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NEWS
Grant Awarded to Design "Smart Building" Energy Systems
October 7, 2010

A multidisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Virginia has been awarded a four-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop “smart building” energy systems for residential and commercial buildings.

The researchers will focus on reducing energy used by buildings’ heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. These systems are estimated to account for about 43 percent of all energy used by U.S. homes, and more than 60 percent used by homes in colder climates. Annually, HVAC use accounts for about 28 percent of the nation’s electricity use, according to the United States Energy Information Administration.

The plan is to develop sensors and user interfaces that will allow building occupants to better control the building temperature and enable the building to better sense and automatically respond to occupants. The team will also be designing new HVAC equipment and building exteriors, or envelopes, to improve the speed and efficiency with which buildings could respond to occupants.

Researchers will address this question by drawing on the expertise of faculty and students from the Engineering School’s departments of Computer Science, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Systems Engineering, as well as those from the School of Architecture and Darden School of Business. The University researchers also will work with Staengl Engineering, a local energy-efficient HVAC and mechanical systems design firm, and with architect Carrie M. Burke.


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