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Document Type



Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Yong X. Tao

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Ali Ebadian

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Yiding Cao

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Yimin Zhu

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Exergy, Alternative Energy, Sustainable Building

Date of Defense



To achieve the goal of sustainable development, the building energy system was evaluated from both the first and second law of thermodynamics point of view. The relationship between exergy destruction and sustainable development were discussed at first, followed by the description of the resource abundance model, the life cycle analysis model and the economic investment effectiveness model. By combining the forgoing models, a new sustainable index was proposed. Several green building case studies in U.S. and China were presented. The influences of building function, geographic location, climate pattern, the regional energy structure, and the technology improvement potential of renewable energy in the future were discussed. The building’s envelope, HVAC system, on-site renewable energy system life cycle analysis from energy, exergy, environmental and economic perspective were compared. It was found that climate pattern had a dramatic influence on the life cycle investment effectiveness of the building envelope. The building HVAC system energy performance was much better than its exergy performance. To further increase the exergy efficiency, renewable energy rather than fossil fuel should be used as the primary energy. A building life cycle cost and exergy consumption regression model was set up. The optimal building insulation level could be affected by either cost minimization or exergy consumption minimization approach. The exergy approach would cause better insulation than cost approach. The influence of energy price on the system selection strategy was discussed. Two photovoltaics (PV) systems – stand alone and grid tied system were compared by the life cycle assessment method. The superiority of the latter one was quite obvious. The analysis also showed that during its life span PV technology was less attractive economically because the electricity price in U.S. and China did not fully reflect the environmental burden associated with it. However if future energy price surges and PV system cost reductions were considered, the technology could be very promising for sustainable buildings in the future.





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