Energy and visual comfort performance of electrochromic windows with overhangs

TitleEnergy and visual comfort performance of electrochromic windows with overhangs
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsEleanor S. Lee, Aslihan Tavil
JournalBuilding and Environment
Date Published06/2007
Keywordsbuilding simulation, Control algorithms, daylighting, Electrochromic windows, energy efficiency

DOE-2 building energy simulations were conducted to determine if there were practical architectural and control strategy solutions that would enable electrochromic (EC) windows to significantly improve visual comfort without eroding energy-efficiency benefits. EC windows were combined with overhangs since opaque overhangs provide protection from direct sun which EC windows are unable to do alone. The window wall was divided into an upper and lower aperture so that various combinations of overhang position and control strategies could be considered. The overhang was positioned either at the top of the upper window aperture or between the upper and lower apertures. Overhang depth was varied. EC control strategies were fully bleached at all times, modulated based on incident vertical solar radiation limits, or modulated to meet the design work plane illuminance with daylight. The EC performance was compared to a state-of-the-art spectrally selective low-e window with the same divided window wall, window size, and overhang as the EC configuration. The reference window was also combined with an interior shade which was manually deployed to control glare and direct sun. Both systems had the same daylighting control system to dim the electric lighting. Results were given for south-facing private offices in a typical commercial building.

In hot and cold climates such as Houston and Chicago, EC windows with overhangs can significantly reduce the average annual daylight glare index (DGI) and deliver significant annual energy use savings if the window area is large. Total primary annual energy use was increased by 2-5% for moderate-area windows in either climate but decreased by 10% in Chicago and 5% in Houston for large-area windows. Peak electric demand can be reduced by 7-8% for moderate-area windows and by 14-16% for large-area windows in either climate. Energy and peak demand reductions can be significantly greater if the reference case does not have exterior shading or state-of-the-art glass.

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