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Althobaiti, Mohanned Mutlaq M.
Augenbroe, Godfried
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As building performance is increasingly improved and building energy consumption decreases, a greater percentage of the total energy loss of a building occurs through envelope leakage. This leakage is characterized by the effective leakage area or ELA, which is a proxy parameter to what is essentially a complex flow phenomenon through cracks driven by pressure differences. Moreover, different façades and façade parts have different ELA and are typically subjected to different pressure differences in a given wind condition. This poses major challenges to building energy models. Current building performance simulation (BPS) uses software modules that approximately calculate envelope infiltration, but the literature shows that their calibration and validation is still unsatisfactory. In fact, calibration and validation of BPS models is still an important subject of study in our quest to improve the fidelity of simulation-based predictions in various applications. The high level of interaction and subsumption between parameters can result in a model that approximates the measurements well (and thus meets the ASHRAE auditing threshold) but whose “best estimates” of parameters are unreliable. This can be a problem in performance contracting when limits have been agreed on certain parameters such as ELA and U-value. It can also be problematic in the use of the model for certain performance assessments. This thesis exemplifies the underlying issues by comparing the results of direct and indirect calibration at different fidelities. The study focuses on the calibration of building energy models of existing buildings. It does so by conducting calibration for different experiments, i.e., for different sources of data, and for different model fidelities. The calibration is anchored around ELA and its impact on “best estimates” of other parameters is verified. The study is done with explicit quantification of uncertainties in the experiments as well as in model parameters. The two major experiments considered are (a) direct ELA calibration through tracer gas experiments, (b) indirect ELA calibration with consumption data enhanced by spot temperature measurements. Two case studies on existing buildings are performed. The thesis develops a new framework to address calibration and validation for different combinations of data and model fidelity, where each combination leads to probability distributions of the calibration parameter set. For each combination the ultimate aim is to determine the fitness of the resulting building energy model for given application studies such as building energy benchmarking, fault detection, unmet hour verification, etc. This requires the introduction of a novel fitness measure that determines the confidence level of a particular calibrated model for decisions in a predefined building performance assessment scenario. The thesis shows an early example of how to develop and quantify fitness. The results will be meaningful for better understanding façade infiltration, better understanding of the limits of calibrated models, and the way this translates into fitness of the resulting model. The thesis focuses exclusively on existing buildings, but its findings may lead to large scale data sets of calibrated ELA values in existing buildings, that may find their way into better ELA quantification in energy models of new designs.
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