Final Report: GREEN KIT: A Modular, Variable Application System for Sustainable Cooling

EPA Grant Number: SU833187
Title: GREEN KIT: A Modular, Variable Application System for Sustainable Cooling
Investigators: La Roche, Pablo , Abolian, Sarmen , Aparicio, German , Baker, Daniel , Brennan, Spencer , Ceja, Salvador , Drum, Houston , Ezell, Erin , Felton, Lesley , Fox, Michael , Gardabad, Armen , Hansanuwat, Ryan , Henry, Brandon , Lee, Sean , Lyles, Mark , Manasians, Tetigh , Martinez, Brenda , Millett, Ben , Montoya, Santiago , Mora, Jazmin , Nelson, Phyllis , Nieto, Stephen , Oba, Naoko , Oo, Yamin , Reames, Lucas , Resurreccion, John , Sheridan, Nick , Whitsett, Kristian
Institution: California State Polytechnic University - Pomona
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2006 through May 30, 2007
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability

Objective:

The challenge proposed by our P3 team was to improve indoor comfort (People) while simultaneously reducing energy expenses (Prosperity), consumption of fossil fuels (Planet), and resulting generation of CO2 (Planet), by combining a low cost green-roof, an automated window system, and distributed sensing to create the GreenKit. When working together, these three elements achieve more than the sum of their parts.

In Phase I of the project, students gained an understanding of passive cooling methods used in building design and the components and functions of a green roof while developing the initial smart window prototypes. Research focused on seven sites around the world, representative of three climate types (hot and arid, hot and humid, and temperate) and a range of economies (developed and developing nations). The most successful cooling strategies for each of these climates, as determined by climate modeling software and experimental tests, were then incorporated into the development of a smart window component that could be marketed as a universal product used to moderate solar radiation, daylight, and air movement in order to maintain occupant comfort within a building.

While passive ventilation and green roofs are tried-and-true strategies for low-energy buildings, it is the combination of the smart window with the green roof and distributed sensing that poses an innovative research and design challenge. This challenge became the primary focus of our research: to develop the GreenKit as a self-powered cooling system that utilizes both passive design strategies and low-tech sensors and actuators. The kit consists of a window that responds effectively to real-time changes in temperature, sunlight and wind, and a green roof that benefits the environment reducing storm water runoff, CO2 levels, and the heat island effect while contributing to cooling in the building. Additional smart window testing and research was used to evaluate the success of the unit and further the development and construction of the prototype. The PRIME evaluation system (PRIME) was developed by students to determine the strengths of the initial prototypes and determine the design of the final prototype. Analyses of shading optimization, PV sizing and energy generation, battery sizing and selection, wind scoop configuration, and necessary air flow for forced ventilation and night venting were conducted in order to determine the components used in the final smart window. Additionally, analyses of energy savings, CO2 reduction, radiation blocking, lifecycle analysis and occupant comfort proved that the final smart window was successful when performing with the other GreenKit components.

Table 1.
Table 1. Performance of Green Kit in a Small Building in Different Locations

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

The GreenKit is optimized for performance in locations between 34° N and -34° S latitude, and function best when two or more smart windows are used with the green roof to optimize a building space. Computer simulations verified that this combination outperforms typical buildings for each location tested by improving the level of control over interior comfort. This is achieved using sensors and controllers, which respond to real-time climate changes in order to moderate the penetration of sun and wind into the building. The GreenKit succeeds in both developing and developed countries because it can act as a self-sustaining system, powered by stored energy, or be tied into the grid. Within the optimized zone, the smart window can serve a wide range of applications, making the largest possible impact to improving People, Prosperity, and Planet. Within the context of global application, the scope of this project offers an opportunity for substantial conservation of natural resources and monetary savings when used as a replacement for mechanical cooling systems. This will lead to reduced CO2 emissions, which benefits all species on our planet.

The final smart window prototype takes advantage of successful elements from several early smart window concept designs developed by student groups. Additionally, all of the elements within the current prototype have been selected or designed based on student research and testing using several analytical tools, including energy analysis software, such as Ecotect and HEED, a wind tunnel and a heliodon. These elements include the size of the sun shade, position of wind scoops, number of fans used for forced ventilation, PV panel size, and battery storage system. Additional research data for all of these elements can be found at: http://www.csupomona.edu/~p3team/ Exit

The smart window has two actuating components, the photovoltaic (PV) panel and the wind scoops. While the PV panel provides power, shade from the sun and allows for ventilation, the wind scoops initiate passive ventilation. While open, the wind scoops capture air, and when used in conjunction with a GreenKit window installed on the opposite side of the building, they create effective cross-ventilation. These wind scoops were tested in a wind tunnel using several different configurations and wind directions to determine the most effective size and placement. The size of the sun shade was determined by a computer synthesized shading analysis and calculations on the necessary PV panel sizing needed for energy generation.

A green roof provides several proven benefits: reducing storm water runoff, reducing CO2 levels, reducing the heat island effect, reducing solar loads, and when uninsulated underneath, providing a heat sink in the summer and heat storage in the winter. A low-cost green roof, using “Cal Earth” bags, is proposed for the GreenKit. These bags are designed to store earth and are very inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to transport. This system is very inexpensive and by altering the thickness, the cooling benefits can be adjusted by modifying the amount of thermal mass in contact with the interior of the space. This green roof can also be installed with sensors that detect humidity levels and activate an irrigation system. Due to time and cost limitations we were not able to fully develop the green roof, but it was included in all simulations and calculations.

Conclusions:

Phase I of the GreenKit development proved extremely successful in meeting the goals of the challenge. Not only did the project foster a rare interdisciplinary experience and teach students firsthand about sustainability and the competition process, it also gave us the opportunity to develop a prototype that has great potential to improve People, Prosperity and the Planet.

One of the greatest strengths in the GreenKit development process is the quantifiable research that represents real world knowledge in student education. This research included life-cycle analysis, energy reduction, CO2 reduction, solar design concepts and determining interior comfort.

Buildings are responsible for large amounts of waste, water and CO2 emissions. The GreenKit will positively impact the environment by reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions to the atmosphere by replacing conventional energy intensive air conditioners with a zero energy cooling system. Student research into the operation of the completed GreenKit demonstrates its improvements over a conventional air-conditioner with standard windows. All of the analyses indicate that the reduced energy use and CO2 resulting from the operation of the GreenKit prove that it has a lower environmental impact (Planet) and operating cost (Prosperity) than a conventional air-conditioner. In addition to the GreenKit’s improvement over mechanical air conditioners in overall performance, the smart window’s success at controlling sun and wind to maintain comfort (People), while operating as a self-contained unit, make it an improvement over a standard window.

Proposed Phase II Objectives and Strategies:

The second phase for the GreenKit will involve developing the methods of passive ventilation, green surfaces, and distributed sensing and embedded controls into a successful product capable of commercialization. Through controlled testing, real-world implementation feedback, manufacturing expertise and industry partnerships, we will develop the GreenKit into a product capable of mass implementation. To do this, we will go through a number of steps in Phase II:

  1. Prototype, test and document the performance of a fully integrated GreenKit (Two Window Components, Green Roof and Control System).
  2. Implement two fully integrated prototypes in two locations (one in a developed country and one in a less developed country) to gain real-world feedback.
  3. Initiate partnership research.
  4. Investigate fabrication and manufacturing processes, as well as material research, architectural codes, costs analysis, legal research, intellectual property and digital compatibility.
  5. Based on the input from controlled testing, real-world feedback and fabrication investigation develop the design of the GreenKit to a level of “pre-production.”
  6. Develop a business plan to implement the GreenKit.
  7. Solidify partnerships in manufacturing industries and seek outside funding sources.

We will first install one GreenKit prototype, consisting of a green roof system and two smart windows with sensors and actuators, in a test building at the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona. By taking advantage of the resources at this on-campus research center, we will gain preliminary feedback needed before installing the GreenKit in the other locations. Simultaneously we will be working in the design of medical clinic prototypes for Uganda and Habitat for Humanity Houses for Pomona Valley.

After these extensive local tests, we will implement two GreenKit prototypes. One will be used in a Habitat for Humanity house in southern California and the other one will be used in a medical clinic for Aim for the Restoration of Hope in Jinja, Uganda. The feedback from these two locations will be extremely important when measuring the effectiveness of the GreenKit. In addition to data logging, resident partners will let us know if it helps improve their indoor comfort. We will also learn if the GreenKit helps them become more aware of the outdoor environment, while teaching them how to successfully respond to it. Finally, from energy bills, we will document how the GreenKit affects Prosperity and the Planet.

We will then begin to investigate fabrication and manufacturing processes through industrial manufacturing partnerships. We will also refine the design based on materials research, architectural codes, cost analysis, legal research, intellectual property and digital compatibility. After this research, we will combine the findings from the testing done at the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, the two non-profit organizations in California and Uganda, and the feedback received from our industrial partnerships to arrive at a prototype ready for pre­production.

Phase II will advance and improve upon Phase I by making the product better through the fully-integrated prototyping of the GreenKit, of rigorous real-world testing and post user-occupancy feedback, industry analysis, and partnership building, all of which will allow us to further refine the design of the GreenKit to a point of implementation.

If given the opportunity to continue development into Phase II of the P3 project, students will have the rare opportunity to test their designs in real-world applications. This can only serve to increase the effectiveness with which students can help promote People, Prosperity and the Planet as they enter the professional world.

We believe that the point of this project will serve a larger goal by demonstrating a successful, sustainable solution for the developed and developing worlds. This project will demonstrate that a synergistic approach to interactive architecture can create a success that is greater than the sum of the parts.

Phase II will advance and improve upon Phase I by enhancing the product through the fully-integrated prototyping of the GreenKit, by rigorous real-world testing and post user-occupancy feedback, industry analysis, and partnership building, all of which will allow us to further refine the design of the GreenKit to a point of implementation.

If given the opportunity to continue development into Phase II of the P3 project, students will have the rare opportunity to test their designs in real-world applications. This can only serve to increase the effectiveness with which students can help promote People, Prosperity and the Planet as they enter the professional world.

We believe that the point of this project will serve a larger goal by demonstrating a successful, sustainable solution for the developed and developing worlds. This project will demonstrate that a synergistic approach to interactive architecture can create a success that is greater than the sum of the parts.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

sustainable architecture, smart buildings, green roofs, affordable architecture, kinetic architecture, responsive architecture, low cost housing, low cost medical clinic,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Sustainable Environment, Energy, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, Atmosphere, clean energy, energy conservation, environmental technology, environmental monitoring, green design, sustainable development, clean manufacturing, consumer refrigeration systems, energy efficiency, engineering, alternative refrigerants, passive cooling

Relevant Websites:

http://www.csupomona.edu/~p3team Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract