Building Systems

Installed photovoltaics to reach ZNE
Installed photovoltaics to reach ZNE

Due to the large number of buildings in the U.S., advances in their energy efficiency has a potential for a large environmental and economic impact. Studies performed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) indicate that buildings produce 48% of U.S. carbon emissions and consume 39% percent of U.S. energy. These large numbers, and the little attention that has been paid towards energy efficient design in the past presents a situation where high-impact can be achieved with even very fundamental engineering analysis. LBNL studies indicate that up to 50% increase in energy could be achieved with off-the-shelf technologies, by retrofitting existing buildings with integration-conscious systems. The CEED proposes to target three groups of solutions to problems that hinder energy efficiency in present-day buildings and tie into those off-the-shelf technologies: integration of subsystems, adaptation to uncertainties, and energy-efficient design blueprints.

Enhanced shading concepts
Enhanced shading concepts
In order to obtain large total system efficiencies, a focus is needed on system integration. In order to effectively integrate the large number of components with different time scales (e.g. natural convection & thermal storage) as well as physical phenomena (e.g. thermal dynamics & control) in-depth physics-based models are needed. The researchers at CEED are currently working with UCSB campus facilities to develop such models to be tested during retrofit designs for current on-campus green buildings. In addition to this, we are working with teams at LBNL and United Technologies to develop reusable building systems models for design analysis during system integration (for both new designs and retrofits).

Even if an energy efficient design is established for a building system, it is not likely that this design will perform optimally for the entire life-cycle of the building. Often because of unforseen constraints, the actual selection of components for the building are slightly modified from the original design. In addition to this, as the building ages, or as minimal reconfiguration occurs (changing the room usage or furniture etc.) the building will begin to perform off its originally intended optimal design. In order to circumvent these issues, the automatic control systems within the building must be able to first sense this fall from optimality and then act on it in a way that brings the efficient operation back. The researchers at CEED, in collaboration with those in the UCSB Center for Control Dynamical Systems and Computation (CCDC) are investigating such methods for adaptive building operation as it ages.

Inlet and exhaust in a naturally ventilated building
Inlet and exhaust in a naturally ventilated building

With established modeling tools and control strategies for long term energy efficient operation, CEED is working on developing energy-efficient blueprints for building systems. This is an effort to precipitate the fundamental design considerations for energy efficient design in building systems into a rule-based blueprint for both new designs as well as retrofits.

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energy efficiency