Self-aware buildings: an evaluation framework and implementation technologies for improving building operations
Sterling Garay, Raymond
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Significant advances have been made in developing national and international policies aimed at improving the energy efficiency of buildings that address both new construction and retrofitting activities in buildings. However, policy measures targeting operational optimisation of buildings are few and indirect. The research community is very active in developing methodologies and tools for reducing energy consumption in buildings. However very few developments achieve broad market acceptance. As with policy, this reduces the impact of such developments. What policy makers and researchers have failed to take into account is that the general public is not well prepared to make energy efficient decisions on their own. There is a recognised lack of educational programmes that appropriately advise the stakeholders on the different aspects of energy efficiency in building operations. A common scenario in non-residential buildings is the existence of a facility manager that monitors a building management system which is in charge of automatically controlling the significant energy consuming systems such as air conditioning, heating, ventilation, domestic hot water, among others. By their very nature, building management systems represent a complex integration of software and hardware and in most cases the facility manager is not knowledgeable enough to make decisions that support energy efficiency operation of buildings systems. In this scenario, buildings are operated sub-optimally leading to energy waste. For different reasons, it is unrealistic to assume that facility managers will become experts in building physics and the technologies underpinning automated and optimised building operations. Such expert knowledge must then be incorporated in the building systems as embedded knowledge. Targeting the integration of expert knowledge in building systems, this research work introduces the concept of a Self-Aware Building (SAB). A SAB is a building that is not necessarily highly automated but instead incorporates four general characteristics that support optimal operation without adding overhead to the facility manager. These characteristics are: (i) performance prediction; (ii) automated reaction of building systems to predicted performance; (iii) automated detection of performance reduction and diagnosis of root causes and; (iv) support of the facility manager tasks by providing information in a way suitable to the typical skill set. This thesis begins with a deep study of the political, social and market drivers required to deliver energy efficient operations followed by a review of the technologies required to achieve the SAB concept. Based on the political, social, market and technological aspects identified, this research work develops and discusses a methodology to evaluate buildings in advance of incorporating the technologies required to integrate the SAB characteristics. Next, these evaluation methodology and identified technologies are presented and discussed in real and simulated scenarios involving four different case studies. The case studies demonstrate a roadmap for achieving the SAB concept that include: (i) building performance prediction; (ii) automated reaction of building systems to predicted performance; (iii) automated detection of building performance reductions and diagnose of root causes and; (iv) building systems supporting facility managers tasks by providing information in a way suitable to his/her typical skill set. Finally, this thesis presents a comprehensive discussion regarding the advantages and disadvantages encountered with each technology used and recommendations for the implementation of measures to support SAB.