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an ambitious project with complementary goals of making buildings occupant-responsive in real time, and addressing outdated rules-of-thumb that were leading to poor performance in both energy use and occupant comfort.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

Ali Ghaharamani

Interview with Ali Ghahramani: From Civil Engineering to Physiology

Last fall we were impressed by a presentation by Ali Ghahramani, who at the time was completing his PhD dissertation in engineering at USC, related to adaptive sensing and learning for human-centered HVAC operations, using human subject test data.  Ali’s technical abilities and the relevance of his studies made him an ideal addition to CBE’s research team,  and he joined us this spring as a post-doctoral researcher.  Read more

NREL's ZNE Research Support Facility

ZNE and Passive Survivability at LF17

At the Living Future 17 “unConference” that took place recently in Seattle, CBE research staff collaborated with two principals from Integral Group on a panel session that explored new developments and synergies that exist when designing for zero-net energy and passive survivability. The session included speakers Dave Ramslie and John Andary, both Principals with Integral Group, and Prof. Gail Brager and David Lehrer (as moderator) of CBE.  Read more

Symposium on Resilient Design for Buildings, Communities and Cities: May 3, 2017

Dangers from climate change, more frequent extreme weather events and resulting power outages represent growing concerns for government agencies, building owners and design professionals. This session explored how stakeholders are addressing resilience at multiple scales, presenting tools and design strategies at the scale of individual buildings; and ideas for infrastructure, policy and community-building for cities and communities. The session also touched on the inherent synergies between resiliency, sustainability and social equity.

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Genentech Building 35

Biotech Leader Genentech Joins CBE Consortium

The latest company to join CBE’s industry consortium, Genentech has been leading biotechnology innovation for more than 40 years. Genentech discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious or life-threatening medical conditions. Headquartered in South San Francisco, the company also has additional facilities in California, Oregon and Kentucky, with more than 14,000 employees.  Read more

SF Federal Building fisheye images

Interview: Kyle Konis and Daylighting Design for the 21st Century

Kyle Konis received a Ph.D in Architecture with UC Berkeley’s Building Science Program in 2011. He is now an Assistant Professor of Architecture at USC, and recently completed a book, co-authored with Stephen Selkowitz, Effective Daylighting With High-Performance Facades, Emerging Design Practices. In our interview he discusses how he is working to bridge the gap between building science research and design practice. Read more

Internet of Things illustration

Siebel Energy Institute Awards Will Advance CBE’s Research in Data Science and the IoT of Buildings

Two proposals from the Center for the Built Environment were recently selected for funding through 2017 research grants from the Siebel Energy Institute. These proposals, to be funded in the 2017 term, leverage technologies from the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) in buildings, including data analytics, advanced sensing, occupant engagement and energy performance in new and innovative ways. Read more

Saint Gobain North American Headquarters

CBE Welcomes Industry Leaders Saint-Gobain, TRC and Western Allied Mechanical

Over the past year, CBE welcomed three new members to its industry consortium. Representing manufacturing, engineering and construction, these companies reflect the diversity of CBE industry consortium, and provide the services and products needed to provide high-performing and resource-efficient buildings and places.  Read more

GSA's Federal Center South by ZGF Architects.

Working outside the box: Making open offices work for everyone

Open-plan office spaces have become widely adopted across many industries, driven in part by a range of expected benefits including reduced real estate costs, more flexibility, and enhanced communication and collaboration between employees. However, the evolution to ubiquitous open offices has not been without growing pains; they have inspired derision from some office workers, and have provided feedstock for journalists’ workplace exposés. Read more

Dr. Jovan Panetlic showing the internal workings of CBE's indoor measurement toolkit.

CBE Research Specialist Dr. Jovan Pantelic: Creating Value from Sensing and Data

The connection between sensors, devices and humans is at the heart of the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) in commercial buildings, and represents intriguing research opportunities for Jovan Pantelic, who joined CBE as a research specialist in the fall of 2016. As sensors become more advanced and lower in cost, it may enable the type of “ubiquitous” sensing that has been anticipated already for many years. Read more