Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Energy efficiency in buildings

Posted by Danny Tarlow
I've spent a good part of my time in the last year working on how we understand energy consumption in buildings. Though my personal energy policy expert tells me not to expect to see anything passed too soon, it's exciting to see congress thinking about similar things: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/lburt/efficiency_in_waxmanmarkey_par.html I especially like how the motivation for Section 204 sounds:
The average person knows more about how efficient their refrigerator or car is than their home, but they will spend much more on the home than anything else they own. This lack of information is what allows building owners to keep wasting energy despite the best intentions and keeps other interested parties, like prospective owners, tenants, or financiers, from having any idea what kind of energy costs they are committing to.
This starts to acknowledge a major incentives problem, where the people who construct, own, and operate buildings are often two or three separate entities with conflicting goals. Add this to the fact that energy use is measured at such a coarse granularity (kilowatt hours per month) that people have no idea about the energy-consumption consequences of their operational choices, and you can quickly start see how buildings are far less energy efficient than they could be. h/t Andrew


Easterbunny said...

Cool. How are you approaching the problem in your own research?

Danny Tarlow said...

Hi Easterbunny,

I have a paper that will appear in the 2009 International Building Performance Simulation Association Conference on Building Simulation (in July) with some colleagues at Disney R&D on using a data-driven, machine learning approach to better understand and predict energy consumption in buildings. We're polishing off the camera-ready version now, but I'll post the paper and the full details when it's finalized.