Optimization of energy consumption and cost effectiveness of

Optimization of energy consumption and cost effectiveness of
Acta Montanistica Slovaca
Volume 20 (2015), number 3, 200-208
Optimization of energy consumption and cost effectiveness of modular
buildings by using renewable energy sources
Peter Tauš1, Marcela Taušová1, Daniel Šlosár1, Matúš Jeňo1 and Ján Koščo1
Problems of the temporary structures are generally dealt with by the use of modular buildings. These actually meet the terms of low
costs, as appose to the terms of convenience of use, or energy efficiency in operation. Using the latest technologies in the production
of the modular buildings has improved the operation sufficiently; it is now possible to use them entirely for purposes associated with the use
of the buildings. Office buildings, warehouses, and conference rooms have become common standard. In Slovakia, we can already see
it as a normal part of cities and municipalities: social housing, schools, and kindergartens, which were all built using this technology.
During the assessment phase of these buildings, energy efficiency is always the priority. This article is aimed at establishing the economic
potential of modular buildings in the field of use of renewable energy sources. For the formulation of the problem and the definition
of borders of studied parameters, we proposed a four-dimensional competency decision-making space. This determines the examination
process that should identify areas in which it is appropriate to consider and assess the use of renewable energy sources.
Key words: The modular building, economy, heating, cooling, renewable energy, energy saving
In recent years, the continuing worldwide decline in economic indicators entails the crisis
in the construction industry in the Slovak Republic, resulting in an increasing resonance of highly efficient
construction of residential modules, alternatively called 'containers'. (Rafayová et al., 2012) These buildings are
often wrongly called building units. Construction of container modules in Europe is not new; it has been used
for more than fifty years, and their success is due to the speed of construction, minimal environmental
disruption, and high variability. Today, when it is necessary to respond to situations flexibly and rapidly,
the Modular construction directly offers an appropriate solution. (Tomčejová, 2012) The most prominent
representative of container architecture in Europe is the German architect Han Slawik, who has to his credit
some successful realizations. RES in this area are used only sporadically. The aim of this paper is to assess
the real possibilities of using renewable energy in these buildings. (Tkáč et al., 2012)
The characteristics of modular building
Modular architecture responds to needs specific to the production of economically affordable housing,
the lack of space in cities, an eco-friendly way of life а not least the pitfalls of legislative. The modular design is
smart but is also a comfortable solution for today's lifestyle. (Buc, 2012) Modular construction from the very
beginning was generally utilized because of its' immediate need to respond to the current situation.
A module represents a unit of measurement. The term comes from the Latin word "modulus" - a small unit
of measurement. A module in architecture is traditionally derived from the scale of a human figure or the fixed
scale. The modules are a means of standardization of constituent component of the building. Modules used
to build today's modular objects are referred to as prefabricated space modules. The most detailed element
of the module is Le Corbusier module that expresses the specified system, which had merged a measure
of human scale with conventional scale. In a modular design, the module is composed of multiple materials
in a so-called sandwich system construction. The whole building is assembled from these modules of the same
Utilization of modular buildings
Modular constructions were born in the United States, where a relatively high percentage of houses
and residential buildings are built by the use of this method. The most developed country in this particular field
in Europe is the UK, where there are thus constructed primarily schools, kindergartens, nursing homes and other
similar buildings. There are some administrative buildings under construction that the Slovak Republic started
doc. Ing. Peter Tauš, PhD., Ing. Marcela Taušová, PhD, Ing. Daniel Šlosár, Ing. Matúš Jeňo, Ing. Ján Koščo, PhD., Faculty of Mining,
Ecology, Process Control and Geotechnology, Technical University in Košice, Letná 9, 042 00 Košice, Slovakia, peter.taus@tuke.sk ,
marcela.tausova@tuke.sk , daniel.slosar@tuke.sk , jeno.matus@gmail.com
Acta Montanistica Slovaca
Volume 20 (2015), number 3, 200-208
to inspire first by. School facilities in Slovakia are still built by the traditional method, which creates a problem
of underutilization in the case of the young generation decreases. Another appropriate use of modular buildings
is in the business sector, during the construction of hotels, restaurants, shops, car repair shops and so on.
Fig. 1. Administrative modular building (Source: Algeco).
Modern age demands modern approaches. The speed and flexibility of this system often determine
the reasons why investors opt for modular construction projects. Rapid return on investment is their reward
for progressive thinking. Modular constructions appeal to investors by their mobility with the possibility
of disassembly and reassembly at the new location. This method of construction is also environmentally friendly
because the construction site is quiet and clean. Air pollutants, which occur in the conventional constructions, are
minimized. Use of modular construction is friendly on the surrounding area, with no large claims to the territory
for setting up the construction site.
The energy demands of modular buildings
The operation of modular buildings, correspondents to permanent constructions, requires high costs.
The largest share of operating costs requires ensuring thermal comfort as well as power supply. Heating
and cooling of modular buildings costs just as much as the rental price of such buildings. At present, the standard
method of heating in temporary modular buildings is a direct electrical heating unit. Cooling is provided
by a separate air conditioning unit.
The energy demands represent the amount of energy required to operate the building. Here, we count every
energy input entering the building for its purposeful use. (Braunmiller et al., 2009) This is the energy for heating,
heat loss coverage, cooling - reducing heat gain, hot water, ventilation, lights and power necessary
for the operation of other, mostly electrical appliances. Energy demands can be perceived in two ways.
The investment energy demands are difficult to determine and include energy consumed in the production
of materials for the construction of the building and its liquidation.
In contrast, the operating energy demands are becoming a major indicator of economic operation
of the building. Energy performance of the building represents the amount of energy consumed in its operation.
Operating energy values may be affected already in the project phase when it can be modified by factors
that cannot be edited in the already built objects, such as placement in the field, shape, methods of deployment
of a glass surface, the composition of envelope structures, etc. Factors that can be modified in built objects
are internal heating systems, hot water systems, air treatment and ventilation, air conditioning or heat gain
Energy consumption provided by Energy Performance of Buildings may differ from the actual values
because they are considered as a standardized use of the building. In determining the energy performance
of buildings, we need to address the areas that can correctly assess the current situation and recommend
improvements. (Durdán et al. 2014) These areas are:
1. Description and evaluation of the initial state - except basic identification data of the building –
the location, size, shape, age, it is necessary to identify ways of using and energy supply. It also requires
characterization of the physical and structural condition of the object, as to the composition
and characteristics of the envelope structure's condition, the roof, floor, and apertures. Another area is
the technical condition of the building, which addresses an energy supply system, the manner of their usage
and their technical specifications. It deals with the technical condition of the heating system, its parameters,
hot water supply and lighting method.
2. Energy balance - for determining the energy intensity of the building it is necessary to balance the type,
amount and purpose of energy including losses in the supply and distribution networks due to the influence
of the efficiency.
3. Selection of the energy source - the optimal solution is a choice of energy source for each building
separately. It should be considered in addition to the technical characteristics of the building, the site
of a building location, the purpose of its use, the time of its operation, and so on. (Papučík et al., 2014)
It is not appropriate to standardize the energy source. Renewable energy sources are usually financially
Peter Tauš, Marcela Taušová, Daniel Šlosár, Matúš Jeňo and Ján Koščo: Optimization of energy consumption and cost effectiveness of
modular buildings by using renewable energy sources
more demanding than traditional energy sources; it is, therefore, appropriate to consider its use in some
aspects. (Rybár et al. 2015)
The economic assessment – the considered options should also be evaluated in terms of their economic
efficiency of the use of investment funds and the saving effect achieved. This is based on the value
of the building before and after the implementation of austerity measures and the determination
of the internal rate of return, which is the ratio of the increase in value to the funds spent and determine
the payback period for investments. It is clear that the optimal variant is the one that will bring the highest
internal rate of return and shortest payback period.
Ad 1
The energy performance of the building operation in addition to those above can be majorly influenced
by the shape of the building. (Kušnír et al., 2013) It can be a problem, especially for modular constructions.
Investors are often requesting a design in such a variety of unusual shapes to increase the attractiveness
of the building. However, the more building is fragmented; the more thermal losses are recognized. (Mesároš
et al., 2013) Therefore, we examined five different shapes of modular buildings. These are shown in Fig. 2.
Fig. 2. The spatial arrangement of studied buildings.
The most energy-efficient and the most widely used alternative is the alternative no. 1. For this variant,
the measurements were obtained for energy consumption in the 2013 and 2014 and compared
with the calculations of the normalized energy consumption. For the other variants that are part of the research
for the possibilities of using renewable energy sources, we established the values for energy consumption only
by use of standardized calculation.
Ad 2
The first factor counted for the balance calculation is the calculation of building heat losses. We counted
according to the technical standard STN EN 12831. The thermal loss calculation method for cases examined
is based on the following assumptions:
a, air temperature and designed temperature are evenly distributed,
b, building heat losses are calculated for steady state assuming constant properties (temperature values,
properties of building structures, etc.),
c, the height of the building must not exceed 5 m,
d, buildings are heated to a specified and lasting temperature interval,
e, we have to assume the same temperature and the resulting temperature of the air.
Total design heat loss of the heated area is calculated using the formula:
Φ i = (ΦT ,i + ΦV ,i ) ⋅ f ∆θ ,i
Acta Montanistica Slovaca
Volume 20 (2015), number 3, 200-208
ΦT,i – designed thermal loss in the transition of heat in the heated space (W),
ΦV,i – designed heat loss caused by ventilation in the heated space (W),
f ∆ θ ,i –
temperature correction factor (-),
The total proposed thermal input of heated object is based on the relation:
Φ HL,i = ΦT ,i + ΦV ,i + Φ RH,i
Φ RH,i - starting heat output required to offset the effects of the intermittently heated area (W).
Of course, the overall calculation consists of many sub-calculations. The method for calculating heat loss
from building consists of these steps:
1. determination of the value of the external temperature and the average outside temperature values,
2. definition of the heated and unheated areas and entering the values of internal designed temperature for each
heating room,
3. determination of dimensional and thermal characteristics of all building structures,
4. the calculation of projected heat loss by the transition of the heat, (Durdán et al., 2015)
5. calculation of the designed heat loss caused by ventilation,
6. calculation of total heat loss of the heated area,
7. calculation of the heat input to the heated area,
8. calculation of total projected heat input for the heated area.
Because of the required emphasis on the quality of the indoor environment, we considered
in our calculation the heating as well as the cooling of the area. The results of calculations for the Scenario 1
are as follows:
Tab. 1. Annual energy requirements of modular buildings.
Annual energy
(kWh·a )
19 217
7 687
6 282
33 186
As mentioned above, the calculations for this variant were measured and obtained during the years 2013
and 2014. The results of the measurements are shown in Table 2. The table shows the average values
for the years 2013-2014. They show that the actual energy consumption is lower than the calculated.
This may be caused by warmer winter periods of operation, which are becoming more frequent in our country.
On the other hand, these results confirm the correctness of the calculations of heat losses for other variants.
Tab. 2. Electricity consumption measurements in the studied building.
Energy consumption
Total consumption
for heating
3 242,22
2 945,16
3 425,54
2 459,87
2 258,72
1 857,95
1 594,50
1 462,50
1 410,52
1 117,31
1 413,39
1 516,52
2 770,20
1 839,58
2 676,92
2 518,92
2 657,06
2 496,06
25 017,55
15 972,74
Totaly for Year
Peter Tauš, Marcela Taušová, Daniel Šlosár, Matúš Jeňo and Ján Koščo: Optimization of energy consumption and cost effectiveness of
modular buildings by using renewable energy sources
The course of the electricity consumption is similar in most modular buildings for administrative use
and educational institutions. Therefore, it is intended to work primarily with renewable resources to enable
comparison with the model used so far to respond flexibly to the consumer requirements and enable
the production of heat but also cold.
Ad 3 Choice of energy source
The categorical imperative for the choice of energy source is in the nature of temporary modular
buildings. This means that the priority is focused on an easily accessible link to the local energy and local
renewable energy sources. Because of a need for labor resources for operating, cleaning and regulatory regimes,
they have primarily excluded "primitive" renewable energy sources such as biomass and its derivatives. (Cehlár
et al., 2014) (Šebo et al., 2007) A second approach was to exclude the orientation of the heat pump water/water,
which is particularly expensive to install because of the need for two water wells, boreholes or meanders.
For the third approach, we would select renewable resources that fulfill the requirements of modularity,
the simplicity of installation and operation and are structurally acceptable. This condition was met
in photovoltaic technologies that use solar energy. (Tošer et al., 2014) Each of the following energy-economical
version will be considered in the final assessment of the contribution of PV equipment, designed according
to the type of building and according to the method of electricity consumption in the building. The first criterion
of the Quantifying was to determine the ranking order of the energy sources constituted, expressed by the unit
costs for the variable component of the balance.
The appropriate resource systems in the area of the intended installation of the modular buildings are
the following variants:
A. electricity only (cooling and heating), electricity (other)
B. natural gas - heating, electricity - cooling, electricity (other)
C. heat pump - air/water (RES), electricity (other)
D. district heating, electricity (other)
As it appears from the preceding, all the variants occur with the consumption of electricity and other
electrical consumption, including the electrical appliances in the building. Thus, the use of photovoltaic
equipment was considered in all tested varieties.
Photovoltaic equipment
In Slovakia, it is necessary to consider what kind of PV panel will be used to generate electricity. It is true
that a monocrystalline cell has the highest efficiency from direct sunlight, which makes it suitable for use
on the swing structures, also called "trаckers". (Vaculík et al., 2014), (Dostál et al., 2012) This fact excludes
the use of monocrystalline PV panels for the needs of modular buildings. A preferable alternative in our
conditions is the use of polycrystalline, amorphous and thin-film PV technologies. The advantage of these types
is the absorption of a higher proportion of diffused solar radiation. The disadvantage of amorphous and thin-film
modules is the need to have around twice the area for an equal performance of the device compared
to polycrystalline and monocrystalline PV. When selecting appropriate PV technology to the modular building,
it is important to accept the significant factor that is the burden of the roof, because it is a sandwich construction.
In this regard, it is appropriate to consider the use of polycrystalline panels integrated into the roof or amorphous
PV modules used as a roofing membrane. In our work, we proposed the use of PV shingles as an integrated
roofing material for modular buildings.
In practice, now used in place of the trapezoidal sheet that would have been fitted to the steel girder OSB
category 3 of thickness 18 mm, the PV shingles is going to be installed instead. Such PV roof is completely
acceptable and meets the standard properties of the roofing. Additionally, this generates electricity while, in our
country, this can be considered as an area performance at 68 Wp·m-2. The total installed output of the roof
module with standard six pieces of PV panels of installed output of 816 Wp, while respecting the distance from
the edge of the module for a compulsory part of the PV installation that is the lightning conductor.
Fig. 3. Roof with PV system Tegolа Solаr (Ušák, 2014).
Acta Montanistica Slovaca
Volume 20 (2015), number 3, 200-208
To determine the electricity production, there is already an available number of applications working
with a more or less precise and comprehensive database. For the best estimate of the production of electricity,
the greatest number of relevant data is needed. At present, the most widely used program for calculating
the output of a PV system is a program called PVGIS (Photovoltаic Geogrаphicаl Informаtion System),
which was developed by experts in the field of meteorology and PV systems. The application was launched
in 1995. The source of the application is a database composed of information on solar radiation
and climatological data for Europe homogenized by using a model r.sun and interpolation techniques s.vol.rst
and а.surf.rst.
The mentioned progrаm uses data on the intensity of sunlight during a clear sky, in various stages
of a cloudy sky, and then further uses data about the reflectivity of different surfaces and position of the sun
in the sky. All the data in conjunction with the GIS application to use for a particular location, while being
processed into the output in the form of the energy output of the PV system. (PVGIS © European Communities,
2001-2012) In calculating the potential, we used baseline data from the results of the individual technologies.
The calculation is executed in the program PVGIS; we chose Košice for the site installation. The application
calculates results for this particular location and all the information necessary for the determining the production
PVGIS estimates of solar electricity generation
Location: 48°44'13" North, 21°13'1" East, Elevation: 363 m a.s.l.,
Solar radiation database used: PVGIS-CMSAF
Nominal power of the PV system: 0.8 kW (thin film)
Estimated losses due to temperature: 8% (generic value for areas without temperature information
or for PV modules with unknown temperature dependence)
Estimated loss due to angular reflectance effects: 3.5%
Other losses (cables, inverter, etc.): 16.0%
Combined PV system losses: 25.4%
Total for year electricity production from the given system: 763 kWh
It follows that using an integrated PV system in a modular construction system, we can generate from one
module roof an annual profit of 760 kWh of electricity. In the case of micro-drivers, it is only possible to use
the electricity exclusively for its own consumption, in the case of a standard inverter we can sell the excess
electricity to the public distribution network.
Ad4. Economic evaluation
The proposed option has to be assessed in terms of economic performance and energy security. The analysis
is based on the "A" variant, in which it was proposed ensuring the heat, cooling and electricity in a simple way
by the transformation of electricity directly into the heating bodies. This variant is economically the most
difficult and prohibitively expensive solution without added value. Numerical costs of this option are then
selected for a comparative base as an expression of the modeled and limited accessibility:
a, to another source of energy other than electricity in the area,
b, the one-off investment cost in the an optimal level.
The difference in the cost of this alternative to other options is to save the annual operating costs for energy.
Tab. 3. The economic energy intensity of the external system interface after transformation.
Variant Way of transformation
Specific costs
(€·year )
4 331,10
(€·kWh )
(€·year )
Electricity only (cooling and heating), electricity (other)
Natural gas - heating, electricity - cooling, electricity (other)
2 308,33
- 2 022,77
Heat pump - air / water (RES), electricity (other)
1 756,09
- 2 575,02
District heating, electricity (other)
2 968,24
- 1 362,86
An excellent solution shows only in terms of variable energy costs, for the existence of only a power
connection to use technology based on heat pump air/water; air/air heat and refrigeration (Variant C).
For the possible existence of connections between natural gas and electricity, it appears appropriate to use
of condensing boiler technology for heat and electricity for cooling (variant B). Following this, the assessment
of economic efficiency, we focus on options B and C with the fact that it is based on the value of savings
to alternative A referred to in the last column of Tab. 3. In the column Specific costs, the resulting calculation
Peter Tauš, Marcela Taušová, Daniel Šlosár,
Šlosár Matúš Jeňo and Ján Koščo:: Optimization of energy consumption and cost effectiveness of
modular buildings by using renewable energy sources
of annual operating costs is presented.
resented. It excludes the costs of the supply unit, gas connection, electricity
connection and so on.
Meaningful economic evaluation of the effectiveness of investments with an acceptable informative value
for the client in terms of time is a period of an economic lifetime of the technology. (Tauš et al. 2009)
(Csikósová et al. 2011) In this case,
case T = 25 years is selected for a financial evaluation lifetime.
Thus the investments benefit from it, although their temporary character may be moved. They are also capable
of condensing boiler technology and heat pumps - air conditioning units.
The calculation of economic and financial indicators for variant B (boiler, climate) and variant C (quad(quad
split) was implemented in three cases:
without using PV,
using PV with a 100% consumption of production,
using PV with a 70% consumption of production.
Tab. 4. Results of the analysis and evaluation of the economic efficiency of various types of energy supplies
Consumption of heat
19 217
Consumption of cold
7 687
Other electricity consumption
6 282
Energy costs
4 331,1
2 308,3
1 756,1
Savings directly to the var. no. A
2 022,8
2 575
Savings from PV - 100% consumption
Savings from PV - 70% consumption
The cost of the investment project
4 700,00
5 500,00
The evaluation time Tž
Simple payback period
Simple payback period
2 968,2
1 362,9
Discount rate
The net present value
659,7 9735,4 11707,8 6036,3 15112,1 17084,5
Internal rate of return
Based on the results of the cost-benefit
analysis, it can be concluded that variant C with a simple payback
period of 6.42 years and an internal rate of return of 9.3% offers better results than variant B. In the case
of the use of PV systems, the value of outcome indicators has improved.
improved. The best results are shown in a variant
with the use of the PV 100% of the energy consumption, the payback (compared to the option C without the use
of PV) is reduced to a value of 3.35,
3.35 and the internal rate of return is raised to 23.52 %. Likewise,
there is a positive change in the other monitored indicators (net present value, fair payback period), as shown
by the results in Tab. 4. The production of PV roof of one building module is 763 kWh per year. Modular
building in Option 1 has seven modules. In the calculation of
of savings, the saved energy and payments
for electricity generated from a renewable source consumed at the production site were considered.
considered PV system
has no costs to the end user; the manufacturer offers PV roof for the price of the classic roof.
Based on this, we recommend to the investor to construct modular design, ensuring energy through heat
pumps - air/water,, while installing the PV system sized for the consumption of the entirely
ly generated electricity.
To sum up the proposed investment, it is
highly attractive from an investor's
viewpoint. We take into account the
results of all the indicators of economic
efficiency from a short payback period to
the high internal rate of return, which
visually shows an overview of
cumulative cash flow over the entire
lifetime of the modular building (fig. 3).
Fig. 3. Cash Flow overview in the C variant.
Acta Montanistica Slovaca
Volume 20 (2015), number 3, 200-208
Energy consumption for heating, respectively the cooling of buildings is an essential part of the operating
costs of buildings. The modular construction and other construction projects grow the need to reduce energy
demands, which entails a reduction in CO2 emissions.
It is inevitable to think about energy consumption already during the design phase - the location, climate
impacts in the field, mountainous terrain surrounding the construction and building orientation, size of a glass
surfaces, etc. The indicator could also be a ratio of the size of the cooling casing to the heating volume, which
should be minimized. The most important factor is, of course, Thermal performance of the envelope structures
and apertures. The use of building materials and components with a low coefficient of heat transfer and the right
composition can prevent heat losses and thermal bridges. In particular, efficient and optimal use of available
modern technology can be achieved by reducing energy consumption and the adverse impact of the conversion
on the environment.
Nowadays, of course, the assessed factor in the success of an application for a building on the market
becomes a contribution of renewable resources to ensure thermal comfort in the building. At the conclusions
of the work, it is apparent that, even in temporary buildings and innovative solutions in the form of modular
buildings, have renewable sources for their extensive use. Without thorough research and assessment of all
the input factors, it may be that the violent promotion of renewables in the energy base of modular buildings
will not use the optimal potential of these resources. While in the market economy, one cannot ignore
the effectiveness of the investments made. (Štangová et al. 2006)
The ideal solution is to design and implement the optimal variant, which will articulate demands
of the times on environmental requirements with the economy of modular buildings at the supplier level,
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