Sustainable development of energy infrastructure systems is critical for a sustainable future. Planners are adopting a variety of tools from diverse domains to design, assess, operate and plan for sustainable energy systems. The purpose of this study is to propose a quantitative sustainability assessment framework, adopting a bottom-up approach suitable to energy infrastructure systems. We have extended many of the well-accepted processes and analysis methods applicable to individual buildings to a community involving numerous buildings and centralized energy systems. We propose a simple framework which allows determining a measure called SICES, Sustainability Index of Community Energy Systems, that recognizes the three important pillars of sustainability. Willingness to pay, captured by environmental externalities, is considered to be the social value which enables quantifying the impacts of energy systems on the environment, economy, and society. Well-developed tools and methods, such as building stock modeling, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), and Life Cycle Costing (LCC), are used in conjunction with additional indices, i.e. Reliability, Robustness, and Resilience (RRR) to evaluate the sustainable performance of community energy systems. SICES explicitly considers environmental, health, and energy cost impacts of on-site energy systems (solar photovoltaics, combined heat and power systems, boilers, chillers, etc.) as well as those of the upstream systems, i.e. natural gas production and utility power generation facilities, accounting for location-specific and temporal variation in fuel mix. We present the results of a case study analysis of applying this framework to an actual campus with more than 280 buildings and numerous solar PV systems using year-long monitored data of hourly cooling, heating and electricity demands to compute the SICES index. How different energy mixes and application of energy conservation measures would alter the current SICES index of the campus is also illustrated and discussed. A new type of diagram called the “Sustainability Compass” is proposed which allows one to track the directional change and magnitude in SICES of different energy scenarios compared to a baseline scenario.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.