A framework for modeling complex integrated building systems at whole-building scale with co-simulation: applied to a coupled simulation between a facade system model and a whole building energy model

Shultz, Justin, Scott
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Oberai, Assad
Borca-Tasciuc, Theodorian
Winn, Kelly
Kallipoliti, Lydia
Combs, Lonn
Dyson, Anna
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Within the context of the designing and constructing systems for the built environment, the increasing complexity of environmental and ecological systems requirements has led to the widespread adoption of building energy modeling (BEM) across the architecture and engineering (AE) industry. Within this inquiry, the requirements of advanced integrated facades (AIFs) are examined as use cases for the development of novel computation techniques to model and quantify building integrated energy capture technologies that could support significant progress towards clean on-site energy self-sufficiency. An AIF may add a multitude of benefits to the building such as clean on-site energy, moderated heat gain, daylighting, increased visual comfort, and improved human comfort. Reliable methods to simulate the impact of these complex technologies at whole-building scale are not currently available to building designers. Using conventional BEM to model the impacts of the integrated systems on whole-building energy metrics is either too time consuming with a project’s timeline or infeasible with the modeling tool’s prescribed functionality. Typical BEM methods, in order to facilitate access and ease of use, are developed for whole-building simulation at an annual time-scale, therefore they are too coarse-grained to accurately model the simultaneous interactions of an AIF, especially when combined with ambient energy capture technologies. A method called co-simulation is emerging across multiple fields as a standard for coupling models developed within different modeling environments. In buildings research and engineering, computational system models are developed to quantify the transport phenomena of a building system that would otherwise be infeasible to simulate with BEM or CFD. Co-simulation provides a method for building energy analysts to more readily study emerging integrated building systems using computational system models coupled with conventional BEM tools, like EnergyPlus. Leveraging co-simulation features developed into EnergyPlus, this research proposed the use of the method to model and quantifying two emerging AIFs using whole-building energy metrics. Within the scope of this thesis, a novel model has been co-developed, called the Modular Network Model, that is capable of modeling AIFs by discretizing the building envelope systems into repeatable modules, which are combined using a network model method and balanced using conservation of mass and energy to solve for the simultaneous transport phenomena and the systems’ interaction with the building. As a proof-of-concept test, the Modular Network Model was applied to model the Building envelope-Integrated, Transparent, Concentrating Photovoltaic and Thermal (BITCoPT) system at whole-building scale, capable of modeling the simultaneous energy and mass transport phenomena necessary to quantify the photovoltaic electrical generation, thermal energy collection, modulated solar heat gain, and cavity thermodynamics. The Modular Network Model of the BITCoPT system was coupled and co-simulated with EnergyPlus, an industry standard BEM software, thereby allowing designers to more readily study the impact of the system on whole-building energy metrics, while reducing model development time. The process was repeated for the EcoCeramic Envelope System (EES), whereby a computational system model was developed within the Modelica system modeling language, following the same modeling structure of the Modular Network Model. The EES system model was developed to model the interactions between the outdoor air temperature, wind, and radiation with the ceramic system and thermal fluid cavity. The EES model was exported as a Functional Mock-up Unit (FMU) and co-simulated within EnergyPlus as a thermally adaptive building envelope with solar hot water collection that provided energy to building heating. Co-simulation between the AIF system models and building energy models improved the predictions of the systems’ impact on building energy consumption metrics and heat transfer performance as demonstrated through the comparative analysis shown in Chapters 3, 4, and 5.
School of Architecture
School of Architecture
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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