Abstract

Energy costs are the second highest operational expense for K-12 schools in the United States. Improving energy efficiency and moving towards sustainable school buildings not only result in substantial cost savings and reduction of environmental emissions, but also provides an opportunity to enhance students’ awareness regarding energy, environment, and sustainability. Effective tools and techniques that provide thorough understanding of energy consumption in school buildings are valuable to school districts by helping them with prioritizing energy efficiency projects. In the present paper, a multi-layer perceptron (MLP) neural network model is developed for estimating monthly energy consumption of K-12 schools in Brevard County, Florida. The inputs to the network are considered as number of occupants, days of operation per months, building’s area, average monthly outdoor dry-bulb temperature and relative humidity, as well as the month’s number and the output from the network is monthly energy consumption. Various network topologies are considered and tested to achieve the optimal configuration for the network. The selected network is successfully trained using three years of energy consumption data for 25 schools in Brevard County, FL (high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools). The results showed that the developed neural network model is capable of accurate estimation of monthly energy consumption of schools. The network tested and validated using the data from schools which were not included in the training dataset and the errors between the known values and estimated values for monthly energy consumptions are evaluated and discussed. Although the current study covers one particular school district (Brevard county) in a given climate zone (2a-hot and humid), the developed approach can be extended to incorporate various climate zones and serve as an effective tool for school energy conservation managers. The end user may obtain a clear idea of the energy consumption of the school building and how it compares against other buildings within the same category and climate zone, with minimum input data required.

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