Investigation of climate-adaptive opaque building components: toward an ectothermic approach to heating and cooling in buildings

Hwang, Youngjin
Thumbnail Image
Other Contributors
Borca-Tasciuc, Theodorian
Shelden, Dennis
Shultz, Justin
Krueger, Ted
Tsamis, Alexandros
Issue Date
Terms of Use
This electronic version is a licensed copy owned by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, NY. Copyright of original work retained by author.
Full Citation
While the predominant practice for low-energy buildings aims to achieve highly insulating building envelopes, there is a growing interest in exploring climate-adaptive building envelopes as an alternative. However, most climate-adaptive technologies for opaque building envelopes have been proposed as supplementary systems to traditional heating and cooling methods and have exhibited limited climate adaptability. To drive a radical paradigm shift in heating and cooling forbuildings, this thesis proposes a novel approach to building envelopes, referred to as an ectothermic heating and cooling approach, aiming to maximize interactions with climates by directly utilizing ambient low-grade energy sources for building thermoregulation. The thesis provides a comprehensive review on the development of climate-adaptive building envelopes, covering both design and technical perspectives. Additionally, the thesis introduces an ectothermic approach-based integrated heating and cooling structural building module, called HydroSIP. HydroSIP consists of a unique double-sided hydronic heating and cooling layer embedded in a composite structural insulated panel. This module exhibits various dynamic thermal behaviors, allowing it to maximize thermal resistance in isolating modes or minimize thermal resistance in heat exchange modes to directly harness ambient thermal energy sources. The thesis focuses on the design and evaluation of HydroSIP, along with the following key areas of investigation: 1) Identification of module design and configuration; 2) Development of a simulation model using Modelica to address challenges encountered in modern standalone building energy modeling tools; 3) Investigation of thermal performance of HydroSIP over a static wall; 4) Exploration of the feasibility and energy-saving potential of HydroSIP in comparison to a conventional heating and cooling system; and 5) Design and system development for multiple envelope applications. Various envelope application cases were investigated across eight U.S. climate regions. The findings revealed that, without the integration of renewable energy systems, annual heating energy savings of up to 38% and cooling energy savings of up to 52% when compared to a standard heating and cooling system in U.S. climate zones 4 to 8. By incorporating the HydroSIP system with a geothermal loop system, the annual cooling energy was significantly reduced by 85% compared to a standard system. Additionally, as a supplementary system to existing heating and cooling systems, HydroSIP enhanced the rated COP of a standard system from 2.5 to a range of 4.8 to 5.2.
School of Architecture
School of Architecture
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
Rensselaer Theses and Dissertations Online Collection
Restricted to current Rensselaer faculty, staff and students in accordance with the Rensselaer Standard license. Access inquiries may be directed to the Rensselaer Libraries.