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Proceedings of the International Symposium on


Sustainable Systems and Technologies, v2 (2014)


Optimizing the Total Fuel Cycle Efficiency of an Idealized CCHP-
Powered Community in Oakland, CA

Robert Best Stanford University, robbest@stanford.edu
Forest Flager Stanford University, forest@stanford.edu
Caroline Nowacki Stanford University, cnowacki@stanford.edu
Martin Fischer Stanford University, fischer@stanford.edu
Michael Lepech Stanford University, mlepech@stanford.edu

Abstract. Energy production by combined cooling, heating, and power (CCHP) can achieve
combustion efficiencies of 80-90% by simultaneously generating electricity and useful heating
and cooling. In urban applications, systems typically only achieve efficiencies of 45-60%. One
challenge facing design of these systems is that the relative demand for cooling, heating, and
electricity for the district-scale networks they serve varies significantly over time while the
production ratio between heat and electrical power is relatively constant. Hence an opportunity
exists to improve the Total Fuel Cycle Efficiency by accounting for downstream losses and this
temporal mismatch and better aligning supply and demand. No models exist that capture these
impacts by simultaneously considering the supply and demand of a district CCHP network.

This paper presents an integrated urban energy model that evaluates different urban planning
schemes (building use types and densities) to predict and improve the Total Fuel Cycle
Efficiency of a microgrid and district heating and cooling network. Sequential quadratic
programming is used to optimize the mix of buildings by modeling the energy demand and
supply of all buildings within an idealized model of Oakland, CA. Over 16,000 solutions were
tested; compared to a baseline case representing Oakland's current mix of building types, the
optimal design resulted in a 12% improvement in annual average efficiency. However,
maximum annual average efficiency was still only 57%, far lower than the theoretical upper limit
of a CCHP plant. Inefficiencies are observed primarily in higher commercial cooling loads during
the summer that do not match temporally with higher electrical loads. Simultaneous electrical
peaking from residential and commercial buildings without corresponding heating and cooling
loads also was found to contribute to inefficiency.



Proceedings of the International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technologies (ISSN 2329-9169) is
published annually by the Sustainable Conoscente Network. Melissa Bilec and Jun-Ki Choi, co-editors.
ISSSTNetwork@gmail.com.

Copyright 2014 by Robert Best, Forest Flager, Caroline Nowacki, Martin Fischer, and Michael Lepech Licensed
under CC-BY 3.0.
Cite as:
Optimizing the Urban Plan of a CCHP-Powered Community for Total Fuel Cycle Efficiency Proc. ISSST, Best, R., et
al. Doi information v2 (2014)
Optimizing the Urban Plan of a CCHP-Powered Community for Total Fuel Cycle Efficiency
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Introduction. Cities take up less than 2% of Earth's land area and consume more than 75% of
its resources (Ramsar COP11 Scientific and Technical Review Panel, 2012). Furthermore, the
systems that provide energy to buildings and other end-uses suffer from extremely high loss
rates; in the United States, 58% of primary energy is lost to inefficiency prior to being used by
the customer (The National Academy of Sciences, 2013). One increasingly common solution to
reduce losses is Combined Cooling, Heating, and Power (CCHP) which converts a single
primary energy source into three energy services. CCHP plants were first commercially
operated in the late 1800s as primary sources of electricity and heat for urban centers (Thornton,
2005). Their recent resurgence can be attributed to their higher thermodynamic efficiencies.
Whereas traditional electricity generation has efficiencies of 30-60%, CCHP can achieve
efficiencies of 80-90% in certain cases (Horlock, 1987). CCHP units are often sized to maximize
profit based on interconnection agreements with utilities rather than provide the maximum
environmental benefit (Kolanowski, 2000). When operated as a primary energy source, the
constant generation of CCHP systems is mismatched from the electricity, heating, and cooling
consumption of the buildings to which it provides energy. This results in the Total Fuel Cycle
Efficiency being significantly lower than efficiencies reported by manufacturers.

Few attempts to minimize the resulting loss of fuel cycle efficiency exist. A published survey
shows a rise in publications on urban energy planning (Keirstead, et al., 2012), but most of
these have tended toward multi-criteria decision analysis supported by analytical models, but
without computational rankings or optimization (Pohekar & Ramachandran, 2004) (De Sousa, et
al., 2012). Robinson, et al., modeled energy flows in communities using annual energy
information but no optimization of the community was performed (2009). SynCity, developed at
Imperial College, evaluates urban energy systems based on a common ontology incorporating
agent-based simulation of individuals and vehicles, and energy modeling of large blocks of
building uses (Keirstead, et al., 2009) (Van Dam & Keirstead, 2010). SynCity does not include
hourly assessment of energy performance and does not provide enough detail to vary building
form and mix of uses.

None of these urban-scale simulations provides the ability to quantify efficiency loss when
CCHP systems are used as a primary energy source for a new community, especially where the
community is a microgrid disconnected from a larger source of energy. Furthermore, no means
of optimizing demand to match the output of a CCHP plant is present. This paper presents a
study based on an urban energy model capable of quantifying the Total Fuel Cycle Efficiency of
CCHP plants, the energy distribution network, and the energy use of a community.

Goals and Case Study Definition. The goal of this study was to assess the Total Fuel Cycle
Efficiency of scaled models of Oakland (referred to herein as City) and its Central Business
District (referred to herein as CBD) if they were powered by a CCHP plant. The City was used
since it is a representation of traditional, historic growth guided by zoning and planning
regulations using a typical process. The CBD represents a specially designated zone designed
to create higher social and economic impacts per unit area; often CBDs are expected to be
environmentally more efficient as well, making it an interesting scenario for comparison. These
scenarios were compared to an optimized model that varied heights and mix of uses of common
building types in Oakland simultaneously with the operation and size of the CCHP plant to
determine improvement in Total Fuel Cycle Efficiency through optimization of demand. Though
such a model would be more appropriately applied to a true greenfield project (i.e., new urban
development in China or India), Oakland was chosen as a case study due to the availability of
data for energy consumption of U.S. buildings and availability of planning and zoning
information for the City of Oakland.
Best, et al.
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The reported use of each zoned parcel in Oakland was taken from the 2014 Assessors
database. For the CBD, additional information was available on building height and floor area.
The average building height and use per zoning type were used to correlate 173 parcel use
types in the Assessor's file to 26 building types used for simulation. Appendix 1 details the
resulting 26 building types and their simulated floor areas and heights.

Model Framework. As noted above, previous studies have failed to capture tradeoffs between
urban form, mix of uses, and Total Fuel Cycle Efficiency. To characterize and maximize
efficiency in this manner required a novel modeling framework. This framework involved bottom-
up energy modeling of all 26 building types distilled from the Assessors File, deterministic
assessment of energy loss, and deterministic modeling of energy supply. Three software
packages were used to create an integrated energy model and optimization platform, the
conceptual architecture of which is given in Figure 1.

Integrated Energy Model. Energy demand for all 26 buildings was simulated in EnergyPlus, a
free multiphysics-based building energy simulation tool developed by the U.S. Department of
Energy (DOE) (Crawley, et al., 2001). Prototype building simulation files for EnergyPlus
published by DOE based on the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey and the
Residential Energy Consumption Survey were matched to the 26 building types in Oakland
(Deru, et al., 2011). Where exact prototypes were unavailable, characteristic components of
existing prototypes were recombined to match the desired use and height. Additional industrial
energy consumption information was also gathered from life-cycle assessment studies of
relevant industries (UNIDO, 1998; Rue, 2007; Therkelsen, 2014; Metso Global, 2014).


Figure 1: Model Architecture. Architecture of the model to assess Total Fuel Cycle Efficiency of community energy
supply and demand. The model uses an optimization routine linked with an integrated energy model containing
supply, demand, and loss components, each built from component models of buildings and power equipment.

Simulations were run on all 26 buildings for 8,760 hours using Typical Meteorological Year
weather files for Oakland Airport. Hourly profiles are important for modeling CCHP given the
wide swings in efficiency based on changes in heating and electrical loads (Hawkes & Leach,
2005). These EnergyPlus simulations are preprocessed prior to optimization, creating a look-up
table by building. For any particular community plan, the energy performance was determined
by aggregating the profiles of all buildings in the community in Microsoft Excel.

Losses were considered deterministically based on a literature regarding energy loss in district
heating and cooling networks and electrical distribution (Boehm, 2001). Since losses depend on
the distance energy resources travel, they are deterministically quantified based on the total
number of buildings in each simulation iteration. An average distance between buildings was
Optimizing the Urban Plan of a CCHP-Powered Community for Total Fuel Cycle Efficiency
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calculated to be 35 m given the lot sizes of buildings in Oakland. A loss factor of 3 W/m of pipe
was used for heating distribution, and a loss factor of 17 W/m of pipe was used for cooling
distribution; electrical losses were assumed to be minimal over short distances. Losses are
added to the energy profiles to generate hourly requirements for the CCHP plant.

The plant was assumed to utilize between one and five reciprocating gas engines, an auxiliary
boiler, absorption chillers, and centrifugal chillers. The gas engines produce both heat and
power, while the boiler provides supplemental heat as needed and the chillers provide cooling
energy. This set up was based on a study of optimal arrangements and control algorithms for
CCHP plants by Kavvadias, et al. (2010). The control strategy for the plant was based on the
Electric Load Equivalent method from Kavvadias, et al., (2010). Parameters for the simulated
equipment were based on highly efficient models currently on the market, and are shown in
Appendix 2.

Total Fuel Cycle Efficiency (TFCE, denoted ) is calculated according to the second law of
thermodynamics as a ratio between the energy consumed for heating, cooling, and electricity,
and the energy present in the natural gas consumed to power the CCHP plant. This is shown in
Equation 1.


)





In Equation 1, b indexes all building types in the demand model, t indexes time and is bounded
from 1 to 8,760. Q, C, and E are the heating, cooling, and electrical loads (J/m
2
) in each hour for
each building, respectively. v
b
denotes the floor area of each building type. LHV is the lower
heating value (J) of natural gas consumed in each hour.

Optimization. Optimization was performed in ModelCenter, a commercial software package
from Phoenix Integration that allows integration of simulation programs via plug-ins and
software wrappers written in the Python programming language (PHX, 2008). Decision variables
are chosen in ModelCenter and used to control linked simulation files (e.g., Microsoft Excel) for
calculation of the objective function. This process is repeated for each candidate solution until
an optimum is found. For this case study, a single objective of maximizing TFCE was used (see
Equation 1). The SEQOPT sequential quadratic programming algorithm was used to find a
solution. This algorithm statistically samples the potential solution space using an orthogonal
array and then uses quadratic programming on simplified surrogate models and pattern search
to iteratively improve the local optima (Booker, et al., 1999). The algorithm ceases when
incremental improvement in the objective function is lower than 10
-5
.

The decision variables, v
b
, were 26 continuous parameters describing the gross floor area of
each building type. A dependent integer variable ranged between 1 and 5 as a multiplier for the
number of gas engines in the CCHP plant, dictating its size. A constraint was placed on the total
electrical demand, E
max
, such that it could not exceed 47.5 MWh, the capacity of the 5 gas
engines. Constraints were also placed on the maximum percentage of each of building type, V
b
,
so that no single building could exceed 25% of the total built-up area. These ensure a more
realistic scenario by varying heights and uses. Non-negativity constraints on each building were
also included. The constraints are shown in Equations 2 and 3.



Best, et al.
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Results, Analysis, and Validation. The optimization program was run on a computer with two
Quad Core Xeon E5440 processors (2.83 GHz) and 16 GB of RAM. The maximum efficiency
optimization ran to completion in 3,951 iterations in 8.5 hours; 7 similar trials were run to
generate additional solutions and find the minimum efficiency. The mix of uses in the CBD and
City were specified in the Integrated Energy Model and the TFCE values recorded without
optimization. A second optimization was performed to minimize TFCE to characterize the
feasible solution space. Table 2 shows the TFCE and hourly standard deviation of all four
scenarios. The average fraction of electrical and heat demand from the gas engines is also
shown. In the CBD, City, and Maximum Efficiency scenarios, five combustion engines were
chosen by the simulation for an electrical capacity of 47.5 MW; the Minimum Efficiency scenario
used two combustion engines, for a capacity of 19 MW. An ideal scenario where all energy from
the CCHP plant is consumed is also shown for comparison.

Table 2: Characteristics of the City, CBD, Maximum Efficiency, and Minimum Efficiency scenarios.
Run Total Fuel Cycle
Efficiency
Hourly Standard
Deviation in TFCE
Average Electrical
Fraction
Average Heat
Fraction
Ideal Scenario 87.5% 0.00% 0.55 0.45
Maximum Efficiency 55.67% 6.95% 0.65 0.35
City Baseline 45.33% 9.91% 0.79 0.21
CBD Baseline 44.92% 9.46% 0.76 0.24
Minimum Efficiency 35.77% 7.93% 0.67 0.33

Figure 2 shows the mix of building uses for each scenario. Uses are characterized into 8
primary use types by aggregating similar uses of different forms present in the 26 prototype
buildings.

Figure 2: Results of Optimization. Chart showing the mix of uses for the Maximum Efficiency, Minimum Efficiency,
City, and CBD Scenarios. The Maximum Efficiency scenario shows significantly higher proportions of medical,
lodging, and retail buildings than the City and CBD. The Minimum Efficiency has a large amount of residential space.

The results of the simulation and optimization indicate the potential to increase TFCE 10% and
12% from the City and CBD scenarios, respectively. Examination of the building types in the
Maximum Efficiency scenario reveals that the efficiency increase stems from an unviable, large
percentage of medical, retail, and hospitality buildings. The hourly profiles of these types contain
temporally similar space conditioning and electrical load profiles, creating a more constant
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
Maximum
Efficiency
Minimum
Efficiency
City Scenario CBD Scenario
Mix of Building Uses for Simulated Scenarios
Retail
Residential
Office
Medical
Lodging
Industrial
Education
Optimizing the Urban Plan of a CCHP-Powered Community for Total Fuel Cycle Efficiency
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utilization of electricity and heat from the gas engine throughout the year. The baseline studies,
by comparison, have a larger share of office and residential buildings, which contribute to a
coincident afternoon electrical peak without corresponding heating or cooling. This is also
reflected in the average heat and electricity fractions shown in Table 2; more equal heat and
electricity fractions exist in the Maximum Efficiency scenario. These fractions are closer to the
ideal as well, indicating more complete use of the heat and electricity generated from natural
gas combustion. Furthermore, the reduced standard deviation in hourly TFCE values indicates
reduced numbers of extreme lows and highs in efficiency, and greater clustering of hourly TFCE
values around the higher mean. This is partially a result of the more constant loads generated
by the mix of uses chosen in the optimal scenario; such clustering can also be in part an artifact
of the optimization.

It is worth noting that the maximum efficiency scenario is still far short of meeting the ideal
utilization of heat, cooling, and electricity, indicating that for this scenario, it is impossible to
balance perfectly the output characteristics of the CCHP plant by only varying the mix of
building uses. A gap still exists in many hours between the thermal and electrical demand and
supply; additional schedulable electrical and thermal uses not tied to the mix of buildings or
load-shifting technologies may help balance the supply and demand of electricity, heating, and
cooling. However a study of these potential solutions is beyond the scope of this work.

To validate the results, a Monte Carlo analysis (MCA) was performed incorporating three main
sources of variability. The first is the accuracy of the prototype building hourly energy results as
representations of the actual buildings. Fumo, et al., among others, have characterized the
standard deviation of the mean of this uncertainty as 10% annually (2010). The distribution is
assumed to be normal by the Central Limit Theorem given that the error results from hundreds
of choices, each with unique distributions. The second is the hourly forecast error inherent in
using energy modeling as a predictive tool for planning electricity, heating, and cooling
production. Sevlian and Rajagopal have shown that for clusters of 200 buildings or greater, the
standard deviation of the mean is stable at 10%, and has a normal distribution (2013). Sevlian
and Rajagopal show this for electricity; it is assumed to be true for heating and cooling as well.
The final error is in efficiency of the CCHP engine at a given operating point. This was deduced
from documentation from General Electric to be normal with a standard deviation of 0.75 at any
point along the efficiency curve (Payrhuber, K. and Trapp, C., 2011).

MCA was performed on all four scenarios. 30 trials were simulated for each drawing from all
three error distributions. The resulting distributions are shown in Figure 3. The distributions
show no overlap between the maximum and minimum efficiency scenarios and either baseline.
Furthermore, a t-test shows that the minimum and maximum efficiency cases are different from
each other and from both baselines with greater than 99% confidence. The two baselines
cannot be shown to be unique from one another.


Best, et al.
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Figure 3: Probability Density Functions from MCA of results. The distributions above were generated from a
Monte Carlo Analysis of the Total Fuel Cycle Efficiency of all four scenarios. No perceptible overlap is evident,
indicating that the maximum efficiency scenario is distinct from both baselines and the minimum efficiency case.

Conclusions and Future Work. A retrospective case study of repowering a scaled model of
Oakland, CA, with a 47.5 MW CCHP plant demonstrated that optimization of the mix of building
uses can improve Total Fuel Cycle Efficiency up to 12%. This increase results from a higher
percentage of uses with similar electricity and space conditioning hourly load profiles. This study
assumed that the hourly heating, cooling, and electrical demand of the community could be
estimated by aggregating the 16 EnergyPlus Reference Prototypes and 10 additional models.
Additional research is required to fully validate the accuracy of this approach for Oakland, CA,
and for this type of modeling. Additional research should also explore the implications of using
more prototype buildings that provide a more granular set of uses and densities. Specific
technology was selected for the CCHP plant as well; exploration of the solution space with
different equipment and control schemes should be explored. In addition, this study used a
simplified method to calculate heating, cooling, and electrical losses based solely on the
distance of the building from the CCHP plant. Further work is planned to model the layout and
corresponding losses of the distribution network in more detail.

Future research will focus on extending simulation to other sources of energy and other uses to
allow simultaneous optimization of supply and demand that may better balance the thermal and
electrical demand and supply. It is also recognized that the mix of uses in the maximum
efficiency scenario presented here is not socially viable; we plan to consider additional social or
economic objectives and constraints in the future to better reflect the variety of considerations
urban planners face when designing new communities.

Acknowledgements. The authors would like to thank the Center for Integrated Facility
Engineering at Stanford University, Walt Disney Imagineering and Dr. Ben Schwegler, and the
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program for supporting this work.

0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
0.3 0.35 0.4 0.45 0.5 0.55 0.6
Probability Density Functions for Efficiencies of All
Four Scenarios
Max Efficiency Min Efficiency City CBD
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Optimizing the Urban Plan of a CCHP-Powered Community for Total Fuel Cycle Efficiency
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Supplementary Information

Optimizing the Total Fuel Cycle Efficiency of an Idealized CCHP-
Powered Community in Oakland, CA

Robert Best Stanford University, robbest@stanford.edu
Forest Flager Stanford University, forest@stanford.edu
Caroline Nowacki Stanford University, cnowacki@stanford.edu
Martin Fischer Stanford University, fischer@stanford.edu
Michael Lepech Stanford University, mlepech@stanford.edu

Appendix 1: Summary of building types simulated for case study including heights in stories, gross floor
area, and annual heating, cooling, and electrical loads in MJ/m
2
.
Building Type Stories
Gross Floor
Area (m
2
)
Heating
(MJ/m
2
)
Cooling
(MJ/m
2
)
Electricity
(MJ/m
2
)
Single Family Residential 1 223 112.7 1.018 214.9
Residential Townhouses 2 392 64.21 71.27 470.5
Mid-Rise Residential Apartments 4 3,135 17.12 119.9 321.7
High-Rise Residential Condominiums 12 9,405 4.864 165.9 285.0
Small Hotel 4 4,013 70.11 51.02 530.7
Large Hotel 6 11,345 79.87 387.7 1,089
Small Office 1 511 12.80 74.98 435.5
Medium Office 3 4,982 50.16 143.5 401.9
Large Office 12 46,320 31.28 119.9 398.7
Warehouse 1 4,835 57.10 1.820 173.1
Refrigerated Warehouse 1 4,835 0.00 580,700 580,700
Bakery 1 4,835 19.67 7.123 647.1
Foundry 1 4,835 1.970 612.0 695.3
Steel Recycler 1 4,835 25.83 5.393 2,972
Glass Factory 1 4,835 41.32 3.642 301.6
Hospital 5 22,422 480.1 796.2 877.4
Outpatient Care 3 3,804 477.8 1,019 905.5
Primary School 1 6,871 34.88 111.1 431.5
Secondary School 2 19,592 19.63 68.66 386.8
Mixed Use: Condos, First Floor Retail 12 9,405 4.35 174.3 287.1
Mixed Use: Offices, First Floor Retail 12 46,320 157.1 593.8 1,961
Strip Mall 1 2,090 133.6 34.15 446.5
Stand-Alone Retail 1 2,294 118.4 31.20 409.2
Quick Service Restaurant 1 232 273.0 81.74 3,201
Full Service Restaurant 1 511 459.0 115.3 2,552
Supermarket 1 4,181 343.0 9.941 1,409


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Appendix 2: Equipment types and operating parameters simulated for the CCHP plant in this study.
Equipment Type Chosen Model Operating Characteristics
Prime Mover (Heat and Power
Generation Technology)
GE Jenbacher 920 Gas-Fired
Combustion Engine
9.5 MW
0.85 Heat to Power Ratio
7006 Btu/kWh Heat Rate
Max Electrical Efficiency: 0.475
Centrifugal Chiller
McQuay MPV Centrifugal
Compressor Water Chillers
COP: 3.5
Absorption Chiller
York YHN Double-Effect Absorption
Chillers
COP: 1.5
Boiler Standard Industrial Boiler Efficiency: 80%