An intelligent model to predict energy performances of residential buildings based on deep neural networks

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As the level of greenhouse gas emissions increases, so does the importance of the energy performance of buildings (EPB). One of the main factors to measure EPB is a structure's heating load (HL) and cooling load (CL). HLs and CLs depend on several variables, such as relative compactness, surface area, wall area, roof area, overall height, orientation, glazing area, and glazing area distribution. This research uses deep neural networks (DNNs) to forecast HLs and CLs for a variety of structures. The DNNs explored in this research include multi-layer perceptron (MLP) networks, and each of the models in this research was developed through extensive testing with a myriad number of layers, process elements, and other data preprocessing techniques. As a result, a DNN is shown to be an improvement for modeling HLs and CLs compared to traditional artificial neural network (ANN) models. In order to extract knowledge from a trained model, a post-processing technique, called sensitivity analysis (SA), was applied to the model that performed the best with respect to the selected goodness-of-fit metric on an independent set of testing data. There are two forms of SA - local and global methods - but both have the same purpose in terms of determining the significance of independent variables within a model. Local SA assumes inputs are independent of each other, while global SA does not. To further the contribution of the research presented within this article, the results of a global SA, called state-based sensitivity analysis (SBSA), are compared to the results obtained from a traditional local technique, called sensitivity analysis about the mean (SAAM). The results of the research demonstrate an improvement over existing conclusions found in literature, which is of particular interest to decision-makers and designers of building structures.