Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUC Berkeley

Hardware-in-the-Loop Modeling and Simulation Methods for Daylight Systems in Buildings


This dissertation introduces hardware-in-the-loop modeling and simulation techniques to the daylighting community, with specific application to complex fenestration systems. No such application of this class of techniques, optimally combining mathematical-modeling and physical-modeling experimentation, is known to the author previously in the literature.

Daylighting systems in buildings have a large impact on both the energy usage of a building as well as the occupant experience within a space. As such, a renewed interest has been placed on designing and constructing buildings with an emphasis on daylighting in recent times as part of the ``green movement.''

Within daylighting systems, a specific subclass of building envelope is receiving much attention: complex fenestration systems (CFSs). CFSs are unique as compared to regular fenestration systems (e.g. glazing) in the regard that they allow for non-specular transmission of daylight into a space. This non-specular nature can be leveraged by designers to ``optimize'' the times of the day and the days of the year that daylight enters a space. Examples of CFSs include: Venetian blinds, woven fabric shades, and prismatic window coatings. In order to leverage the non-specular transmission properties of CFSs, however, engineering analysis techniques capable of faithfully representing the physics of these systems are needed.

Traditionally, the analysis techniques available to the daylighting community fall broadly into three classes: simplified techniques, mathematical-modeling and simulation, and physical-modeling and experimentation. Simplified techniques use ``rules-of-thumb'' heuristics to provide insights for simple daylighting systems. Mathematical-modeling and simulation use complex numerical models to provide more detailed insights into system performance. Finally, physical-models can be instrumented and excited using artificial and natural light sources to provide performance insight into a daylighting system. Each class of techniques, broadly speaking however, has advantages and disadvantages with respect to the cost of execution (e.g. money, time, expertise) and the fidelity of the provided insight into the performance of the daylighting system. This varying tradeoff of cost and insight between the techniques determines which techniques are employed for which projects.

Daylighting systems with CFS components, however, when considered for simulation with respect to these traditional technique classes, defy high fidelity analysis. Simplified techniques are clearly not applicable. Mathematical-models must have great complexity in order to capture the non-specular transmission accurately, which greatly limit their applicability. This leaves physical modeling, the most costly, as the preferred method for CFS. While mathematical-modeling and simulation methods do exist, they are in general costly and and still approximations of the underlying CFS behavior. Meaning in fact, measurements of CFSs are currently the only practical method to capture the behavior of CFSs. Traditional measurements of CFSs transmission and reflection properties are conducted using an instrument called a goniophotometer and produce a measurement in the form of a Bidirectional Scatter Distribution Function (BSDF) based on the Klems Basis. This measurement must be executed for each possible state of the CFS, hence only a subset of the possible behaviors can be captured for CFSs with continuously varying configurations. In the current era of rapid prototyping (e.g. 3D printing) and automated control of buildings including daylighting systems, a new analysis technique is needed which can faithfully represent these CFSs which are being designed and constructed at an increasing rate.

Hardware-in-the-loop modeling and simulation is a perfect fit to the current need of analyzing daylighting systems with CFSs. In the proposed hardware-in-the-loop modeling and simulation approach of this dissertation, physical-models of real CFSs are excited using either natural or artificial light. The exiting luminance distribution from these CFSs is measured and used as inputs to a Radiance mathematical-model of the interior of the space, which is proposed to be lit by the CFS containing daylighting system. Hence, the components of the total daylighting and building system which are not mathematically-modeled well, the CFS, are physically excited and measured, while the components which are modeled properly, namely the interior building space, are mathematically-modeled. In order to excite and measure CFSs behavior, a novel parallel goniophotometer, referred to as the CUBE 2.0, is developed in this dissertation. The CUBE 2.0 measures the input illuminance distribution and the output luminance distribution with respect to a CFS under test. Further, the process is fully automated allowing for deployable experiments on proposed building sites, as well as in laboratory based experiments.

In this dissertation, three CFSs, two commercially available and one novel - Twitchell's Textilene 80 Black, Twitchell's Shade View Ebony, and Translucent Concrete Panels (TCP) - are simulated on the CUBE 2.0 system for daylong deployments at one minute time steps. These CFSs are assumed to be placed in the glazing space within the Reference Office Radiance model, for which horizontal illuminance on a work plane of 0.8 m height is calculated for each time step. While Shade View Ebony and TCPs are unmeasured CFSs with respect to BSDF, Textilene 80 Black has been previously measured. As such a validation of the CUBE 2.0 using the goniophotometer measured BSDF is presented, with measurement errors of the horizontal illuminance between +3% and -10%. These error levels are considered to be valid within experimental daylighting investigations. Non-validated results are also presented in full for both Shade View Ebony as well as TCP.

Concluding remarks and future directions for HWiL simulation close the dissertation.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View