Mitigating the Role of Buildings in the Environmental Impact of the Energy Supply Chain

EPA Grant Number: F13A10018
Title: Mitigating the Role of Buildings in the Environmental Impact of the Energy Supply Chain
Investigators: Touretzky, Cara Rose
Institution: The University of Texas at Austin
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: August 1, 2014 through August 1, 2016
Project Amount: $84,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Chemical Engineering


Leveling the energy demand of buildings over the course of the day can eliminate the need for extra electricity generation facilities, thus reducing pollutant production. There is ample opportunity for this because of the glaring inefficiencies in the current operation of residential and commercial buildings, which can be mitigated through advanced control technology.


Traditional building control approaches are reactive in nature and do not take into account the vast amount of information available about the building. By anticipating the effects of occupant actions and weather on a building, proactive decisions can be made for the operation of its HVAC system and energy storage devices. A model-based controller capable of satisfying occupant comfort requirements while minimizing energy use will be designed. Large-scale simulations of entire neighborhoods operating under the new control paradigm will reveal the cumulative effect of the smart controllers on the total demand placed on the electric grid.

Expected Results:

This work will result in a general modeling framework and associated controller that can be easily tailored for use in any building. The largescale simulations will demonstrate how a properly designed local energy management system can be used on a mass scale for overall demandflattening. Ultimately, this will aid in the development of coordination strategies among the controllers to ensure peak grid load reduction and avoid shifting peak consumption to a different time.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection

Quantifying the decrease in peak demand from buildings on the electric grid will enable a study of the subsequent discontinuation of certain, lower efficiency power plants. The associated decrease in pollution emissions from these power plants will help to improve air quality in many regions of the United States.

Supplemental Keywords:

building systems and modeling, energy efficiency, model predictive control

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2015
  • Final