ECE Part of Carnegie Mellon Team To Pioneer Energy Efficient Building Designs for DOE


August 30, 2010

Carnegie Mellon University - and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department - are part of a team that will receive up to $122 million over the next five years from the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish an Energy Innovation Hub focused on developing technologies to make buildings more energy efficient. The Energy Innovation Hub will be located at the Philadelphia Navy Yard Clean Energy campus, and will bring together leading researchers from academia, two U.S. National Laboratories and the private sector in an ambitious effort to develop energy efficient building designs that will save energy, cut pollution and position the United States as a leader in this industry.

"The Carnegie Mellon team is honored to be a part of this first-of-a-kind effort in the United States and believes that the industry-academic-government partnership that has been created will break new ground and make a substantial positive impact," said Steve Lee, head of the School of Architecture at CMU. "The Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics has built a 30-year reputation for groundbreaking work in defining the concept of total building performance, and in collaboration with faculty from the College of Engineering is strategically positioned to launch new technologies for energy efficient buildings."

The grant will support six Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. candidates per year who will work with faculty from the School of Architecture's Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics and the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering over the next five years. One research scientist will be based at the Navy Yard Clean Energy campus.

Buildings account for nearly 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption and carbon emissions. Developing systems to improve building efficiency will provide significant benefits - reducing energy use and bills, cutting pollution, and creating jobs in the building efficiency industry.

"The Energy Innovation Hubs are a key part of our effort to harness the power of American ingenuity to achieve transformative energy breakthroughs," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "By bringing together some of our brightest minds, we can develop cutting-edge building energy efficiency technologies that will reduce energy bills, cut carbon pollution and create jobs. This important investment will help Philadelphia become a leader in the global clean energy economy."

The mission of this Energy Innovation Hub is to research, develop and demonstrate highly efficient building components, systems, and models that are applicable to both retrofit and new construction. The hub team will pursue a research, development and demonstration program targeting technologies for single buildings and district-wide systems.

In particular, Carnegie Mellon faculty and students will work to develop "smart facades," which involve the design of sustainable building enclosures, and on creating integrated tools for the design, simulation and control of building environments.

These technologies include computer simulation and design tools to enable integrated project teams of architects, engineers, contractors and building operators to work collaboratively on retrofit, renovation and new building design projects; advanced combined heat and power (CHP) systems; building-integrated photovoltaic systems for energy generation; advanced HVAC systems with integrated indoor air quality management; and sensor and control networks to monitor building conditions and optimize energy use.

The project is one of only three hubs that will receive funding in fiscal year 2010. Led by Penn State University, the team will use the Navy Yard campus, which has more than 200 buildings and operates an independent electric microgrid as a "virtual municipality" to test and validate the developed technologies in real buildings.

"The vision and leadership demonstrated by the Obama administration, and specifically by Secretary Chu, in changing the paradigm to enable innovative work toward achieving energy independence in this country is quite extraordinary," Lee said.

Project participants include Bayer Material Science; Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeast Pennsylvania; Carnegie Mellon University; Collegiate Consortium; Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center; Drexel University; IBM Corp.; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Morgan State University; New Jersey Institute of Technology; Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation; PPG Industries; Princeton University; Purdue University; Rutgers University; Turner Construction; United Technologies Corp.; University of Pennsylvania; University of Pittsburgh; Virginia Tech; and Wharton Small Business Development Center.

Ken Walters

Historic Hamerschlag Hall