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Envelope Design Optimization by Thermal Modeling of a Building in a Warm Climate

Abstract: 
Finding the most appropriate configuration of building components at the design stage can reduce energy consumption in new buildings. This study aims to optimize the design of the envelope of a new residential building located in a warm climate (southern Italy). The thermal behaviour of the building has been analysed to evaluate the indoor operative air temperature for several configurations. The building prototype has been modelled using the dynamic simulation software TRNSYS 17 (A transient system simulation program, University of Wisconsin, Solar Energy Laboratory, USA, 2010) using a sequential search technique. Starting from the simplest building configuration, the main evaluated components are: walls, slab-on-ground floor, roof, shading, windows and internal heat loads. For each of these components, different design options have been modelled and compared in terms of indoor thermal comfort. Comfort parameters have also been taken into account to evaluate users’ satisfaction with the optimized configurations. The study of the operative air temperature demonstrates that the absence of insulating layers in the ground floor ensures a lower internal temperature in summer. The paper shows how each component impacts the thermal behaviour of the whole building. It highlights the usefulness of the envelope design optimization that is characterized by high values of heat storage capacity, enabling internal temperature fluctuations to be kept under control, especially during summer.