Optimal control and performance of photovoltachromic switchable glazing for building integration in temperate climates

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Favoino, Fabio 
Fiorito, Francesco 
Cannavale, Alessandro 
Ranzi, Gianluca 

The development of adaptive building envelope technologies, and particularly of switchable glazing, can make significant contributions to decarbonisation targets. It is therefore essential to quantify their effect on building energy use and indoor environmental quality when integrated into buildings. The evaluation of their performance presents new challenges when compared to conventional “static” building envelope systems, as they require design and control aspects to be evaluated together, which are also mutually interrelated across thermal and visual physical domains.

This paper addresses these challenges by presenting a novel simulation framework for the performance evaluation of responsive building envelope technologies and, particularly, of switchable glazing. This is achieved by integrating a building energy simulation tool and a lighting simulation one, in a control optimisation framework to simulate advanced control of adaptive building envelopes. The performance of a photovoltachromic glazing is evaluated according to building energy use, Useful Daylight Illuminance, glare risk and load profile matching indicators for a sun oriented office building in different temperate climates. The original architecture of photovoltachromic cell provides an automatic control of its transparency as a function of incoming solar irradiance. However, to fully explore the building integration potential of photovoltachromic technology, different control strategies are evaluated, from passive and simple rule based controls, to optimised rule based and predictive controls.

The results show that the control strategy has a significant impact on the performance of the photovoltachromic switchable glazing, and of switchable glazing technologies in general. More specifically, simpler control strategies are generally unable to optimise contrasting requirements, while more advanced ones can increase energy saving potential without compromising visual comfort. In cooling dominated scenarios reactive control can be as effective as predictive for a switchable glazing, differently than heating dominated scenarios where predictive control strategies yield higher energy saving potential. Introducing glare as a control parameter can significantly decrease the energy efficiency of some control strategies, especially in heating dominated climates.

Responsive building envelope, Adaptive facade, Smart glazing, Predictive control, Building performance simulation
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Elsevier BV
This work was conducted as part of a PhD research sponsored by UK EPSRC and Wintech Ltd. The authors acknowledge the support of the COST Action TU1403 – Adaptive Facades Network (www.adaptivefacade.eu) and the University of Sydney (IPDF fund). The experimental data used as an input in this work were partially supported by Regione PUGLIA (APQ Reti di Laboratorio, project “PHOEBUS” cod. 31) and by Italian Minister for Education and Research which funded the R&D program “MAAT” (PON02_00563_3316357 − CUP B31C12001230005). The devices were fabricated at the Center for Biomolecular Nanotechnologies of Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia and characterized in the laboratories of CNR-Nano in Lecce. The contribution of the fourth author to the work reported in this paper was supported by the Australian Research Council through its Future Fellowship scheme (FT140100130).