Development of building RC modeling toolbox


Project abstract

Mathematical modeling of building thermodynamic processes has become an integral part of modern building performance evaluation. In business, engineering, and many other fields, mathematical models of a building play a vital role to let things run.  With available weather data for the building location, the models accurately calculate heating and cooling loads of the building useful for optimizing the building design, sizing the HVAC equipment or planning the energy efficiency retrofit. Commercially available building simulation tools such as IDA - Indoor Climate and Energy (IDA-ICE), EnergyPlus and Transient System Simulation Program (TRNSYS), accurately describe the relevant building dynamics. However, they are hardly usable for real-time control implementation due to large state and parameters dimensions accompanied by nonlinearities or non-explicit model form. The most common approach in thermal modelling of buildings resulting with the model suitable for control system design is based on a well-established linear resistance-capacitance (RC) representation where heat properties are represented by capacitors and resistors. This approach relies on detailed descriptions of thermal properties and dimensions of building elements such as walls, floors, ceilings and windows, to generate the dynamic simulation models.


Mini projects

  • The case study for development of the toolbox is a single-story family home. The case study should be well document including CAD drawings, building element materials and window properties. Students can freely define the case study by using available online resources. To understand the logic behind the RC representation, the state-space model of the case study building should be first developed in MATLAB environment. To validate the performance of the developed state-space model its performance should be compared to the performance of equivalent RC network developed by using Simscape Electrical toolbox.
    • In case multiple students decide to work on the same topics there is possibility to upgrade the first mini project by including the development of the case study family home in IDA-ICE environment and comparing the resulting behavior with the behavior of the MATLAB RC model.


  • The considered RC modelling toolbox should be designed to automatize the construction of the model and reduce the possibility for making errors. To make the tool open for use it should be developed in Excel by using VBA programing environment combined with Python for more challenging tasks. The verification of the tool will pe performed by comparing the resulting model with the one made as part of the first mini project in MATLAB. If the tool passes the verification, it will be presented on LARES website and available for download to other LARES students and other interested parties.


Additional information