Interview with CBE Researcher (and new ASHRAE Fellow!) Fred Bauman

Project Scientist Fred Bauman recently received the ASHRAE Fellow award, a recognition for those who have distinguished themselves in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. His contributions to ASHRAE and the broader industry are based on the extensive research on underfloor air distribution (UFAD) that he directed at CBE, leading to deeper knowledge and guidance for these advanced HVAC systems. More recently, he has led a similar effort within CBE to address thermally massive radiant systems. Learn more about his research and what he has been working on over the past 30+ years at UC Berkeley. Read more

Internet of Things illustration

Symposium on the Changing Face of ZNE and Responsible Grid Citizenship (October 2018)

More than ten years ago the California Energy Commission (CEC) and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) established aspirational goals of Zero Net Energy (ZNE) for all new residential construction by 2020 and all new nonresidential and highrise residential construction by 2030 with half of existing buildings being renovated to ZNE by 2030.

Over the past decade these goals have evolved and the steps to achieve them have been discussed, debated, and fleshed out. The definition and implementation path for ZNE, the metrics to be employed, and role of the electric grid and utility infrastructure have all evolved over time and continue to evolve. More recently, awareness has grown that ZNE is not a goal in itself, but simply a step towards deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Decarbonization of the California economy is now seen as essential to achieving the state’s 2050 greenhouse gas targets.

A group of exceptional speakers discussed topics related to state policy as well as building design and operations essential to moving to ZNE and beyond toward an efficient, low-carbon California.  Read more

Office plan of ceiling fan study site

CBE Research on Ceiling Fans May Help Tackle Future Global Challenges

It’s exciting when we have the opportunity to experience new sustainable buildings first hand. Last week, while attending the CHESC conference at UC Santa Barbara, along with other attendees I stayed in newly completed student housing designed to meet LEED Platinum standards. While these attractive new buildings exhibit many sustainable features, at times the natural ventilation scheme was not sufficient to maintain comfortable conditions, especially when it was necessary to lower blinds for privacy, or to close windows to block noise from the street and some late night volleyball games.

However, a simple and cost-effective addition to these units would have kept us all comfortable: ceiling fans. CBE research has quantified what we all know intuitively, that fans can provide acceptable comfort at temperatures that otherwise would be stifling. This enables passive solutions in milder climates, and may reduce the reliance on air conditioning in climates where passive solutions alone are not sufficient.  Read more

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

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

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

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