Statistical and graphical methods to determine importance and interaction of building design parameters to inform and support design decisions
This research is aimed at studying the impact of building design parameters in terms of their importance and mutual interaction, and how these aspects vary across climates and HVAC system types. A methodology is proposed for such a study, by examining the feasibility and use of two different statistical methods to derive all realistic ‘near-optimum’ solutions which might be lost using a simple optimization technique.
DOE prototype medium office building compliant with ASHRAE 90.1-2010 was selected for the analysis and four different HVAC systems in three US climates were simulated.
The interaction between building design parameters related to envelope characteristics and geometry (total of seven variables) has been studied using two different statistical methods, namely the ‘Morris method’ and ‘Predictive Learning via Rule Ensembles’.
Subsequently, a simple graphical tool based on sensitivity analysis has been developed and demonstrated to present the results from parametric simulations. This tool would be useful to better inform design decisions since it allows imposition of constraints on various parameters and visualize their interaction with other parameters.
It was observed that the Radiant system performed best in all three climates, followed by displacement ventilation system. However, it should be noted that this study did not deal with performance optimization of HVAC systems while there have been several studies which concluded that a VAV system with better controls can perform better than some of the newer HVAC technologies. In terms of building design parameters, it was observed that ‘Ceiling Height’, ‘Window-Wall Ratio’ and ‘Window Properties’ showed highest importance as well as interaction as compared to other parameters considered in this study, for all HVAC systems and climates.
Based on the results of this study, it is suggested to extend such analysis using statistical methods such as the ‘Morris method’, which require much fewer simulations to categorize parameters based on their importance and interaction strength. Usage of statistical methods like ‘Rule Ensembles’ or other simple visual tools to analyze simulation results for all combinations of parameters that show interaction would allow designers to make informed and superior design decisions while benefiting from large reduction in computational time.