This paper presents a building performance simulation-based investigation to better understand the energy and comfort performance benefits of early detection of common sensor and actuator faults. Five types of air-handling unit faults and four types of zone-level faults were implemented to the energy management system application of the building performance simulation tool EnergyPlus. During 50-year simulation periods, the faults were randomly permitted to affect 75 different components of an archetype medium-sized office building model. The sensitivity of the simulation results with respect to three variables was studied: fault recurrence period, fault repair period, and discomfort threshold for simulated complaints. The results indicate that the energy use intensity and the predicted percentage of dissatisfied exhibit a power–law relationship with time, in which most of the performance reductions occur in the first 10 years. If the work-orders are issued only upon occupant complaints, the faults were estimated to cause a 16–62% increase in the energy use intensity for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning and a 11–38% increase in the predicted percentage of dissatisfied at the end of the 50-year simulation periods. The results indicate that if the faults can be detected within a month after their first appearance, almost all their detrimental effects on a building’s energy and comfort performance can be mitigated. Practical application: The methodology and results presented in this article are of practical use for those who study on-going commissioning, fault detection and diagnostics, and energy management systems in buildings. The simulation-based parametric analysis approach can be used to estimate the range of energy and comfort savings expected through early detection of common sensor and actuator faults in commercial buildings. Insights gathered from such an analysis can be used in planning the frequency of retro-commissioning and investments for automated fault detection and diagnostics systems.

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Keywords building performance simulation, energy and comfort impact of sensor and actuator faults, Fault detection and diagnostics
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Journal Building Services Engineering Research and Technology
Gunay, H.B, Shen, W. (Weiming), Huchuk, B. (Brent), Yang, C. (Chunsheng), Bucking, S, & O'Brien, W. (2018). Energy and comfort performance benefits of early detection of building sensor and actuator faults. Building Services Engineering Research and Technology. doi:10.1177/0143624418769264