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A New Model to Perform Preliminary Evaluations of Complex Systems for the Production of Energy for Buildings: Case Study

Authors: Roberto de Lieto Vollaro, Emanuele de Lieto Vollaro, Gianluca Coltrinari


The building sector is responsible, in many industrialized countries, for about 40% of the total energy requirements, so it seems necessary to devote some efforts in this area in order to achieve a significant reduction of energy consumption and of greenhouse gases emissions. The paper presents a study aiming at providing a design methodology able to identify the best configuration of the system building/plant, from a technical, economic and environmentally point of view. Normally, the classical approach involves a building's energy loads analysis under steady state conditions, and subsequent selection of measures aimed at improving the energy performance, based on previous experience made by architects and engineers in the design team. Instead, the proposed approach uses a sequence of two wellknown scientifically validated calculation methods (TRNSYS and RETScreen), that allow quite a detailed feasibility analysis. To assess the validity of the calculation model, an existing, historical building in Central Italy, that will be the object of restoration and preservative redevelopment, was selected as a casestudy. The building is made of a basement and three floors, with a total floor area of about 3,000 square meters. The first step has been the determination of the heating and cooling energy loads of the building in a dynamic regime by means, which allows simulating the real energy needs of the building in function of its use. Traditional methodologies, based as they are on steady-state conditions, cannot faithfully reproduce the effects of varying climatic conditions and of inertial properties of the structure. With this model is possible to obtain quite accurate and reliable results that allow identifying effective combinations building-HVAC system. The second step has consisted of using output data obtained as input to the calculation model, which enables to compare different system configurations from the energy, environmental and financial point of view, with an analysis of investment, and operation and maintenance costs, so allowing determining the economic benefit of possible interventions. The classical methodology often leads to the choice of conventional plant systems, while our calculation model provides a financial-economic assessment for innovative energy systems and low environmental impact. Computational analysis can help in the design phase, particularly in the case of complex structures with centralized plant systems, by comparing the data returned by the calculation model for different design options.

Keywords: Energy, Systems, Buildings, Evaluation

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

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