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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Demand Shifting with Thermal Mass in Large Commercial Buildings in a California Hot Climate Zone


The potential for using building thermal mass for load shifting and peak energy demand reduction has been demonstrated in a number of simulation, laboratory, and field studies. Previous Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory research has demonstrated that the approach is very effective in cool and moderately warm climate conditions (California Climate Zones 2-4). However, this method had not been tested in hotter climate zones. This project studied the potential of pre-cooling the building early in the morning and increasing temperature setpoints during peak hours to reduce cooling-related demand in two typical office buildings in hotter California climates ? one in Visalia (CEC Climate Zone 13) and the other in San Bernardino (CEC Climate Zone 10). The conclusion of the work to date is that pre-cooling in hotter climates has similar potential to that seen previously in cool and moderate climates. All other factors being equal, results to date indicate that pre-cooling increases the depth (kW) and duration (kWh) of the possible demand shed of a given building. The effectiveness of night pre-cooling in typical office building under hot weather conditions is very limited. However, night pre-cooling is helpful for office buildings with an undersized HVAC system. Further work is required to duplicate the tests in other typical buildings and in other hot climate zones and prove that pre-cooling is truly effective.

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