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HVAC systems have traditionally used the local ambient air (heating and cooling) or fossil fuels (predominantly heating through combustion) as their heat source and heat sink. Thermal storage is still a relatively new application and typically requires large volumes of water or ice.
This paper explores the available thermal potential within the built environment and how the utilisation of this thermal potential can provide efficient heating, cooling and hot water as well as thermal storage. In some instances, this may be the local ambient air, less likely it will be fossil fuels.
More likely, it includes the thermal potential within the ground, water bodies and infrastructure such as subways, water, sewer, building foundations and other buildings as well as artificial thermal storage such as phase change materials.
The key is to identify the optimal thermal sources, sinks and storages for a given building at a given location and climate. Then, an integrated approach using optimised control strategies, including predictive capabilities, will enable a building to access these various thermal sources at the thermally optimal time to provide significant energy savings and enhanced operation.
Such an integrated approach also maximises the availability of on-site renewable power generation, further increasing energy savings, decreasing the typical cooling peak demand and increasing energy productivity.