Evaluating thermal performance of vertical building envelopes: Case studies in a Canadian university campus

Campus buildings at the University of Victoria (UVic) were largely constructed before the advent of building energy codes. The University is in the process of commissioning vertical building envelope upgrades/retrofits with added intention of addressing potential energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) savings in their building stock. The aim of this paper is to present the methodology adopted to evaluate potential energy savings from vertical envelope retrofits of 49 non-residential buildings across the campus portfolio, and to further validate those savings through more detailed energy models for a subset of buildings.

To this end, the thermal performance of a building envelope was quantified based on its heat loss coefficient (UA), obtained from multiplying its surface area (A) by its thermal transmittance (U-value). Heat loss (UA) calculations were used as an energy loss metric to inform envelope rehabilitation prioritization, in addition to data gathered from building envelope condition assessments (BECAs). UA data were also analyzed against other building data such as floor area, vertical envelope area, vertical area to floor area ratio (VFAR), window-wall ratio (WWR), age, and type of construction for potential correlations.

Finally, archetype energy models were used to evaluate the impacts of envelope retrofits on energy and GHG savings on three selected buildings. The outcomes of this study allow the University to weigh the benefits of improved energy performance from envelope retrofits against associated capital cost expenditures.

Authors: Milad Mahmoodzadeh, Voytek Gretka, Alex Blue, David Adams, Brent Dallimore, Phalguni Mukhopadhyaya

Date Published: 2021

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