Building Energy Monitoring and Analysis

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U.S. and China are the world's top two economics. Together they consumed one-third of the world's primary energy. It is an unprecedented opportunity and challenge for governments, researchers and industries in both countries to join together to address energy issues and global climate change. Such joint collaboration has huge potential in creating new jobs in energy technologies and services.

Buildings in the US and China consumed about 40% and 25% of the primary energy in both countries in 2010 respectively. Worldwide, the building sector is the largest contributor to the greenhouse gas emission. Better understanding and improving the energy performance of buildings is a critical step towards sustainable development and mitigation of global climate change.

This project aimed to develop a standard methodology for building energy data definition, collection, presentation, and analysis; apply the developed methods to a standardized energy monitoring platform, including hardware and software, to collect and analyze building energy use data; and compile offline statistical data and online real-time data in both countries for fully understanding the current status of building energy use. This helps decode the driving forces behind the discrepancy of building energy use between the two countries; identify gaps and deficiencies of current building energy monitoring, data collection, and analysis; and create knowledge and tools to collect and analyze good building energy data to provide valuable and actionable information for key stakeholders.

Key research findings were summarized as follows:

  • Identified the need for a standard data model and platform to collect, process, analyze, and exchange building performance data due to different definitions of energy use and boundary, difficulty in exchanging data, and lack of current standards.
  • Compared energy monitoring systems to identify gaps, including iSagy, Pulse Energy, SkySpark, sMap, EPP, ION, and Metasys.
  • Contributed to develop a standard data model to represent energy use in buildings (ISO standard 12655 and a Chinese national standard)
  • Determined that buildings in the United States and China are very different in design, operation, maintenance, occupant behavior: U.S. buildings have more stringent comfort standards regarding temperature, ventilation, lighting, and hot-water use and therefore higher internal loads and operating hours, and China buildings having higher lighting energy use, seasonal HVAC operation, more operators, more use of natural ventilation, less outdoor ventilation air, and wider range of comfort temperature.
  • Completed data collection for six office buildings, one in UC Merced campus, one in Sacramento, one in Berkeley, one in George Tech campus, and two in Beijing.
  • Compiled a source book of 10 selected buildings in the United States and China with detailed descriptions of the buildings, data points, and monitoring systems, and containing energy analysis of each building and an energy benchmarking among all buildings.
  • Recognized limited availability of quality data, particularly with long periods of time-interval data, and general lack of value for good data and large datasets.
  • Compiled a building energy database, with detailed energy end use at 1-hour or 15-minute time interval, of six office buildings — four in the U.S. and two in China. The database is available to the public and is a valuable resource for building research.
  • Developed methods and used them in data analysis of building performance for the five buildings with adequate data, including energy benchmarking, profiling (daily, weekly, monthly), and diagnostics.
  • Recommended energy efficiency measures for building retrofit in both countries. U.S. buildings show more potential savings by reducing operation time, reducing plug-loads, expanding comfort temperature range, and turning off lights or equipment when not in use; while Chinese buildings can save energy by increasing lighting system efficiency, and improving envelope insulation and HVAC equipment efficiency.

The research outputs from the project can help better understand energy performance of buildings, improve building operations to reduce energy waste and increase efficiency, identify retrofit opportunities for existing buildings, and provide guideline to improve the design of new buildings. The standardized energy monitoring and analysis platform as well as the collected real building data can also be used for other CERC projects that need building energy measurements, and be further linked to building energy benchmarking and rating/labeling systems.

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