Whole Building Hygrothermal Performance

Hygrothermal – Indoor Air + Energy + Durabilitiy

Buildings are designed to create a space isolated from the surrounding environment that provides comfortable environmental conditions for occupants. In addition to providing comfortable environmental conditions, they are expected to be energy efficient and durable. Their functional performance to provide the desired outcome, however, depend on the dynamic interaction of the indoor environment, the building enclosure and the mechanical systems for ventilation, heating (or cooling) and humidification (dehumidification). Ignoring the interrelated and coupled effects of the three design aspects and exclusively dealing with only one aspect of the building design may result in poor overall building performance: high energy consumption, poor indoor air quality and building envelope failure. For example, a building design with a low ventilation rate will reduce energy consumption, but the indoor humidity and pollutant levels will be elevated due to the low air exchange rate. Subsequently, this might lead to deterioration of building components and occupants’ health due to high moisture accumulation in the building structure and poor indoor-air-quality, respectively. Consequently, it is important to consider a building as a system and apply an integrated design approach to attain an optimized building performance.

Today there is renewed interest in energy conservation and a drive for “green” building design that reduces natural resource consumption and GHG emissions. In response, new materials, systems and designs are emerging and government regulations and requirements are increasing. So as to not repeat the problem of the 1970s, new ideas and technologies need to be evaluated for their implication not only to energy conservation, but also to indoor air quality, durability and life cycle cost. A typical whole-building hygrothermal performance analysis considers a building as a system and takes into account the hygrothermal loadings and predicts simultaneously the hygrothermal states of building enclosure, indoor air and energy consumption of a building in an integrated manner.

Building as an integrated system
Building as an integrated system

BSCE owns a fully equipped whole-building Hygrothermal performance laboratory to conduct material property measurements and characterizations; hygrothermal modeling and measurements of building envelope systems; and integrated analysis of whole-building performances.

We aim to develop a comprehensive building optimization and decision-making tool that integrates whole-building simulation, Risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis, with the objective of designing a building that is energy efficient, durable, economical, environmentally friendly, and provides comfortable and healthy indoor air quality to occupants.

We conduct our study using simulation models, experimental investigations and field monitoring. (link the brief description about these tools which is mentioned in the building envelope system)

The short-term objectives of our whole-building performance research includes:

  • Increase the fundamental understanding of the dynamic heat, air and moisture (HAM) interactions between the building envelope, indoor environment and mechanical systems
  • Generate experimental data for validation of whole-building hygrothermal models
  • Develop an advanced whole-building hygrothermal model, building upon BSCE’s whole-building hygrothermal model HAMFitPlus, for simultaneous analysis of the energy efficiency, durability and indoor environmental conditions of a building in an integrated manner