CBE and Engineering Leader Sanken to Collaborate on Radiant Cooling Technologies

This April, CBE welcomed to its consortium Sanken, a Japan-based engineering leader that will collaborate with researchers at CBE and overseas on radiant cooling technologies. This new collaboration builds on Sanken’s efforts that span several decades to innovate and provide customers with reliable and advanced systems and facilities. Read more

Quinn Evans Architects Joins CBE Consortium

Quinn Evans Architects (QEA) joined CBE’s research consortium in spring 2018. With a diverse portfolio of historic, cultural, educational, and urban revitalization projects, QEA helps their clients realize context-sensitive, community-oriented designs that address immediate needs as well as long term resilience and stewardship objectives. For 35 years, QEA has specialized in the stewardship of existing places — from nationally known cultural and educational institutions, to local schools, theaters, and community centers. In this context of stewardship, they manage change to provide a physical connection to the generations that care, manage, and experience these extraordinary places. Their work is rooted in developing a deep understanding of existing places and is enhanced by a full complement of tools and technology that enable high-performance design solutions that are focused on creating meaningful and memorable connections between people and places.   Read more

New Funding Awarded: Energy Product Evaluation

In March, CBE’s research team received the welcome news of a successful proposal led by the UC Davis Energy and Efficiency Institute, with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley, to form a new California Energy Product Evaluation (Cal-EPE) Hub. The objective of the Cal-EPE Hub is to evaluate commercially available technologies that are relevant to institutional and commercial customer procurement processes, including products related to energy efficiency, renewable distributed generation, and distributed storage. This work will lead to a buyer’s guide directed toward potential customers hoping to make more informed decisions.  Read more

Visualization of solar load on a driver

Comfort in Buildings, and Vehicles Too

The emerging trend toward smart electric vehicles is creating new opportunities for synergistic innovations that are applicable to both buildings and cars. For example, the Tesla Powerwall, which grew out of automobile battery development, now offers a way for buildings to be more grid responsive. Likewise, model-based control concepts, greatly advanced by the automotive sector, are now being tested in the control of complex commercial buildings. These synergies, what we might call the building-automotive nexus, are also reflected in CBE’s body of research on thermal comfort.  Read more

Healthy workplace image

Symposium on Putting Health and Wellbeing Research Findings into Practice

The average American working full time spends more than one-third of their day, five days per week, in their workplace. These spaces must support our physical and mental health and wellbeing, while also enabling the desired business outcomes of collaboration, innovation and productivity. While many noteworthy and applicable findings from health research have been released in recent years, ongoing challenges remain for disseminating these findings, for helping practitioners to integrate advanced research into understandable and actionable concepts, and ultimately for impacting workplace outcomes.  Read more

Japan-based Daikin Joins CBE

This spring, CBE welcomes a global HVAC manufacturer as one of its newest industry members. Having yet to fully establish themselves in North America, you could be forgiven for not recognizing the Daikin brand. However, with annual sales of over 17 billion dollars, Daikin is indeed a global leader in air conditioning equipment.

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Using an Internet of Things Platform to Improve Comfort Prediction

The emerging Internet of Things (IoT) offers opportunities to improve how we design, measure and operate buildings. A research team at UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment (CBE) conducted a six-month field demonstration of a system using IoT-connected office chairs, with integrated heating and cooling, that yielded valuable innovations for both building occupants and the research community. Results demonstrated high levels of comfort seen in few buildings. In addition, the data from occupants’ use of the chairs can be used to predict thermal comfort more accurately than methods previously available.
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What do your spaces say about you?

By Lindsay T. Graham

Every day we leave traces in our wake that provide clues as to who we are. The way we talk, the music, movies, and books we like, the possessions we own, and even the spaces (both virtual and physical) we craft and maintain shed light on not only who we are today, but also who we will likely be in the future1. Even seemingly small pieces of information provide reliable and accurate insight into our identities. For instance, research has shown even something as minute as our email address2 or the screennames3 we generate reflect accurate depictions of the personality traits we possess. As you might imagine, our daily environments (like our homes, offices, Facebook profiles)—places where tons of personal information is captured, created, and stored—provide even bigger clues about who we are as individuals4Read more

CBE human subjects test for ankle draft

New Capabilities for the CBE Thermal Comfort Tool

An important goal at the Center for the Built Environment is to provide tools to assist industry professionals to create energy efficient and comfortable buildings. To this end, in 2013 we first launched the online CBE Thermal Comfort Tool  as a way to help practitioners predict thermal comfort in buildings, according to the primary industry standard, ASHRAE Standard 55. CBE’s tool has been actively used, with as many as 6000 users per year, and it offers numerous capabilities, which we have expanded in the most recent version.  Read more

CBE’s “Changing the Rules” Demonstrates an Occupant-Based Paradigm for HVAC Control for Energy Savings and Improved Thermal Comfort

CBE’s research team recently completed an ambitious project with complementary goals of making buildings occupant-responsive in real time, and addressing outdated rules-of-thumb that were leading to poor performance in both energy use and occupant comfort. Among the numerous findings from this work, it demonstrated that “personal comfort” chairs led to comfort satisfaction for 96 percent of the test subjects, a level well above what is observed in most buildings. The project team also developed and tested innovative HVAC control methods offering significant energy saving potential, and that may be easily implemented in commercial buildings using the most common overhead variable-air-volume (VAV) reheat systems. Read more

CBE Panel Session Explores Innovative Methods for Monitoring Indoor Environments

An expected benefit of the Internet of Things (IoT) in buildings will come from an improved ability to monitor indoor environments in ways that lead to actionable insights. A panel session hosted by UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment (CBE) explored three innovative methods to monitor buildings using the latest in sensing and communicating technologies. The ideas range from futuristic to immediately applicable, with a focus on measuring CO2. Understanding CO2 concentrations in buildings is important, as several recent studies suggest that high levels of the gas may have negative effects on our cognitive performance, yet there are challenges to measuring it in a reliable and comprehensive manner.  Read more

ZNE Symposium 2017 October Banner

Symposium on Zero Net Energy Buildings and Beyond: Balancing Building and Grid Objectives

In a zero-net energy world, operation of both buildings and the electric grid need to be more flexible and responsive. This symposium explored the interaction of ZNE buildings, DERs and the increasingly renewable-rich electrical grid. It brought together engineering and design professionals, policy experts, researchers and other thought leaders to address how recent successes are changing existing ZNE paradigms, and how our policies, building energy standards, and aspirational ‘Big Bold Energy Strategies’ should evolve to deliver deep greenhouse gas reductions and a healthy economy in the next decade. Read more

Nine Radiant Case Study Buildings Demonstrate Energy Efficiency and Occupant Satisfaction

As part of a four-year study on the design and operation of radiant systems, CBE in collaboration with the New Buildings Institute (NBI) and TRC Energy Services have completed case studies of nine commercial buildings that demonstrate good performance in terms of both energy performance and occupant satisfaction in buildings with radiant systems. These include commercial, government, and higher education buildings, and all but one were built, or underwent major renovations, since 2010. The projects represent diverse approaches to radiant system design, including in-slab and ceiling panel solutions. Eight projects are located in western U.S. states, and one in British Columbia.  Read more

Wells Fargo Joins CBE Consortium

Wells Fargo, a company known for their leadership in the financial services industry, is the latest company to join CBE’s industry consortium. Their focus on sustainability has been a priority for over 10 years. They built their first LEED certified branch in 2008, and include LEED certification as a basic standard for all new builds, major renovations, and space acquisitions. However, LEED is not the only thing they are focused on; they have committed to an ambitious set of operational goals to be achieved by the year 2020. Read more

CBE focus group at HOK's San Francisco office

Collaboration is Key as CBE Celebrates 20 Years

Since CBE’s launch in 1997, collaborations with industry and government partners have been central to our work, and have led directly to many of CBE’s most important and far-reaching results. The center began then with ten partners (consortium members), a requirement set by the National Science Foundation for funding as an Industry/University Collaborative Research Center; membership has grown in recent years to almost 40 members. CBE’s membership consortium continues to provide a nimble and fluid platform for collaboration, without the typical administrative burdens required with project-based funding. Read more

Warren J. Baker Center for Science and Mathematics

Livable Buildings Award Winners Demonstrate Excellence in Indoor Spaces and Sustainability

Four buildings that showcase sustainable design and provide high quality spaces for work and study have been recognized as part of the annual Livable Buildings Award, a program of UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment (CBE). Although the four projects represent diverse building types, they all share success in providing indoor environments that achieve the highest levels of occupant satisfaction, as measured by CBE’s Occupant Survey. Read more

Bullitt Center

Two CBE Reports Reveal New Insights into Energy Performance and Design Practices for Radiant Systems in Commercial Buildings

Two reports released from UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of radiant cooling and heating systems, a promising HVAC technology that is becoming increasingly used in commercial buildings in North America, including in a high proportion of ultra-low and zero-net energy buildings. These reports reveal how such systems work in practice, analyzing comprehensive data from a large group of buildings in operation. Read more

Interface Engineering Chatham University Eden Hall Campus

ZNE Design Leader Interface Engineering Rejoins CBE Consortium

After a short hiatus, Interface Engineering rejoined CBE’s industry consortium this spring. With the firm’s emphasis on low-energy integrated design and creative collaboration, Interface’s participation will add significant value to CBE’s membership community.  Read more

CBE China visit group in Xian

Visit to China Reveals New Opportunities for China-US Research Collaborations

CBE Director Edward Arens and Research Specialist Hui Zhang made a visit to China this summer to explore new research opportunities with several leading universities and a developer of residential towers. The trip was organized by former CBE visiting scholars who made important contributions to CBE’s work, who are now developing new research laboratories and programs China, leading research of relevance to CBE and its industry partners. Read more

Aclima Mobius Illustration

Meet CBE’s Newest Partner, Environmental Intelligence Provider Aclima

The latest company to join CBE’s consortium, Aclima, has garnered global recognition as a leader in the application of sensor networks to provide environmental intelligence since coming out of stealth in 2015. Headquartered in San Francisco, the technology company provides information services from a unique sensing system powered by leading-edge environmental sensors, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. This platform provides actionable insights for buildings, communities, cities and industry. Aclima’s combined focus on environmental quality and technology development makes it a welcome and fitting addition to CBE’s consortium of building industry leaders.  Read more