Practical factors of envelope model setup and their effects on the performance of model predictive control for building heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems
Model predictive control (MPC) for buildings is attracting significant attention in research and industry due to its potential to address a number of challenges facing the building industry, including energy cost reduction, grid integration, and occupant connectivity. However, the strategy has not yet been implemented at any scale, largely due to the significant effort required to configure and calibrate the model used in the MPC controller. While many studies have focused on methods to expedite model configuration and improve model accuracy, few have studied the impact a wide range of factors have on the accuracy of the resulting model. In addition, few have continued on to analyze these factors' impact on MPC controller performance in terms of final operating costs. Therefore, this study first identifies the practical factors affecting model setup, specifically focusing on the thermal envelope. The seven that are identified are building design, model structure, model order, data set, data quality, identification algorithm and initial guesses, and software tool-chain. Then, through a large number of trials, it analyzes each factor's influence on model accuracy, focusing on grey-box models for a single zone building envelope. Finally, this study implements a subset of the models identified with these factor variations in heating, ventilating, and air conditioning MPC controllers, and tests them in simulation of a representative case that aims to optimally cool a single-zone building with time-varying electricity prices. It is found that a difference of up to 20% in cooling cost for the cases studied can occur between the best performing model and the worst performing model. The primary factors attributing to this were model structure and initial parameter guesses during parameter estimation of the model.