Integrated platform, HVAC, Automation, Software-in-the-Loop
Integrated optimal control strategies can reduce the overall building HVAC system energy consumption as well as improved air quality resulting in improved health and cognitive function for the occupants. However, it is time consuming to quantitatively evaluate the design-intended building HVAC automation system performance before on-site deployment, because: 1) the building and HVAC system design specs are in 2D or 3D drawings that require significant efforts to develop the system steady state or dynamic models based on them; 2) the building HVAC control strategies are designed and implemented in building automation (BA) system that could not smoothly connect with the building HVAC system steady state or dynamic models for performance evaluation through close-loop simulation. This paper presents the tool chain of an integrated simulation platform for building HVAC system automation and simulation as well as its implementation in a real case. First, building information from a Revit BIM model is automatically parsed to an EnergyPlus building energy model. Second, the HVAC system model is quickly populated with a scalable HVAC system library in Dymola. Third, the HVAC controls are developed in WebCTRL, a building HVAC automation system by Automated Logic Corporation (ALC). Finally, both the building energy model and HVAC system model are wrapped up as Functional Mock-up Units (FMU) and connected with embedded simulator in WebCTRL to perform close-loop building automation system performance simulation. A real case study, a chiller plant system in a hotel building, is conducted to verify the scalability and benefit of the developed tool chain. The case study demonstrates the values in identifying both HVAC automation system design-intended control issues and improvement areas for integrated optimal controls. This platform enables testing of building HVAC control strategies before on-site deployment, which reduces the labor and time required for building HVAC control development-to-market process and ensure the delivering quality. Furthermore, this platform can be calibrated with metered real-time data from the specific building HVAC system and serve as its “digital twin” that empowers the system fault detection, diagnostics and predictive maintenance.