Optimizing Building Design for Daylighting -- Presented by Ben Futrell

Date Published: 
October 30, 2013

Abstract: We address the challenging problem of optimizing building design to minimize lighting loads, which is one of the two largest sources of energy consumption in buildings, besides thermal (heating and cooling) loads. Judiciously designed building envelopes, which employ daylight harvesting characteristics, can reduce these loads by 50%. Robust and validated lighting tools exist for the performance evaluation of building designs; however, they are not commonly used to explore the performance of many design alternatives. In practice, their use is often limited to validating one or several designs. Building design optimization programs have been developed; however, most of these tools focus exclusively on the optimization of envelope thermal loads or use simple, outdated lighting evaluation methods. The inclusion of rigorous holistic lighting performance evaluation for optimization is important because lighting energy represents about 40% of the total electricity used by commercial buildings. We present a new methodology, using state-of-the-art dynamic climate-based lighting simulations and the COMPLEX Method of Constrained Optimization, to optimize building design for daylighting performance. The results indicate that the design space region of optimum performance can be found quickly, but converge is sometimes slow.


Ben Futrell serves as a lecturer and research associate in the School of Architecture and is an active member of the School's Integrated Design Labs. He received a Master of Architecture from UNC Charlotte in 2008. His research focuses on optimizing building envelope design for daylighting and thermal performance. He has worked on numerous daylighting projects through the Daylighting + Energy Performance Lab. He is currently a Ph.D. student in UNC Charlotte's Infrastructure and Environmental Systems program, where he is advancing and expanding his building performance research agenda.