A Decision-Support Framework for the Design and Application of Radiant Cooling Systems

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Virginia Tech


Creating a sense of place through a comfortable indoor condition is a goal of the architectural design process. Thermal comfort is an important component of this condition. To achieve thermally comfortable environments mechanical systems such as Radiant Cooling (RC) could be used. RC systems have potential benefit of lower energy consumption when compared to other common cooling, ventilating and air-conditioning systems. Decisions related to the use of mechanical systems such as these should be considered in the early stages of design to maximize the building performance through systems integration and minimize redesign as part of the design process.

RC systems have several special demands and related variables. Architects, HVAC system engineers, and decision-makers have to understand these issues and variables and their impact on the other building performance mandates. Through this understanding, these professionals can better evaluate tradeoffs to reach the desired solution of the design problem. Unfortunately, in the United States few architects and engineers have experience with RC systems which in turn limits the application of these systems.

Through systematic literature review, a series of case studies, and interviews with experienced professionals, this research captures and structures knowledge related to how decisions are made concerning RC systems. Through this knowledge capturing procedure, the relevant design performance mandates, barriers and constraints, and potential advantages and benefits of radiant cooling systems are determined and mapped to a decision-support framework. This framework is graphically presented which may later be translated to a decision-support software package which could then be developed as a radiant cooling system design assistance tool for architects and HVAC engineers.



Radiant Cooling Systems, Decision-Support Framework, Building Performance Mandates, Decision Mapping