Collaborative Research: Adaptive, Multi-Layered Fenestration Elements for Optimum Building Energy Performance and Occupant Comfort
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As buildings work towards reducing energy demands, while maintaining a both thermally and visually comfortable environment for occupants, fenestrations (i.e. windows) are a key influential component in this effort. Fenestrations allow for natural daylight and outdoor views, but also represent the least thermally efficient portion of the building envelope, as well as a source of unwanted discomfort glare and direct sunlight. A multi-layered, dynamically-operated fenestration system that can be installed in new buildings or retrofitted for an existing building will address building energy use and occupant comfort needs under a diverse range of climate conditions. The project will explore the theoretical and practical challenges for the building industry to develop a model for the performance of dynamic fenestration designs to enhance building energy sustainability and human health. To encourage exchanging of ideas internationally, the research team will collaborate with European colleagues through the European Commission Horizon 2020 PLUG-N-HARVEST project. In addition, instructional and interdisciplinary research opportunities will be provided for graduate and undergraduate students of civil, mechanical, and materials engineering to serve a vital need, particularly from existing buildings.This research will lay the theoretical and practical foundations for the intelligent control and operations of smart and energy efficient fenestrations by developing an adaptive, multi-layered solution. This includes: (a) a dual-band, continuous-state electrochromic glazing applied to the window exterior in a matrix pattern to enable localized control, (b) a motorized and dynamically-operated shading device, and (c) a novel, multi-physics model-based adaptive control framework, with the goal of balancing a range of building energy consumption and occupant thermal and visual comfort priorities in real time. The exterior 2-dimensional electrochromic glazing array combined with a second dynamic layer on the fenestration interior provides the ability to address localized occupant visual comfort challenges, and allows for a broader range of capabilities to control solar heat gains, while addressing differences in occupant comfort criteria. The model framework solution will be tested and evaluated using simulations, and a full-scale testbed.This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.