A topology optimization framework to facilitate adoption of advanced district thermal energy systems

Amy Allen, Gregor Henze, Kyri Baker, Gregory Pavlak, Nicholas Long, Yangyang Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Advanced district thermal energy systems, which circulate water at temperatures near ambient conditions, and facilitate the utilization of waste heat and renewable thermal sources, can lower the carbon-intensity of urban districts, advancing the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Optimization of the network topology - the selection of the best subset of buildings and the best network to connect them, to minimize life cycle cost - can increase adoption of these system in appropriate applications. The potential “solution space” of the topology optimization problem grows factorially with the number of buildings in the district, motivating the consideration of a design heuristic. In this study, a heuristic for the network selection was evaluated with an exhaustive search, for a prototypical four-building district. For the prototypical district considered, the heuristic was effective in selecting an optimal network topology. Additionally, it was found that, in this case, the selection of the subset of buildings was more influential on the life cycle cost than the selection of the network topology. This work is part of a larger effort to develop a topology optimization framework for district thermal energy systems, which is anticipated to address barriers to adoption of ambient-temperature systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number022054
JournalIOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 20 2020
EventWorld Sustainable Built Environment - Beyond 2020, WSBE 2020 - Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: Nov 2 2020Nov 4 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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