Live and learn, there’s another group, with an appropriate, self-devised acronym that aims to do some good in the world of technology. The projects of ARPA-E’s Saving Energy Nationwide in Structures with Occupancy Recognition (SENSOR) program plans on developing user-transparent sensor systems that accurately quantify human presence. Their goal is to dramatically reduce energy use in commercial and residential buildings.
SENSOR projects focus on four areas:
human occupancy sensors for residential use
occupant-counting sensors for commercial buildings
CO2 sensors to enable the use of variable building ventilation based on data from occupant-counting sensors
real-world testing and energy savings validation of these technologies.
The group’s projects are expected to reduce energy used by heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems by 30% in both residential and commercial buildings, potentially producing savings of 2 to 4 quadrillion BTUs (quads) across the US.
SENSOR projects will develop sensing technologies that minimize or eliminate the need for human intervention while pursuing aggressive cost, performance, privacy, and usability requirements in order to gain the acceptance and penetration levels needed to achieve this 30% reduction in HVAC energy consumption.
New Projects In The Works
ARPA-E reveals 15 new projects that will develop a unique class of sensor systems to enable significant energy savings via reduced demand for heating and cooling in residential and commercial buildings. The SENSOR program will support innovative and highly accurate presence sensors and occupant counters that optimize heating, cooling, and ventilation (HVAC) of buildings while reducing cost and slashing energy use.
About 13% of all energy produced in the United States today is used to heat, cool, and ventilate buildings. HVAC is the largest consumer of energy in commercial buildings, totaling 37% of all energy used in this sector. Much of this energy is wasted by heating, cooling and over-ventilating unoccupied or partially occupied spaces. Due to a lack of accurate and reliable occupancy information, existing building automation and control systems are limited in their ability to substantially reduce HVAC energy use.
SENSOR project teams can take advantage of existing low cost wireless and electronic communication technologies, and each will focus on one or more of four areas: 1) human presence sensors for residential use, 2) occupant-counting sensors for commercial use, 3) low-cost CO2 sensors to enable optimized building ventilation, and 4) real-world testing and energy savings validation of these technologies. SENSOR technologies could reduce HVAC energy usage by 30% in both commercial and residential settings while simultaneously addressing user requirements for cost, privacy, and usability.