GEA's Global HVAC Technology Blog Blog

GEA's Global HVAC Technology Blog

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Buildings, Energy and New Technologies:Trends & Outlook

Posted October 07, 2015 7:41 PM by larhere

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the White House Office of Science and Technology released the second Quadrennial Technology Review. The 489 page report contains a wealth of numbers about energy use and the technologies that can affect the future of energy efficiency in the US economy. Of particular interest to our readers are the following:

Chapter 5 - Increasing Efficiency of Buildings Systems and Technologies showing US building energy use in 2014. The building sector's share of electricity use has grown dramatically 25% of U.S. annual electricity consumption in the 1950s to 40% in the early 1970s to more than 76% by 2012.

The major areas of energy consumption in buildings are heating, ventilation, and air conditioning-35% of total building energy; lighting-11%; major appliances (water heating, refrigerators and freezers, dryers)-18% with the remaining 36% in miscellaneous areas including electronics.

Key research opportunities include the following:

  • High-efficiency heat pumps that reduce or eliminate the use of refrigerants
  • Improved software for optimizing building design and operation
  • Low cost, easy to install, energy harvesting sensors and controls
  • Interoperable building communication systems and optimized control strategies
  • Decision science issues affecting purchasing and operating choices

Noteworthy is Section 5.6 Systems-Level Opportunities sees opportunities such as small buildings (<10,000 ft2) which use some kind of "energy management control" system less than 7% of the time. "Buildings as a whole will perform most efficiently if all the building systems are controlled as a part of an integrated system. Well-designed control systems can increase building efficiency up to 30% without the need to upgrade existing appliances".

Integrated building and grid systems should be able to do the following:

  • Control room temperatures, humidity, ventilation rates, tunable windows, variable louvers, and dimmable lights
  • Control major appliances - most devices are controlled by turning them off or on, but the new generation of appliances allows more sophisticated adjustment of operation
  • Use weather forecasts to develop optimum strategies for preheating or cooling the structure
  • Detect and identify component failures and look for signs that equipment is about to fail
  • Adapt performance in response to communications from utilities using new rate structures to minimize overall system costs
  • Learn and anticipate user behaviors including adjusting for holidays and integrate user preferences dynamically.

Section 5.8 Conclusions to the buildings section.

Chapter 1 - Energy Challenges where U.S. uses and sources are depicted in detail.

And finally, Chapter 11 Summary and Conclusions which presents four trends in energy technology research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D):

  1. Energy systems convergence - Virtually all sectors of the energy system are becoming more interdependent. Information and communications technologies, advanced sensors and controls, and market phenomena are enabling the proliferation of advanced technologies that overlap the power generation, electricity transmission and distribution, buildings, manufacturing, fuels, and transportation sectors
  2. Diversification within the energy sectors - the increased diversification of energy resources, carriers, and uses
  3. Energy efficiency everywhere - opportunities to advance cost-effective efficiency technologies abound throughout all energy sectors and systems
  4. Confluence of computational and empirical capabilities - includes scientific theory, modeling, simulation, high performance computing, data management and analysis, algorithms, software, and high-throughput experimental techniques to enable the prediction, design, engineering, and experimental characterization of materials and systems from the atomic through the nano-, meso-, and macroscale to manufacturing

To download the complete report or view other Sections, click Quadrennial Technology Review.

Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank GEA Consulting's President, Larry Butz, for contributing this blog entry.


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