Impact of adaptive comfort criteria and heat waves on optimal building thermal mass control
This article investigates building thermal mass control of commercial buildings to reduce utility costs with a particular emphasis on the individual impacts of both adaptive comfort criteria and of heat waves. Recent changes in international standards on thermal comfort for indoor environments allow for adaptation to the weather development as manifested in comfort criteria prEN 15251.2005 and NPR-CR 1752.2005 relative to the non-adaptive comfort criterion ISO 7730.2003. Furthermore, since extreme weather patterns tend to occur more frequently, even in moderate climate zones, it is of interest how a building's passive thermal storage inventory responds to prolonged heat waves. The individual and compounded effects of adaptive comfort criteria and heat waves on the conventional and optimal operation of a prototypical office building are investigated for the particularly hot month of August 2003 in Freiburg, Germany. It is found that operating commercial buildings using adaptive comfort criteria strongly reduces total cooling loads and associated building systems energy consumption under conventional and building thermal mass control. In the case of conventional control, total operating cost reductions follow the cooling loads reductions closely. Conversely, the use of adaptive comfort criteria under optimal building thermal mass control leads to both lower and slightly higher absolute operating costs compared to the optimal costs for the non-adaptive ISO 7730. While heat waves strongly affect the peak cooling loads under both conventional and optimal building thermal mass control, total cooling loads, building energy consumption and costs are only weakly affected for both control modes. Passive cooling under cost-optimal control, while achieving significant total cost reductions of up to 13%, is associated with total energy penalties on the order of 1-3% relative to conventional nighttime setup control. Thus, building thermal mass control defends its cost saving potential under optimal control in the presence of adaptive comfort criteria and heat waves.