High Performance Building Facade Solutions: PIER Final Project Report
Building façades directly influence heating and cooling loads and indirectly influence lighting loads when daylighting is considered, and are therefore a major determinant of annual energy use and peak electric demand. façades also significantly influence occupant comfort and satisfaction, making the design optimization challenge more complex than many other building systems.
This work focused on addressing significant near-term opportunities to reduce energy use in California commercial building stock by a) targeting voluntary, design-based opportunities derived from the use of better design guidelines and tools, and b) developing and de ploying more efficient glazings, shading systems, daylighting systems, façade systems and integrated controls.
This two-year project, supported by the California Energy Commission PIER program and the US Department of Energy, initiated a collaborative effort between The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and major stakeholders in the façades industry to develop, evaluate, and accelerate market deployment of emerging, high-performance, integrated façade solutions. The LBNL Windows Testbed Facility acted as the primary cata lyst and mediator on both sides of the building industry supply-user business transaction by a) aiding component suppliers to create and optimize cost effective, integrated systems that work, and b) demonstrating and verifying to the owner, designer, and specifier community that these integrated systems reliably deliver required energy performance. An industry consortium was initiated amongst approximately seventy disparate stakeholders, who unlike the HVAC or lighting industry, has no single representative, multi-disciplinary body or organized means of communicating and collaborating. The consortium provided guidance on the project and more importantly, began to mutually work out and agree on the goals, criteria, and pathways needed to attain the ambitious net zero energy goals defined by California and the US.
A collaborative test, monitoring, and reporting protocol was also formulated via the Windows Testbed Facility in collaboration with industry partners, transitioning industry to focus on the import ance of expecting measured performance to consistently achieve design performance expectations. The facility enables accurate quantification of energy use, peak demand, and occupant comfort impacts of synergistic façade-lighting-HVAC systems on an apples-to-apples comparative basis and its data can be used to verify results from simulations.
Emerging interior and exterior shading technologies were investigated as potential near-term, low-cost solutions with potential broad applicability in both new and retrofit construction. Commercially-available and prototype technologies were developed, tested, and evaluated. Full-scale, monitored field tests were conducted over solstice-to-solstice periods to thoroughly evaluate the technologies, uncover potential risks associated with an unknown, and quantify performance benefits. Exterior shading systems were found to yield net zero energy levels of performance in a sunny climate and significant reductions in summer peak demand. Automated interior shading systems were found to yield significant daylighting and comfort-related benefits.
In support of an integrated design process, a PC-based commercial fenestration (COMFEN) software package, based on EnergyPlus, was developed that enables architects and engineers to x quickly assess and compare the performance of innovative façade technologies in the early sketch or schematic design phase. This tool is publicly available for free and will continue to improve in terms of features and accuracy. Other work was conducted to develop simulation tools to model the performance of any arbitrary complex fenestration system such as common Venetian blinds, fabric roller shades as well as more exotic innovative façade systems such as optical louver systems.
The principle mode of technology transfer was to address the key market barriers associated with lack of information and facile simulation tools for early decisionmaking. The third party data generated by the field tests and simulation data provided by the COMFEN tool enables utilities to now move forward toward incentivizing these technologies in the marketplace.