This literature review aims to provide a general picture of retrofit needs, markets, and commonly used strategies and measures to reduce building energy consumption, and is primarily focused on energy retrofit of the building envelope. Improving airtightness and thermal performance are the two key aspects for improving energy performance of the building envelope and subsequently reducing the energy required for space heating or cooling. This report focuses on the retrofit of single family houses and wood-frame buildings and covers potential use of wood-based systems in retrofitting the building envelope of concrete and steel buildings.
Air sealing is typically the first step and also one of the most cost-effective measures to improving energy performance of the building envelope. Airtightness can be achieved through sealing gaps in the existing air barrier, such as polyethylene or drywall, depending on the air barrier approach; or often more effectively, through installing a new air barrier, such as an airtight exterior sheathing membrane or continuous exterior insulation during retrofit. Interface detailing is always important to achieve continuity and effectiveness of an air barrier. For an airtight building, mechanical ventilation is needed to ensure good indoor air quality and heat recovery ventilators are typically required for an energy efficient building.
Improving thermal resistance of the building envelope is the other key strategy to improve building energy efficiency during retrofit. This can be achieved by: 1. blowing or injecting insulation into an existing wall or a roof; 2. building extra framing, for example, by creating double-stud exterior walls to accommodate more thermal insulation; or, 3. by installing continuous insulation, typically on the exterior. Adding exterior insulation is a major solution to improving thermal performance of the building envelope, particularly for large buildings. When highly insulated building envelope assemblies are built, more attention is required to ensure good moisture performance. An increased level of thermal insulation generally increases moisture risk due to increased vapour condensation potential but reduced drying ability. Adding exterior insulation can make exterior structural components warmer and consequently reduce vapour condensation risk in a heating climate. However, the vapour permeance of exterior insulation may also affect the drying ability and should be taken into account in design.
Overall energy retrofit remains a tremendous potential market since the majority of existing buildings were built prior to implementation of any energy requirement and have large room available for improving energy performance. However, significant barriers exist, mostly associated with retrofit cost. Improving energy performance of the building envelope typically has a long payback time depending on the building, climate, target performance, and measures taken. Use of wood-based products during energy retrofit also needs to be further identified and developed.
This paper aims to develop an artificial neural network (ANN) to predict the energy consumption and cost of cross laminated timber (CLT) office buildings in severe cold regions during the early stage of architectural design. Eleven variables were selected as input variables including building form and construction variables, and the values of input variables were determined by local building standards and surveys. ANNs were trained by the simulation data and Latin hypercube sampling (LHS) method was used to select training datasets for the ANN training. The best ANN was obtained by analyzing the output variables and the number of hidden layer neurons. The results showed that the ANN with multiple outputs presented better prediction performance than the ANN with single output. Moreover, the number of hidden layer neurons in ANN should be greater than five and preferably 10, and the best mean square error (MSE) value was 1.957 × 103. In addition, it was found that the time of predicting building energy consumption and cost by ANN was 80% shorter than that of traditional building energy consumption simulation and cost calculation method.
Timber building has gained more and more attention worldwide due to it being a generic renewable material and having low environmental impact. It is widely accepted that the use of timber may be able to reduce the embodied energy of a building. However, the development of timber buildings in China is not as rapid as in some other countries. This may be because of the limitations of building regulations and technological development. Several new policies have been or are being implemented in China in order to encourage the use of timber in building construction and this could lead to a revolutionary change in the building industry in China. This paper is the first one to examine the feasibility of using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) as an alternative solution to concrete by means of a cradle-to-grave life-cycle assessment in China. A seven-storey reference concrete building in Xi’an was selected as a case study in comparison with a redesigned CLT building. Two cities in China, in cold and severe cold regions (Xi’an and Harbin), were selected for this research. The assessment includes three different stages of the life span of a building: materialisation, operation, and end-of-life. The inventory data used in the materialisation stage was mostly local, in order to ensure that the assessment appropriately reflects the situation in China. Energy consumption in the operation stage was obtained from simulation by commercialised software IESTM, and different scenarios for recycling of timber material in the end-of-life are discussed in this paper. The results from this paper show that using CLT to replace conventional carbon intensive material would reduce energy consumption by more than 30% and reduce CO2 emission by more than 40% in both cities. This paper supports, and has shown the potential of, CLT being used in cold regions with proper detailing to minimise environmental impact.
This research evaluates the operational heating and cooling energy consumption of cross-laminated timber (CLT) office buildings in China. The evaluations involve a comparison of the energy consumption of a reference RC structure and CLT system office buildings. Computational simulation results are based on IES-VE 2019 and show that the estimated heating energy saving ratio of CLT buildings in Harbin, Beijing, Shanghai, and Kunming to the reference structure are 11.97%, 22.11%, 30.94%, and 23.30% respectively. However, the CLT buildings consume more energy for cooling in the summer. The results of the research show significantly higher heating energy reductions for CLT buildings in the Cold Region and Severe Cold Regions of China. Thus, the application of the CLT system is better suited to northern China than southern China. The results of the research can be used in further assessment of the use of CLT systems in different climatic regions in China.
Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), which is made by laminating dimension lumber at right angles, is an innovative high-performance building material that offers many positive attributes including renewability, high structural stability, storage of carbon during the building life, good fire resistance, possibility of material recycling and reuse. It is conceptually a sustainable and cost effective structural timber solution that can compete with concrete in non-residential and multi-family mid-rise building market. Therefore, there is a need to understand and quantify the environmental attribute of this building system in the context of North American resources, manufacturing technology, energy constraints, building types, and construction practice. This study is to compare energy consumption of two building designs using different materials, i.e. CLT and concrete.
The designs were based on a five-storey office building, Discovery Place-Building 12, which is located in Burnaby, British Columbia, at 4200 Canada Way. The existing building was built with reinforced concrete. Embodied energy was calculated based on the total amount of material required for each of the building systems. Operational energy was calculated using eQUEST, an energy usage modeling software tool. The environmental impacts of the buildings were evaluated by comparing the total energy consumption through the building life.
CLT has lower non-renewable energy consumption compared to concrete in terms of material acquisition, manufacturing and transportation. Previous studies shew that operational energy accounts for the main amount of total energy use in buildings during their service life. Hence, the importance of embodied energy increases by reducing operational energy consumption. CLT has lower embodied energy compared to concrete. Therefore, the advantage of using CLT as a construction material is becoming greater by designing low energy or passive buildings.
The largest source of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in Canada and around the world is buildings. As a consequence, building designers are encouraged to adopt designs that reduce operational energy, through both increasingly stringent energy codes and voluntary green building programs that go beyond code requirements. Among structural building materials, wood has by far the lowest heat conductivity. As a result it is typically easier to meet certain insulation targets (e.g., thermal transmission and effective thermal resistance) with wood-based wall systems when following current construction practices. Good envelopes greatly contribute to energy efficient buildings. However, there are many factors in addition to building envelope insulation levels that affect the operational energy of a building. This study aims to provide designers with information which will assist them to choose energy efficient exterior wall systems by providing energy consumption estimates for an archetypal 6-storey residential building. Comparisons were made among several exterior wall systems including light wood-framing, cross-laminated timber (CLT), steel-stud framing, and window walls, for a range of structural systems including structural steel, light wood-frame, CLT, heavy timber, and concrete. The opaque exterior wall assemblies targeted meeting the minimum thermal requirements based on the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB. NRC 2011). A 3-D method was used to calculate effective R-values of these exterior walls by taking into account all thermal bridging, in comparison with a parallel-path flow method in compliance with the NECB. Three glazing ratios, including 30%, 50%, and 70%, and two efficiency levels for Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, termed basic HVAC and advanced HVAC, were also assessed. Whole-building energy consumption was simulated using EnergyPlus. Four climates, from Zone 4 to Zone 7, with cities of Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Edmonton to represent each climate, were selected in this study. The energy assessment was conducted by Morrison Hershfield.
This paper aims to investigate the energy saving and carbon reduction performance of cross-laminated timber residential buildings in the severe cold region of China through a computational simulation approach. The authors selected Harbin as the simulation environment, designed reference residential buildings with different storeys which were constructed using reinforced concrete (RC) and cross-laminated timber (CLT) systems, then simulated the energy performance using the commercial software IESTM and finally made comparisions between the RC and CLT buildings. The results show that the estimated energy consumption and carbon emissions for CLT buildings are 9.9% and 13.2% lower than those of RC buildings in view of life-cycle assessment. This indicates that the CLT construction system has good potential for energy saving when compared to RC in the severe cold region of China. The energy efficiency of residential buildings is closely related to the height for both RC and CLT buildings. In spite of the higher cost of materials for high-rise buildings, both RC and CLT tall residential buildings have better energy efficiency than low-rise and mid-rise buildings in the severe cold region of China.
The Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 caused significant damage to the Christchurch building stock. However, it is an opportunity to build more comfortable and energy efficient buildings. Previous research suggests a tendency to both under heat and spot heat, meaning that New Zealand dwellings are partly heated and winter indoor temperatures do not always meet the recommendations of the World Health Organization. Those issues are likely to be explained by design deficiency, poor thermal envelope, and limitations of heating systems.
In that context, the thesis investigates the feasibility of building an energy efficient and cost-competitive house in Christchurch. Although capital costs for an energy efficient house are inevitably higher, they are balanced with lower operating costs and improved thermal comfort. The work is supported by a residential building project using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) panels. This atypical project is compared with a typical New Zealand house (reference building), regarding both energy efficiency and costs.
The current design of the CLT building is discussed according to passive design strategies, and a range of improvements for the building design is proposed. This final design proposal is determined by prioritizing investments in design options having the greatest effect on the building overall energy consumption. Building design features include windows efficiencies, insulation levels, optimized thermal mass, lighting fixture, as well as HVAC and domestic hot water systems options. The improved case for the CLT building is simulated having a total energy consumption of 4,860kWh/year, which corresponds to a remarkable 60% energy savings over the baseline.
The construction cost per floor area is slightly higher for the CLT building, about 2,900$/m² against
2,500$/m² for the timber framed house. But a life cycle cost analysis shows that decreased operating costs makes the CLT house cost-competitive over its lifetime. The thesis suggests that the life cycle cost of the CLT house is 14% less than that of the reference building, while the improved CLT design reaches about 22% costs savings.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has been used to understand the carbon and energy implications of manufacturing and using cross-laminated timber (CLT), an emerging and sustainable alternative to concrete and steel. However, previous LCAs of CLT are static analyses without considering the complex interactions between the CLT manufacturing and forest systems, which are dynamic and largely affected by the variations in forest management, CLT manufacturing, and end-of-life options. This study fills this gap by developing a dynamic life-cycle modeling framework for a cradle-to-grave CLT manufacturing system across 100 years in the Southeastern United States. The framework integrates process-based simulations of CLT manufacturing and forest growth as well as Monte Carlo simulation to address uncertainty. On 1-ha forest land basis, the net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions ranges from -954 to -1445 metric tonne CO2 eq. for a high forest productivity scenario compared to -609 to -919 for a low forest productivity scenario. All scenarios showed significant GHG emissions from forest residues decay, demonstrating the strong need to consider forest management and their dynamic impacts in LCAs of CLT or other durable wood products (DWP). The results show that using mill residues for energy recovery has lower fossil-based GHG (59%–61% reduction) than selling residues for producing DWP, but increases the net GHG emissions due to the instantaneous release of biogenic carbon in residues. In addition, the results were converted to 1 m3 basis with a cradle-to-gate system boundary to be compared with literature. The results, 113–375 kg CO2 eq./m3 across all scenarios, were consistent with previous studies. Those findings highlight the needs of system-level management to maximize the potential benefits of CLT. This work is an attributional LCA, but the presented results lay a foundation for future consequential LCAs for specific CLT buildings or commercial forest management systems.
Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a new panelized mass timber product that is suitable for building tall wood buildings (higher than eight stories) because of its structural robustness and superior fire resistance as compared with traditional light-framed wood systems. A number of tall CLT buildings have been constructed around the world in the past decade, and taller projects are being planned. The energy efficiency of this emerging building type was evaluated numerically in this comparative study with the use of a building energy simulation program. A 10-story multiunit residential building model constructed using CLT was simulated and compared with a light-frame metal construction model with the same floor plan. A sensitivity analysis was also conducted to study the impact of different weather profiles, building types, and internal load conditions on building energy consumption performance. It was concluded that CLT generally provides significant improvement on heating energy efficiency as a heavy and air-tight envelope, but its energy performance efficiency can be affected by weather, building size, internal loading, and HVAC control.