District energy systems are an essential part of many cities, circulating heat or electricity from renewable and non-renewable sources. With the forecast growth of urban populations over the coming decades, there is significant potential for district energy systems to provide low carbon energy solutions for cities. However, the design of district energy systems is typically focused only on their operational performance, e.g. their heat demand or peak power. A review of models used to design and evaluate district energy systems found that only 1 of 25 considers embodied energy. With district energy systems requiring energy-intensive materials, such as concrete, steel, polymers, and copper, as well as regular maintenance, it is essential that these systems are optimised across their entire life cycle.
This project focuses on developing a model for the life cycle energy analysis of district energy systems (e.g. district heating/cooling, embedded electricity networks, district energy network, etc.) for buildings. The project will use the advanced Path Exchange Hybrid method to quantify embodied energy, allowing a more holistic understanding of the energy performance of various district energy systems. The model will allow designers to evaluate and optimise the life cycle energy performance of district energy systems.