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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Optimizing Radiant Systems for Energy Efficiency and Comfort

  • Author(s): Bauman, Fred
  • Raftery, Paul
  • Schiavon, Stefano
  • Karmann, Caroline
  • Pantelic, Jovan
  • Duarte, Carlos
  • Woolley, Jonathan
  • Dawe, Megan
  • Graham, Lindsay T
  • Miller, Dana
  • Cheng, Hwakong
  • Feng, Jingjuan (Dove)
  • Heinzerling, David
  • Higgins, Cathy
  • Carbonnier, Kevin
  • Paliaga, Gwelen
  • Pande, Abhijeet
  • Farahmand, Farhad
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-SA' version 4.0 license

Radiant cooling and heating systems provide an opportunity to achieve significant energy savings, peak demand reduction, load shifting, and thermal comfort improvements compared to conventional all-air systems. As a result, application of these systems has increased in recent years, particularly in zero-net-energy (ZNE) and other advanced low-energy buildings. Despite this growth, completed installations to date have demonstrated that controls and operation of radiant systems can be challenging due to a lack of familiarity within the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) design and operations professions, often involving new concepts (particularly related to the slow response in high thermal mass radiant systems). To achieve the significant reductions in building energy use proposed by California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC’s) Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan that all new non-residential buildings be ZNE by 2030, it is critical that new technologies that will play a major role in reaching this goal be applied in an effective manner. This final report describes the results of a comprehensive multi-faceted research project that was undertaken to address these needed enhancements to radiant technology by developing the following: (1) sizing and operation tools (currently unavailable on the market) to provide reliable methods to take full advantage of the radiant systems to provide improved energy performance while maintaining comfortable conditions, (2) energy, cost, and occupant comfort data to provide real world examples of energy efficient, affordable, and comfortable buildings using radiant systems, and (3) Title-24 and ASHRAE Standards advancements to enhance the building industry’s ability to achieve significant energy efficiency goals in California with radiant systems. The research team used a combination of full-scale fundamental laboratory experiments, whole-building energy simulations and simplified tool development, and detailed field studies and control demonstrations to assemble the new information, guidance and tools necessary to help the building industry achieve significant energy efficiency goals for radiant systems in California.

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