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6th annual IEEE Conference on Automation Science and SuA1.

Marriott Eaton Centre Hotel
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, August 21-24, 2010

An Integrated Control of Shading Blinds, Natural Ventilation, and

HVAC Systems for Energy Saving and Human Comfort
Biao Sun, Peter B. Luh, Fellow, IEEE, Qing-Shan Jia, Member, IEEE, Ziyan Jiang, Fulin Wang, and
Chen Song

Abstract Improving the control of shading blinds, lights, building in Beijing [1]. Improving the control of key devices
natural ventilation, and HVAC systems while satisfying human in buildings, e.g., shading blinds, lights, natural ventilation,
comfort requirements can result in significant energy cost and HVAC systems, can result in significant energy cost
savings with time-of-day electricity pricing. Traditionally, the savings while satisfying human comfort requirements [2, 3, 4].
above-mentioned devices are controlled separately. In this paper,
a novel formulation for the integrated control and the
The optimized control of these devices is therefore becoming
corresponding solution methodology are presented. The more and more important in view of the increasing cost of
problem is to minimize daily energy costs of lights and HVAC energy, government mandate on energy saving [5], and the
systems while satisfying equipment capacities, system dynamics, rising human comfort requirements.
and human comfort. The problem is complicated since 1) The integrated control of the above-mentioned devices
individual rooms are coupled as they compete for the HVAC should work better than non-integrated control as done
with limited capacity and nonlinear characteristics, and 2) the
problem is believed to be NP-hard in view that decision variables
traditionally because the effects of different devices on energy
are all discrete. A solution methodology that combines costs and human comfort are coupled. For example, as shown
Lagrangian relaxation and stochastic dynamic programming is in Fig. 1, when blinds are closed to prevent incident radiation,
developed within the surrogate optimization framework to lights are needed to provide the required illuminance, and the
obtain near-optimal strategies. These strategies are further heat generated by lights will become extra cooling load. As
refined to become novel control rules for easy practical another example, the outside air enthalpy, indicating the
implementation. Numerical simulation results show that both of
the above strategies can effectively reduce the total energy cost, energy of the air and the water vapor contained in the air,
and that the integrated control works better than selected might be lower than the indoor air enthalpy when the outside
traditional control strategies. humidity is a little bit higher than the indoor air humidity but
the outside temperature is much lower than indoor air
Index Terms Integrated building control, HVAC system, temperature. The control rule based on the outside and inside
natural ventilation, shading blinds, Lagrangian relaxation, enthalpy difference allows for natural ventilation to reduce the
surrogate optimization.
sum of cooling and dehumidifying load. However, the extra
humidity coming from natural ventilation plus what is
generated by occupants might exceed the HVACs
dehumidifying capacity. As a result, the humidity requirement
T he energy consumed by HVAC systems and lights
accounts for a major portion of energy consumption in
buildings, e.g., about 40% and 20%, respectively, in an office
may not be satisfied. This will not happen if natural
ventilation and the HVAC system are jointly controlled. More
illustrations will be provided in Section V.

Manuscript received March 8, 2010. This work was supported by the

Tsinghua-UTC Research Institute for Integrated Building Energy, Safety and
Control Systems, and the United Technologies Research Center.
Biao Sun and Qing-Shan Jia are with the Center for Intelligent and
Networked Systems (CFINS), Tsinghua National Laboratory of Information
Science and Technology (TNList), Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084,
China (Phone: +8615801554280, email:,
Peter B. Luh is with the Department of Electrical and Computer Fig. 1. Coupling of control of different devices on human comfort. T:
Engineering, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT USA (email: temperature, H: humidity; L: illuminance; C: CO2 concentration and also with CFINS, Tsinghua National Laboratory
of Information Science and Technology (TNList), Tsinghua University, The problem considered in this paper is to minimize the
Beijing 100084, China. daily energy costs for days with cooling demand through the
Ziyan Jiang and Fulin Wang are with the Department of Building Science,
Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084, China. (email:
integrated control of blinds, lights, natural ventilation, and, HVAC systems while satisfying equipment capacities, system
Chen Song is with the United Technology Research Center, China and the dynamics, and human comfort (the model and method
Tsinghua-UTC Research Institute for Integrated Building Energy, Safety and
developed here can also be used for days with heating demand
Control Systems, Beijing, 100084, China.
by using a boiler to replace a chiller). Because of

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uncertainties in weather and in the number of occupants, it is a DP-derived rules include rules for both blinds and natural
stochastic optimization problem. The problem is dynamic ventilation. After obtaining the near optimal strategy and the
since opening the blinds, using natural ventilation, etc., will DP-derived rules, the building simulation software Designer's
affect not only the indoor air temperature at the current stage Simulation Toolkit [8] is used to evaluate their performance.
but also the temperature in the future through heat capacities Numerical simulation results in Section V for three typical
of indoor air and walls. days, with cooling demand, demonstrate that both the near
The HVAC system studied here is shown in Fig. 2. It optimal strategy and the DP-derived rules work more
consists of a fresh air unit (FAU) shared by multiple rooms to efficiently in energy saving than two existing rule-based
provide them with conditioned fresh air; and multiple fan coil strategies and one obtained by using a greedy algorithm. It is
units (FCUs), one for each room, to cool and dehumidify the also shown that integrated control is better than the above two
indoor air within individual rooms. For days with cooling existing non-integrated control strategies in satisfying the
demand, the chilled water provided by the chiller is supplied equipment capacities, i.e., integrated control can make
to the FAU to cool and dehumidify the fresh air and to the occupants more comfort.
FCUs to cool and dehumidify the indoor air. The energy
consumed by the fans in the FAUs in some buildings accounts II. LITERATURE REVIEW
for as high as 10% [1] of the energy consumption of the Optimal control strategies for HVACs and control rules for
HVAC and is nonlinear with the fresh air flow rate [12]. The natural ventilation, shading blinds, and lights were discussed
cooling an FAU provides is also nonlinear with its air and in the literature. For example, Mossolly, Ghali, and Ghaddar
water flow rates [12]. This kind of HVAC system is widely [10] used genetic algorithm to obtain the optimal control of
used in China. A novel daily energy optimization formulation fresh air flow rates, return air flow rates and supplied air
to obtain a near-optimal strategy is presented. In the temperature in a multi-zone HVAC system. The objective
formulation, the devices are controlled jointly, rather than function was to minimize the energy consumption of the
separately. The problem is complicated because 1) individual HVAC plus penalty terms if comfort requirements were not
rooms are coupled as they compete for the HVAC with limited satisfied. A near-optimal control of multiple HVAC units was
capacity and nonlinear characteristics, and 2) the problem is presented by Xu et al. [4]. The problem was to decide
believed to be NP-hard in view that decision variables are all temperature set-points for individual rooms to minimize the
discrete. energy cost while satisfying the peak load limit, and the
monthly and yearly peak demand constraints. The problem
)$8 was discretized in control variables and time and then solved
by a methodology combining stochastic dynamic
programming, Lagrangian relaxation (LR), and heuristics.
The above control methods, however, provided strategies for
HVAC systems, and the effects of natural ventilation, blinds,
and lights on the performance of HVAC were not considered.
Moeseke, Bruyere, and Herde [3] gave control rules for
natural ventilation and blinds separately. Natural ventilation
was controlled based on the temperature difference between
the indoor air and the outside air, i.e., open windows only
when the outside temperature was lower in summer. Blinds
Fig. 2. HVAC system. Solid red: indoor air; Solid blue: fresh air; Dashed were closed only when the solar radiation exceeds a given
blue: exhaust air; Solid purple: supplied water; Dashed purple: return water. threshold. Tzempelikos and Athienitis [2] controlled blinds
Lagrangian relaxation, a decomposition and coordination and lights jointly to provide the required illuminance and to
approach, is used in Section IV to handle the cooling limit of minimize the energy cost of lighting. The above control rules
the HVAC. To overcome the inseparability difficulty caused were effective in saving energy, but did not consider HVAC
by the nonlinearity of the shared FAU, the surrogate capacity limits. Consequently, the temperature or humidity
optimization framework is used. The main idea is to collect requirements might not be satisfied in certain conditions as
all the decision variables related to a particular room to form a presented in Section I.
subproblem. The values of other decision variables are fixed From the above literature review it can be seen that an
at their latest values. Stochastic dynamic programming is then integrated optimized control method is needed.
used to optimize the stochastic and dynamic subproblem to
obtain a near optimal strategy. Even for simplified models, it III. PROBLEM FORMULATION
is still very time-consuming to obtain the near optimal strategy. A novel daily energy-optimization problem is presented in
Novel Dynamic Programming-derived (DP-derived) control this section. In the formulation, blinds, lights, windows for
rules for easy practical implementation are therefore natural ventilation, and an HVAC system are jointly
developed based on the near optimal strategy. The

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controlled. Assume that the building consists of I individual TFAU- Gw,FAU curve shape is similar to that of f(x) = 1/x in the
rooms, with room index i ranging from 1 to I. Each room is first quadrant.
equipped with a set of shading blinds, lights, a window for The electric power of the FAU fan is given by [12]
natural ventilation and a fan coil unit (FCU). These rooms 3

, FAU , Rated i 1 G fa , i / Ga , FAU , Rated

share a common fresh air unit (FAU). A day is divided into K
Pfan k
Pfan I k k , (2)

discrete time intervals of equal duration t (e.g., 10 minutes),
with time index k ranging from 1 to K. Simplified models of where Pfan,FAU,Rated and Ga,FAU,Rated are the rated air flow rate
devices, including blinds, lights, windows, and the HVACs and the fan power of the FAU, respectively.
are selected from the literature for the optimization purpose as The model for an FCU is established in a similar way, and
presented in subsection A. State variables and system the difference is that the inlet air for the FCU is the indoor air
dynamics, and comfort requirements are presented in while for the FAU it is the outside air.
subsection B, and subsection C, respectively. Uncertainties in The cooling power of the HVAC system has an upper
weather and in the number of occupants have great effects on bound CHVAC because of the chillers capacity limit. As a
energy consumption, and are presented in subsection D. The result, the cooling power of the FAU and FCUs should be less
objective function for the integrated control is then presented than HVACs cooling power limit at time k as
 i 1 CFCU
,i  CHVAC , k
in subsection E k
1,..., K . (3)
A. Models of Devices From the above, decision variable for room i at time k is
A schematic of blinds, lights, and windows is shown in Fig. T
3. The incident solar heat gain and the daylight illuminance uik Tik , Wi k , Gwk , FAU , G kfa ,i , Gwk , FCU ,i , Gak, FCU ,i , (4)
through the blinds at time k are functions of blind angle Tk k =
where the blind angle Tis discretized into 10-degree steps for
1,, K[6]. The blind angle has a lower bound, which is simplicity. The opening of the window W is discretized into
dependent on incident angle of solar irradiance, to prevent two values, 0 for close and 1 for open. Both Gfa and Ga,FCU are
direct sunlight from coming into the room to avoid glare [6]. discrete, determined by the characteristics of the FAU and the
Natural ventilation flow rate is calculated based on the model FCU. Both Gw,FAU and Gw,FCU are discretized into three values,
in [7]. representing low speed, middle speed and high speed. Note
%OLQGV that the lights are used to fill the gap between the daylighting
illuminance and required illuminance. As a result, the power
of the light will not be an element of the decision variable.

B. State Variables and System Dynamics
As discussed in Section I, the values of indoor air
Fig. 3. A shading, lighting, and natural ventilation system. temperature Ta, humidity Ha, CO2 concentration CO2a and the
wall temperature Tw at time k+1 are affected by their values
For the HVAC system shown in Fig. 2, the FAU outlet air
and the controls at time k. Four dynamic equations are thus
temperature TFAUk and humidity HFAUk are functions of outside
obtained based on mass and energy conservations as follows.
air temperature Tok, humidity Hok, water flow rate Gw,FAUk, and
Air in a room is assumed to have the same temperature,
fresh air flow rate Ga,FAUk which equals to the sum of fresh air
humidity and CO2 level for simplicity [10]. The indoor

flow rates into all rooms i 1
G kfa,i . The FAU model of Zhao, temperature at time k+1 is affected by heat generated by
Fan, and Xue [12] is used. In the model, the cooling power occupants and equipment, transferred from the walls, and
CFAUk of FAU at time k equals to the difference between inlet provided by the FAU, the FCU, and natural ventilation, and
air enthalpy ENFAU,inletk and outlet air enthalpy ENFAU,outletk as the energy contained in the remaining indoor air, i.e., the
indoor air except for that of the FAU, the FCU, and the natural
,inlet  EN FAU , outlet
k k k
ventilation. The energy and mass conservations applied to
G kfa ,i C pTok  H ok 2500  1.84Tok
indoor air of room i for temperature lead to the following:
i 1

G kfa ,i C pTFAU
2500  1.84TFAU
. (1) maiTaik 1 't Oik Qz  Qeik  hw,in Aw,i Twk,i  Tak,i / C p
i 1

The enthalpy of inlet air, the term in the second line in 't Gkfa,iTFAU
 Gak, FCU ,iTFCU
,i  Gnv ,iTo
k k

Equation (1), indicates the energy contained in the inlet air Taik mai  't G kfa ,i  Gak, FCU ,i  Gnvk ,i , (5)
and the water vapor in the air, and is calculated by the air flow
rate times the energy contained in per unit air and the water where mai is the mass of the air in room i, Oi the number of
vapor. In equation (1), Cp is the air specific heat. Both TFAU occupants, Qz the heat generation rate per person, Qe the heat
generated by equipment, hw,in the wall convection coefficient
and HFAU are nonlinear in i 1
G kfa,i and Gw,FAU [12], e.g., the
with the indoor air, Aw the area of wall, and Gnv the natural
ventilation flow rate.

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The humidity at time k+1 equals to the sum of that might not be accurate, and this uncertainty has major effects
generated by occupants, provided by the FAU, the FCU and on whether it is beneficial to use natural ventilation. To have
natural ventilation from time k to time k+1, and that contained robust solutions, normally distributed noises are added to the
in the remaining indoor air. The mass conservation for predicted outside temperature. The mean and variance of the
humidity in room i is thus given by normally distributed noise at time k are calculated based on
'tOik H z  't Gkfa,i H FAU
the last seven days prediction error at time k. For example, if
mai Haik 1 k
 Gak, FCU ,i H FCU
the predicted temperature at time k was always 2qC higher
Gnvk ,i H ok  H aik mai  't G kfa ,i  Gak, FCU ,i  Gnvk ,i , (6) than the real temperature in the last seven days, the mean and
variance of the noise at time k are 2qC and 0, respectively.
where Hz is the humidity generation rate per person. Then some possible discretized values and their possibilities
The mass conservation applied to CO2 concentration is very can be obtained based on the means and variances.
similar to that applied to humidity, except that the CO2 levels There is also an uncertainty in the numbers of occupants.
in the FCU inlet air and in the FCU outlet air are the same. This uncertainty has a direct effect on heat, humidity, CO2
The CO2 mass conservation for room i is thus given by generation rates, and thus affects the cooling and
mai CO2aik 1 'tOik CO2z  't Gkfa,i  Gnvk ,i CO2ok dehumidifying load and the flow rate of required fresh air.
The number of occupants is described by a Markov chain with
CO2kai mai  't G kfa ,i  Gnvk ,i , (7) a one-step transition matrix [4]:
where CO2z is the CO2 generation rate per person. P^Oik b | Oik 1 a` S abi , i 1,..., I ; a, b d pi , (12)
The energy of the wall is affected by the heat convection
where pi is the number of maximum occupants for room i, and
with indoor air and outside air, solar heat gains on the exterior
a and b are possible occupant numbers at k-1 and k,
surface, Sw,in, and the solar heat gains incident through the
binds on the interior surface, Sw,out. The energy conservation
applied to the walls for room i is then given by E. The Objective Function
Cw mw,i T k 1
w,i T k
/ 't
w,i hw,in Aw,i T k 1
a ,i T k
w,i S w,in,i
Our objective is to minimize the energy costs of lights and
the HVAC system. The energy for the HVAC system is
hw,out Aw,i T o
k 1
T  S
w,i w,out ,i , (8) consumed by fans in the FAU and FCUs, the chiller, the
where Cw is the wall capacitance, mw the mass of the wall, hw,in pumps, and the fans in cooling towers. The energy
and hw,out are the wall convection coefficients with indoor air consumption for fans in the FAU and FCUs can be calculated
and outside air, respectively. based on Equation 2, and the energy consumption for the rest
The indoor temperature, humidity, CO2 concentration, and components is calculated by using the coefficient of
the temperature of wall are the key variables, the values of performance (COP) of the HVAC system. The COP used in
which at time k+1 are affected by the values at time k. this paper equals to the ratio of the cooling of the FAU and the
Therefore the state variable for room i at time k is FCUs to the energy consumed by the chiller, the pumps, and
the fans in cooling towers. After calculating the energy
xik [Taik , H aik , CO2aik , Twik ]T . (9) consumption, a electricity price is needed to calculate the
energy costs. A time-of-day electricity pricing structure [11]
C. Comfort Requirements is now used in Beijing, and the price at time k is given by ck, k
The comfort ranges during occupied periods are given by = 1,, K. The expected total cost is therefore given by
Ta > 22qC, 26qC @ , H a > 40%,60%@ ,
J ^
E c k 't k 1 i 1 CFCU

I k
,i / COP  Pfan , FCU , i

CO2 d 900 ppm, L t 400lx. (10)  Plights

k k k
,i  CFAU / COP  Pfan , FAU . (13)
During unoccupied period there are no requirements for
The expectation is over the uncertain outside temperature and
humidity, CO2 concentration or illuminance, and the required
numbers of occupants.
indoor temperature range can be lager, for example,
The problem formulated above is to decide the blind angles
Ta > 20qC, 28qC @. (11) T, open or close of the windows W, the air and water flow
rates of the FAU and the FCUs, i.e., Gfa, Ga,FCU, Gw,FAU, and
Compared with the occupied period, the lower bound of Ta
Gw,FCU to minimize J while satisfying the HVACs cooling
during unoccupied period is lower to allow for pre-cooling
limit (Equation 3), system dynamics (Equations 5-8), and
and the upper bound of T a is higher, which is beneficial for
human comfort requirements (Equations 9-10). In view that
energy saving.
all control variables are discrete, the problem is believed to be
D. Uncertainties NP-hard [4]. In order to solve the NP-hard problem, a
The outside temperature predicted by weather stations possible method is to use decomposition and coordination

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approaches, which divide the whole system into subsystems 2) decision variables not belonging to room i are kept at their
each related to one room. This method requires the coupling latest available values; 3) there is no need to find the exact
constraints between different subsystems (Equation 3) to be optimized decision variables {uki,n} at the nth iteration.
separable. However, the coupling constraints are not Rather, approximate optimization is enough if the new
separable because both the FAUs outlet air temperature TFAU decision variables {uki,n} satisfy the following surrogate
and humidity HFAU in Equation 1 are nonlinear in terms of the optimization condition (See Equation 28 in [9].):
L Onk , uik,n , u kj , j zi ,n1  L Onk , uik,n1 , u kj , j zi ,n1 ;
sum of room fresh air flow rates i 1
G kfa,i [12], and the FAU (16)
cooling power CFAU is also nonlinear. Besides, the
nonlinearity of the energy cost of the shared FAU fan and 4) if this constraint is not satisfied, then move to the next
room and do the same approximate optimization.

k I
Pfan , FAU in G kfa,i (as shown in Equation 2) also makes the
i 1
At each state uik at time k, a few discretized outside
problem not separable. Because of inseparability, the temperature, number of occupants, and their probabilities are
problem cannot be solved by directly using decomposition given in Section III. By considering all possible discrete
and coordination approaches. Our solution methodology is values of state variables x, decision variable u, and the above
presented in the next section. two random variables, this multi-stage stochastic subproblem
can be solved by using backward stochastic dynamic
IV. SOLUTION METHODOLOGY programming with the optimal cumulative cost at stage k as

^ c 't / COP  O E C
Our idea to solve the above NP-hard problem is to apply
Lki * ( xik )  CFCU ,i
k k k k
Lagrangian relaxation (LR) to obtain a near-optimal solution. min uk FAU

LR is a decomposition and coordination approach suitable for  E c k 't Pfan

, FCU ,i  Pfan , FAU  Plights ,i
k k

separable problems. However, the problem formulated is not
separable as described in last section. In order to overcome `
 Lki 1* xik 1 , (17)
the inseparability difficulty, the surrogate optimization
framework [9] is used. The total minimum cost related to room i, L*i , equals to the
The coupling constraints on the HVACs capacity optimal cumulative cost L1*i ( xi1 ) at stage 1 for the given initial
(Equation 3) are relaxed by using a set of Lagrangian
multipliers {O}. The relaxed problem is to minimize the state xi1 .
Lagrangian L defined below During some stages the wall temperature changes slightly,
min L, with L { E ^ck 't k 1 i 1 CFCU and the change is much less than the size of discretization step.
K I k
,i / COP
Nevertheless, these small changes cannot be neglected,
, FCU ,i  Plights ,i  CFAU / COP  Pfan , FAU
k k k
` because the cumulation of these changes may have a
significant lasting effect on the energy cost via heat
K k

 k 1 O k E CFAU  i 1 CFCU
k I
,i  CHVAC . (14) convection between walls and the indoor air. Although the
discretization step can be reduced to overcome this difficulty,
k k
In the above equation, both CFAU and Pfan , FAU are not the increase in computation requirements could be prohibitive.
separable because of the nonlinearity in the FAU as described Our solution is to accumulate the small changes, and to update
at the end of Section III. the wall temperature when the accumulated change is larger
The relaxed problem and the dual problem are solved in than the size of the discretization step.
subsections A and B, respectively. In subsection C, heuristics B. Solving the Surrogate Dual Problem
are used to obtain feasible solutions. Based on the result of The high level dual problem is given by
subsection A, novel DP-derived control rules are generated in
max O k q, with q O k { i 1 L*i xi1  k 1 O k CHVAC .
subsection D to facilitate online implementation. (18)
A. Solving the Relaxed Problem Because the decision variables {uik} are discrete, the dual
The relaxed problem is inseparable, and the traditional LR function is nondifferentiable. The Lagrangian multiplier Ok is
approach cannot be directly applied. To overcome this updated by using the surrogate subgradient method [9]:
max 0, Onk  D n g k Onk1 ,
inseparability difficulty, the surrogate optimization
Onk1 (19)
framework [9] is used. The main idea is that 1) all the terms
related to a particular room i are collected to form a where Dn is the step size at the nth iteration, gk(Onk) is the
subproblem as shown below: surrogate subgradient component of the dual function with
c 't / COP  O E C respect to Onk, and is given by
min Li , with Li k 1
k k k


E CFAU n  i 1 E CFCU i n  CHVAC .

 E k 1 ck 't Pfan g k (Onk ) k
, FCU ,i  Pfan, FAU  Plights ,i ;
K k k k (15) (20)

The step size Dn is given by

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Dn I

E n LU  i 1 L*i xi1 / g k Onk g k Onk ,


great importance, which is demonstrated in subsection A.
Both of the rooms are 6 meters long, 5 meters wide and 4
where LU is an upper bound of the optimal value L, and meters high, and the parameters of the materials of
0<E n<1. construction, the occupant heat generation rate, etc., are all set
according to the parameters of the office room model in
C. Obtaining Feasible Solutions Designer's Simulation Toolkit [8]. The rooms are assumed to
The solutions to the relaxed problem may not be feasible, be occupied from 7:00am to 10:00pm and the maximum
i.e., HVACs cooling limit (Equation 3) is not satisfied. To number of occupants in each room is four. The room is
obtain a feasible solution, two heuristics have been developed: divided into three zones, and each is controlled by one set of
z Heuristic 1. The method checks from time k=1 and move lights as shown in Fig. 3. The energy price is 0.81 RMB/KWh
forward. If the load of the HVAC at time k exceeds from 6 am to 10 pm and 0.35 RMB/KWh during other hours
HVACs cooling load limit, the method backtracks to the [11]. The value of coefficient of performance (COP) chosen
previous stage k-1 and pre-cools one of the rooms. here is the average value measured in nine office buildings in
z Heuristic 2. If no feasible solution can be found by heuristic Beijing [1]. The benefit of integrated control of all the key
1 because of high solar radiation, blinds should be closed devices is presented in the last one or two paragraphs in each
and lights are used during several hours before time k. In subsection.
this way the cooling load for the HVAC is reduced, although Three cases are considered, including a humid summer day
the combined energy consumption of the HVAC and the in August with high outside temperature and a very large load;
lights may increase. a summer day with a large temperature difference between day
and night in July; and a day in May with low cooling load.
D. Obtaining DP-Derived Control Rules
Five strategies are studied for each case, including two
The LR-DP strategy presented above provides optimized existing non-integrated control strategies: strategy A that uses
blind angles, opening or closing of windows, and air and water no natural ventilation and always opens the blinds at 80, and
flow rates for the FAU and FCUs. Optimization takes time, strategy B that controls natural ventilation based on the
and even for simple buildings, the LR-DP strategy for the next enthalpy difference and controlling the blinds based on the
24 hours may not be obtainable within a few minutes. Novel schedule, i.e., closing the blinds only from 11 a.m. to 3 pm; the
Dynamic Programming-derived control rules are therefore greedy strategy that optimizes the energy cost only at the
established for blinds and natural ventilation based on the current stage; the LR-DP strategy, and the DP-derived rules.
LR-DP control strategy as follows.
1) The blind angle is discretized into m values. If a day is A. Case 1: A Humid Summer Day
divided into K discrete time intervals, then each day there are Consider a humid day in August in Beijing, with the outside
K pairs of solar radiation and blind angle. By using the Fisher temperature very high (more than 27qC even in the evening).
Linear Discrimination (FLD) classifier [13], m thresholds can The day has a very large load so that shedding the load is
be obtained based on the 144 training samples. The blinds can important. The results in the second line in Table 1 show that
then be controlled based on the m thresholds. both the LR-DP strategy and the DP-derived control rules
2) The same method is used to decide the rules to control work effectively in reducing the total energy cost (about 16%,
natural ventilation based on the temperature difference 10%, and 8% of the costs are saved compared with strategy A,
between outside air and indoor air or on the enthalpy strategy B, and greedy strategy, respectively). The energy
difference between outside air and indoor air. The detailed consumed under DP-derived rules is a little higher than that
rules are presented in Section V. under LR-DP, because the DP-derived rules are directly
With blinds and windows controlled by rules, the number of derived from the near optimal strategy obtained by LR-DP.
decision variables is much reduced. The HVAC system can TABLE I
then be efficiently optimized by the method of subsections A, ENERGY COST IN RMB OF THE FIVE STRATEGIES FOR THE THREE CASES

B and C for easy practical implementation. Str. A Str. B Greedy LR-DP DP-Derived
Case 1 40.03 37.21 36.70 33.48 33.64
Case 2 35.56 35.17 35.00 30.44 30.74
Case 3 33.28 28.44 29.92 24.96 24.96
The comparison of performance of the LR-DP control
The cooling and dehumidifying power supplied by the FCU
strategy and the DP-derived control rules against that of other
and the FAU into the two rooms under the LR-DP strategy is
three strategies is presented in this section. The system
shown in Fig. 4. It can be seen that the two FCUs do not work
includes two rooms in Beijing and the result in subsection A
at high power levels at the same time when the cooling load is
will show how the devices in the two rooms work
very high in the afternoon. As a result, the maximum total
collaboratively to satisfy the HVACs load limit. Each room
cooling power is 4.3 KW, which does not exceed the HVACs
has a window facing south and a set of shading blinds. The
cooling limit of 4.4 KW.
solar radiation incident on the exterior surface of windows is
The hourly energy costs for the five strategies are shown in
very high around noon time so that the control of blinds is of

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Fig. 5. It can be seen that energy is consumed from 1 am to 6 strategy for the HVAC system. When there are 10 individual
am by the HVAC to pre-cool the room by the LR-DP control rooms, the SDP runs for 10 times for initialization and then
strategy and the DP-derived rules. The pre-cooling, with the another 28 times iteratively for convergence. Therefore the
low energy price, effectively reduces the wall temperature and method is believed to have good scalability.
therefore reduces the energy costs after 6 am.
B. Case 2: A Summer Day with a Large Temperature
Difference between Day and Night
Consider a summer day in July with a large temperature
difference between day and night. The day is also very humid.
In this case the control for natural ventilation is studied. The
LR-DP strategy and the DP-derived control rules use natural
ventilation to cool rooms from 1 am to 6 am. The wall
temperature thus is lower than that under other three strategies,
Fig. 4. Cooling power in KW for two rooms
and 10%-13.8% (as shown in Table 1) of the energy cost is
Strategy A Strategy B Greedy LR-DP(DP-derived) saved compared to energy cost of other three strategies.
Energy Cost

Natural ventilation flow rates of strategy B, the greedy


strategy, the LR-DP strategy, and the DP-derived rules, the
0 outside temperature and humidity, and the indoor temperature
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 under the LR-DP strategy are shown in Fig. 7. In the occupied
Time (Hour)
time, natural ventilation is controlled based on the enthalpy
Fig. 5. Total energy cost
difference by the LR-DP strategy, and the DP-derived rules.
Strategy A Strategy B
Greedy LR-DP(DP-derived) That is because extra energy will be consumed to cool or
Solar Rediation

Solar Radiation dehumidify the natural ventilated air if the enthalpy,

Blind Angle

80 500
(W/m2 )

indicating the energy contained in the air and the water vapor,
of outside air is higher than that of indoor air. However, for
0 0
unoccupied hours before 7 am, natural ventilation should be
7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Time (Hour) controlled based on the temperature difference. That is
Fig. 6. Blind angles and solar radiation because during those unoccupied hours there is no humidity
The blind angles of the five strategies and the solar requirement and the outside air with lower temperature is
radiation on the exterior surface of the window are shown in beneficial for cooling the room. Rules obtained by using
Fig. 6. We can see that the integrated control of blinds and the Fisher Linear Discrimination (FLD) classifier are the same as
HVAC system can save more energy costs than the two the ones above.
non-integrated strategies: strategy A and strategy B. The Strategy B Greedy
LR-DP(DP-derived) Outside temperature
blind angle of the LR-DP strategy and the DP-derived rules is Outside humidity Indoor Temperature
Natural Ventilation

Temperature ()
0.5 35
lower than that of the greedy strategy when the solar radiation

Humidity (g/Kg)
(m3 /hour)

on the exterior surface of window is very high at 10 am. 0.3

Although extra energy is consumed by lights, the wall 0.1
temperature under the LR-DP strategy and the DP-derived 0 5

rules is lower and it reduces more cooling load and energy 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23

Time (Hour)
cost in the rest hours of the day. Fig. 7. Natural ventilation and outside temperature and humidity
It can also be seen form Fig. 6 that the integrated control of
It can also be seen in Fig. 7 that the integrated control of
the blinds and the HVAC can reduce the cooling load to
natural ventilation and the HVAC system by the LR-DP
satisfy the HVACs cooling limit. At 3 pm the LR-DP strategy
strategy and the DP-derived rules works better than the other
and the DP-derived rules close the blind a little bit and open
three strategies. At 7 am, although the outside enthalpy is
the lights to prevent the cooling load from exceeding the
lower than the indoor air enthalpy, the LR-DP strategy and the
HVACs cooling limit, although this results in more total
DP-derived rules do not use natural ventilation. That is
energy costs.
because although natural ventilation can save energy costs, the
The Stochastic Dynamic Program (SDP, described in
extra humidity coming from natural ventilation plus what is
Equations 15-17) runs twice to obtain the initial strategy for
generated by occupants will exceed the HVACs
each of the two rooms, and then it runs for another 21 times
dehumidifying capacity.
iteratively to obtain the LR-DP strategy before convergence.
Only 10 iterations and about half an hour are needed to
The computational time is 56 minutes by using a P4 2.33GHz
obtain the LR-DP strategy for Case 2, because the HVAC load
PC with 2G memory. Based on the LR-DP strategy, the
is a little lower than that in Case 1 so that the HVACs limit is
DP-derived rules are obtained within 1 second, and then
easier to be satisfied.
another 2 minutes are spent to obtain the near-optimal control

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C. Case 3: A Day in a Transition Season methodology was tested for a two-room system having only
Consider a day in May in Beijing the outside temperature one FAU, but it can be extended to a whole building having
and the humidity are much lower than those in summer, and multi-FAUs by dividing the problem into multi-subproblems
natural ventilation can be effectively used. To compare the (as shown in Equation (15)) each of which is related to one
uses of natural ventilation by the LR-DP strategy, the FAU. To solve the subproblem, we can use the surrogate
DP-derived rules, and other strategies, the natural ventilation subgradient because multi-rooms in the subproblem share the
flow rates, the outside temperature and humidity, and the same nonlinear FAU. The high level dual problem is solved
indoor air temperature are shown in Fig. 8. It can be seen that by using Lagrangian Relaxation because multi-subproblems
natural ventilation is used by the LR-DP strategy and the are coupled for sharing a common chiller. In the future we
DP-derived rules from 1 am to 8 am, and at 7 pm, 9 pm, and 10 will have a case study of a whole floor with 24 rooms in a real
pm, and 27%, 12%, and 17% of energy costs are saved commercial building. In addition, electricity demand charge
compared with strategy A, strategy B, and greedy strategy, will also be introduced into the formulation in the future.
respectively (as shown in the fourth line in Table 1).
By comparing the natural ventilation flow rates of different ACKNOWLEDGMENT
strategies in Fig. 8, we can obtain another natural ventilation The work is supported by the Tsinghua-UTC Research
control rule that for occupied periods in transition days, Institute for Building Energy, Safety and Control System. The
natural ventilation should be controlled based on the authors would like to thank Dr. Satish Narayanan, Dr. Rohini
temperature difference when and only when humidity Brahme, and Dr. Arvind Uppili Raghunathan at United
generated by occupants can be taken out of rooms by fresh air Technologies Research Center for their guidance and
that is required. From 9 am to 2 pm and at 4 pm, although the constructive comments.
outside temperature is higher than the indoor air temperature,
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