Demonstrating the significance of microclimate on annual building energy simulations using RadTherm

University essay from KTH/Uthålliga byggnadssystem

Abstract: Buildings account for over 35% of the energy demand in OECD countries, making them a prime target for improvement. (EIA 2011) To help building owners reduce energy usage, ratings systems such as LEED have been developed. A prerequisite for certification is the demonstration of energy efficiency through computer modeling; however, the complex nature of building energy simulations too often leads to errors of up to 30% (Turner and Frankel 2008). One source of significant error can be the assumptions made of environmental conditions, which are often simplified to speed up simulations. To demonstrate the significance of active microclimate modeling, a building energy model combined with a microclimate model has been created in RadTherm, a commercial CAE thermal solver. Simulations are run using Passive House construction in three types of environments, and demonstrate an increase in energy demand over an annual time scale when microclimatic components are included. The increase in demand is less than 1%, however the decrease in radiant heat losses are up to 30%. Using the same methodology with revisions to the building construction and urban geometry, a larger increase in energy demand is expected. 

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