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
Three new homes in the First Nations Squamish urban reserve were instrumented, tested, and monitored for a period of one year. Performance data was obtained from these homes and analyzed to help assess their quality and improve their performance. From the field study, the houses performed reasonably well. However, there is large room for improvements. Considering construction durability, the built-in moisture in the houses dried well. However, as expected, the moisture in the attics was high and improvements are recommended. The monitoring also confirmed that north facing walls take more time to dry and remain wet in some areas, despite the fact that the monitored year was one of the driest years in record, as reported by Environment Canada. Dangerously high moisture levels were also recorded in a few wall locations, believed to be caused by construction deficiencies at window sills and wall penetrations. In general, wall orientation and obstructions to solar radiation play a major role in the moisture balance of walls. This study confirmed that north-facing walls have higher moisture content, which also takes longer to dry out. South-facing and east-facing walls have lower moisture content (i.e. due to higher solar radiation and higher wall temperature to promote evaporation). The effect of external obstructions (i.e. large trees) to solar radiation was seen in the high moisture content of the west walls that was close to that of north walls.
However, as reported in this study, poor construction detailing overpowers orientation on impacting wall moisture, and is the major source of concern for rain penetration. Unfortunately, wood-frame construction is unforgiving to construction deficiencies, and maximum care must be exercised to protect all details and wall penetrations from rain.
Considering the indoor environment, in general the conditions were within acceptable limits; however, indoor conditions are greatly affected by occupants’ behaviours (e.g. opening windows in cold days). Particular problems arising from tobacco smoking and wood carving could not be measured. From the field study and computer simulations, it is recommended to make the houses more airtight to improve durability, energy efficiency, and possibly indoor air quality. It is also recommended to decouple the ventilation system from the house heating system to improve its ventilation reliability., Monitoring First Nation homes, Indoor air quality and energy efficiency, CO2 contaminant dispersion models, Ventilation
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.