Performance-based climatic zoning method for building energy efficiency applications using cluster analysis

Walsh, Angélica and Cóstola, Daniel and Labaki, Lucila Chebel (2022) Performance-based climatic zoning method for building energy efficiency applications using cluster analysis. Energy, 255. 124477. ISSN 1873-6785 (

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Climatic zoning for buildings is an important topic in the field of building energy efficiency. Defining climatic zones is challenging, as it involves many variables sparsely distributed in time and space. Many methods exist today to define climatic zoning, most of them focused on weather-centred definitions. The actual response of buildings in terms of performance is rarely considered in the climatic zoning definition, leading to significant levels of misclassification. Early initiatives of performance-based climatic zoning show the large potential of this approach. However, these initiatives have shortcomings on handling complex building-stocks, defining boundaries between zones, and quality-assurance of results. This paper proposes a performance-based approach for climatic zoning addressing these shortcomings, relying on the intensive use of archetypes, building performance simulation, and GIS. The method was tested in south-eastern USA, using simulation results for 52 building models from the USA Department of Energy (DOE) building stock for 95 locations. Results were clustered using the k-means method considering 3 different zoning levels. An existing climatic zoning performance indicator, the Mean Percentage of Misclassified Areas (MPMA), was calculated for each alternative. The best-case scenario (3-zones) reached less than 2% of MPMA, which is low when compared with existing methods (10% for ASHRAE169-2013, 15% for ASHRAE169-2009).