Sept. 10, 2018
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DOE funds LLNL project aimed at improving energy efficiency in buildings

Jeremy Thomas, thomas244 [at], (925) 422-5539

The Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) within the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) recently awarded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers with $3 million for a three-year project aimed at using building energy more efficiently to shave peak electric energy usage.

The project, led by LLNL power systems researcher Jhi-Young Joo and co-principal investigator Emma Stewart, will aim to produce metrics of buildings’ peak energy usage and energy shaving capabilities that can be utilized by grid operators for lower-cost services, incorporating real-world data on building energy consumption as well as modeling and simulation. It marks the Lab’s first BTO award in at least five years.

"With more data becoming available, we have more ideas about how buildings behave, and how the peak forms," Joo said. "We want to process that data to be able to estimate how much of the peak can be shaved or shifted to help with grid operations. We’d like for grid operators to have accurate metrics in terms of how much buildings can provide in peak shaving capabilities when the grid needs reduction of energy consumption."

Building energy has been factored into grid efficiency for decades, Joo said. However, it’s often difficult for grid operators to accurately account for the buildings’ energy flexibility. The project will use energy interval data, which are becoming more ubiquitous, to accurately estimate buildings’ capability for grid efficiency, she added.

Researchers will look at transmission and distribution systems, working closely with the Contra Costa County Public Works Department in California, who will provide energy consumption data on more than 50 buildings they manage. The team will also partner with New York University -- who will provide similar data on about 20 buildings -- the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and New York Power Authority, allowing researchers to analyze consumption in different regions.

The BTO’s Emerging Technologies Program will manage and fund the project, which is scheduled to begin in October. LLNL scientist Liang Min is serving as a senior adviser.