Optimal Ranking and Sequencing of Non-domestic Building Energy Retrofit Options for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction
Whether it is based on current emissions data or future projections of further growth, the building sector currently represent the largest and singular most important contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. This notion is also supported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change based on projection scenarios for 2030 that emissions from buildings will be responsible for about one-third of total global emissions. As such, improving the energy efficiency of buildings has become a top priority worldwide. A significant majority of buildings that exist now will still exist in 2030 and beyond; therefore the greatest energy savings and carbon footprint reductions can be made through retrofit of existing buildings. A wide range of retrofit options are readily available, but methods to identify optimal solutions for a particular abatement project still constitute a major technical challenge. Investments in building energy retrofit technologies usually involve decision-making processes targeted at reducing operational energy consumption and maintenance bills. For this reason, retrofit decisions by building stakeholders are typically driven by financial considerations. However, recent trends towards environmentally conscious and resource-efficient design and retrofit have focused on the environmental merits of these options, emphasising a lifecycle approach to emissions reduction. Retrofit options available for energy savings have different performance characteristics and building stakeholders are required to establish an optimal solution, where competing objectives such as financial costs, energy consumption and environmental performance are taken into account. These key performance parameters cannot be easily quantified and compared by building stakeholders since they lack the resources to perform an effective decision analysis. In part, this is due to the inadequacy of existing methods to assess and compare performance indicators. Current methods to quantify these parameters are considered in isolation when making decisions about energy conservation in buildings. To effectively manage the reduction of lifecycle environmental impacts, it is necessary to link financial cost with both operational and embodied emissions. This thesis presents a novel deterministic decision support system (DSS) for the evaluation of economically and environmentally optimal retrofit of non-domestic buildings. The DSS integrates the key variables of economic and net environmental benefits to produce optimal decisions. These variables are used within an optimisation scheme that consists of integrated modules for data input, sensitivity analysis and takes into account the use of a set of retrofit options that satisfies a range of criteria (environmental, demand, cost and resource constraints); hierarchical course of action; and the evaluations of ‘best’ case scenario based on marginal abatement cost methods and Pareto optimisation. The steps involved in the system development are presented and its usefulness is evaluated using case study applications. The results of the applications are analysed and presented, verifying the feasibility of the DSS, whilst encouraging further improvements and extensions. The usefulness of the DSS as a tool for policy formulation and developments that can trigger innovations in retrofit product development processes and sustainable business models are also discussed. The methodology developed provides stakeholders with an efficient and reliable decision process that is informed by both environmental and financial considerations. Overall, the development of the DSS which takes a whole-life CO2 emission accounting framework and an economic assessment view-point, successfully demonstrates how value is delivered across different parts of the techno-economic system, especially as it pertains to financial gains, embodied and operational emissions reduction potential.
- PhD