DOI 10.1007/s12273-013-0138-3
Research Article
Nabil Nassif ()
North Carolina A&T State University, Department of CAAE Engineering, 455 McNair Hall, 1601 E. Market Street, Greensboro, NC 27411, USA
Abstract Keywords
Intelligent energy management and control system (EMCS) in buildings offers an excellent means HVAC systems,
of reducing energy consumptions in HVAC systems while maintaining or improving indoor self tuning models,
environmental conditions. This can be achieved through the use of computational intelligence artificial neural network,
and optimization. The paper thus proposes and evaluates a model-based optimization process for energy management and control
HVAC systems using evolutionary algorithm for optimization and artificial neural networks for systems,
modeling. The process can be integrated into the EMCS to perform several intelligent functions optimization
and achieve optimal whole-system performance. The proposed models and the optimization
process are tested using data collected from an existing HVAC system. The testing results show
Article History
Received: 23 August 2012
that the models can capture very well the system performance, and the optimization process can
Revised: 19 April 2013
reduce cooling energy consumption by about 11% when compared to the traditional operating
Accepted: 3 May 2013
strategies applied.
E-mail: nnassif@ncat.edu
238 Nassif / Building Simulation / Vol. 7, No. 3
simulates the real system behavior. In addition, the mainly of (i) the return and supply fans, (ii) the outdoor,
characteristics of the real system can change over time; the discharge, and recirculation dampers, (iii) the air handling
physical model with fixed parameters may no longer be unit (AHU) with components such as filter and cooling
able to track correctly the real performance. Alternatively, and heating coils, (iv) the pressure-independent VAV
data-driven models are another approach to be used for terminal boxes, and (v) the local-loop controllers (i.e., C1,
existing systems. In this paper, we will explore the use of C2, and C3). The supply air temperature is controlled by the
artificial neural network as data-driven and self tuning controller (C1). The duct static pressure is controlled by the
models in HVAC applications, focusing on optimization controller (C2). The zone air temperature at any particular
and control. The proposed models are tested evaluated using zone n is controlled by the controller (C3 (n)).
data collected over three summer months from a typical The EMCS collects the measured data (real data) from
existing HVAC system. However, the optimization process components or subsystems. The ANN models are con-
was evaluated by simulations applied to the same system. tinuously trained using the real data to better match the real
behavior of the subsystems and overall system. The training
2 HVAC and EMC system configuration algorithm used is Levenberg-Marquardt, which is a built-in
algorithm in MATLAB. As recommended in this paper for
Figure 1 shows a schematic diagram of a typical HVAC optimal control strategy, at each time interval (e.g. 10 min),
system and the optimization process integrated into EMCS. the ANN models provide optimal whole system performance
Included in this schematic are the proposed artificial neural through determining optimal set points and operation
network (ANN) models and how they interact within the sequences. A genetic algorithm as described in next section
overall system. A typical HVAC system that uses variable is used to solve the optimization problem.
air volume (VAV) control is illustrated in Fig. 1. It consists
Fig. 1 Typical HVAC system and EMCS along with the proposed ANN models and optimization process
Nassif / Building Simulation / Vol. 7, No. 3 239
be used for this purpose, but in the interest of conserving setpoint), and the output is cooling load. The inputs of the
computer time the simplest structure needs to be considered. chiller model are the cooling coil load, chilled water supply
Each model has only one hidden layer with twenty neurons temperature, and the condenser water temperature, and the
and with hyperbolic activation function (tanch). The model output is the compressor power. Additional basic calculations
has the output layer with one neuron and an activation are also required for the optimization, including a zone
function based on the sum of the weighted hidden layer model. The zone model is to determine the zone airflow
neurons. Each neuron also has bias. rates, local heating energy use, and return air conditions
The models described here are the fan, cooling coil, based on thermal loads. The calculations are based on the
and chiller models. Those models can be used for various steady state heat balance equation for each zone in which
applications but the inputs and the outputs have to be clearly the sensible load is a function of airflow rate and the
defined. The inputs of the models for a specific application differences between the space and supply air temperatures.
may become outputs in other application. For instance, in Similarly, the humidity is determined using the latent load.
the control application, the controlled variables such as duct The loads are determined from the same model but with an
static pressure and supply air temperature are the outputs inverse form using measured data of the previous period
of the fan model and cooling coil model, respectively. For and then the loads are assumed to be constant during the
the optimization, the model outputs are estimates of the current optimization period. The electric reheat is considered
energy consumptions (the objective function) such as fan here and it turns on only when the airflow rate reaches its
power and compressor power (see the second and third rows minimum level (e.g., 20% of design airflow rate) and the
in Table 1). Although the models were validated and tested space temperature becomes lower than heating setpoint.
for both cases, the detailed discussions were only made for The system airflow rate used as an input for cooling or fan
the optimization application as our main focus in this paper model is equal to the sum of zone airflow rates found from
is to test the proposed optimization process. Such process the zone model. An iteration process should be applied to
needs the models as shown in Fig. 3. The inputs of the fan estimate the return air conditions, the initial cooling coil
model are the system airflow rate and static pressure (duct leaving air humidity ratio is assumed, and the new value
static pressure setpoint) and the output is fan power. The is calculated and reused. This iterative process continues
inputs of the cooling coil model are fan airflow rate, entering calculating through the loop several times until the values
liquid temperature (chilled water supply temperature set- of cooling coil leaving air humidity ratio stabilize within
point), entering air dry bulb temperature and humidity ratio, a specified tolerance. The calculation presented above
supply air dry bulb temperature (supply air temperature is similar to that for a VAV model in the HVAC toolkit
averaged for a period of three months (one week for each possible other applications when the supply air temperature
month). The inputs of the ANN fan model are the measured is the output as shown in Table 1. The model is able to
total pressure difference across the fan and airflow rate. In estimate accurately the supply air temperature with the
the optimization problem, the energy use by the fan needs to CV of 5.7%.
correlate with the duct static pressure setpoint not with the The chilled water and condenser water supply tem-
total pressure difference. Thus, the pressure drops between peratures collected from the existing system are always
the duct static sensor and fan outlet and between the fixed, and testing of the chiller model is not valid over a
outdoor air damper and fan inlet need to be considered wider range of operation. Thus, the ANN chiller model is
and can be simplified as proportional to the square of the evaluated against EnergyPlus’s electric chiller model based
flow rate. The model is also tested for the other possible on condenser leaving temperature, developed by Hydeman
applications when the duct static pressure is the control et al. (Hydeman et al. 2002). The chiller performance curves
output as shown in Table 1. The model is able to estimate are generated by fitting manufacturer’s catalog data. The
accurately the duct static pressure with the CV of 3.1%. cooling coil load, chilled water temperature, and condenser
In the cooling coil model, the required output for the water temperature are then the inputs for the chiller model.
optimization purpose is cooling coil load that is in turn the The output is the compressor power. The design compressor
input to the chiller model. The measured cooling coil loads power is 150 kW. Figure 6 shows the testing results of the
required for training and testing are calculated from the chiller model. The chiller energy use as a function of part
measured airflow rate and difference between the measured load ratio PLRr (cooling load to rated one) is illustrated at
inlet and outlet enthalpies. Figure 5 shows the results of the two different values of chilled water supply temperature (6℃
ANN cooling coil model training, validation, and testing. By and 10℃) (42.8℉, 50℉) and an entering condenser water
comparing between the measured (target) and simulated temperature of 33℃ (91.4℉). Under these two conditions
(output) cooling load for a testing period of three weeks and with an interval of 10% PLRr (18 operating conditions),
(10080×3), the coefficient of variance CV, MAE, MaxE are the accuracy of the model in terms of the coefficient of
7.8%, 5.12 kW, and 11.10 kW, respectively. The model variation CV, MAE, and MaxE are 3.18%, 0.58 kW, 1.23 kW,
slightly overestimates the outputs at elevated values and respectively. These testing results show that the models
underestimates at relatively lower values during the training capture very well the system performance and can be used
period. However, the outputs are somewhat scattered for the calculations required for the optimization process or
during the training period. The model is also tested for the any other applications.
Nassif / Building Simulation / Vol. 7, No. 3 243
and chiller models in terms of the coefficient of variation Hydeman M, Webb N, Sreedharan P, Blanc S (2002). Development
(CV) are within 2%–8%. The models could be incorporated and testing of a reformulated regression-based electric chiller
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