It is widely understood that energy storage is the key to integrating variable generators into the grid. It has been proposed that the thermal mass of buildings could be used as a distributed energy storage solution and several researchers are making headway in this problem. However, the inability to easily determine the magnitude of the building’s effective thermal mass, and how the heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system exchanges thermal energy with it, is a significant challenge to designing systems which utilize this storage mechanism. In this paper we adapt modal analysis methods used in mechanical structures to identify the primary modes of energy transfer among thermal masses in a building. The paper describes the technique using data from an idealized building model. The approach is successfully applied to actual temperature data from a commercial building in downtown Boise, Idaho.

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