|The Landscape of Residential Solar Water Heating in California||Mithra Moezzi, Aaron Ingle, Loren Lutzenhiser||Project Report||2020||Despite the long history of solar thermal water heating, the literature on its use is scattered, siloed, and uneven in coverage. This report outlines the “landscape” of solar water heating for single-family residences in California, covering technologies, the supply chain and marketplace, households as purchasers and users, and data sources.||Download||California Energy Commission (CEC)|
|Solar Water Heating Assessment Project: Understanding and Improving Effectiveness for California Households||Mithra Moezzi, Aaron Ingle, Sarah Outcault, Angela Sanguinetti, Loren Lutzenhiser, Hal Wilhite, James D. Lutz, Alan Meier, and Jennifer Kutzleb||Project Report||2019||Solar thermal water heaters are an old technology used a century ago in California. They are now used extensively, in updated form, in many countries. According to government and industry estimates, well-functioning solar water heaters can theoretically displace 50 to 80 percent of the output of a natural gas-fueled household water heater, depending how hot water usage aligns with production and storage capacities.||Download||California Energy Commission (CEC)|
|How South Carolina's Electric Cooperatives Build Capacity Through Multi-Level Governance||Keith Taylor, Sarah Outcault||Project Report||2019||Electric cooperatives serve over 40 million consumers in the United States, and have a history stretching back eight decades. Historically, the provision of high-quality electricity services at the lowest possible wholesale price to its distribution cooperative members might have proven sufficient to declare generation and transmission (G&T) cooperatives a success. But electric cooperatives’ business and governance models are facing new pressures as distributed energy technologies evolve and emerge; consumer-member preferences shift; and the economics of electric utilities changes regarding the cost structures of nuclear, coal, natural gas, and utility-scale renewables.||Download||Central Electric Power Cooperative|
|Beyond 100% Renewable: Policy and Practical Pathways to 24/7 Renewable Energy Procurement||Gregory Miller||Academic Paper||2019||Corporations are increasingly shaping the future of the electric grid by pursuing 100% renewable energy goals that seek to match their annual energy consumption with an equal volume of renewable energy. The challenge of achieving a 100% renewable electricity grid, however, is not only a question of how much renewable energy is built, but rather whether renewables can supply electricity when it is needed. One emerging approach to address this challenge is a “24/7 renewable energy,” which requires matching a corporation’s hourly energy demand with renewable energy produced in the same region and hour.||Download|
|Real-time and contactless measurements of thermal discomfort based on human poses for energy efficient control of buildings||Bin Yang, Xiaogang Cheng, Dengxin Dai, Thomas Oloffsson, Haibo Li, Alan Meier||Academic Journal||2019||Individual thermal discomfort perception gives important feedback signals for energy efficient control of building heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. However, there is few effective method to measure thermal discomfort status of occupants in a real-time and contactless way. A novel method based on contactless measurements of human thermal discomfort status was presented.||Read Article (paywall)||International Postdoctoral Fellowship Program from China|
|Using data from connected thermostats to track large power outages in the United States||Alan Meier, Tsuyoshi Ueno, Marco Pritoni||Academic Journal||2019||The detection of power outages is an essential activity for electric utilities. A large, national dataset of Internet-connected thermostats was used to explore and illustrate the ability of Internet-connected devices to geospatially track outages caused by hurricanes and other major weather events. The method was applied to nine major outage events, including hurricanes and windstorms. In one event, Hurricane Irma, a network of about 1,000 thermostats provided quantitatively similar results to detailed utility data with respect to the number of homes without power and identification of the most severely affected regions. The method generated regionally uniform outage data that would give emergency authorities additional visibility into the scope and magnitude of outages. The network of thermostat-sensors also made it possible to calculate a higher resolution version of outage duration (or SAIDI) at a level of customer-level visibility that was not previously available.||Download||U.S Department of Energy|
|Developer-Driven Sustainable Communities: Lessons from a Case Study of The Sustainable City in Dubai||Sanguinetti, Angela, Alan Meier, Nermin Dessouky, and Sarah Outcault||Peer-Reviewed Paper||2019||In 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.||Read Article|
|Non-Invasive Assessments of Thermal Discomfort in Real Time||Meier, Alan, Xiaogang Cheng, William Dyer, Graham Chris, Thomas Olofsson, and Bin Yang||Conference Paper||2019||People 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 Article||Heriot Watt University, Ecohouse Initative Ltd.
|Dressing for the Anthropocene||Poskanzer, Deborah, Alan Meier, Chinmayee Subban, and Margarita Kloss||2019||As 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 Things||Gerber, Daniel L., Alan Meier, Richard Liou, and Robert Hosbach||Article||2019||Despite 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 Article||California Energy Commissions|
|Electrifying Last Mile Deliveries: The Case of Parcel Delivery Fleets||Leticia Blanco||Master's Thesis||2018||This work assesses alternative technologies using real driving data for parcel delivery fleets and evaluates the role of monetary incentives in California. The analyses show that electric trucks are a technically feasible and the cleanest alternative in California in terms of petroleum use, greenhouse gases (GHGs) and air pollutants; however, they require economic incentives to support a transition to a cleaner freight transportation system.||Download|
|Hydrogen Energy Storage for Renewable-Intensive Electricity Grids:|
A WECC Case Study
|Zane McDonald||Master's Thesis||2018||Electricity grid operation requires balancing supply and demand for electricity on a continuous basis. The primary option for dealing with the variability in renewable energy|
generation is to maintain a significant capacity of backup/standby ‘peaker’ generation. Still, offpeak renewable electric production is sometimes curtailed because it cannot be economically used or captured. Low cost, efficient energy storage could enable optimized allocation of intermittent electric generation resources to high-value markets. This research project investigates the feasibility and energy system costs and benefits of hydrogen energy storage (HES) integrated with the electricity grid.
|Everyone Has a Peer in the Low User Tier: The Diversity of Low Residential Energy Users||Deumling, Reuben, Deborah Poskanzer, and Alan Meier||Academic Journal||2018||Low 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 Article||California Air Resources Board|
|MANY SHADES OF GREEN: Establishing a Culture of Sustainability in a Diverse, Developer-Driven Expatriate Community||Dessouky, Nermin, Angela Sanguinetti, Alan Meier, Sarah Outcault, and Richard Tutwiler||Article||2018||We 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 California||Victor, David G., Ahmed Abdulla, David Auston, Wendell Brase, Jack Brouwer, Karl Brown, Steven J. Davis||Article||2018||The 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 Article||TomKat Charitable Trust|
|University of California Strategies for Decarbonization: Replacing Natural Gas||Meier, Alan, Steven J. Davis, David G. Victor, Karl Brown, Lisa McNeilly, Mark Modera, Rebecca Zarin Pass, Jordan Sager, David Weil, and David Auston||Project Report||2018||Having 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 Article||TomKat Charitable Trust|
|Aligning Occupant Behavior with ZNE Community Goals and Assumptions: Quantifying and Leveraging Behavioral Plasticity||Sanguinetti, Angela, Sarah Outcault, and Alan Meier||Conference Paper||2018||In 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.
|Builder-Installed Electrical Loads: Parts of the House That Stay On and On||Meier, Alan, Leo Rainer, and Aditya Khandekar||Article||2018||Not 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|
|Climate Change and Garage Door Openers||Meier, Alan||Editorial||2018||California 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|
|Upscaling Participatory Thermal Sensing: Lessons from an Interdisciplinary Case Study at University of California for Improving Campus Efficiency and Comfort||Angela Sanguinetti, Marco Pritoni, Kiernan Salmon, Alan Meier, Joshua Morejohn||Academic Journal||2017||Heating, 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|
|Occupant Thermal Feedback for Improved Efficiency in University Buildings||Marco Pritoni, Kiernan Salmon, Angela Sanguinetti, Joshua Morejohn, Mark Modera||Academic Journal||2017||Heating, 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|
|TherMOOstat: Occupant Feedback to Improve Comfort and Efficiency on a University Campus||Angela Sanguinetti, Marco Pritoni, Kiernan Salmon, Joshua Morejohn||Conference Paper||2016||Despite 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.
|Assessing Players, Products, and Perceptions of Home Energy Management||Rebecca Ford, Beth Karlin, Angela Sanguinetti, Anna Nersesyan, Marco Pritoni||Project Report||2016||The 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.||Download||Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)|
|The Iterative Design of a University Energy Dashboard||Angela Sanguinetti, Marco Pritoni, Kiernan Salmon, Joshua Morejohn||Conference Paper||2016||Energy 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.
|How Do Small Businesses Experience Energy Reports?||Laura Cornish, Beth Karlin, Angela Sanguinetti, Jason Kaufman||Conference paper||2016||How 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.
|Fuel Consumption Impacts of Auto Roof Racks||Chen, Yuche, and Alan Meier||Academic Journal||2016||The 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 Article||U.S. Department of Energy|
|Diffusion of Feedback: Perceptions and Adoption of Devices in the Residential Market||Beth Karlin, Angela Sanguinetti, Nora Davis, Kristen Bendanna, Kristen Holdsworth, Jessie Baker, David Kirkby, Daniel Stokols||Academic Journal||2015||Providing 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)|
|Characterization and Potential of Home Energy Management (HEM) Technology||Beth Karlin, Rebecca Ford, Angela Sanguinetti, Cassandra Squiers, John Gannon, Mukund Rajukumar, Kat A. Donnelly||Project Report||2015||The 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).
|Download||Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)|
|Circumvention Through the Years||Meier, Alan||Column||2015||The 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.||Read Article|
|The Complexities of Saving Energy in Qatar||Meier, Alan, Sinan Sabeeh, and Darwish Mohamed||Peer-Reviewed Paper||2013||Qatar 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|
|Cars Are Buildings: Building-like Energy Use in Automobiles||Thomas, Valerie M., Alan K. Meier, Siva G. Gunda, and Thomas P. Wenzel||Research Paper||2011||This 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|
|City Carbon Budgets: Aligning Incentives for Climate-Friendly Communities||Salon, Deborah, Daniel Sperling, Alan Meier, Sinnott Murphy, Roger Gorham, and James Barrett||Research Paper||2008||Local 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 Article||Institute of Transportation Studies|