Smart Building Initiative
Over 40% of the nation's energy is consumed by existing buildings. The Smart Building Initiative is a new interdisciplinary research endeavor within the CSD which aims to marry building energy efficiency data with user behavior, then share this knowledge with facility managers and building occupants.
This project will be the first of its kind, and could not only generate new opportunities for green building research, but save the University millions of dollars in utility expenses. By using consumption, efficiency, and behavioral data to modify facility operations as well as course scheduling, building managers will be able to reduce energy usage through careful planning and management.
The SBI research team will utilize several technologies to collect this data, including meters to monitor energy usage at the room level, broken down into consumption categories such as lighting, climate control, computing equipment, etc. They are also developing an innovative, opt-in mobile phone application that will record individual user movement as they travel through the building, as well as give them feedback on how much electricity their activities have required while in the building. This building occupant behavior data will assist in determining whether building usage could be modified (through course scheduling, room repurposing, or seasonal usage) to reduce energy consumption.
The project has three phases of completion:
- Pilot and Proof of Concept, to be completed in the School of Architecture's Sutton Hall.
- Research variations in energy consumption and user behavior in other types of campus facilities (i.e. laboratories, offices, auditoriums, athletic complexes, etc).
- Implement campus-wide study.
The long-term intent of the Smart Building Initiative is to implement this building management model at other institutions as well as within commercial operations.
With over 19 million square feet of building space and over 70,000 faculty, staff and students, UT Austin has an opportunity and an obligation to make wiser choices with regard to energy usage in buildings. By pairing the Thermal Lab's sustainable facade research with the modification of building management and usage, the potential for reducing energy costs and consumption on campus is substantial. These initiatives could help UT Austin become one of the "greenest" campuses in the nation.