Student project

Comprehensive Performance Metrics for Complex Fenestration Systems Using a Relative Approach

Buildings account for over 40% of the energy consumption in the United States, nearly 40% of which is attributed to lighting. The selection of a fenestration system for a building is a critical decision as it offsets electric lighting use as well as impacts energy performance through heating and cooling systems. Further, the fenestration system contributes to both occupant comfort and ambiance of the space. Complex Fenestration Systems (CFS) address these factors with a variety of innovative technologies but the language to describe, discuss, and compare them does not exist. Existing traditional metrics for fenestration systems are unable to reveal the benefits that characterize complex fenestration systems because they are rigid, do not reflect annual performance, and were developed for a different purpose. The framework presented in this research offers a solution to this problem by using an annual climate-based methodology to provide a comprehensive evaluation of a system by incorporating three of the most relevant performance aspects: energy efficiency, occupant visual comfort, and ability to view through. Three metrics, the Relative Energy Impact (REI), the Extent of Comfortable Daylight (ECD), and the View Through Potential (VTP), were derived from these three criteria to express, in relative terms, a façade’s contribution to building energy use, comfortable daylight conditions, and the degree of transparency, respectively. Several practical matters were considered when developing a policy-relevant set of metrics, including both ease of calculation for manufacturers and usability for consumers. As such, the calculation methodology evolved from its initial proposal into a simplified approach, analytical where possible, and into a label-like concept for visual representation. These metrics are intended to exist as a mechanism by which manufacturers can evaluate and compare façade systems, provide high-level intuition of relative performance for designers and contractors, and enable the balance of performance objectives based on user preference. Ultimately, the creation of this comprehensive language is intended to stimulate innovation in fenestration systems and encourage their use in both new and retrofit building applications.


    MSc in Technology and Policy and in Mechanical Engineering, Building Technology Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Committee: Prof. M. Andersen (advisor), Prof. L. Glicksman (co-advisor)


    • EPFL-STUDENT-175386

    Record created on 2012-03-05, modified on 2016-08-09

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