You are on page 1of 6

ANALYSIS OF OPTIMAL FENESTRATION PARAMETERS FOR A

PASSIVE SOLAR OFFICE BUILDING IN SERBIA


S. Stevanovi1,2
1: University of Primorska, Institute Andrej Marui, Muzejski trg 2, 6000 Koper, Slovenia
2: University of Ni, Faculty of Sciences and Mathematics, Viegradska 33, 18000 Ni, Serbia

ABSTRACT

Fenestration, important for adding aesthetics to the building design and providing adequate
daylight illumination levels, also plays a vital role for thermal comfort in buildings and is
easily considered as the most important individual strategy in passive solar design of
buildings. Purpose of this work is to analyse and discuss optimal fenestration parameters for
an office building located in Belgrade, Serbia. Office buildings are characterized by high
internal gains due to the presence of people, computer equipment and lighting during the
work hours, which may be beneficial in the heating season, but may pose a significant
problem in the cooling season.
The case study is a four-story office building, rectangular in shape, with longer sides facing
south and north. Windows are present at southern and northern walls only. The design
parameters include six glazing types for southern and for northern windows each, seven
values of windows-to-wall ratio for southern and northern facade each, presence of external
shading at southern windows, as well as three U-values of external walls. In total, 10,584
parameter combinations have been simulated in EnergyPlus, with the building in a free
running mode and with annual heating and cooling discomfort hours recorded at the output.
The analysis is focused on the set of Pareto optimal solutions with heating and cooling
discomfort hours as competing performance objectives.
The simulation results clearly demonstrate importance of improved thermal insulation in the
continental climate of Belgrade and the necessity of using superior triple, low-e, argon-filled
glazing for all building variants with larger than minimal southern windows-to-wall ratio. The
optimal choice of the southern windows-to-wall ratio turns out to be between 37,5% and 50%,
with external shading of southern windows, while the optimal choice of the northern
windows-to-ratio is between 25% and 37,5%.
Keywords: passive solar design, office building, fenestration, Pareto front, EnergyPlus.
INTRODUCTION

Passive solar design strategies aim to use solar energy to help establish thermal comfort in
buildings, without the use of electrical or mechanical equipment. The greatest opportunities
for integrating passive solar design strategies occur at the conceptual design level, by
determining the values of building envelope parameters that have critical influence on its
thermal performance. Building energy simulation plays a fundamental role in this process,
since the buildings future response to applied passive solar design strategies is highly
sensitive to local climate factors.
Among the passive solar design strategies, fenestration may be considered as the most
important, since it has the largest influence on the admission of solar energy into the building
and, hence, plays a vital role in its thermal comfort. The purpose of this work is to analyse and

discuss optimal fenestration parameters for an office building located in Belgrade, Serbia.
Belgrade has continental climate with hot summers (Dfa in Kppen classification), with
average maximal monthly temperatures of 27,3C in July and August and average minimal
monthly temperature of -2,3C in January [1].
CASE STUDY DESCRIPTION
Survey of the research on optimal passive solar design of low energy buildings [2] suggests
two alternative optimal building plans: a square plan, which minimizes the ratio of the
envelope surface and the interior volume and thus increases energy efficiency, or an elongated
rectangle plan, with longer side oriented towards south, which enables better passive use of
available solar energy during winter. The case study considered here has, therefore, a
rectangular plan with dimensions 20m x 14m and four stories of 4m storey height. Office
building is of open plan, so that the model has no internal partitions (except towards spaces
that do not have large influence on thermal characteristics, such as staircases and restrooms).
By current Serbian legislative [3], exterior walls have U-value at most 0,3W/m2K, while
typical U-value for exterior walls of passive houses is around 0,1 W/m 2K. Three alternative
U-values 0,1 W/m2K, 0,2 W/m2K and 0,3 W/m2K have been used in simulations. Exterior
walls consist of plastic malter 0,5cm on the outside, expanded polystyrene of adequate
thickness, hollow brick 25cm and cement stucco 2cm on the inside. The remaining opaque
envelope components have fixed values: slab on the ground has U-value 0,246 W/m 2K, the
construction between stories has U-value 0,416 W/m 2K, while the flat roof has U-value 0,147
W/m2K. Concrete ceiling of each storey is stripped down, so that it serves as a thermal mass,
while the insulating layer above it reduces the transfer of accumulated heat to upper stories.
Infiltration rate is good and set to 0,5h-1.
Glazing properties have significant impact on a number of building functions: its U-value is
important for preservation of heat within the building, the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC)
determines the transmittance of solar energy, while the visible light transmittance coefficient
(VL) influences the daylighting and reduces the needs for artificial lighting. Six common
glazing types, whose properties are given in Table 1, have been considered in the case study.
Glazing
double, clear
double, clear, selective
double, tinted, selective
triple, clear
triple, low-e, argon-filled
triple, low-e, tinted
Table 1: Glazing types.

U-value (W/m2K)
2,742
1,628
1,628
1,779
0,893
1,214

SHGC
0,743
0,421
0,291
0,658
0,495
0,254

VL
0,801
0,682
0,408
0,723
0,651
0,322

Windows-to-wall ratios (WWR) on southern and northern facade vary from 25%, necessary to
satisfy minimal daylighting requirements, to 100% in steps of 12,5%. Windows shading is
provided with external blinds. Blind slats are horizontal with 10cm depth and 10cm vertical
distance between adjacent slats, which shade windows completely from May 20 to September
20, the period when maximal daily temperature is higher than 27C in Belgrade [1].
Internal gains are determined by the presence of employees. Working hours are 8am-4pm,
five days per week, although it is assumed that a half of the employees will be present from

7.30am-8am and also from 4pm-4.30pm. Each employee occupies area of 9m 2 and has a
100W computer equipment. The metabolic rate for light office work, standing and walking,
for a mix of equally many men and women, is 114,39W per person, which yields internal
gains of 23,82 W/m2 from presence of people and computer equipment. Artificial lighting uses
T5 tubes, which in the absence of daylighting, use 13,2W/m 2 to provide 400lux light intensity.
Since the glazing type and shading greatly influence availability of daylight, and respectively
the energy needed for artificial lighting, the case study has a photosensor at desk height in the
center of each storey and linear lighting control.
Natural ventilation is used as a passive cooling measure, as the oscillation between maximum
and minimum daily temperatures in Belgrade is 10,4-10,5 from May to July and 11,7-11,9
in August and September [1]. Natural ventilation is available from Apr 15 to Oct 15 during
working hours as necessary and during nighttime from 10pm to 6am, whenever the internal
temperature is above 20C and above the external temperature. It has maximum rate of 5,0h -1,
with at most 20% of windows area allowed to open. Further, mechanical ventilation is used to
provide minimum of 10l/s of fresh air per person during working hours.
SIMULATION RESULTS

The case study office building has several variable parameters: three exterior walls U-values
(0,1; 0,2; 0,3 W/m2K), six glazing types for southern facade (Table 1), six glazing types for
northern facade (Table 1), seven WWR values for southern facade (25%; 37,5%; ...; 100%),
seven WWR values for northern facade (25%; 37,5; ...; 100%) and the indicator of
presence/absence of southern windows shading. In total, 10 584 building variants were
simulated in EnergyPlus, using jEPlus [6] to automate simulation process.
The building variants were simulated in free running mode, with the simulation output
consisting of heating and cooling discomfort hours. If zone,i,j,t denotes operative temperature in
zone i (i=1,2,3,4) during the working day in a year and 15-minute long timestep t, then the
heating discomfort hours are defined as
HDH

4 max(20C T

,0C),

(1)

1
max(Tzone ,i , j ,t 26C,0C).
4

(2)

zone , i , j , t

i , j ,t

while the cooling discomfort hours are defined as


CDH
i , j ,t

Hence, the heating discomfort hours represent the number of degree hours that the operative
temperature is below the heating setpoint of 20C, while the cooling discomfort hours
represent the number of hours that the operative temperature is above the cooling setpoint of
26C. The discomfort hours have been used before in [4,5] as the heating and cooling energy
indicators. Essentially, as pointed out in [5], it can be expected that the building minimizing
heating and cooling discomfort hours will also minimize heating and cooling energy demand.
Natural ventilation was simulated using the EnergyPlus option Calculated, which takes into
account wind and buoyancy effects. Simulation of each building variant took between 110s
and 140s on Fujitsu Lifebook E782 with Intel Core i7-3612QM processor on 2.1GHz. Since
the processor allows execution of eight EnergyPlus simulations in parallel, simulation of all
10 584 building variants took litlle more than 50 hours.
Figures 1-4 represent heating and cooling discomfort hours for all building variants,
differently colored with respect to external wall U-value (Fig. 1), southern glazing type

(Fig. 2), southern WWR (Fig. 3) and northern WWR (Fig. 4). These figures also show the
Pareto front, made from those building variants for which no other variant has smaller both
heating and cooling discomfort hours. The Pareto front, in this case, is made up of two parts: a
steep line on the left with heating discomfort hours below 7 500C, and an almost horizontal
part with cooling discomfort hours below 2 500C. Since heating requires substantially more
primary energy than cooling, the five Pareto solutions situated at lower left peaks in the steep
part of the Pareto front may be considered as the optimal choices. These five Pareto solutions
all have:

exterior walls U-value of 0,10 W/m2K,

triple, low-e, argon-filled glazing at both southern and northern windows,

shading present at southern windows,

northern WWR equal to minimal value of 25%,

while the southern WWR ranges from 87,5% for the variant with (HDH, CDH)=(5 172C,
10 204C) down to 37,5% for the variant with (HDH, CDH)=(7 365C, 2 573C).

Figure 1: Building variants colored according to U-value.

Figure 2: Building variants colored according to southern glazing type.

Figure 3: Building variants colored according to southern WWR.

Figure 4: Building variants colored according to northern WWR.

DISCUSSION

It can be seen from Figure 1 that the building variants with smaller exterior wall U-value are
generally closer to the Pareto front than the building variants with higher U-value. Together
with the fact that all Pareto optimal variants have the exterior wall U-value of 0,1 W/m 2K, this
clearly demonstrates the importance of thermal insulation in the continental climate of
Belgrade. Nevertheless, large overlaps between areas with different U-values also show that
the U-value itself is not the only decisive factor, as the numbers of heating and cooling
discomfort hours largely depend on fenestration parameters as well.
The grouping of variants according to the type of southern glazing is easily noticeable from
Figure 2. The smallest heating and cooling degree hours are generally obtained when triple,
low-e, argon-filled glazing is used at the southern facade, and all Pareto optimal solutions
with less than 10 000C heating discomfort hours have this glazing type both at southern and
northern windows, together with shading present at southern windows. The triple, low-e,
argon-filled glazing is superior to other glazing types due to the smallest U-value, important
for heat conservation during the heating season, and medium SHGC value. While it can be
noticed from Figure 2 that some building variants, which use triple, clear or even double,
clear glazing, are close to the lower left part of the Pareto front, such variants have minimal
southern WWR, which limits the influence of glazing parameters.

Most Pareto optimal solutions have the southern WWR equal to either 25% or 37,5%. There
is, however, a number of Pareto optimal solutions with the southern WWR between 50% and
100%, which all have triple, low-e, argon-filled glazing both at southern and northern facades
and shading present at southern windows. These variants, due to the beneficial effect of winter
solar gains have the smallest heating discomfort hours (less than 7 000), but at the same time
have the largest cooling discomfort hours (from 3 574 for the southern WWR of 50% up to
13 436 for the southern WWR of 100%). The optimal choice of the southern WWR is
between 37,5% and 50%, with shading present, which enables beneficial effect of solar gains
during the heating season, without large negative impact on cooling discomfort hours.
The northern WWR has significant impact on heating and cooling discomfort hours, as visible
from Figure 4. Building variants with larger northern WWR are generally further away from
the Pareto front, while only variants with the northern WWR up to 50% appear close to the
lower left part of the Pareto front. The fact that Pareto optimal solutions come in pairs, one of
which has the northern WWR of 25% and the other 37,5%, suggests that these values are
optimal choices for the northern WWR, which prevent large heat loss during the heating
season, with appropriate influence on cooling of the interior space during summer months.
The northern glazing type, with such WWR, does not appear to have large influence on the
number of discomfort hours.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The author has been supported by the Research Project TR36035 Spatial, environmental,
energy and social aspects of the development of settlements and climate change mutual
influences of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the
Republic of Serbia.
REFERENCES

1. Republic Hydrometeorological Service of Serbia: Meteorological yearbook


climate
data
2011,
Belgrade,
2012.
Available
at
http://www.hidmet.gov.rs/podaci/meteo_godisnjaci/
Meteoroloski%20godisnjak
%201%20-%20klimatoloski%20podaci%20-%202011.pdf, accessed Apr 28, 2013.
2. Stevanovi, S.: Optimisation of passive solar design strategies. Renewable and
Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2013, accepted for publication.
3. Government of the Republic of Serbia: Regulation on energy efficiency of
buildings. Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, Vol. 61, Belgrade, Aug 19,
2011.
4. Porritt, S., Shao, L., Cropper, P., Goodier, C.: Adapting dwellings for heat waves.
Sustainable Cities and Society, Vol. 1 (2011), 81-90.
5. Bouchlaghem, N.: Optimising the design of building envelopes for thermal
performance. Automation in Construction, Vol. 10 (2000), 101-112.
6. Zhang, Y.: JEPlus An EnergyPlus simulation manager for parametrics. Leicester,
2012. Available at http://www.iesd.dmu.ac.uk/~jeplus/wiki/doku.php, accessed Apr
28, 2013.