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Research Papers: Integrated Sustainable Equipment and Systems for Buildings

On the Environmental Sustainability of Building Integrated Solar Technologies in a Coastal City

[+] Author and Article Information
B. Lebassi

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Santa Clara University,
Santa Clara, CA 95053

J. E. González

Mechanical Engineering Department,
The City College of New York,
New York, NY 10031
e-mail: gonzalez@me.ccny.cuny.edu

R. D. Bornstein

Department of Meteorology,
San José State University,
San José, CA 95192

Contributed by the Solar Energy Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING. Manuscript received February 2, 2013; final manuscript received September 9, 2013; published online October 17, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Moncef Krarti.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 135(4), 040904 (Oct 17, 2013) (6 pages) Paper No: SOL-13-1042; doi: 10.1115/1.4025507 History: Received February 02, 2013; Revised September 09, 2013

In this study, a first-order environmental impact study of a large-scale deployment of solar energy-installed technologies in a complex coastal urban environment is conducted. The work is motivated by the positive prospects of building-integrated solar technologies as a sustainable alternative to energy demands and reduction of green house gases. Large-scale deployment of solar technologies in rooftops of densely populated cities may have the potential of modifying surface energy budgets resulting in cooling or heating of the urban environment. To investigate this case, a mesoscale simulation (regional atmospheric simulation system (RAMS)) effort was undertaken, with a horizontal grid resolution of 4 km on an innermost grid over Southern California (South Coast Air Basin (SoCAB)). The simulation period was selected in summer 2002 where strong urban heat islands (UHIs) were observed for the region. The urban landscape was modified to represent a percentage of the rooftops with optical and thermal properties corresponding to solar PV and thermal collectors. Results show that the large-scale presence of solar technologies in rooftops of SoCAB may have a net positive thermal storage of the buildings, an effect enhancing the existing UHI by up to 0.2 °C. This additional heat is advected inland as the sea breeze develops warming further inland areas. The net environmental effect of solar technologies when compared with solar energy production was not investigated in this study.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Nested grid configuration of the modeled region. (Inner gray box is grid 2 and outer region is grid 1; color shading is topographic height above sea level (km).)

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Fig. 2

Standard RAMS LCLU representation for SoCAB (red, urban; green, nonurban vegetation)

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Fig. 3

Google earth high-resolution images for urban vegetation calculations (left, raw image; center, 16 colors; and right, 2 colors)

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Fig. 4

LCLU representation for SoCAB with 25% of the urban classes representing solar-installed technologies (red area in a blue circle). Key: brown is urban area; green and yellow is nonurban (e.g., vegetation).

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Fig. 5

Anthropogenic heat profile (data source from Sailor and Lu [25]). Anthropogenic flux (W·k/s) is defined here as heat flux in W·m−2 divided by (rho × Cp).

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Fig. 6

SoCAB METR observational stations locations

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Fig. 7

(a) Model versus observation 2-m temperature comparisons; (b) model versus observation 10-m wind speed comparisons

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Fig. 8

Average Jul. 1–23, 2002, 10 a.m. LST: solar minus nonsolar temperature differences (color) and simulation period average wind vectors (key: meso arrow scale = 5 m/s; black line = coast line; green dashed line = vertical slice location for Fig. 10; white line = topography; M = mountain tops; colors = 2-m temperature differences between solar and nonsolar simulations (°C))

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Fig. 9

Average Jul. 1–23, 2002, 4 p.m. LST: solar minus nonsolar temperature differences (color) and simulation period average wind vectors (key: meso arrow scale = 5 m/s; black line = coast line; green dashed line = vertical slice location for Fig. 10; white line = topography; M = mountain tops; colors = 2-m temperature differences between solar and nonsolar simulations (°C)).

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Fig. 10

Average Jul. 1–23, 2002, 4 p.m. LST: solar minus present temperature-difference (°C) and across domain 2 at 33.95 deg N in the previous figure.

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