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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Smart Ventilation for Advanced California Homes – Single Zone Technology Task

  • Author(s): Less, Brennan
  • Dutton, Spencer
  • Li, Xiwang
  • Clark, Jordan
  • Walker, Iain
  • Sherman, Max
  • et al.

This study is intended to demonstrate the potential for energy savings while providing acceptable Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) for ZNE homes. It uses the concept of Smart Ventilation where ventilation systems are designed and controlled to produce the same, or better, IAQ compared to simple, continuously operated ventilation systems. The key energy saving principle for smart ventilation is that ventilation is shifted in time to when the energy required to condition the air is lower. A variety of smart ventilation controls based on outdoor temperature, occupancy and auxiliary fan sensing were developed and assessed across homes built to the 2016 Title 24 Prescriptive standards in California climate regions. Simulations used a co-simulation strategy that combines EnergyPlus with CONTAM. The IAQ calculations were based on the equivalent ventilation principle outlined in the ASHRAE 62.2-2016 ventilation standard, Appendix C. Two prototype homes were simulated (1-story 2,100 ft2 and 2-story 2,700 ft2). Their envelope airtightness was varied between 1, 3 and 5 ACH50. Climate zones were chosen to reflect the variety of heating and cooling demand throughout California. A weighted average analysis was used to generalize the energy predictions across the projected new housing stock in the state. Temperature-based controls were found to be effective, with the most successful smart controls reducing weighted average site ventilation energy use by about 40%, while TDV weighted average ventilation energy reductions were higher, up to roughly 60%. Results were also normalized to ensure identical IAQ in all cases, and the weighted average site and TDV ventilation savings increased, up to 55% and 72% ventilation savings, respectively, for the top-performing temperature-based controls. Peak demand during the 2-6pm period on the hottest days of the year was reduced by up to 400 watts. More than 90% of site energy savings were for heating end-uses, while TDV energy savings were split fairly evenly between heating and cooling. On average, the smart controls reduced occupant pollutant exposure by 0-10%, and they increased ventilation rates by roughly 20%. Occupancy-based controls that accounted for contaminants released by building materials and furnishings during unoccupied times were generally ineffective, with very low energy savings. Performance was improved somewhat through use of a 1-hour pre-occupancy flush out period, though savings were still marginal compared to temperature-based controls. All temperature and occupancy controls were also tested with auxiliary fan sensing capability (i.e., accounting for the use of other exhaust devices in the home, like bathroom or kitchen fans). Auxiliary fan sensing increased energy savings in all cases, from roughly 5 to 15%.

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