Energy Efficiency of Distributed Environmental Control Systems

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In this report, we present an analytical evaluation of the potential of occupant-regulated distributed environmental control systems (DECS) to enhance individual occupant thermal comfort in an office building with no increase, and possibly even a decrease in annual energy consumption. To this end we developed and applied several analytical models that allowed us to optimize comfort and energy consumption in partitioned office buildings equipped with either conventional central HVAC systems or occupant-regulated DECS. Our approach involved the following interrelated components: 1. Development of a simplified lumped-parameter thermal circuit model to compute the annual energy consumption. This was necessitated by the ... continued below

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Khalifa, H. Ezzat; Isik, Can & Dannenhoffer, John F. III February 23, 2011.

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In this report, we present an analytical evaluation of the potential of occupant-regulated distributed environmental control systems (DECS) to enhance individual occupant thermal comfort in an office building with no increase, and possibly even a decrease in annual energy consumption. To this end we developed and applied several analytical models that allowed us to optimize comfort and energy consumption in partitioned office buildings equipped with either conventional central HVAC systems or occupant-regulated DECS. Our approach involved the following interrelated components: 1. Development of a simplified lumped-parameter thermal circuit model to compute the annual energy consumption. This was necessitated by the need to perform tens of thousands of optimization calculations involving different US climatic regions, and different occupant thermal preferences of a population of ~50 office occupants. Yearly transient simulations using TRNSYS, a time-dependent building energy modeling program, were run to determine the robustness of the simplified approach against time-dependent simulations. The simplified model predicts yearly energy consumption within approximately 0.6% of an equivalent transient simulation. Simulations of building energy usage were run for a wide variety of climatic regions and control scenarios, including traditional “one-size-fits-all” (OSFA) control; providing a uniform temperature to the entire building, and occupant-selected “have-it-your-way” (HIYW) control with a thermostat at each workstation. The thermal model shows that, un-optimized, DECS would lead to an increase in building energy consumption between 3-16% compared to the conventional approach depending on the climate regional and personal preferences of building occupants. Variations in building shape had little impact in the relative energy usage. 2. Development of a gradient-based optimization method to minimize energy consumption of DECS while keeping each occupant’s thermal dissatisfaction below a given threshold. The DECS energy usage was calculated using the simplified thermal model. OSFA control; providing a uniform temperature to the entire building, and occupant-selected HIYW control with a thermostat at each workstation were implemented for 3 cities representing 3 different climatic regions and control scenarios. It is shown that optimization allows DECS to deliver a higher level of individual and population thermal comfort while achieving annual energy savings between 14 and 26% compared to OSFA. The optimization model also allowed us to study the influence of the partitions’ thermal resistance and the variability of internal loads at each office. These influences didn’t make significant changes in the optimized energy consumption relative to OSFA. The results show that it is possible to provide thermal comfort for each occupant while saving energy compared to OSFA Furthermore, to simplify the implementation of this approach, a fuzzy logic system has been developed to generalize the overall optimization strategy. Its performance was almost as good as the gradient system. The fuzzy system provided thermal comfort to each occupant and saved energy compared to OSFA. The energy savings of the fuzzy system were not as high as for the gradient-optimized system, but the fuzzy system avoided complete connectivity, and the optimization did not have to be repeated for each population. 3. We employed a detailed CFD model of adjacent occupied cubicles to extend the thermal-circuit model in three significant ways: (a) relax the “office wall” requirement by allowing energy to flow between zones via advection as well as conduction, (b) improve the comfort model to account both for radiation as well as convection heat transfer, and (c) support ventilation systems in which the temperature is stratified, such as in underfloor air distribution systems. Initially, three-dimensional CFD simulations of several cubicle configurations, with an adjoining corridor, were performed both to understand the advection between cubicles and the resulting temperature stratification. These simulations showed that the advective flow between cubicles is very significant and severely limits the occupants’ ability to control the personal micro-environments by simply controlling the temperature of the incoming air. Subsequently, the existing thermal-circuit model was extended to include the phenomena described above. The modifications to the thermal-circuit model, which were incorporated such that the simulation time was only slightly impacted, showed that accounting for room stratification resulting from the use of floor swirl diffusers could lead to 10%-26% reduction in the annual energy consumed for HVAC in non-temperate climates. This trend was evident in both OSFA and HIYW scenarios. However, the ratio of energy usage in the two scenarios was little affected by the enhancements in the thermal model.

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  • Report No.: DOE\ER63694-1 Final Report
  • Grant Number: FG02-03ER63694
  • DOI: 10.2172/886100 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 886100
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc875935

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  • February 23, 2011

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

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  • Nov. 7, 2016, 3 p.m.

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Khalifa, H. Ezzat; Isik, Can & Dannenhoffer, John F. III. Energy Efficiency of Distributed Environmental Control Systems, report, February 23, 2011; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc875935/: accessed October 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.