BSO’14 Paper & Optimization Case Study

By | June 25, 2014

Monthly Zone Air Temperature Visualization (from EnergyPlus Data)

Top floor monthly average zone air temperatures (daytime schedule), original studio design state by Christopher Sitzler & Laura de Pedro.

It has been a long time in the making, but I’ve finally presented my paper “Space-Based Thermal Metrics Mapping for Conceptual Low-Energy Architectural Design” (yes, a mouthfull of a title, that) at Building Simulation & Optimization 2014, UCL, London. Download the thing here or check out the scribd preview. It’s somewhat of a milestone for me, as no prior refereed publication about Mr.Comfy existed- and that’s important to achieve.

Apart from a walkthrough of Mr.Comfy features related to architectural performance design cognition (you know, how the colors make sense and why), the paper contains yet another student design optimization case study that I’ve withheld while waiting for the paper to make it out there. Christopher Sitzler and Laura de Pedro did a stellar job not only in the original “Robust” integrated studio, where the design originated, but Christopher also volunteered to further optimize thermal design performance in the followup Mr.Comfy prototyping class, for which he has my deep gratitude.

Top Floor Performance AxonometricTop floor multi-variable performance mapping, base vs. adapted design state Mr.Comfy & DIVA4Rhino visualization. Design: Christopher Sitzler & Laura de Pedro.

So that I don’t retell the paper’s content here, suffice to say that through spatial thermal mapping and analysis, Christopher managed to squeeze performance improvements out of a design that was originally created in an already simulation-embedded design studio and overall did not perform badly at all. Through geometric building fabric adaptations and select building assembly material improvements, especially the glaringly uncomfortable top building floor of a 50-zone design was much improved; shown above are both base and further optimized design states mapped during summer, when daylight utilization, thermal comfort and cooling load needed a lot of work. Ironically, the somewhat dramatic performance problems were originally masked when only looking at whole-building averages, as the top floor is only a relatively small part of the total building area.

All-floor total heating energy use

All-floor spatial visualization of annual total heating energy use, base vs. adapted design state, Mr.Comfy display of E+ data. Design: Christopher Sitzler & Laura de Pedro.

The remaining floors were primarily re-optimized to lower heating energy consumption, as they did not suffer from the dramatic summer overheating apparent in the top floor. The visualization is quite interesting insofar as it not only shows what was changed, but how zones are mutually influential; compound changes are usually hard to spot in their “thermo-spatial” effects and commonly occur in rapid design iterations. Charted in a traditional fashion, total changes in energy use are summarized below.

Base vs. adapted design total energy use

Stacked “traditional” bar chart of total annual heating, cooling, lighting energy use, base vs. adapted design state

The paper finally goes into some detail regarding how students use the tool, and how they thought that spatial mapping improves design cognition (summary: yes, they think it does). Many of the features added to Mr.Comfy since are not included in the publication (unfortunately..) but will be further discussed in a journal paper, once I get ’round to it and figure out what’s next with me.

Thanks for reading~ enjoy.