This dissertation presents techniques for the numerical modeling and control of building systems, with an emphasis on thermostatically controlled loads. The primary objective of this work is to address technical challenges related to the management of energy use in commercial and residential buildings. This work is motivated by the need to enhance the performance of building systems and by the potential for aggregated loads to perform load following and regulation ancillary services, thereby enabling the further adoption of intermittent renewable energy generation technologies. To increase the generalizability of the techniques, an emphasis is placed on recursive and adaptive methods which minimize the need for customization to specific buildings and applications.
The techniques presented in this dissertation can be divided into two general categories: modeling and control. Modeling techniques encompass the processing of data streams from sensors and the training of numerical models. These models enable us to predict the energy use of a building and of sub-systems, such as a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit. Specifically, we first present an ensemble learning method for the short-term forecasting of total electricity demand in buildings. As the deployment of intermittent renewable energy resources continues to rise, the generation of accurate building-level electricity demand forecasts will be valuable to both grid operators and building energy management systems. Second, we present a recursive parameter estimation technique for identifying a thermostatically controlled load (TCL) model that is non-linear in the parameters. For TCLs to perform demand response services in real-time markets, online methods for parameter estimation are needed. Third, we develop a piecewise linear thermal model of a residential building and train the model using data collected from a custom-built thermostat. This model is capable of approximating unmodeled dynamics within a building by learning from sensor data.
Control techniques encompass the application of optimal control theory, model predictive control, and convex distributed optimization to TCLs. First, we present the alternative control trajectory (ACT) representation, a novel method for the approximate optimization of non-convex discrete systems. This approach enables the optimal control of a population of non-convex agents using distributed convex optimization techniques. Second, we present a distributed convex optimization algorithm for the control of a TCL population. Experimental results demonstrate the application of this algorithm to the problem of renewable energy generation following.
This dissertation contributes to the development of intelligent energy management systems for buildings by presenting a suite of novel and adaptable modeling and control techniques. Applications focus on optimizing the performance of building operations and on facilitating the integration of renewable energy resources.