Optimization of High Performance Building Envelope for Energy Efficiency

Open Access
Green, Amanda Rachel
Area of Honors:
Architectural Engineering
Bachelor of Architectural Engineering
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • James Freihaut, Thesis Supervisor
  • Richard George Mistrick, Honors Advisor
  • Architectural Engineering
  • Chilled Water
  • DHRC
  • Chilled Beams
  • DOAS
  • HVAC
  • Facade
  • High Performance Building Envelope
  • Energy Performance
This thesis studies the effects on energy loads of a building using a high-performance building envelope. A literature review was conducted to study impacts of highly insulated buildings that have low infiltration rates, specifically the Passive House standard. Most previously studied projects that meet these standards were built in cold climates, so part of the purpose of this thesis is to analyze how high-performance building envelopes impact the heating and cooling loads in a hot and humid climate. The building studied in this report is a luxury, mixed-use hotel located in the Southeast United States. Per request of the owner, the exact name and location cannot be disclosed. It is a 16-story building with 14 floors of guestrooms and two main levels of mixed-use spaces. There are ballrooms, meeting rooms, restaurants, kitchens, a spa, and fitness center within the mixed-use areas. Upon analyzing the initial mechanical design, the mixed-use areas had an energy use intensity that was too high, so that became the focus of the mechanical system redesign. Air handling units and variable air volume units were changed to chilled beams for sensible cooling with dedicated outdoor air units for ventilation and latent loads. Also, a dedicated heat recovery chiller was added to the cooling plant to help heat the domestic hot water. Changing the façade of the building to have higher thermal resistance and less infiltration greatly reduced both the cooling and heating demand on the building. It also helped save a significant amount of energy annually. The mechanical redesign also proved to be very effective in saving energy and lowering the overall capacity of the cooling plant.