Simulation of Advance Thermal Processes in Buildings to Optimise Energy Performance and Costs

Mehdi Taebnia

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


This study concentrates on methodologies and practical solutions to improve energy performance in indoor ice rink arenas and increase buildings' energy flexibility to reduce their energy costs. The objectives of the study are as follows: 1) to investigate how the temperature gradient impacts the heat load towards the ice pad and evaluate the effects of various air handling unit (AHU) layouts on energy consumption, particularly at the cooling coil section; 2) to develop a simplified calculation methodology/tool based on a steady-state analysis in order to roughly calculate the energy demands/costs and primary energy in such arenas; 3) to develop a price-based control approach for reducing the energy costs of a residential building equipped with an electric heater, a geothermal heat pump, a solar thermal collector and a thermal storage unit; and 4) to develop a qualitative control method based on both varying electricity prices and the predicted outdoor weather data. The control algorithm evaluates a building's energy needs for the next several hours with the aid of a weather forecast. The building performance simulation program, IDA Indoor Climate and Energy (IDA-ICE), was mainly conducted to obtain the results of ice rink arenas, and field measurements were implemented to validate the simulation models. The obtained simulation results were used to validate the calculator and determine its accuracy. The results of the control methods were also obtained by conducting a Transient System Simulation (TRNSYS) and simultaneously implementing the control algorithm into the simulation environment. The controllers' strategy was to forward or delay thermal and electricity loads in response to electricity price variations. The results reveal that ice rink refrigeration energy demand can be considerably decreased if the indoor temperature gradient approaches 1°C/m. To achieve this gradient, properly located and zoned air distribution solutions are proposed. Cooling and dehumidification energy demands reduced remarkably in the studied ice rink by 59.5% just by changing the location of the cooling coil in AHU. The applicability of the developed calculator is verified with reasonable accuracy in computing yearly energy costs, refrigeration and space heating demands and with a moderately higher deviation in cooling/dehumidification demands where a steady-state analysis is prone to considerable inaccuracy. According to the results of the price-based control method, the yearly cost of electricity can decrease considerably: in the studied case, by up to 11.6% by effectively shifting the loads, particularly during cold seasons. The qualitative control method reduces energy costs by 12.2%, which are further decreased by increasing the thermal storage capacity. Generally, the load-shifting concept can be applied as a potential benefit in any building. It should be noted that the price signal and its fluctuations, which may vary significantly in different countries, have aconsiderable impact on the attained cost reduction rate.
Translated title of the contributionSimulation of Advance Thermal Processes in Buildings to Optimise Energy Performance and Costs
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Salonen, Heidi, Supervising Professor
  • Kurnitski, Jarek, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-64-0636-7
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-0637-4
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • energy flexibility
  • building energy performance
  • energy calculator


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