An Integrated Life Cycle Engineering Model: Energy and Greenhouse Gas Performance of Residential Heritage Buildings, and the Influence of Retrofit Strategies and Appliance Standards

April 20, 2012 - 12:00pm

Residential Heritage buildings are of significant cultural importance, and they are at risk of becoming obsolete under the stringent building energy efficiency regulations expected in the impending future. The geographical focus of this study is Australia, but the theoretical interdisciplinary framework developed can be applied to the US residential sector. This article develops an integrated framework, combining building energy efficiency simulation and appliance characteristic components with a five‐stage life cycle engineering framework. The life cycle performance of eight residential heritage buildings in Victoria is evaluated based on primary energy and greenhouse gas metrics. Subsequently, the influence of insulation, window‐retrofits and low carbon energy supply system interventions in increasing the life cycle performance of buildings was investigated. The efficiency of the building shell ranged between 0.9 and 5.1 stars (out of a total of ten stars), for the eight cases. In a heating dominated location such as Victoria, the heating supply drives the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions. For the highly inefficient timber weatherboard building, heating contributed to 85% of the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions (9.41 x 103 kg CO2‐ eq/m2), with the 5.1 star building releasing 28.5% of the same. Among the various intervention strategies, insulating the ceiling and roof were most effective in reducing life cycle greenhouse gas emissions. When a solar thermal system replaced the existing central gas system, the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 57% in the end. A number of uncertainty analyses were conducted and the final primary energy and greenhouse gas emissions results were most sensitive to heating appliance characteristics. The influence of increasingly stringent appliance standards in reducing life cycle primary energy and greenhouse gas emissions, and operational expenditures were determined. In addition, a sequential retrofit framework was developed to model the feasibility of a building achieving regulatory compliance, and to determine the point of economic optimality. The multi‐disciplinary framework developed in this study has significant implications for the energy efficiency regulations (specifically, for appliances) associated with the building sector.  

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