The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Commercial Buildings Integration (CBI) program's mission (and that of the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA)) is to accelerate the adoption of cost-effective, underutilized building technologies with large energy savings potential. The key question which CBI asks for each high impact technology is: "What can the DOE do to improve the market adoption of this technology?" Answering this relies on an assessment of the most significant barriers, including:
- A lack of product available in the market to meet current needs;
- Owner uncertainty about how the technology will perform in real world settings; and,
- A lack of operational understanding by potential adopters limiting technology acceptance.
Innovative, automated shading and LED lighting controls were identified as key technologies that have the potential to significantly reduce perimeter zone energy use and peak demand in existing commercial buildings. Technological advances in the field of low-cost embedded controls have enabled high-resolution sensing and more optimal control on a per fixture or shade basis. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) partnered with the Building Energy Exchange (BEEx) and a commercial building owner to evaluate leading-edge technologies on a 40,000 ft2 floor in an occupied, high-rise commercial office building in New York, New York. This “Living Laboratory” was monitored for a year prior to and six months following the installation of four sets of lighting and shading technologies and their performance was compared to a parallel reference floor in the same building.
The Living Laboratory demonstrated that there were many competitive products on the market, that the products were able to meet current needs, and that the various advanced features provided significant added value over and above that of conventional products. Monitored data provided detailed insights into how and why each technology performed the way it did, and what the impacts were on energy-efficiency, peak demand, visual and thermal comfort, indoor environmental quality, and occupant acceptance and satisfaction within the resultant environment.