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Thesis Defence: A Path Towards Net-Zero Communities in Cold Climates
November 30 at 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Amindha Senarath Jayasena, supervised by Dr. Kasun Hewage, will defend their thesis titled “A Path Towards Net-Zero Communities in Cold Climates” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering.
An abstract for Amindha Senarath Jayasena’s thesis is included below.
Defences are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Please email email@example.com to receive the Zoom link for this defence.
The impact of climate change and global warming has been threatening communities in cold climates because of the temperature sensitivity of the ecosystems and the accelerated ongoing warming conditions. Net-zero communities have become very topical for engineers and climate scientists due to their potential to reduce the impacts of climate change and global warming. The residential building sector accounts for a significant portion of the energy consumption in a cold climate-based community. Existing buildings in a community are equally important as the new construction during the efforts to implement net-zero targets in existing communities located in cold climatic regions. Implementing energy retrofits is a well-established approach that can improve the energy efficiency of buildings. However, there are no clear protocols that help identify suitable retrofitting strategies for transforming cold climate-based communities into net-zero communities. Further, the existing methods bear a knowledge gap in adopting life cycle thinking into net-zero-related decision-making. Incorporating a life cycle perspective into decision-making related to achieving net-zero enhances the overall efficacy of energy retrofits, ultimately resulting in long-term societal benefits. The present study aims to develop a decision-supporting framework that would assist the retrofit selection process at the building-level for achieving a net zero community by incorporating the life cycle thinking and the triple-bottom-line sustainability concepts. This study selected the commonly available retrofitting strategies in North America. Identified strategies were assessed for their effectiveness using the BEopt and EnergyPlus simulation platforms on a predefined building typical of the cold climatic regions in North America. In addition, Ecoinvent and RSMeans databases with peer-reviewed publications were used to analyze the life cycle impacts of retrofits in the base building. The impact of considering the life cycle perspective in net-zero-related decision-making was initially highlighted using building energy simulations and impact calculations. Further, a social cost-benefit analysis (SCBA) studied the impacts of social factors in net-zero developments. Finally, the optimal retrofitting strategies were identified using Binary Integer Goal Programming. The developed frameworks and methodologies will aid policymakers, business owners, and government authorities in pinpointing optimal retrofitting strategies to transform an existing community in a cold climatic region into a net-zero community at the building level.