Open Access Original research

Low-energy office buildings using existing technology: simulations with low internal heat gains

Kajsa Flodberg*, Åke Blomsterberg and Marie-Claude Dubois

Author Affiliations

Department of Architecture and the Built Environment, Div. of Energy and Building Design, Lund University, Box 118, Lund, 221 00, Sweden

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International Journal of Energy and Environmental Engineering 2012, 3:19  doi:10.1186/2251-6832-3-19

Published: 7 September 2012


Although low-energy and nearly zero-energy residential houses have been built in Sweden in the past decade, there are very few examples of low-energy office buildings. This paper investigates the design features affecting energy use in office buildings and suggests the optimal low-energy design from a Swedish perspective. Dynamic simulations have been carried out with IDA ICE 4 on a typical narrow office building with perimeter cell rooms. The results from the parametric study reveal that the most important design features for energy saving are demand-controlled ventilation as well as limited glazing on the façade. Further energy-saving features are efficient lighting and office equipment which strongly reduce user-related electricity and cooling energy. Together, the simulation results suggest that about 48% energy can be saved compared to a new office building built according to the Swedish building code. Thus, it is possible, using a combination of simple and well-known building technologies and configurations, to have very low energy use in new office buildings. If renewable energy sources, such as solar energy and wind power, are added, there is a potential for the annual energy production to exceed the annual energy consumption and a net zero-energy building can be reached. One aspect of the results concerns user-related electricity, which becomes a major energy post in very low-energy offices and which is rarely regulated in building codes today. This results not only in high electricity use, but also in large internal heat gains and unnecessary high cooling loads given the high latitude and cold climate.

office building; low energy; dynamic simulations; cooling; electricity; lighting; building envelope; HVAC; internal heat gains