Uncertainty-based life-cycle analysis of near-zero energy buildings for performance improvements

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-498
Journal / PublicationApplied Energy
Online published4 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


Near-zero energy buildings (nZEBs) are considered as an effective solution to mitigating CO2 emissions and reducing the energy usage in the building sector. A proper sizing of the nZEB systems (e.g. HVAC systems, energy supply systems, energy storage systems, etc.) is essential for achieving the desired annual energy balance, thermal comfort, and grid independence. Two significant factors affecting the sizing of nZEB systems are the uncertainties confronted by the building usage condition and weather condition, and the degradation effects in nZEB system components. The former factor has been studied by many researchers; however, the impact of degradation is still neglected in most studies. Degradation is prevalent in energy components of nZEB and inevitably leads to the deterioration of nZEB life-cycle performance. As a result, neglecting the degradation effects may lead to a system design which can only achieve the desired performance at the beginning several years. This paper, therefore, proposes a life-cycle performance analysis (LCPA) method for investigating the impact of degradation on the longitudinal performance of the nZEBs. The method not only integrates the uncertainties in predicting building thermal load and weather condition, but also considers the degradation in the nZEB systems. Based on the proposed LCPA method, a two-stage method is proposed to improve the sizing of the nZEB systems. The study can improve the designers’ understanding of the components’ degradation impacts and the proposed method is effective in the life-cycle performance analysis and improvements of nZEBs. It is the first time that the impacts of degradation and uncertainties on nZEB LCP are analysed. Case studies show that an nZEB might not fulfil its definition at all after some years due to component degradation, while the proposed two-stage design method can effectively alleviate this problem.

Research Area(s)

  • Degradation, Design, Life-cycle performance, Near-zero energy building, Uncertainty