Improving Building Energy Efficiency through Measurement of Building Physics Properties Using Dynamic Heating Tests
Buildings contribute to nearly 30% of global carbon dioxide emissions, making a significant impact on climate change. Despite advanced design methods, such as those based on dynamic simulation tools, a significant discrepancy exists between designed and actual performance. This so-called performance gap occurs as a result of many factors, including the discrepancies between theoretical properties of building materials and properties of the same materials in buildings in use, reflected in the physics properties of the entire building. There are several different ways in which building physics properties and the underlying properties of materials can be established: a co-heating test, which measures the overall heat loss coefficient of the building; a dynamic heating test, which, in addition to the overall heat loss coefficient, also measures the effective thermal capacitance and the time constant of the building; and a simulation of the dynamic heating test with a calibrated simulation model, which establishes the same three properties in a non-disruptive way in comparison with the actual physical tests. This article introduces a method of measuring building physics properties through actual and simulated dynamic heating tests. It gives insights into the properties of building materials in use and it documents significant discrepancies between theoretical and measured properties. It introduces a quality assurance method for building construction and retrofit projects, and it explains the application of results on energy efficiency improvements in building design and control. It calls for re-examination of material properties data and for increased safety margins in order to make significant improvements in building energy efficiency.