Optimising the life cycle energy performance of residential buildings

  • YEAR
    Crawford, Robert H
    Abna, Parisa
    Fuller, Robert
    2011 Conference Papers
    Sustainability Issues


ABSTRACT: A holistic approach to low-energy building design is essential to ensure that any efficiency
improvement strategies provide a net energy benefit over the life of the building. Previous work by the
authors has established a model for informing low-energy building design based on a comparison of
the life cycle energy demand associated with a broad range of building assemblies. This model ranks
assemblies based on their combined initial and recurrent embodied energy and operational energy
demand. The current study applies this model to an actual residential building in order to demonstrate
the application of the model for optimising a building’s life cycle energy performance.

The aim of this study was to demonstrate how the availability of comparable energy performance
information at the building design stage can be used to better optimise a building’s energy
performance. The life cycle energy demand of the case study building, located in the temperate climate
of Melbourne, Australia, was quantified using a comprehensive embodied energy assessment
technique and TRNSYS thermal energy simulation software. The building was then modelled with
variations to its external assemblies in an attempt to optimise its life cycle energy performance. The
alternative assemblies chosen were those shown through the author’s previous modelling to result in
the lowest life cycle energy demand for each building element. The best performing assemblies for
each of the main external building elements were then combined into a best-case scenario to quantify
the potential life cycle energy savings possible compared to the original building.

The study showed that significant life cycle energy savings are possible through the modelling of
individual building elements for the case study building. While these findings relate to a very specific
case, this study demonstrates the application of a model for optimising building life cycle energy
performance that may be applied more broadly during early-stage building design to optimise life cycle
energy performance.


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