A Tale of Two Cities: Comparative Cooling Strategies in Japan and the U.S.
WCEC's behavioral team completed research comparing the cooling strategies, motivations and technologies for two energy efficient communities: West Village in Davis, California and E-Sogo in Yokohama, Japan. Of the many findings, a few key factors that remain constant when working to reduce energy use: 1) Climate zones drive overall energy use (in climate zones that are more extreme on either end of the spectrum, more energy is consumed to condition a space) and 2) the low or no-cost energy bills in the US compared to Japan do not further encourage energy conservation. Natural gas prices in Japan are roughly 3 times the cost versus the US and electricity prices are roughly double in Japan compared to the US. Therefore, it isn't a big surprise that, according to a 2009 study, Japanese households consume roughly half the energy that US households consume.
Housing Size and Conditioning Technologies Matter
Other important factors include the size disparity of the conditioned environment, where average US homes are over double the size of a typical home in Japan. Also of note is the difference in technological strategies for cooling and heating. US households typically use central forced air systems that cool or heat the entire home, whereas Japanese homeowners use localized conditioning from ductless mini-split systems that are designed to heat or cool a specific room, negating the loads from other rooms or any potential duct losses that are typical in US household systems.
To learn more about the behavioral intervention methods utilized by WCEC and other researchers, you can view the presentation slides from WCEC's behavioral researcher, Sarah Outcault, from her presentation at BECC Japan: Download the PDF Presentation
Also available is the research poster that Sarah Outcault presented at this year's BECC conference in Washington, DC:
Watch Two New Webinars
Beyond HVAC: Green Laboratories Offer Untapped Energy Savings Potential
Laboratories are an often overlooked energy consuming market with significant potential for energy savings. Join Allison Paradise as she describes the advances made in energy efficient laboratory technology and how these new energy savings devices, taken in aggregate from laboratories across the nation, can make an impact on our overall energy usage. Allison Paradise is the Executive Director of My Green Lab, a California-based non-profit dedicated to promoting sustainability in laboratories. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees in Neuroscience from Brown and Harvard, and after graduation she spent over five years working as a scientific consultant for a life sciences manufacturer. It was from this perspective that she co-founded My Green Lab in 2013. Watch Now
Multifamily Air Tightness Standards and Testing
California building code requires infiltration testing for new homes, but no standard exists for multifamily buildings. Part of the reason is that they are difficult to test–a common method is to test the whole building at once, but this is expensive and complicated. An alternative called a compartmentalization test is conducted on individual units at a time. Compartmentalization testing advantages: units are safer in a fire, healthier because they inhibit the passage of smoke and smells between neighbors, and they make ventilation systems work better. The problem is it’s hard to get apartments tight. In this webinar we will review Steven Winter Associates’ database of over apartment 600 blower door tests and what we’ve learned from it. We’ll also review some recent work by the WCEC which is developing an automated sealing process to compartmentalize units. Watch Now