A simulation-optimization method for economic efficient design of net zero energy buildings
Dillon, Krystal Renee
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Buildings have a significant impact on energy usage and the environment. Much of the research in architectural sustainability has centered on economically advanced countries because they consume the most energy and have the most resources. However, sustainable architecture is important in developing countries, where the energy consumption of the building sector is increasing significantly. Currently, developing countries struggle with vaccine storage because vaccines are typically warehoused in old buildings that are poorly designed and wasteful of energy. This thesis created and studied a decision support tool that can be used to aid in the design of economically feasible Net Zero Energy vaccine warehouses for the developing world. The decision support tool used a simulation-optimization approach to combine an optimization technique with two simulation softwares in order to determine the cost-optimal design solution. To test its effectiveness, a new national vaccine storage facility located in Tunis, Tunisia was used. Nine building parameters were investigated to see which have the most significant effect on the annual energy usage and initial construction cost of the building. First, tests were conducted for two construction techniques, five different climates in the developing world, and three photovoltaic system prices to gain insight on the design space of the optimal solution. The results showed the difference between an economically efficient and economically inefficient Net Zero Energy building and the results were used to provide generalized climatic recommendations for all the building parameters studied. The final test showed the benefits of combining two optimization techniques, a design of experiments and a genetic algorithm, to form a two-step process to aid in the building design in the early stages and final stages of the design process. The proposed decision support tool can efficiently and effectively aid in the design of an economically feasible Net Zero Energy vaccine warehouse for the developing world.