The U.S. Department of Energy (US DOE) has announced a $560,296 grant to a Syracuse University-led project to develop a virtual design studio to help building designers evaluate architectural and mechanical options in order to maximize the energy savings of residential and commercial buildings while ensuring healthy, comfortable and productive indoor environments.
The Virtual Design Studio project - formally the "ntegrated Computer Simulation Environment for Performance-Based Design of Very-Low Energy and High IEQ Buildings" - is led by Jensen Zhang of SU's L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science and Michael Pelken of SU's School of Architecture.
The project is being developed in collaboration with Syracuse-based firm CDH Energy, the Florida Solar Energy Center and Syracuse Center of Excellence (SyracuseCoE), which will provide $84,122 in matching funds. Syracuse University will also provide $57,936 in matching funds via partial support for faculty member participation and tuition scholarship for participating students. This project adds a new capability to SyracuseCoE's extensive portfolio of research and demonstration assets and projects that are advancing energy-efficient building products and services.
"This significant award from the US DOE further demonstrates New York state's potential to lead the nation in the development of energy efficient building technologies," says Ed Bogucz, SyracuseCoE executive director. "Our state already benefits from energy-efficient building R&D taking place at Upstate research institutions such as Syracuse University. By targeting research toward improving or replacing aging housing and commercial building stock throughout the state, and especially in New York City, we can provide an energy-efficient building systems research-to-commercialization model for the entire nation."
"The Virtual Design Studio will integrate a suite of performance simulation models, a virtual building database and a knowledge base of architectural design principles to achieve fully coordinated, integrated and optimized building design," says Zhang, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. "Buildings designed and constructed using a performance-based energy and IEQ design process that optimize the interaction between the building envelope and a building's HVAC systems can save between 30 percent and 75 percent of energy costs while providing better indoor environmental quality."
According to the US DOE, the nation's 114 million households and more than 74 million square feet of commercial floor space account for about 40 percent of the country's primary energy consumption, as well as 39 percent of carbon dioxide, 18 percent of nitrogen oxides and 55 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions.
In addition to helping the nation achieve energy independence by reducing its reliance on fossil fuels to heat and cool aging and inefficient buildings, the Virtual Design Studio project is expected to help create good jobs in both the supply and demand sides of the energy-efficient building market. Therefore, the project will be in direct support of the country's economic recovery and development effort.
In total, the US DOE has awarded more than $76 million for 58 advanced energy-efficient building technologies and commercial building training programs throughout the United States. The Virtual Design Studio project was one of five projects awarded a grant under the rubric of "Analysis, Design and Technical Tools," which focus on improving the simulation of complex interactions between building elements, including climate, building envelope heat and moisture transfer, internal heat gains, lighting power, HVAC equipment, controls, thermal and visual comfort, and energy costs.
"These projects will help the U.S. lead the world in advancing energy efficient technologies," says U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "Energy efficient commercial buildings will help our country cut its carbon emissions and energy costs while the training programs will upgrade the skills of the current workforce and attract the next generation to careers in the emerging clean energy economy." (Martin Walls, Director of Communications, Center of Excellence)