In 2014, residential and commercial buildings accounted for 41% of total U.S. energy consumption. Energy-efficiency improvements to seal leaks and weatherize buildings could reduce energy consumption and improve occupant comfort. Oftentimes, an energy audit is used to identify areas where a building may be losing heat or wasting electricity. Simulations built from the audit data can help identify opportunities to realize energy savings, however, current energy modeling and audit procedures are very costly because they require significant time and labor to complete. New ways to rapidly and inexpensively capture energy-relevant data and assemble accurate building energy models could enable building energy managers to implement high-impact energy-efficiency improvements.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) and Indoor Reality are developing a portable scanning system and the associated software to rapidly generate indoor thermal and physical building maps. This will allow for cost-effective identification of building inefficiencies and recommendation of energy-saving measures. The scanning system is contained in a backpack which an operator would wear while walking through a building along with a handheld scanner. The backpack features sensors that collect building data such as room size and shape along with associated thermal characteristics. These data can then be automatically processed to detect building elements, such as windows and lighting, and then generate 2D floor plans and 3D maps of the building geometry and thermal features. The backpack technology enables rapid data collection and export to existing computer models to guide strategies that could reduce building energy usage. Because the skills required to operate this technology are less than required for a traditional energy audit and the process is significantly faster, the overall cost of the audit can be reduced and the accuracy of the collected data is improved. This reduced cost should incentivize more building managers to conduct energy audits and implement energy saving measures.
If successful, UC Berkeley and Indoor Reality’s backpack would reduce the cost of a building energy audit and energy simulation by 30-40%.
Cost-effective building energy modeling technologies could facilitate the identification of energy-saving opportunities and lower demand for energy.
Better building energy efficiency would reduce electricity consumption and associated CO2 emissions.
Improvements in heating and cooling building efficiency could save businesses money on their utility bills.