Building and HVAC system design can significantly improve if numerical optimization is used. However, if a cost function that is smooth in the design parameter is evaluated by a building energy simulation program, it usually becomes replaced with a numerical approximation that is discontinuous in the design parameter. Moreover, many building simulation programs do not allow obtaining an error bound for the numerical approximations to the cost function. Thus, if a cost function is evaluated by such a program, optimization algorithms that depend on smoothness of the cost function can fail far from a minimum.
For such problems it is unclear how the Hooke-Jeeves Generalized Pattern Search optimization algorithm and the simple Genetic Algorithm perform. The Hooke-Jeeves algorithm depends on smoothness of the cost function, whereas the simple Genetic Algorithm may not even converge if the cost function is smooth. Therefore, we are interested in how these algorithms perform if used in conjunction with a cost function evaluated by a building energy simulation program.
In this paper we show what can be expected from the two algorithms and compare their performance in minimizing the annual primary energy consumption of an office building in three locations. The problem has 13 design parameters and the cost function has large discontinuities. The optimization algorithms reduce the energy consumption by 7% to 32%, depending on the building location. Given the short labor time to set up the optimization problems, such reductions can yield considerable economic gains.