Developing an enhanced model for combined heat and air infiltration energy simulation

Chadi Younes, Florida International University


The need for efficient, sustainable, and planned utilization of resources is ever more critical. In the U.S. alone, buildings consume 34.8 Quadrillion (1015) BTU of energy annually at a cost of $1.4 Trillion. Of this energy 58% is utilized for heating and air conditioning. Several building energy analysis tools have been developed to assess energy demands and lifecycle energy costs in buildings. Such analyses are also essential for an efficient HVAC design that overcomes the pitfalls of an under/over-designed system. DOE-2 is among the most widely known full building energy analysis models. It also constitutes the simulation engine of other prominent software such as eQUEST, EnergyPro, PowerDOE. Therefore, it is essential that DOE-2 energy simulations be characterized by high accuracy. Infiltration is an uncontrolled process through which outside air leaks into a building. Studies have estimated infiltration to account for up to 50% of a building's energy demand. This, considered alongside the annual cost of buildings energy consumption, reveals the costs of air infiltration. It also stresses the need that prominent building energy simulation engines accurately account for its impact. In this research the relative accuracy of current air infiltration calculation methods is evaluated against an intricate Multiphysics Hygrothermal CFD building envelope analysis. The full-scale CFD analysis is based on a meticulous representation of cracking in building envelopes and on real-life conditions. The research found that even the most advanced current infiltration methods, including in DOE-2, are at up to 96.13% relative error versus CFD analysis. An Enhanced Model for Combined Heat and Air Infiltration Simulation was developed. The model resulted in 91.6% improvement in relative accuracy over current models. It reduces error versus CFD analysis to less than 4.5% while requiring less than 1% of the time required for such a complex hygrothermal analysis. The algorithm used in our model was demonstrated to be easy to integrate into DOE-2 and other engines as a standalone method for evaluating infiltration heat loads. This will vastly increase the accuracy of such simulation engines while maintaining their speed and ease of use characteristics that make them very widely used in building design.

Subject Area

Civil engineering

Recommended Citation

Younes, Chadi, "Developing an enhanced model for combined heat and air infiltration energy simulation" (2012). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3554232.