Research Papers

Evaluation of Thermo-Active Foundations for Heating and Cooling Residential Buildings

[+] Author and Article Information
Byung Chang Kwag

Department of Civil, Environmental, and
Architectural Engineering,
University of Colorado Boulder,
Boulder, CO 80309
e-mail: kwag@colorado.edu

Moncef Krarti

Civil, Environmental, and
Architectural Engineering Department,
University of Colorado,
Boulder, CO 80309
e-mail: Krarti@colorado.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Solar Energy Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING: INCLUDING WIND ENERGY AND BUILDING ENERGY CONSERVATION. Manuscript received September 11, 2015; final manuscript received September 17, 2016; published online October 10, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Jorge E. Gonzalez.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 138(6), 061010 (Oct 10, 2016) (10 pages) Paper No: SOL-15-1302; doi: 10.1115/1.4034806 History: Received September 11, 2015; Revised September 17, 2016

The application of thermo-active foundation (TAF) systems to heat and cool residential buildings is evaluated in this paper. First, a transient three-dimensional finite difference numerical model is developed for the analysis of thermo-active foundations. The numerical model predictions are then validated against experimental data obtained from laboratory testing. Using the validated numerical model, G-functions for TAFs are generated and integrated into whole-building simulation analysis program, energyplus. A comparative analysis is carried out to evaluate TAF systems compared to conventional ground-source heat pumps (GSHPs) to provide heating and cooling for multifamily residential buildings. In particular, the analysis compares the cost-effectiveness of TAFs and GSHPs to meet heating and cooling needs for a prototypical multifamily building in three U.S. climates. Due to lower initial costs associated to the reduced excavation costs, it is found that TAFs offer a more cost-effectiveness than GSHP systems to heat and cool multifamily residential buildings.

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Fig. 1

Three-dimensional model for the building slab-on-grade foundation with thermal piles

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Fig. 2

The boundary conditions for the TAF numerical model

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Fig. 3

(a) Nonuniform grid of the thermo-active foundation medium and (b) control volume of one interior node

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Fig. 4

Variation of computing time and RMSE value for the numerical solution as a function of the grid size

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Fig. 5

Testing setup using (a) centrifuge and (b) insulated soil container to house the TAF pile

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Fig. 6

(a) A test setup for a scale-model TAF system and (b) locations of strain and temperature probes [13]

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Fig. 7

The variations of the fluid inlet and outlet temperatures, and the ambient temperature of the experimental data [13]

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Fig. 8

Comparative analysis of the experimental data and the model predictions: (a) foundation temperature and (b) outlet fluid temperature

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Fig. 9

Example building modeled in energyplus

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Fig. 10

Monthly average outdoor air dry-bulb temperature of Boulder, CO; Chicago, IL; and New York, NY

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Fig. 11

Schematic drawings for (a) cooling system loop and (b) heating system loop coupled with water-to-water heat pump and ground coupled heat exchangers modeled in energyplus

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Fig. 12

Foundation locations of the prototypical multifamily residential building




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