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How can floor covering influence buildings’ demand flexibility?

Abstract

Although the thermal mass of floors in buildings has been demonstrated to help shift cooling load, there is still a lack of information about how floor covering can influence the floor’s load shifting capability and buildings’ demand flexibility. To fill this gap, we estimated demand flexibility based on the daily peak cooling load reduction for different floor configurations and regions, using EnergyPlus simulations. As a demand response strategy, we used precooling and global temperature adjustment. The result demonstrated an adverse impact of floor covering on the building’s demand flexibility. Specifically, under the same demand response strategy, the daily peak cooling load reductions were up to 20–34% for a concrete floor whereas they were only 17–29% for a carpet-covered concrete floor. This is because floor covering hinders convective coupling between the concrete floor surface and the zone air and reduces radiative heat transfer between the concrete floor surface and the surrounding environment. In hot climates such as Phoenix, floor covering almost negated the concrete floor’s load shifting capability and yielded low demand flexibility as a wood floor, representing low thermal mass. Sensitivity analyses showed that floor covering’s effects can be more profound with a larger carpet-covered area, a greater temperature adjustment depth, or a higher radiant heat gain. With this effect ignored for a given building, its demand flexibility would be overestimated, which could prevent grid operators from obtaining sufficient demand flexibility to maintain a grid. Our findings also imply that for more efficient grid-interactive buildings, a traditional standard for floor design could be modified with increasing renewable penetration.

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