Living laboratory at ADSC tracks office energy usage
The average office building in the U.S. spends nearly 29 percent of its operating budget on utilities, according to MGE Energy in Wisconsin. On top of that, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as much as 30 percent of consumed energy is being wasted due to factors such as idle computers, heating or cooling empty rooms or leaving lights on.
The researchers at ADSC, in collaboration with Korea Electronics Technology Institute (KETI) have created a living lab in ADSC’s Singapore offices to track how efficiently typical office spaces use electricity. Their goal is to develop a method of mining and quantifying potential energy cutbacks in buildings, by utilizing extensive sensor information, as part of their effort to develop a smart office.
"In ADSC’s office, we consistently observe that 20 to 30 percent of overall electricity consumption is spent during unoccupied or minimally occupied periods of a day, which typically occurs in most office buildings,” said Deokwoo Jung, an ADSC researcher leading the project. “Such energy consumptions can be often a great source for energy cutback across buildings, but harvesting such cutback without compromising occupants' comfort or work productivity is a challenging problem.”
KETI provided funding for the project, as well as a wireless sensor hardware platform, while ADSC is designing and implementing the algorithms and software to process and analyze the sensor data.
Ninety power meters have been installed in the office to measure individual plug load power consumption. In addition, five multi-purpose ambient sensors were installed to measure temperature, humidity and luminous intensity, as well as five carbon dioxide sensors, nine passive infrared (PIR) sensors for motion detection and 38 current transducers (CT) to measure electricity consumption of plug load and light load branches in the main switch board.
“The real-time streaming sensor data allows us to quickly find energy cutback opportunities by tracking high dimensional correlation between occupants’ activity pattern, environment factors and real time energy consumption,” Jung said. “At the current stage, we are developing integrative models and computational framework to find such correlation that can be used to provide real-time feedback to users about their energy usage behavior.”
Jung has developed a framework and system that analyzes sensor data and estimates how much and where occupants may waste or can save electricity given their preference settings, such as room temperature or lighting intensity. The goal is to provide actionable feedback for occupants to reduce their consumption where possible.
They also hope that these frameworks help individual consumers or building facility managers to efficiently schedule their optimal energy use for real-time pricing, called demand response.
“Many field tests and pilot programs have shown that consumers are reluctant to participate in demand response programs because these programs are intrusive and are operated with little consideration for their individual preferences,” Jung said.
ADSC is hoping to change that mindset by using two types of implementations, called real time feedback (RTF) and automatic demand response (ADR). RTF is a strategy that provides consumers with real-time feedback of their energy consumption and price information, expecting them to actively manage their appliances’ consumption. ADR automatically manages energy consumption using intelligent decision support to remove the need for consumers to be burdened with energy management.
“Despite the existence of rich theoretical models and algorithms, the lack of research platforms enabling empirical study for demand response has been consistently pointed out as a major bottleneck in research,” Jung said. “We have developed an office-scale living lab as a research platform for demand response with the ability to interpret individual or groups of occupants’ energy consumption in the context of their activities. Such context awareness would allow us to design more intuitive real time feedback and less intrusive automatic demand response for electricity consumers.”
Jung plans to wrap up the data gathering and analytics in July and will have preliminary results then. In addition, employees will be able to monitor their own energy consumption and see how it compares to the consumption of others in the office.
In the future, ADSC researchers plan to develop system and frameworks for user-friendly ADR and RTF and demonstrate them through ADSC’s living lab.