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HP Labs Making buildings more energy smart

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Commercial and residential buildings together account for 40 percent of all US energy consumption. That alone is a major incentive to make both more energy efficient, suggests HP Labs researcher Rongliang Zhou.

“If we can better match the air conditioning, lighting, and power provided in buildings to their actual energy needs, we can save money for building owners of all kinds,” he says.

A member of HP’s Emerging Compute Lab, Zhou has been leading an effort to explore doing this – looking first at large commercial office buildings like the one he works in – through the integration of new sensors and improved building management software in a program called HP Smart Building Analytics.

Currently, most office buildings are recommissioned only every two to five years. But many system elements, such as sensors or actuators in variable air volume (VAV) boxes, air handling units (AHUs), and thermostats can malfunction long before then. In addition, most building spaces will get repurposed during that time, leading to mismatches between the utilities supplied and what the building’s users actually need.

Today, says Zhou, “very little of this is tracked and so it’s very inefficient.”

The HP Labs team quickly realized that much of the core hardware they needed to tackle these inefficiencies already sits in most commercial buildings – a fair amount of it made by HP. Not only do existing lighting and building management systems offer opportunities for data collection and analysis, but IT equipment like printers and desktop computers contain multiple sensors that can be tapped to monitor the environment.

Read more at HP.com

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