Jialei Shen

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Jianshun Zhang


Building energy;Building environment;Building performance simulation;High-performance building;Indoor air quality;Modular design

Subject Categories

Engineering | Mechanical Engineering


Building energy and indoor air quality (IAQ) are of great importance to climate change and people’s health and wellbeing. They also play a key role in mitigating the risk of transmissions of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. Building design with high performance in energy efficiency and IAQ improvement can save energy, reduce carbon emissions, and improve human health. High-performance building (HPB) design at the early design stage is critical to building’s real performance during operation. Fast and reliable prediction of building performance is, therefore, required for HPB design during the early design iterations. A modular-based method to analyze building performance on energy efficiency, thermal comfort, IAQ, health impacts, and infection risks was developed, implemented, and demonstrated in this study. The modular approach groups the building technologies and systems to modules that can be analyzed at multi-scale building environments, from urban scale, to building, room, and personal scale. The proposed approach was implemented as a plugin on Rhino Grasshopper, a 3D architectural geometry modeling tool. The design and simulation platform was named Green Design Studio. Reduced-order physics-based models were used to simulate thermal, air, and mass transfer and storage in the buildings. Three cases were used as the study case to demonstrate the module-based approach and develop the simulation platform. Optimization algorithms were applied to optimize the design and settings of the building modules beyond the reference case. The case study shows that the optimal design of the small office determined by the developed platform can save up to 27.8% energy use while mitigating more than 99% infection risk compared to the reference case. It reveals that the optimization of green building design using the proposed approach has high potential of energy saving and IAQ improvement. In support of the application of the Green Design Studio platform, a database of green building technology modules for energy efficiency and IAQ improvement was created. Two selected emerging IAQ strategies were studied using the proposed approach and the developed tool, including the in-duct needlepoint bipolar ionizer and the combination of displacement ventilation and partitions. The in-duct ionization system can provide an equivalent single pass removal efficiency (SPRE) of 3.8-13.6% on particle removal without significant ozone and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) removal and generation with minimal energy use. The combined application of displacement ventilation and desk partitions can also effectively mitigate potential virus transmission through coughing or talking. The abundant performance data from experiments and detailed simulations for the studied technologies will be used by the database of the green building technologies and systems. It will allow these two technologies to be applied through the Green Design Studio approach during the early-design stage for a high-performance building. This can potentially help to address IAQ issues, particularly the airborne transmission of respiratory diseases, while maintaining high energy efficiency.


Open Access