Integration of Smart Sensors in Buildings to achieve Energy Efficiency in Hot and Humid Climate

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Relevant studies on the subject have revealed that a third of the global and primary energy in the world is being utilized in buildings and associated structures. It is also estimated that this utilization would grow to above 50% by 2030 because of the fast and consistent growth in economic activity and increase in population around the world. People tend to spend the greater part of their time in indoor spaces e.g., commercial and residential buildings. Improving energy efficiency and indoor environment comfort is necessary. Hence, the trend towards designing smart buildings that incorporate intelligent control systems has become the norm in the construction industry (Shaikh et al. 2016). Most of the current buildings nowadays were built prior the evolution of significant technological advancements such as the internet of things (IoT). Relevant technologies have recently evolved at a vast pace, allowing for the possibility to introduce enhancement on the performance of various building control systems such as electrical, mechanical, electromechanical, automated control systems, renewable energy, building envelope and building insulation, and others. Therefore, it is important to assess the association between retrofitting old buildings and thereby turning them into Smart Buildings and the effect that this exercise may have on their energy efficiency through a holistic method. Of particular interest in this approach is to evaluate the impact on the HVAC and lighting systems in order to optimize the energy usage in those systems. Based on the detailed literature review that has been carried out to complete this research, it was found that there are few researches that have been conducted in hot/humid climates especially in the gulf region or the United Arab Emirates related to the area of study. Therefore, the research aims to study how can retrofitting existing buildings in the UAE to become smart buildings save energy and reduce the energy demand. The findings of this research can be used to develop strategies that enhances the energy efficiency in existing buildings that have HVAC systems in the UAE and the gulf region. This research assesses retrofitting the Lighting and the HVAC systems to an existing office building by implementing energy conservation strategies along with smart sensors to reduce the energy demand. An actual field measurement was done to an existing governmental office building in Dubai, and energy conservation measures are discussed and analyzed to reduce the building energy demand, on the other hand, a computer simulation (IES VE) was used to build a model for an office building in Abu Dhabi and varies energy conservation strategies on the lighting system and the HVAC system were applied and simulated to understand the impact on the modelled building energy demand. The results for the energy conservation measures that are proposed for the case study building in Dubai showed that upgrading the HVAC system controls could achieve about 17% savings in the HVAC power demand, installing a chiller plant manager would achieve savings of 14%, retrofitting existing conventional AC with invertor AC would achieve 38% savings, and installing adiabatic cooling would save about 11% of the HVAC power demand. While applying different scenarios in the computer simulation of an office building in Abu Dhabi, the results showed that there is a potential of reducing the power consumption from the lighting system by 16% when replacing the fluorescent lights with LED, and 75% reduction in power consumption when using dimming system that is linked to the occupancy sensors, and 7% reduction when controlling the lights in the building via dimming system based on the external day lighting. The simulation also shows that controlling the cooling set point of the HVAC system can save up to 7% of the power demand, and when linking the HVAC operation with the building occupancy it can save up to 9%, also, using the VAV system can reduce 20% of the energy consumption of the HVAC system.
smart buildings, energy efficiency, smart sensors, hot and humid climate, smart integration, efficient HVAC system, computer simulation IES VE, retrofitting existing buildings, United Arab Emirates (UAE)