As we approach the end of 2021, we pause to reflect on the events of the past twelve months. Although we have all endured a second year of a global pandemic, we are encouraged by so much progress that is cross-cutting among academic, business and government sectors. A new federal administration has moved forward on infrastructure, health and clean energy. Our team has been resilient, adapting to new ways of working, and we are grateful for the support of our industry partners, our research collaborators and our broader community. We are also thinking of those who are working on the frontlines to battle the pandemic, those who have suffered loss, those who are continuing to fight injustice, climate change and numerous other challenges.
Back in the office and new hybrid events
Many of us at CBE have returned to campus at least part-time, allowing us to hold meetings with students and to resume work in our lab. This fall CBE hosted its first hybrid industry partner meeting, with in-person and virtual participation. It was exciting to be meeting again in person after such a long hiatus, though as we prioritize public health and safety these formats continue to evolve. While the hybrid format involves more planning, it offers greater flexibility to participants, and now all the presentations are easily recorded. For example, we posted the video from our keynote speaker, Michelle Malanca Frey of ULI San Francisco, who discussed trends leading towards building electrification, adoption of distributed energy resources, and vehicle-to grid-integration.
New tools and resources for practitioners
Our research team continues to add to its set of publicly available online tools. This year, we introduced these new and updated tools:
- Clima converts global weather data to a comprehensive set of high-quality, easy to understand graphics that can be tailored to the needs of building designers and others.
- The Facade Map collects information on buildings showcasing advanced facade design strategies and technologies from around the world.
- The CBE Occupant Survey now meets the requirements for WELL standards, and provides benchmarking with a database that includes 900 buildings and over 90,000 responses.
CBE’s Industry Partners
CBE’s diverse set of consortium members helps to focus our research on important current and future challenges. Our membership remains strong, and this year we welcomed two new partners:
- Clark Pacific is a leading manufacturer of prefabricated building systems that transform design and construction by delivering high-quality, cost-effective buildings with less risk.
- View is a technology company creating smart and connected buildings to improve people’s health and wellness, while simultaneously reducing energy consumption. They are supporting CBE’s research and events related to the importance of window views.
Publications provide insight on broad array of topics
Our research team and co-authors continue to release impactful peer-reviewed papers on a diverse set of topics. You can find our latest list of publications here, and some of our key papers include:
- A Meta-Analysis of 35 Studies Examining the Effect of Indoor Temperature on Office Work Performance brings into question previous research suggesting that work performance peaks at 72°F, findings we believe will improve industry comfort standards.
- Cooling Energy Savings and Occupant Feedback in a Two Year Retrofit Evaluation of 99 Automated Ceiling Fans Staged with Air Conditioning describes the results of a field study in affordable housing properties in California, leading to normalized energy savings of 36%.
- In Capturing Energy Savings from Correcting VAV Box Minimums on Campus, we analyzed Berkeley campus buildings for applicability for implementing airflow reduction strategies; we anticipate this approach could yield up to 10-30% HVAC energy savings.
- Lessons Learned from 20 Years of the CBE Occupant Survey analyzed occupant survey data collected over the past 20 years to reveal new understandings, and to improve CBE’s survey resources for the future.
Virtual public events
This year we greatly expanded our partnership with the PG&E Pacific Energy Center, from what had been co-organizing two events a year to six. Our researchers, partners and others created workshops on a variety of topics; all session recordings and slides are available from the pages linked below.
- Affordable and Sustainable Multi-Family Housing: Strategies and Case Studies: Four expert practitioners presented work towards a new generation of multi-family housing that is both affordable and sustainable, some meeting zero-energy targets.
- Advanced HVAC Control Approaches for Variable-Air-Volume Systems: Energy or cost reductions as high as 29% may be achieved with simple control strategies developed and tested by CBE.
- Using Personal Comfort Devices to Save Energy and Improve Comfort: Many years of CBE research demonstrate that conditioning people, rather than just spaces, improves both comfort and energy efficiency.
- Research and Design Practice Related to Window Views: Windows and view quality represent an important and emerging field of study at the nexus of the building envelope, occupant experience and energy performance. Researchers, designers and other experts discussed research results, and provided guidance to designers.
- Recent Insights on Building Science Research from CBE: This course presented broad-ranging insights and findings from new research.
- Design Tools, Methods and Case Studies on the Design of High-Performance Facades: Tools, methods, research findings and case studies to inform the design of advanced and high-performance facades.
Upon her completion of her dissertation this summer, we hired Won Hee Ko to continue her research related to view quality. She will take a faculty position in spring 2022 at New Jersey Institute of Technology, but will still collaborate with CBE on this research. Earlier this year, we hired Carlos Duarte who also completed his PhD studies at Cal and had been working as a postdoc.
At the end of this year, Fred Bauman will retire from UC Berkeley. Fred joined the research group well before CBE’s founding in 1997, and he has led numerous research efforts such as keystone work on as personal comfort systems, underfloor air distribution and radiant systems. We wish him well on his next set of adventures.
Looking to next year
In 2022, we will celebrate CBE’s 25th anniversary. We have exciting projects kicking off in the coming months, both large endeavors funded by external grants and smaller projects funded internally. We also are planning a series of upgrades to CBE’s controlled environmental chamber, which has been used in seminal studies that have changed how we understand and design indoor environments. With a generous gift from Sanken and engineering by Taylor Engineering (both CBE industry partners) the design and planning are well underway.
We will also continue to recruit new members to our consortium in order to increase our research scope, expand our impact on industry, and support our efforts to inform how buildings and communities can be designed, constructed, and operated to be more sustainable and healthy. (Is your company interested? Learn more about membership here or email David Lehrer.) We thank our many partners, colleagues and collaborators, and wish you all the best for 2022!