Zero-Energy Living Lab
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In order to reduce the existing gap between design and as-built building performance, experimental data are required, both for single components and for whole building characterization. Real scale buildings, designed and equipped to perform such as living laboratories, may allow testing the effectiveness of different technologies to reduce the energy consumption and/or to increase the indoor environmental quality of the building as a whole. In order to understand to what extent the nearly zero-energy and the Passivhaus concepts could be extended to the Mediterranean climate, a new building (a detached single family house) was designed and constructed in the municipality of Mascalucia (Catania), in the Italian region of Sicily. It has been conceived to perform such as a living laboratory able to provide useful information on the actual performance of the building and its components, such as the Air to Earth Heat Exchanger. The design process was led by an optimization procedure based on extensive energy simulations. It resulted in an optimal energy balance and favourable thermal comfort conditions along the year. The building is equipped with an accurate Building Automation and Control System (BACS), and a number of sensors for a detailed energy and environmental monitoring. The early monitored data, following the commissioning phase, provide a first insight of the energy and comfort performance of the building. Further results including improvements in control algorithms and a comprehensive data analysis are ongoing and their completion is expected in a short time.