Assessment and enhancement the smart building's flexibility and responsiveness



Project Information

Institutions: University of Washington

Investigators: Prof. Miguel A. Ortega-Vazquez

Researcher(s): PhD student Jesus Elmer Contreras Ocana

Project Description

Since buildings represent 40% of the total national energy consumption, and therefore an equal share for gaseous emissions; smart buildings are now the pinnacle objective for architects, building managers, communities and utilities. These buildings are equipped with appliances that are not only energy efficient, but also have the ability to respond to an external signal to either start operating or interrupt their operation. Such command signal should be determined based not only on the occupational constraints of the building, but also on the cost of electricity to provide a particular service (illumination, heating, cooling, etc.) to the building at a particular time; and the corresponding environmental impact. Since many of the building's appliances have energy storage capabilities, their operation can be shifted in time if there is an economic and environmental benefit in doing so. For instance, an office would be pre-heated in the early hours of the morning to avoid using energy during the morning hours, when the energy is expected to be more expensive and the generation fleet used to produce such energy, is carbon intensive. The main idea behind the smart buildings is thus to exploit their time-differentiated consumption adjustments to operate the building in a more efficient manner; both in economic and environmental terms. In this project we investigate different approaches to assess and enhance the flexibility in smart buildings in order to increase their efficiency, provide flexibility to the power system and reduce its carbon footprint. In particular we focus on:

  • Modeling of the building as a dynamic system
  • Modelling of the building appliances and occupation patterns
  • Exploit the buildings flexibility to provide services to the system and to allow further penetrations of stochastic renewable energy sources