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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Duct Leakage Modeling in EnergyPlus and Analysis of Energy Savings from Implementing SAV with InCITeTM


This project addressed two significant deficiencies in air-handling systems for large commercial building: duct leakage and duct static pressure reset. Both constitute significant energy reduction opportunities for these buildings. The overall project goal is to bridge the gaps in current duct performance modeling capabilities, and to expand our understanding of air-handling system performance in California large commercial buildings. The purpose of this project is to provide technical support for the implementation of a duct leakage modeling capability in EnergyPlus, to demonstrate the capabilities of the new model, and to carry out analyses of field measurements intended to demonstrate the energy saving potential of the SAV with InCITeTM duct static pressure reset (SPR) technology. A new duct leakage model has been successfully implemented in EnergyPlus, which will enable simulation users to assess the impacts of leakage on whole-building energy use and operation in a coupled manner. This feature also provides a foundation to support code change proposals and compliance analyses related to Title 24 where duct leakage is an issue. Our example simulations continue to show that leaky ducts substantially increase fan power: 10percent upstream and 10percent downstream leakage increases supply fan power 30percent on average compared to a tight duct system (2.5percent upstream and 2.5percent downstream leakage). Much of this increase is related to the upstream leakage rather than to the downstream leakage. This does not mean, however, that downstream leakage is unimportant. Our simulations also demonstrate that ceiling heat transfer is a significant effect that needs to be included when assessing the impacts of duct leakage in large commercial buildings. This is not particularly surprising, given that ?ceiling regain? issues have already been included in residential analyses as long as a decade ago (e.g., ASHRAE Standard 152); mainstream simulation programs that are used for large commercial building energy analyses have not had this capability until now. Our analyses of data that we collected during our 2005 tests of the SAV with InCITeTM duct static pressure reset technology show that this technology can substantially reduce fan power (in this case, by about 25 to 30percent). Tempering this assessment, however, is that cooling and heating coil loads were observed to increase or decrease significantly depending on the time window used. Their impact on cooling and heating plant power needs to be addressed in future studies; without translating the coil loads to plant equipment energy use, it is not possible to judge the net impact of this SPR technology on whole-building energy use. If all of the loads had decreased, such a step would not be as necessary.

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