Using Software and Internet of Things Technology to Drive Behavioral Energy Savings in Commercial Buildings Using Building Orbs

EPA Contract Number: EPD16004
Title: Using Software and Internet of Things Technology to Drive Behavioral Energy Savings in Commercial Buildings Using Building Orbs
Investigators: Shunturov, Vladislav
Small Business: Lucid Design Group, Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: II
Project Period: February 1, 2016 through January 31, 2018 (Extended to January 31, 2019)
Project Amount: $295,507
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2015) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Green Buildings Materials and Systems

Description:

Patterns of electricity generation and consumption in the United States have rapidly changed over the past decade and are forecasted to continue doing so in coming decades. On the supply side, increasing generation from renewable sources has raised concerns about the ability of the electrical grid to stay stable given renewables’ intermittent and distributed nature, and has increased calls for new low-cost demand response (DR) capacity that can be added to grid operators’ arsenal of demand management tools. On the demand-side, consumption from behavior-driven miscellaneous electrical loads in commercial buildings is projected to increase dramatically, from 18% of electricity in commercial buildings in 2001 to as much as 38% in 2035. This has left facility managers and policy experts uncertain of how to keep electricity consumption and peak demand, and their associated costs, in check as occupants, rather than facility managers, increasingly hold primary influence over electricity usage and consumption patterns.

The project team, which includes original members of the Oberlin College P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) team, will begin by completing development of and testing novel, low-cost software tools that allows off-the-shelf, multi-colored, internet-connect LEDs such as the Philips Hue and the LIFX to be transformed into “Building Orbs” that can (a) reduce electricity use in commercial buildings by providing ambient color-based feedback to building occupants (b) tap the demand response potential of behavior-driven electric loads through visual messaging during demand response events and (c) engage building occupants in reducing peak electricity demand and associated utility bill costs through visual messaging by enabling behavior-based peak demand management. Built on BuildingOS - Lucid’s robust cloud-based operating system for commercial building - the resulting software will allow building managers to turn LED light bulbs into Building Orbs in a matter of minutes. A proof of concept for transforming off-the-shelf internet-connected LED light bulbs into Building Orbs was established during our SBIR Phase I research, which in turn built off of work done under our Phase I and Phase II P3 awards.

In the second part of the project, our team will conduct a rigorous field study and pilot of Building Orbs in approximately 75 to 150 buildings to allow us to analyze their effectiveness. Culling pilot buildings from Lucid customers will allow us to save significant costs and time.  Upon completion of the project, Building Orbs will be immediately available to commercial buildings that purchase a subscription to BuildingOS.

Relevant Websites:

P3 Phase I: Developing and Assessing the Impact of a Socio-Technological Resource-Use Feedback System for Improving the Environmental Performance of Buildings and Institutions | Final Report
P3 Phase II:Developing and Assessing the Impact of a Socio-Technological Resource-Use Feedback System for Improving the Environmental Performance of Buildings and Institutions | Final Report

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report

  • SBIR Phase I:

    Software Framework for Enabling Innovation in Behavior-based Energy Conservation in Commercial Buildings  | Final Report