UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Benchmarking of Water, Energy, and Carbon Flows in Academic Buildings : A Fuzzy Clustering Approach Alghamdi, Abdulaziz; Hu, Guangji; Haider, Husnain; Hewage, Kasun; Sadiq, Rehan


In Canada, higher educational institutions (HEIs) are responsible for a significant portion of energy consumption and anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Improving the environmental performance of HEIs is an important step to achieve nationwide impact reduction. Academic buildings are among the largest infrastructure units in HEIs. Therefore, it is crucial to improve the environmental performance of academic buildings during their operations. Identifying critical academic buildings posing high impacts calls for methodologies that can holistically assess the environmental performance of buildings with respect to water and energy consumption, and GHG emission. This study proposes a fuzzy clustering approach to classify academic buildings in an HEI and benchmark their environmental performance in terms of water, energy, and carbon flows. To account for the fuzzy uncertainties in partitioning, the fuzzy c-means algorithm is employed to classify the buildings based on water, energy, and carbon flow indicators. The application of the developed methodology is demonstrated by a case study of 71 academic buildings in the University of British Columbia, Canada. The assessed buildings are grouped into three clusters representing different levels of performances with different degrees of membership. The environmental performance of each cluster is then benchmarked. Based on the results, the environmental performances of academic buildings are holistically determined, and the building clusters associated with low environmental performances are identified for potential improvements. The subsequent benchmark will allow HEIs to compare the impacts of academic building operations and set realistic targets for impact reduction.

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