WCEC's Latest Projects beginning soon. Funded Through the California Energy Commission's EPIC Program.
Cost-Constrained Optimization of Energy Efficiency for Multifamily and Commercial Buildings
This project will develop an automated EnergyPlus simulation package, and utilize that package to identify combinations of electricity savings/generation measures that most closely approach zero net energy cost-effectively. This will be done for 11 types of buildings and at least 18 different electricity savings/generation measures in 16 California climate zones.
The goal of the project is to provide California stakeholders with cost-optimized strategies and technology packages for building high-efficiency multi-family residential and commercial buildings in each California climate zone. A detailed cost analysis will be used to identify measures and packages that most closely approach zero net energy cost-effectively for each building type in each climate zone. The specific objectives are to:
1) Develop EnergyPlus models for 11 commercial and multifamily building types representative of baseline California construction,
2) Model photovoltaic and energy efficiency measures in applicable building types,
3) Run automated simulations of every permutation of building type and climate zone with applicable electricity savings/generation measures,
4) Post-process outputs from the simulations, including energy use, water use, and indoor conditions,
5) Calculate building operation costs based on Time Dependent Valuation electricity and water costs,
6) Build a database for construction and maintenance costs by measure and building type,
7) Combine operational costs with construction/maintenance costs to determine the maximum cost-effective reduction in net electricity consumption toward ZNE goals.
Ventilation Solutions for Energy Efficient California Schools
This project will survey the energy efficiency and ventilation characteristics of recent HVAC retrofits in schools, field test the technical performance of advanced HVAC systems designed to deliver improved ventilation and energy efficiency, estimate the potential environmental and health impacts of technology diffusion, and identify ways to address market barriers that currently impede broader market adoption.
This goal of this project is to develop and demonstrate approaches to synergistically improve ventilation and indoor environmental quality while providing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and whole building energy efficiency retrofits in California schools, in which millions of California children, who are especially vulnerable to poor IEQ, spend a large portion of their time. The ultimate target is to identify and demonstrate the approaches and technologies that are needed for net zero energy schools.
Low Cost, Large Diameter, Shallow Ground Loops for Ground Coupled Heat Pumps
This project seeks to validate less expensive methods of building the ground heat exchangers (GHEs) that are a key component of ground source heat pumps (GSHPs).
Performance of vertical and horizontal GHEs have been thoroughly studied, are well understood, and sizing methods and performance models exist for them. Line source theory and other analytical methods can be used to characterize performance of traditional GHEs, which use piping strung out over long distances. The geometry of large diameter shallow bore GHEs is significantly different and current models do not apply. Large diameter shallow bore GHEs have a large volume of dry earth or damp or wet fill in their core. The core is charged with heat (or “cool”) while the heat pump is operating, and then relaxes and exchanges heat with surrounding soils during off cycles. Thus, performance is more greatly influenced by the type of load imposed on them. Specialized models will be needed to estimate their performance under different load conditions.
Energy Efficient HVAC Packages for Existing Residential Buildings
This project will demonstrate and evaluate two residential retrofit packages that use advanced technologies to improve single-family building envelopes, indoor air quality, and cooling efficiency. Package A includes a sub-wetbulb evaporative chiller (SWEC) with distributed fan coils, combined with a Smart Residential Ventilation system and extra-tight envelope/ducts obtained with a new aerosol sealing technology. Package B includes the same sub-wetbulb evaporative chiller connected to a central-system fan coil, combined with a NightBreeze whole-house ventilation/pre-cooling system and extra-tight aerosol-sealed envelope/ducts.
Preliminary estimates show that the proposed technologies, albeit at the pre-commercial scale, are reasonably cost-effective. With expected preliminary market prices of the various retrofits (i.e., NexaJoule- $1700/ton; Envelope sealing- $1/sq. ft; ventilation technologies- $1000 per home) and projected installation costs, the retrofit packages are under $10,000 for a 1500 square foot home. Key benefits to the homeowner are a 30% reduction in electric power costs for cooling and improved health through better indoor air quality. Key benefits to the state and utilities are reductions in overall electricity load and peak load, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions due to elimination of conventional refrigerants (as a benefit of using the SWEC).
Improving Water & Energy Efficiency in California's Dairy Industry
This Group 1 project will pilot test two innovative strategies to save energy and water among California’s dairy producers. In the first phase, the team will test at the UC Davis Dairy two different approaches for cooling dairy cows, which is vital for preserving their health and milk production: conduction cooling and targeted convection cooling. The more promising approach will then be field tested at a commercial dairy in Tulare, CA. Simultaneously, the team will analyze user experience, market barriers, and opportunities to accelerate market deployment.
Market Barriers to Widespread Diffusion of Climate-Appropriate HVAC Retrofit Technologies
Sarah Outcault, WCEC's Behavioral Scientist, giving a presentation on Market Barriers at WCEC's Affiliates Forum in May.
Climate Appropriate technologies save significant energy, so why aren't they more widespread?
While parallels could be made when examining the fundamentals of completely different industries—such as the smartphone industry or, pertinent to our work, the HVAC industry; there are market barriers regarding technological advancement that are quite unique to the HVAC world.
You likely have a smartphone, and you also likely change or upgrade that smartphone once every 2- to 3-years for a new, more powerful and more efficient version. With the success of the iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy line for Android, bleeding edge technology and build quality are top on the list of desires, cost is not much of a concern to their consumers.
Unfortunately, for HVAC manufacturers, the newest technology is often looked at with a healthy dose of skepticism, especially large commercial consumers. These purchasers worry about longevity, uncertainty of upkeep costs and the simple human tendency to prefer the current state of affairs. So what will it take to trigger a potential buyer to be motivated in purchasing these new, extremely efficient climate appropriate HVAC technologies?
WCEC’s team of behavioral researchers, led by Dr. Sarah Outcault spends the majority of their time tackling just this issue. In their latest published report: Market Barriers to Widespread Diffusion of Climate-Appropriate HVAC Retrofit Technologies WCEC seeks to understand the market for these technologies and to identify key factors that influence stakeholders’ motivation, ability and ultimately triggers to adopt and promote climate-appropriate retrofit technologies.
The report identified 8 factors that influence stakeholder motivations to adopt and promote climate-appropriate HVAC retrofit technologies:
- • Technology requirements and performance: the human, material, and logistical resources required by the technology or policy for proper installation, commissioning, maintenance and performance
- • Technology costs: the initial and ongoing financial costs, uncertainty surrounding such costs, and diffused responsibility for such costs
- • Additional benefits: value besides energy savings provided by the retrofits
- • Access to information: whether and how stakeholders can obtain pertinent information on retrofits
- • Endorsements: the influence of recommendations by utilities, distributors and contractors, as well as the influence of social norms
- • Status quo bias: the human tendency to prefer the current state of affairs
- • Stakeholder coordination: the need for synchronized activities within and across stakeholder groups
- • Accountability and support: the ability to hold responsible and gain assistance from appropriate parties in the event of a problem
In addition, the project team identified six factors that particularly influence stakeholders’ ability to adopt and promote climate-appropriate HVAC retrofit technologies:
- • Technical feasibility: the viability of a technology given the climate, building and rooftop air conditioning unit (RTU) characteristics, as well as the human resources required
- • Cost: the financial cost of retrofits, the impact of potential utility incentives, and the uncertainties surrounding both cost elements
- • Effort: the amount of work involved in selling retrofits, obtaining rebates, and installing and maintaining the equipment
- • Awareness, knowledge and communication: stakeholders’ level of awareness and knowledge about retrofit opportunities, as well as the transmission of information among stakeholders
- • Access: the logistical details surrounding the acquisition of retrofits from those in the supply chain
- • Empowerment: whether or not stakeholders are endowed with the power to adopt and/or promote retrofits
Recommendations and methodologies used are provided in the published report.
Watch the webinar presentation on Market Barriers