Alternative Facades: Assessment of Building Integrated Photovoltaic and Electrochromic Glazing— Energy Benefits and Future Potentials in Office Building in UAE

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
With the decline of conventional fossil fuels and the rapid growth of human population, the importance of curbing our energy consumption and reducing our dangerous emissions is now more obvious than ever. Since buildings are one of the top consumers of energy, it is not surprising that many designers, engineers, and architects are starting to address the significance of the building envelope in minimizing energy demands especially in office buildings. While many new alternative façades offer such energy saving benefits, the use of two particular technologies has not been studied enough in the gulf region. Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) and Electrochromic (EC) glazing are perhaps also more important because the potential of both of these technologies is very closely related to the availability of sunshine, which is very abundant in this region. Thus, the aim of this research was to explore the energy benefits and future potential of these two systems within the climatic conditions of the city of Abu Dhabi. A computer energy modeling program was used to assess the energy performance, mainly the reductions in HVAC and lighting, of each system compared to a base case scenario for south, east, west, and north facing facades. Additionally, an economic analysis explored the feasibility of applications of these systems within Abu Dhabi’s construction industry. The result of this research showed that the BIPV is most advantageous on the south façade while the EC glazing performs best on the north facing windows. The BIPV model achieved a maximum energy consumption reduction of about 20.66%, 16.69%, 16.86%, and 1.35% for the south, east, west and north orientation, respectively against the base case model. On the other hand, the EC glazing model had much less benefit against the base case model with ‐2.86%, 1.35%, 0.89%, and 7.41% energy savings for the same orientations, respectively. The increase in glass shading coefficient increased the energy savings (15%) in the BIPV model against the base case. Similarly, the EC glazing showed significant improvement in energy savings (11.17%) over the base case which used higher shading coefficient. Moreover, the change in sensor location from 2m to 4m increased the energy savings for both cases, although the change was very marginal compared to the change of the glass properties. The results of the economic analysis showed that due to high capital cost and low cost of electricity, neither system is currently feasible for investment. However, with future advances in each system and more efficient designs, the pay back periods would become tangible and therefore yield better performances. In conclusion, using an automated light control system with dimming for both models, compared against the standard on‐off lighting mechanism in the base case, the BIPV proves to have a higher energy saving potential than the EC glazing. If these two technologies were to be combined, the best configuration would be to install BIPV on the East, South, and West façade, while the EC glazing is used on the North façade.
photovoltaic, electrochromic glazing— energy, office buildings, United Arab Emirates (UAE), energy consumption, alternative façades, energy performance, Abu Dhabi