Master of Applied Science in Building Science and Master of Engineering in Building Science | BCIT Institutional Repository

Master of Applied Science in Building Science and Master of Engineering in Building Science

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Hygrothermal performance of super-insulated double-stud wood frame wall assemblies
In cold climates, much of wood-frame building enclosure durability failures and indoor air quality issues stem mainly from excessive moisture within enclosure components and these issues are more pronounced in buildings with higher levels of thermal insulation, with frequent mold and fungal growth complications. Nevertheless, buildings have been increasing their insulation levels (and this trend is expected to continue) due to climate change, depleting natural resources, ever-rising energy prices and growing expectation for occupants’ comfort and health. Incorporation of insulation materials with higher moisture storage and buffering capacities and also employing vapour retarders that can let walls dry out to both interior and exterior spaces are potential solutions. While the hygrothermal behaviour of these insulation materials have been extensively tested in material labs and computer modeling projects, their actual performance in different climatic zones demands more field experimental studies. In this study, a field experiment was designed to assess hygrothermal behaviors of five highly insulated test wall panels under Marine climatic zone of, Burnaby, British Columbia. Full size wall panel specimens of ‘double-stud’ wood-frame were instrumented with moisture and temperature sensors and filled with Dense Cellulose Insulation (DCI) and Low-Density Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation (LD SPFI) under different vapour control layer scenarios of 4-mil Polyethylene film, Smart Vapour Retarder (SVR), and none. All test panels were exposed to the 4 controlled indoor and the actual outdoor climates and their hygrothermal response was recorded and analysed from 01 Sept 2016 to 31 May 2017. The experimental results suggested DCI is a proper insulation material provided that it is equipped with a dedicated interior vapour barrier. The results also suggested while both DCI had LD SPF had acceptable moisture behaviour; DCI had slightly better performance than LD SPF. As for vapour control strategies, Smart Vapour Retarder (SVR) did not show an obvious advantage over 4-mil Polyethylene film and in some cases was slightly outperformed by polyethylene hygrothermally. As a general comment, the exterior sheathing board, plywood had the highest moisture activity and all other components, mainly the exterior and interior studs and plates remained in safe moisture ranges throughout the test period., Insulation, Dense Cellulose Insulation, Low-Density Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation, Hygrothermal performance
Hygrothermal propertied of building materials at different temperatures and relative humidities
This research project investigated and measured a set of hygrothermal characteristics of several building materials commonly used across the North America. This study examined the behavior of building materials under various climate conditions other than what is proposed by the standards. Improving available standard test methods by using state-of-the-art equipment, enabled me to measure thermal conductivity, sorption isotherms, water vapor permeability and water absorption coefficient of tested materials under nine different combinations of temperatures from iv 3°C to 45°C and relative humidities from 50% to 90%. The results clearly present dependency of material properties on varying temperature and relative humidity. For example, thermal conductivity, vapor permeability and water absorption coefficients of all tested materials increased with respect to temperature, while the sorption isotherms of all materials decreased when temperature rose. The obtained results from this research can be utilized in Heat, Air and Moisture (HAM) modeling to improve effective and realistic analysis hygrothermal and energy performance of whole buildings.
Investigating potential acoustic indicators for sound quality standard of ecocity frameworks
Sound quality was approved in Ecocity World Summit 2019 to be developed as a bio-geophysical indicator. The classical measures of sound pressure level are not sufficient to quantify healthy noise levels and balanced soundscapes. Additional acoustic indicators relating sound to perception were investigated for potential indicators of Sound Quality including balanced soundscape (normalized difference soundscape index and biophony / anthrophony ratio), psychoacoustical annoyance, temporal sound level variance, and spectra gravity center. The Olympic Village, Vancouver, BC was used as a proxy neighborhood to represent Ecocity fractal. ISO 12913-1-3: Soundscape standard was applied for collecting and analyzing data. The method of triangulation analysed acoustic measurements of 38 data measurement locations, 71 survey responses and taxonomy classification supports the evidence that psychoacoustic annoyance is an appropriate indicator for the Sound Quality benchmark standard in the Ecocity framework., Spectral gravity center, Ecocity, Sound quality, Balanced soundscape, Psychoacoustical annoyance, Sensory pleasantness, Temporal sound level variance
Model-based coupling of air and hydronic system operation in a high performance academic building
This research is motivated from preliminary teamwork on analyzing the “Performance Gap” of three high-performance buildings, which are currently under operation. All three buildings are facing operational challenges that are not unusual considering the complexity of their systems. However, evidence from design documents, an existing energy model, and operational data suggests that their performance is not entirely reflecting the design intent. This research follows the premise that there is a need to design buildings as systems-of-systems to be able to understand, interpret, quantify, design, and fine-tune the dynamic couplings between systems. This research was dedicated to a high-performance academic building (HPAB) – one of the above three buildings – as a case-study to gain understanding on the complexities of systems coupling, and learn and apply dynamic simulation-based systems coupling tools and methods. The main focus of the study is the classrooms because of the existing evidence on the significant impact of indoor environmental comfort on student performance in academic facilities. The HPAB case-study building incorporates, at the source side, ground-coupled water-to-water heat pumps (WWHP) and solar-thermal as primary means of heating, with boiler used as a backup source. Cooling is provided by the cold side of the WWHP system. On the demand side, heating and cooling are delivered via thermally active radiant floors; while air handling systems take care of the ventilation and de/humidification needs, and provide supplementary heating and cooling. The building was initially designed to rely on natural ventilation for summer cooling; however, designers realized that natural ventilation alone was not able to meet the building cooling demands in the summer. Nevertheless, the building has operable windows and a central atrium that seems to be collecting the air from the individual spaces and exhausting it after some heat recovery. The thermally active building is not adequately meeting the demands from some critical zones. Furthermore, the operation is not consistent with the reduced hours of summer operation of an academic building. These and other observations on the building indicate that the air and radiant systems are not operating in synergy. Existing industry practices in building controls systems, and the research literature show limited evidence of efforts to attempt to harmonize these two complementary systems. Simulation was used to re-create the HPAB building’s mechanical system response in two levels: a classroom-level model, and a Whole Building Energy Model (WBEM). The implementation was in EnergyPlus modeling software. Design documents, and historic operational data from the building automation system (BAS) were used for calibration. In this work, various features of Energy Management System (EMS) module of EnergyPlus has been utilized to create a responsive mechanical system control within the simulation. In the end, the typical responses of the building spaces could be accurately recreated in the simulation for both models. In the next step, testing different controls approaches – labelled as Strategies – and comparing them with defined comfort and stability metrics showed that harmonizing the air and radiant systems, in addition to increasing the consistency of the radiant system operation, results in improvement to the system operation without sacrificing the comfort. This research explores the challenges of employing a WBEM to assist building design decisions by accounting for the building dynamics and enabling the coupling and tuning of systems parameters and control strategies through simulation. The research demonstrates the benefits of improved operational control sequences that are more in tune with the building’s design intent.
Multi-objective optimization of high performance residential buildings using a genetic algorithm
Traditional methods of design and construction of residential buildings are common practice, and in most cases, are required by building codes. However, these design practices do not necessarily yield the most optimized designs in terms of cost, environmental impact, and occupant thermal comfort. Typically, the owner or investor hires an architect that designs the building based on the client’s requirements, and then technical designs, such as enclosure and HVAC systems, are tasked to construction and mechanical engineers to satisfy the original design without consideration to energy consumption and environmental impacts. Those who are energy and environmentally conscious rely on an iterative trial and error method using energy simulation tools, and this method consumes much time and resources. To address this problem, this research presents the development and implementation of a simulation-based optimization tool that relies on a genetic algorithm to systematically improve the building design at a conceptual stage based on a set of objective functions. For the purpose of this research, the objective functions include the life-cycle costs, life-cycle global warming potential, and occupant thermal comfort. More specifically, occupant thermal comfort (measured in PPD) acts that the constraint objective. In this study, a multi-objective optimization genetic algorithm was implemented to find optimal residential building enclosure assemblies that minimizes the life-cycle costs, life-cycle global warming potential, and keeps occupant thermal comfort within check. Based on the design variables and objective functions, a software tool consisting of four modules is used for optimization: the input and input parameter database files; the genetic algorithm optimization software (jEPlus+EA); the energy simulation program (EnergyPlus) and the optimized output files. All required software and simulation programs can be acquired free of charge from the internet, with the exception of proprietary database files such as material and construction assembly libraries. For validation, the optimization tool is implemented on a benchmark study, which demonstrates its application and capabilities. The benchmark study is based on ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 140-2001 BESTEST calibration and validation test case 600. The optimization results in multiple Pareto optimal solutions that gives the user a detailed look at the trade-off between the objective functions when high performance building systems are used. The optimization tool is then applied to a case study where an actual single family home (Harmony House) is modeled and important building design parameters are identified and discussed., Multi-objective building optimization, Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA), Life Cycle Environmental Assessment (LCEA), Green buildings, Building assessment methods
Performance evaluation of active chilled beam in cooling and heating operation under actual field boundary conditions
People spend most of their time indoors and often share the same environment; therefore, knowledge and prediction of the indoor conditions are important to optimize the indoor conditions for the occupants at the building design phase. A range of parameters like air velocity, temperature and relative humidity determines the indoor climate and are important for the comfort of the occupant of a room in terms of thermal comfort and indoor air quality. Active Chilled Beam (ACB), a high-performance air distribution system has gained popularity as an energy efficient, sustainable comfort cooling technology with favourable performance in term of thermal comfort to occupants. ACB is wildly utilized in a variety of commercial buildings, schools, laboratories and hospitals. However, in-depth investigations on the performance of these systems under different boundary conditions are still inadequate., Active chilled beam, ACB under cooling, ACB under heating, CFD, Room airflow, Ventilation efficiency
RC-network based transient calculation method for thermal bridge analysis of multi-dimensional assemblies
Hourly dynamic energy performance study of buildings requires an in-depth understanding of dynamic thermal performance of building envelope assemblies. While two and three-dimensional building envelope thermal bridges have a great impact on whole-building energy simulations, heat storage capacity of the layers has also a significant influence. State of the art research has confirmed necessity of accurate thermal storage behavior analysis of building envelope assemblies in dynamic hourly building energy simulations. To-date, a number of studies have been conducted on the simplification of transient behaviour prediction of one, two and three-dimensional building envelope assemblies. In this study, the previous equivalent and simplified models for prediction of dynamic behaviour of building enclosure are reviewed, and an improved equivalent model based on frequency responses of RC-Network (FR-RCN) is presented. The model utilizes thermal RC-Network with three unknown resistances, two known resistances, and four unknown capacitances. The frequency responses of building envelope assembly are calculated either analytically (one dimensional assemblies), or numerically using COMSOL (two/three dimensional assemblies). Eureqa, a software which leverages evolutionary algorithms, is utilized in order to generate optimized unknown RC-Network resistances and capacitances considering the calculated frequency responses of the assembly. In this study, one light weight single-family home, one mass type structure high-rise building, and selected steel construction assemblies in climate zones 2 and 6 have been considered. A simple approach is also presented for the generation of equivalent FR-RCN models of variable insulation thickness assemblies. The comparison between the transient results calculated from the equivalent FR-RCN and COMSOL simulation shows good agreement. The performance of FR-RCN method is compared with other selected equivalent models, and an improvement in accuracy is confirmed., RC-Network, Multi-dimensional assemblies
Review of climate change and hygrothermal performance of wood frame wall systems under climate change in marine climate of Vancouver
Buildings have a long life span which in most circumstances ranges from 50 to 100 years, throughout these service years buildings are most likely to encounter unprecedented weather conditions. Nowadays, both scientific research and physical evidences show a changing climate conditions. An increased accumulation of Green Houses Gases (GHG) on the atmosphere believed to be the leading cause. In the building sector, climate change has posed various challenges. Some of the major problems include a shift in energy demand, premature buildings enclosure damage by heavy wind-driven rain, flood and storm, increase in structural load due to strong wind, and reduced air quality caused by wildfires and biodiversity losses. Using a hygrothermal model developed in COMSOL Multiphysics Software Package, the presented research has addressed the potential impacts of climate change on wood frame walls durability for residential houses located in Vancouver. Hourly current and future weather data suitable to use in building performance analysis developed using an absolute and relative approach based on CanESM2 with CanRCM4 LE and HadCM3 with time series adjustment. Then hygrothermal simulations are conducted using current and future weather data for various wall assemblies, modeling factors, orientations, and indoor environmental conditions. Finally, the durability of the walls examined primarily based on hygrothermal model outputs with associated mold growth and deterioration effect.
Sound living in Vancouver's laneway housing
Laneway housing is an innovative higher density housing form introduced to meet the City of Vancouver’s EcoDensity Charter. This form of residential occupancy was introduced without specific acoustical standards for construction. Noise concerns generally accompany increasing urban density, particularly in housing located close to transportation and activity centers. Laneways and laneway housing have environmental and architectural features that can contribute to noise levels exceeding criteria for healthy living. To advance the state of practice, this research first explores the sonic environment of laneways, including sound propagation, urban canyon effects, and sound sources. Second, this research investigates the acoustics of the laneway house, including outdoor-indoor sound insulation of facades, architectural features, and floor plan layout in relation to environmental noise sources. Empirical field measurements, the CMHC road traffic noise model and software modelling programs are used to investigate the acoustical environmental quality of laneway housing. Findings from case study investigation of four laneways and six laneway houses are evaluated against the CMHC noise criteria for healthy living. The various research tools are evaluated for accuracy and practicality as acoustic design tools for Vancouver laneways and laneway housing. The results of this study can inform laneway development planning (including benefits of laneway vegetation), laneway house design, building envelope construction, and policy guidelines as the City of Vancouver continues in its plans for sustainable densification., Acoustics of small buildings, Urban canyon effect, Road traffic noise, Laneway house acoustics
Sound transmission of wood frame split insulated rainscreen cavity wall assemblies
Exterior building envelope walls with rainscreen cavities are now required by British Columbia building codes. The introduction of the rainscreen cavity and optional external thermal insulation can alter sound transmission loss and consequently affect indoor sound levels in single and multi-family wood-frame housing. In this study, 57 exterior wall assemblies were built and acoustically evaluated using a hybrid sound intensity technique. The variables investigated were cladding material (vinyl, fibre cement board, and stucco), exterior insulation (mineral wool and XPS), exterior insulation thickness (1 ½" and 3"), cladding attachment type (resilient and non-resilient), and rainscreen cavity width (3/8" and 1"). The sound transmission class of the tested wall assemblies ranged from 37 to 52; the outdoor-indoor transmission class rating ranged from 26 to 37. Results indicated that the selection and the combination of the material layers were fundamental to sound transmission loss performance. Cladding material and cladding attachments influenced sound transmission and resulted in a broad range of overall performance. The split insulated rainscreen cavity wall assemblies presented higher transmission loss than single insulation walls, provided that the exterior insulation had sound absorbing properties. The best performing wall assemblies generally have high mass cladding, resilient cladding attachment, and 3" mineral wool exterior insulation (in addition to the interior cavity insulation). Given the research outcomes, in denser and noisier urban areas, a building envelope professional has additional options to design an exterior rainscreen cavity wall to meet thermal performance and acoustical criteria for exterior sound levels in wood frame buildings.

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