Modeling the Direct Sun Component in Buildings Using Matrix Algebraic Approaches: Methods and Validation

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Journal Article

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Simulation tools that enable annual energy performance analysis of optically-complex fenestration systems have been widely adopted by the building industry for use in building design, code development, and the development of rating and certification programs for commercially-available shading and daylighting products. The tools rely on a three-phase matrix operation to compute solar heat gains, using as input low-resolution bidirectional scattering distribution function (BSDF) data (10-15° angular resolution; BSDF data define the angle-dependent behavior of light-scattering materials and systems). Measurement standards and product libraries for BSDF data are undergoing development to support solar heat gain calculations. Simulation of other metrics such as discomfort glare, annual solar exposure, and potentially thermal discomfort, however, require algorithms and BSDF input data that more accurately model the spatial distribution of transmitted and reflected irradiance or illuminance from the sun (0.5° resolution).

This study describes such algorithms and input data, then validates the tools (i.e., an interpolation tool for measured BSDF data and the five-phase method) through comparisons with ray-tracing simulations and field monitored data from a full-scale testbed. Simulations of daylight-redirecting films, a micro-louvered screen, and venetian blinds using variable resolution, tensor tree BSDF input data derived from interpolated scanning goniophotometer measurements were shown to agree with field monitored data to within 20% for greater than 75% of the measurement period for illuminance-based performance parameters. The three-phase method delivered significantly less accurate results. We discuss the ramifications of these findings on industry and provide recommendations to increase end user awareness of the current limitations of existing software tools and BSDF product libraries.


Solar Energy



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