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Scalable and Robust Designs of Model - Based Control Strategies for Energy - Efficient Buildings

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posted on 01.05.2014, 00:00 by Clarence Agbi

In the wake of rising energy costs, there is a critical need for sustainable energy management of commercial and residential buildings. Buildings consume approximately 40% of total energy consumed in the US, and current methods to reduce this level of consumption include energy monitoring, smart sensing, and advanced integrated building control. However, the building industry has been slow to replace current PID and rule-based control strategies with more advanced strategies such as model-based building control. This is largely due to the additional cost of accurately modeling the dynamics of the building and the general uncertainty that model-based controllers can be reliably used in real conditions. The first half of this thesis addresses the challenge of constructing accurate grey-box building models for control using model identification. Current identification methods poorly estimate building model parameters because of the complexity of the building model structure, and fail to do so quickly because these methods are not scalable for large buildings. Therefore, we introduce the notion of parameter identifiability to determine those parameters in the building model that may not be accurately estimated and we use this information to strategically improve the identifiability of the building model. Finally, we present a decentralized identification scheme to reduce the computational effort and time needed to identify large buildings.

The second half of this thesis discusses the challenge of using uncertain building models to reliably control building temperature. Under real conditions, building models may not match the dynamics of the building, which directly causes increased building energy consumption and poor thermal comfort. To reduce the impact of model uncertainty on building control, we pose the model-based building control problem as a robust control problem using well-known H1 control methods. Furthermore, we introduce a tuning law to reduce the conservativeness of a robust building control strategy in the presence of high model uncertainty, both in a centralized and decentralized building control framework.




Degree Type



Electrical and Computer Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Bruce H. Krogh