BCIT Thesis and other Required Graduate Degree Works | BCIT Institutional Repository

BCIT Thesis and other Required Graduate Degree Works

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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
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
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
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.
Experimental investigation of residential building heating and ventilation systems performance
The building sector is one of the most dynamically evolving field with an expectation to provide comfortable, clean and healthy indoor environment with less energy consumption. This acceptable indoor condition is created with a combination of heating/cooling systems and ventilation strategies. There are various systems available, which can deliver heating/cooling as well as ventilation to a dwelling space. These systems involve different heat transfer mechanisms and ventilation strategies: as a result, their performance would be different. Accordingly, the performance of these systems would affect indoor conditions. The process of providing an acceptable indoor environment with minimized energy use can be challenging. In addition to that, there is also a keen interest to reduce the current trend of the building energy consumption as low as possible without affecting the required, comfortable indoor environment. Therefore, the requirement of comprehensive field research that studies and compares most of currently available space heating systems, as well as ventilation strategies, is highly vital to provide information about their actual and relative performance in a real scenario. This research project conducts a field experiment that studies, heating systems, ventilation strategies, and ventilation flow rates. The first part is done by running two different heating systems at a time out of four heating systems (electrical baseboard heater, portable radiator heater, heat pump, and Radiant floor heating systems) in identical full-scale test building with similar ventilation strategy and similar ventilation flow rate. Whereas, the second group of experiments compare two ventilation strategies (mixed ventilation and underfloor ventilation) inside two test buildings with similar heating systems and ventilation flow rate. The third group of comparison compares three ventilation flow rates (15 cfm, 7.5 cfm, and 5 cfm) in the test buildings with similar heating systems and ventilation strategies. Various indicators and indoor environmental elements are used to conduct the comparisons. In the first case where heating systems are compared, the thermal energy provide by the systems are used for comparison. In addition, the thermal comfort, local thermal discomfort, temperature distribution and RH distribution are used to assess and compare the indoor environment produced by the systems. Whereas, the ventilation strategies are compared using indoor environmental element (temperature, relative humidity, CO2, and air velocity) distributions. Finally, the comparison of ventilation flow rates is performed using contaminant removal effectiveness, indoor air quality number, and indoor environmental element distributions. The findings from the experiments indicate that all of the heating systems provide similar daily thermal energy between 10 kWh and 14 kWh based on the outdoor weather condition. In addition, all of the heating systems produce a thermally comfortable indoor environment for standing person. Whereas, the ventilation strategies comparison shows that mixed ventilation strategy performance is slightly better than an underfloor Ventilation strategy by creating marginally uniform CO2 and RH distribution. Moreover, the results of the ventilation flow rates comparison show that the temperature and air velocity distribution find similar while using all the three ventilation flow rates. But the higher ventilation flow rate removes relatively more RH and CO2 in comparison to the lower one. Accordingly, the higher ventilation flow rates depict higher contaminant removal rate and high indoor air quality number relative to lower ventilation flow rate., Ventilation Effectiveness, Ventilation Flow Rate, Indoor Air Quality Number, Thermal Energy, Portable Radiator Heater
Experimental investigation of living architecture design tools to attenuate rooftop noise
The aim of this research is to investigate the viability of designing urban rooftop soundscapes. The prerequisite is to reduce the sound propagation from road traffic by introducing living architectural rooftops with various components of sound attenuating technologies. The final goal is to turn unused rooftop space into a livable urban green space, where soundscape is balanced, and sound energy is reduced to the limits recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). The first part of this research is to identify the potential of living architectural technologies to attenuate noise from road traffic. More than 33 measurements are performed of living architecture design tools, such as green roofs, berms at edge, living wall barriers and overhangs, to investigate the behavior of sound attenuation in an anechoic chamber and in ODEON, a computer simulation software. The second part of this research is to use the findings on the proposed design tools for an architectural case study, a flat-roof five-storey building located on East Hastings Street. The use of a combination of green roof, berm, overhang, guard and living wall can reduced urban traffic noise from 70 dBA on the roof to 55 dBA, creating additional acoustically healthy habitable space in the urban environment.
The absorption and scattering characteristics of interior living walls
Installation of interior living walls is increasing rapidly due to their beauty, biophilic design and their potential contribution to indoor environmental quality. However, there is little understanding of the specific effect they have on the acoustics of a room. To advance the state of practice, this interdisciplinary study explores the acoustical characteristics of interior living walls to determine how they can be used to positively benefit room acoustic by reducing excess noise and reverberation. Specifically, the objective of the research is to measure the acoustical characteristics of the interior living wall in order to determine their absorption coefficient, scattering coefficient, and the parameters that most significantly impact these coefficients. First, a series of measurements are carried out in a reverberation chamber to examine random-incidence absorption by considering parameters such as carrier type, moisture content, vegetation type, and substrate. In addition, both absorption and scattering coefficients are examined by considering various vegetation types and coverage. The findings from empirical measurements facilitate a sensitivity analysis, with the use of the commercial software Odeon, of the absorption and scattering coefficients. Next, the empirical absorption and scattering coefficients are used on a model, developed in the commercial software Odeon, to see the effect of interior living walls on room acoustics. The aim of this study is to evaluate the application of interior living walls as a sustainable and acoustically beneficial material for buildings of any kind., Acoustical characteristics of interior living walls, Sound absorption coefficient, Sound scattering coefficient, Odeon software, Room acoustics, Living wall
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
Evaluation of educational-software and paper-based resources for teaching logical-thinking skills to grade six and seven students
Guided by the objectives of investigating whether there were any differences between the effectiveness of the paper-based materials and educational software in teaching logical-thinking skills and transferring those skills to new problems and determining the efficacy of the paper-based materials and educational software in teaching logical-thinking skills and transferring those skills to new problems, a mixed-method research approach was used. A qualitative assessment was conducted to ascertain the appropriateness of the materials and a quantitative assessment was done using a pre-test, post-test, experimental design to assess the effectiveness of the materials in teaching logical-thinking skills. Based on the qualitative analysis, after the initial materials were modified through the information gained from the pilot students and changes were put in as suggested by the reviewers through their iterative reviews of the materials, it was determined that the reviewers considered that the events of instruction addressed in this intervention (gaining attention, informing the learner of the learning outcome, presenting the material, providing learning guidance, eliciting the performance, providing feedback, assessing performance, and enhancing retention and transfer) provided the attributes needed to effectively teach the logical-thinking skills of classification, analogical reasoning, sequencing, patterning, and deductive reasoning. For the quantitative analysis, one-way ANOVAs were performed to compare an experimental group learning from educational software (32 students), an experimental group learning from paper-based materials (32 students), and a control group (32 students). Given significance was found between the groups, Tukey HSD Post Hoc Tests were done. For each test, the subjects taught through educational software and those taught through paper-based materials scored significantly higher in logical-thinking ability than the control group, except for the subskills of patterning and deductive reasoning for the subjects learning through educational software, and the skill of deductive reasoning for the subjects learning through paper-based materials. For the transfer learning scores, the subjects learning through paper-based materials scored significantly higher than the control group. There were no significant differences between subjects taught through paper-based materials and those taught through educational software on any test. Based on paired samples t-test results, the subjects learning from educational software and those learning from paper-based materials had significant percentage gains on all of their pre-test to post-test scores, except the subjects learning through paper-based materials showed no significant gains on the sequencing and deductive-reasoning skills., Logical thinking, Instructional design, Qualitative analysis, Quantitative analysis
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.
Assessment of natural ventilation using whole building simulation methodological framework
Natural ventilation is a passive alternative to provide both indoor air quality and thermal comfort for the building’s occupants with low energy use. But at the same time, it is challenging for the building designers to implement natural ventilation strategies due to its complexity and highly dynamic behaviour, especially when it is compared with the mechanically ventilated buildings. Nevertheless, the use of naturally ventilated buildings is increasing along with the use of passive strategies, but depending on the complexity of the project, the designer still use rules of thumb for the implementation of natural ventilation strategies instead of a more comprehensive simulation-based approach. In theory, whole building simulation models (WBSM) are becoming viable tools to support natural ventilation design, particularly in the early stages of the project where the impacts of measures to implement a natural ventilation strategy are magnified. However, the only “evidence” of such level of support comes from individual case-study projects. Nevertheless, there is a lack of validation through measurement of the effectiveness of natural ventilation design in real buildings. This research will shed light into the “inner-workings” of natural ventilation models in WBSM to answer fundamental questions such as the following: How is wind data processed? How are envelope openings characterized? How are internal openings modelled? When and how is air buoyancy modelled in spaces? How are the coupled thermal and fluid mass transfers modelled to reflect the dynamic thermal responses of constructions and airflows? Therefore, a methodological framework is developed in order to provide the necessary knowledge for natural ventilation assessment. This framework is based on simulation (WBSM) and field testing. The proposed framework is tested in an existing landmark building in Vancouver. A WBSM of that building is developed, calibrated, and used to analyze how different factors that compose an integrated natural ventilation strategy (like the building shape, window shading, thermal mass, indoor spaces functionality and connectivity, and local climate) influence the thermal comfort of its occupants., Natural ventilation, Thermal comfort, Adaptive model, Whole building simulation models (WBSM)
Field investigation of moisture buffering potential of gypsum board in a residential setting under varying operating conditions in a marine climate
Indoor relative humidity is of critical importance to maintain at acceptable and stable levels for building occupants’ health and comfort, energy efficiency, and building envelope durability. The main factors that determine the indoor relative humidity levels in a building are ventilation rate and scheme, moisture sources and sinks, and moisture buffering effect of materials. As buildings enclosures are retrofitted for improvements in water shedding and energy performance, they are becoming more airtight. Such a retrofit measure without addressing increased ventilation needs will lead to significant building envelope and indoor air quality problems. In this thesis, this point is highlighted in a reference residential building, occupied by low-income, high occupancy residents. This research aims to determine the effect of moisture buffering of unfinished gypsum board as a passive means to regulate indoor humidity in a field experiment setting. Two identical test buildings exposed to real climatic loads are used to evaluate the moisture buffering effect of gypsum board for different simulated occupant densities and ventilation strategies. The effect of passive and active indoor moisture management measures are compared between 8 test cases. Implications on indoor air quality and ventilation heat loss are also discussed. The results show that moisture buffering is an effective means of passively regulating indoor relative humidity levels in Vancouver’s marine climate, when coupled with adequate ventilation as recommended by ASHRAE, even under high moisture loading. When working in tandem with adequate ventilation, moisture buffering helps to regulate changes in relative humidity levels by reducing humidity peaks. This in effect decreases dew point temperatures, and the likelihood of condensation and microbial growth. 4 ventilation schemes are provided as active measures to manage indoor moisture coupled with moisture buffering in the field experiment. The results show competing benefits when it comes to managing indoor air quality, indoor humidity, and minimizing ventilation heat loss. Time-controlled ventilation is effective at maintaining relative humidity at acceptable levels for thermal comfort. Time-controlled ventilation also provides considerable savings in ventilation heat losses of 20% in comparison to constant ventilation. However, CO2 levels are exceeded beyond what is acceptable for good indoor air quality for 50% of the monitoring period. Conversely, demand-controlled ventilation schemes produce favourable indoor air quality based on CO2 levels, while compromising indoor humidity levels.

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