Assessing Responsive Building Envelope Designs Through Robustness-Based Multi-Criteria Decision Making in Zero-Emission Buildings
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Responsive building envelopes (RBEs) are central to developing sustainability strategies for zero emission/energy buildings (ZEBs). RBEs are a large group of complex technologies and systems, which is why multi-criteria decision making (MCDM) methods are helpful to navigate sustainability assessments considering various performance indicators. This article first provides a literature review of assessment criteria and key performance indicators for RBEs and an analysis of existing robustness-based MCDM methods. Then, a methodological approach to assess RBE designs in ZEB projects is proposed as an extension of a novel robustness-based MCDM method that normalizes the objective functions according to defined targets and combines them into one comprehensive indicator (MT-KPI), thereby eliminating the need to weight objectives. The proposed methodological approach is finally tested on a case study of a Norwegian ZEB, where five competitive RBE designs (including building integrated photovoltaics, phase change material, and electrochromic windows) and eight occupancy and climate scenarios are investigated considering three main performance areas: energy use, thermal comfort, and load matching. The results in the case study show that with the proposed MCDM approach the different designs have MT-KPI values between 1.4 and 12.8, where a lower value is better. In this specific case, the most robust building RBE alternative was identified as the one with electrochromic windows and a control based on incident solar radiation and indoor air temperature.