Theme IV - 4.3

Smart operating strategies for net-zero energy solar communities

Project Leader

  • A. Fung


Groups of buildings or small communities offer opportunities for optimizing building design and operations that go beyond what is feasible at the individual building level. Mixed neighborhoods that combine different types of buildings (commercial and institutional, residential) can take advantage of mini district heating and/or cooling schemes to share heat and cold and reduce the impact on the grid. This is especially important in the case of buildings that utilize renewable energy sources for a high fraction of their heating and cooling needs. Thermal storage can be managed both at the local level (e.g. in the building structure and in building DHW tanks) and at the central level (e.g. shared thermal stores and/or in-ground storage). 

While a community can be designed to have net-zero energy consumption over a year, it is necessary to study possible strategies that can be applied on a community scale to reduce and shift peak electrical demand and thermal loads, and to also manage in a largely predictable manner net electricity supplied to/or received from the grid. This project will also take into account a combination of design and operation measures to reduce the peaks in demand and supply to/from the grid. The emphasis of the project is on new communities, in which the form of the buildings is optimized for solar energy capture. Optimal operating strategies will be studied based on a number of configurations – with and without energy storage and combinations of active and passive solar technologies, as well as cogeneration systems. This project will also apply the previous results on the optimal integration of daylighting and lighting control with HVAC systems and thermal and visual comfort in commercial and institutional buildings in collaboration with industry (e.g. Régulvar, Unicel).


  • 4.3a  Modeling of solar community hybrid energy system configurations and optimal control 
  • 4.3b  Operational optimization of integrated solar community energy system with uncertainty analysis 
  • 4.3c  Impact of human factors on smart NZEH operation


Back to Theme IV : Smart Building Operating Strategies