Journal article

Effect of thermal mass on life cycle primary energy balances of a concrete- and a wood-frame building

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Author list: Dodoo, Ambrose;Gustavsson, Leif;Sathre, Roger

Publication year: 2012

Start page: 462

End page: 472

Number of pages: 11

ISSN: 0306-2619

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2011.11.017

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Abstract

In this study we analyze the effect of thermal mass on space heating energy use and life cycle primary energy balances of a concrete- and a wood-frame building. The analysis includes primary energy use during the production, operation and end-of-life phases. Based on hourby- hour dynamic modeling of heat flows in building mass configurations we calculate the energy saving benefits of thermal mass during the operation phase of the buildings. Our results indicate that the energy savings due to thermal mass is small and varies with the climatic location and energy efficiency levels of the buildings. A concrete-frame building has slightly lower space heating demand than a wood-frame alternative, due to the benefit of thermal mass inherent in concrete-based materials. Still, a wood-frame building has a lower life cycle primary energy balance than a concrete-frame alternative. This is due primarily to the lower production primary energy use and greater bioenergy recovery benefits of the wood-frame buildings. These advantages outweigh the energy saving benefits of thermal mass. We conclude that the influence of thermal mass on space heating energy use for buildings located in Nordic climate is small and that wood-frame buildings with CHP-based district heating would be an effective means of reducing primary energy use in the built environment.


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