Publications

EEI research and project findings are disseminated through a wide variety of publications.

TitleAuthorTypePublish DateDescriptionDownloadSponsor
Upscaling Participatory Thermal Sensing: Lessons from an Interdisciplinary Case Study at University of California for Improving Campus Efficiency and ComfortAngela Sanguinetti, Marco Pritoni, Kiernan Salmon, Alan Meier, Joshua MorejohnAcademic Journal2017Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) is responsible for most of the energy consumed in many university buildings, which are still often uncomfortable for occupants. Previous research suggests crowdsourcing thermal comfort feedback from occupants, called participatory thermal sensing (PTS), and incorporating it into the HVAC control system can improve energy efficiency and comfort simultaneously. Most PTS research has focused on automated closed-loop systems whereby occupant feedback is automatically integrated into HVAC operations, but such systems are difficult to scale. Download
TherMOOstat: Occupant Feedback to Improve Comfort and Efficiency on a University CampusAngela Sanguinetti, Marco Pritoni, Kiernan Salmon, Joshua MorejohnConference Paper2016Despite the significant amount of energy spent on Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning
(HVAC) at universities, thermal comfort conditions in campus buildings are frequently poor.
Conventional HVAC management systems at universities are typically out of the hands of
building occupants and facilities management departments have limited resources to involve
them. These factors can lead to over-heating or over-cooling and undiagnosed mechanical issues.
Download
Assessing Players, Products, and Perceptions of Home Energy ManagementRebecca Ford, Beth Karlin, Angela Sanguinetti, Anna Nersesyan, Marco PritoniProject Report2016The technologies that make up Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS), providing users with information, feedback and/or control of household energy usage, are developing in a rapidly growing market within the broader smart home and Internet of Things (IoT) space. As developments create more and more energy saving products with increasing functionality, new strategies must be developed for engaging with end-users (both before adoption and after) in order to fully leverage these technologies for the energy reduction and load shifting capabilities they offer. DownloadPacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)
The Iterative Design of a University Energy DashboardAngela Sanguinetti, Marco Pritoni, Kiernan Salmon, Joshua MorejohnConference Paper2016Energy dashboards are monitoring and display systems that provide information about
building energy use. Dashboards may provide information, alarms, and complex trends to
support engineers in identifying energy inefficiencies in a building. Public interfaces may
contain simpler trends, with a greater focus on aesthetics and framing of content to
promote interest and engagement.
Download
Occupant Thermal Feedback for Improved Efficiency in University BuildingsMarco Pritoni, Kiernan Salmon, Angela Sanguinetti, Joshua Morejohn, Mark ModeraAcademic Journal2017Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are responsible for more than half of the energy consumed in many buildings on university campuses in the US. Despite the significant amount of energy spent on HVAC operations, thermal comfort conditions in campus buildings are frequently poor. Faulty assumptions or a lack of data regarding occupant comfort can lead to energy waste from overheating or overcooling. Additionally, inadequate operational procedures and outdated technology make it difficult for occupant needs to inform temperature management. For example, campuses frequently use “work order” systems to manage temperature issues, but this process is slow and not widely used by students, i.e., the majority of building occupants.Read Article (paywall)Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society
Diffusion of Feedback: Perceptions and Adoption of Devices in the Residential MarketBeth Karlin, Angela Sanguinetti, Nora Davis, Kristen Bendanna, Kristen Holdsworth, Jessie Baker, David Kirkby, Daniel StokolsAcademic Journal2015Providing households with energy feedback is widely promoted as a conservation strategy and its effectiveness has been established in field studies. However, such studies actively recruit participants and little is known about naturalistic consumers. Despite hundreds of products emerging, few have taken hold in the market. Diffusion of innovation is a theory of technology adoption that details both the general process by which innovation spreads as well as the individual process of technology adoption.Read Article (paywall)
How Do Small Businesses Experience Energy Reports?Laura Cornish, Beth Karlin, Angela Sanguinetti, Jason KaufmanConference paper2016How do small businesses experience energy reports that benchmark their
performance relative to similar businesses and provide recommendations to save energy?
There is a large body of research focused on energy feedback in the residential sector, but
significantly less in the commercial sector. Studies in both sectors have focused on the
effectiveness of feedback in terms of savings outcomes, while relatively little is known
about how customers experience the interface itself. This paper presents a synthesis of
results from a series of user research studies conducted with small- and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs) in Canada, the United States, and Australia.
Download
Characterization and Potential of Home Energy Management (HEM) TechnologyBeth Karlin, Rebecca Ford, Angela Sanguinetti, Cassandra Squiers, John Gannon, Mukund Rajukumar, Kat A. DonnellyProject Report2015The Home Energy Management (HEM) market is rapidly expanding alongside substantial investments to improve energy efficiency and upgrade electricity infrastructure to a smart grid.
These changes enable consumers to take greater control of their energy use, which can be enabled through the use of Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS).
DownloadPacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)
Everyone Has a Peer in the Low User Tier: The Diversity of Low Residential Energy UsersDeumling, Reuben, Deborah Poskanzer, and Alan MeierAcademic Journal2018Low residential energy use is typically associated with undesirable characteristics, such as poverty, thermal discomfort, or small dwelling size. The association of low energy use with deprivation has been an obstacle to promoting more aggressive goals for reduction of residential use. However, there is little research on the composition of the low user population. We investigated the demographics, behavior, and satisfaction of the lowest 10% of electricity consumers in Sacramento, CA, to see what attributes best correlated with low use. Read ArticleCalifornia Air Resources Board
Fuel Consumption Impacts of Auto Roof RacksChen, Yuche, and Alan MeierAcademic Journal2016The after-market roof rack is one of the most common components attached to a vehicle for carrying over-sized items, such as bicycles and skis. It is important to understand these racks’ fuel consumption impacts on both individual vehicles and the national fleet because they are widely used. We estimate the national fuel consumption impacts of roof racks using a bottom-up approach.Read ArticleU.S. Department of Energy
Developer-Driven Sustainable Communities: Lessons from a Case Study of The Sustainable City in DubaiSanguinetti, Angela, Alan Meier, Nermin Dessouky, and Sarah OutcaultPeer-Reviewed Paper2019In Dubai, a private developer conceived, built, and now manages, a gated community called “The Sustainable City” (TSC), with more than 2,000 residents, shops, a school, and a hotel. TSC was purpose-built to consume almost no energy and be especially frugal with water, harnessing cutting-edge technologies and green building practices to promise residents both efficiency and luxury.
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Non-Invasive Assessments of Thermal Discomfort in Real TimeMeier, Alan, Xiaogang Cheng, William Dyer, Graham Chris, Thomas Olofsson, and Bin YangConference Paper2019People make distinctive gestures or movements when they are thermally uncomfortable, for example self-hugging when uncomfortably cold or brow-wiping when hot. Extreme thermal conditions reinforce this tendency. These gestures may be affected by various competing motivations such as emotional or physiological responses and cultural traditions. Several software applications can now identify and track movements of a person’s skeletal joints or keypoints in real time; these include hands, arms, elbows, head, etc.. A procedure was created to identify gestures related to thermal discomfort and then to decide if a person is uncomfortably warm or cold. When a discomfort-related gesture is detected, it is scored based on the type of gesture and recognition confidence. This score is fed into a “Thermal Comfort Index” (TCI). Read ArticleHeriot Watt University, Ecohouse Initative Ltd.
MANY SHADES OF GREEN: Establishing a Culture of Sustainability in a Diverse, Developer-Driven Expatriate CommunityDessouky, Nermin, Angela Sanguinetti, Alan Meier, Sarah Outcault, and Richard TutwilerArticle2018We are a team of researchers from The University of California, Davis, and The American University of Cairo, investigating ways to promote a culture of sustainability in planned communities. We have been studying TSC for three years and observing how the community has been evolving over time. It is our assertion that although TSC is a large-scale developer-led community, it illustrates the ways in which the “intention” of a community is integral to sustainable lifestyles. We will discuss how some aspects of TSC’s design and management promote, or present challenges to, the community’s culture of sustainability.Read Article
Turning Paris into Reality at the University of CaliforniaVictor, David G., Ahmed Abdulla, David Auston, Wendell Brase, Jack Brouwer, Karl Brown, Steven J. DavisArticle2018The Paris Agreement highlights the need for local climate leadership. The University Of California’s approach to deep decarbonization offers lessons in efficiency, alternative fuels and electrification. Bending the emissions curve globally requires efforts that blend academic insights with practical solutions.Read ArticleTomKat Charitable Trust
University of California Strategies for Decarbonization: Replacing Natural GasMeier, Alan, Steven J. Davis, David G. Victor, Karl Brown, Lisa McNeilly, Mark Modera, Rebecca Zarin Pass, Jordan Sager, David Weil, and David AustonProject Report2018Having pledged to become carbon neutral by 2025, the University of California has embarked on a large-scale effort to evaluate options for achieving this goal. For UC, the central challenge to deep decarbonization lies in reducing and, perhaps, ultimately eliminating the use of natural gas, a fossil fuel consisting primarily of methane. Nearly all CO2emissions (96%) from UC operations come from direct combustion of natural gas (a “Scope 1”emission) and from purchased electricity generated from fossil fuels (a “Scope 2” emission). Therefore, a cost-effective exit strategy for conventional natural gas is vital to achieving the carbon neutrality goal. The UC carbon neutrality goal does not include “Scope 3” emissions, which are other emissions indirectly related to the University’s activities, such as from gasoline burned in employee-owned vehicles.Read ArticleTomKat Charitable Trust
The Complexities of Saving Energy in QatarMeier, Alan, Sinan Sabeeh, and Darwish MohamedPeer-Reviewed Paper2013Qatar presents unusual energy conservation challenges, some of which will appear elsewhere as the effects of climate change and environmental degradation increase. Qatar is endowed with huge reserves of natural gas but no fresh water. All of the fresh water is obtained through energy-intensive desalination processes—which may be responsible for as much as 40% of total gas use--resulting in many links between the supply and consumption of energy and water. Conserving water translates directly into saving energy. About 80% of the electricity in Qatari buildings is used to provide air conditioning; this is the highest fraction in any country in the world. The high rate of infrastructure construction temporarily distorts energy consumption patterns.Read Article
Aligning Occupant Behavior with ZNE Community Goals and Assumptions: Quantifying and Leveraging Behavioral PlasticitySanguinetti, Angela, Sarah Outcault, and Alan MeierConference Paper2018In residential communities designed for energy efficiency, do the occupants take an
active role in conserving energy, or leave it up to the home itself? We examined cooling
practices in a new, low-energy development, located in one of the hottest climates in the world. The Sustainable City (TSC) in Dubai attracts individuals from across the globe, with varying cultures, values, attitudes, and habits. TSC staff promote a culture of sustainability, but there are challenges in achieving zero net energy (ZNE). Data on household energy consumption were collected from residents and household staff through in-person interviews and an online survey. We found evidence of a wide range of occupant values and cooling strategies. Many residents came from cooler regions in the world and were unfamiliar with cooling practices and technologies in their homes. We identified opportunities to leverage behavioral plasticity - i.e., residents’ capacity to shift everyday practices - to save energy. This study suggests a framework for aligning occupant behavior with the goals and values embodied in sustainably-built communities. Specifically, designers and managers of sustainable communities need to educate, motivate, and support residents in order to encourage the specific energy-conserving practices required for sustainable buildings to achieve their technical potential.
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Builder-Installed Electrical Loads: Parts of the House That Stay On and OnMeier, Alan, Leo Rainer, and Aditya KhandekarArticle2018Not too many years ago, when you unplugged all the appliances in a home the doorbell transformer was the only device still drawing power. That’s no longer true—a host of devices now draw power before anybody moves in. The most common devices include ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), garage door openers, and hardwired smoke alarms.Read Article
Cars Are Buildings: Building-like Energy Use in AutomobilesThomas, Valerie M., Alan K. Meier, Siva G. Gunda, and Thomas P. WenzelResearch Paper2011This paper examines vehicle energy use as if vehicles were buildings. Vehicle air conditioners are much less efficient than residential air conditioners, and in the US consume about 0.9 quadrillion BTUs (quads) per year, comparable to the 2.3 by air conditioners in residences. Vehicle heating, in contrast, is a model of efficiency, running as a combined-heat-and-power system using waste heat from the motor. Electricity use from appliances such as DVD players, laptops, and refrigerators remains modest, although stand-by power use is growing. Technology and policy approaches used for buildings can address similar types of energy use in cars.Read Article
Circumvention Through the YearsMeier, AlanColumn2015The outrage against VW is justified, but let’s not forget that other manufacturers – a lot of manufacturers – have been circumventing energy and emissions tests for decades. Here are a few of my own experiences.
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City Carbon Budgets: Aligning Incentives for Climate-Friendly CommunitiesSalon, Deborah, Daniel Sperling, Alan Meier, Sinnott Murphy, Roger Gorham, and James BarrettResearch Paper2008Local governments can have a large effect on carbon emissions through land use zoning, building codes, transport infrastructure investments, and support for transportation alternatives. Recognizing this, many cities have developed climate action plans, containing a disparate mix of mostly voluntary greenhouse gas emissions reduction proposals. This paper describes an integrated climate policy instrument for local governments: city carbon budgets. We identify and evaluate options for creating an effective and acceptable institutional structure, allocating emission targets to localities, measuring emissions, providing flexibility and incentives to local governments, and assuring compliance. We also discuss the likely costs of such a policy. Our recommended policy structure is based on the principles of effectiveness, equity, efficiency, administrative ease, and political acceptability.Read ArticleInstitute of Transportation Studies
Climate Change and Garage Door OpenersMeier, AlanEditorial2018California just approved legislation requiring all new garage door openers to have battery backups, so that doors would open even when electricity service is interrupted. The legislation—SB 969—sailed through with almost no opposition. Curiously, the only group to oppose the bill was the industry responsible for garage doors, the people most likely to benefit from it. What’s going on here, and what does this have to do with climate change and home energy? More than you might imagine.Read Article
Dressing for the AnthropocenePoskanzer, Deborah, Alan Meier, Chinmayee Subban, and Margarita Kloss2019As the world gets hotter, we are caught in a dilemma between the need to maintain thermal comfort, while at the same time reducing the use of air conditioning (AC) as a source of GHG emissions. AC has been, and will continue to be, a major driver of growing electricity demand. Space cooling in buildings accounts for 10% of world total electricity use and 12% of building CO2 emissions.Read Article
Emerging Zero-Standby Solutions for Miscellaneous Electric Loads and the Internet of ThingsGerber, Daniel L., Alan Meier, Richard Liou, and Robert HosbachArticle2019Despite technical advances in efficiency, devices in standby continue to consume up to 16% of residential electricity. Finding practical, cost-effective reductions is difficult. While the per-unit power consumption has fallen, the number of units continuously drawing power continues to grow. This work reviews a family of technologies that can eliminate standby consumption in many types of electrical plug loads. It also investigates several solutions in detail and develops prototypes. First, burst mode and sleep transistors are established as building blocks for zero-standby solutions. This work then studies the application of two types of wake-up signals.Read ArticleCalifornia Energy Commissions