building envelopes, which regulate the indoor temperature to achieve human thermal comfort. Often, the energy consumption for building performance appraisal is related to the thermal behaviour of building materials as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning [...] Read more.
Concrete remains the most utilised construction material for building envelopes, which regulate the indoor temperature to achieve human thermal comfort. Often, the energy consumption for building performance appraisal is related to the thermal behaviour of building materials as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems all variously contribute to human comfort. Following the development of concrete technology, many types of concrete have been invented to serve several purposes in the construction industry. To clearly understand the concrete type tailored for the specifics of a construction project, the local climate, concrete mechanical properties, and concrete thermal behaviours should be primarily identified to achieve energy efficiency, which also suits the sustainability of global materials. This paper, therefore, reviews the modified concrete thermal behaviours in the tropical climate for more systematic city planning in order to achieve better energy efficiency. Urban heat islands in the tropics and contributing factors, as well as heat transfer mechanisms, are first highlighted. The requirements of concrete thermal behaviour for building envelopes are then discussed through specific heat capacity, thermal conductivity, thermal diffusivity, time lag, and decrement factor in the context of applications and energy consumption in the tropical regions. With a case study, it is found that concrete thermal behaviours directly affect the energy consumption attributed mainly to the use of cooling systems in the tropics. The study can be a reference to mitigating the urban heat island phenomenon in the planning of urban development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermal Behavior and Energy Efficiency of Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
Up-To-Date Challenges for the Conservation, Rehabilitation and Energy Retrofitting of Higher Education Cultural Heritage Buildings
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2061; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042061 - 14 Feb 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3037
Abstract
In higher-education world heritage sites, the conservation and energy retrofitting of heritage buildings (HBs) is an important vector for their development, competitiveness and welfare. To guarantee their ongoing use, these buildings must be adapted to face current and emerging societal challenges: (i) the [...] Read more.
In higher-education world heritage sites, the conservation and energy retrofitting of heritage buildings (HBs) is an important vector for their development, competitiveness and welfare. To guarantee their ongoing use, these buildings must be adapted to face current and emerging societal challenges: (i) the conservation of cultural heritage and the maintenance of their original characteristics and identity; (ii) the transformation of heritage sites into tourist centers that energize the local economy, generating revenue and jobs; (iii) the adaptation of the buildings to new uses and functions that demand energy retrofitting strategies to satisfy today’s standards of thermal comfort, indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and energy efficiency; (iv) tackling impacts of climate change, particularly global warming and extreme weather events; and finally, (v) the implementation of strategies to mitigate the impact of a growing number of tourists. The combined implications of these challenges require a comprehensive approach with interrelated measures strongly reliant on the use of technology and innovation. This work aims to discuss how higher-education cultural HBs can be rethought to serve these expectations. Moreover, a multidisciplinary intervention framework is provided to discuss how HBs can respond to the challenges and risks of rehabilitation, energy retrofitting, climate change and increasing tourism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thermal Behavior and Energy Efficiency of Buildings)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop