Sandia software models energy consumption for large institutions

Sandia models energy consumption for large institutions

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed software that models energy consumption, information that can help the lab and other large institutions cut their energy needs.

The labs’ Institutional Transformation (IX) model allows planners to experiment with energy conservation measures before making expensive changes. They can see the effects of adding cool roofs or replacing old heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

IX also models operations-oriented energy conservation, such as adjusting temperatures in buildings and changing ramp-up and -down times of HVAC systems.

“IX integrates energy conservation effects across many buildings, using many conservation methods and renewable energy options, over many years. This allows planners to experiment with many different strategies across the entire institution and over time,” Sandia facilities manager Jack Mizner said in a Sandia release.

“How do you transform existing institutional infrastructure to lower the energy footprint when you have hundreds of buildings across two sites and hundreds of square miles? How do you go about doing it in a cohesive, thoughtful and highly efficient way? This is the problem large institutions such as Sandia are facing,” added research project lead Howard Passell.

The IX pilot at Sandia is based on models of 114 buildings in New Mexico and California larger than 10,000 square feet, which consume more than 90 percent of the labs’ energy.

Using the IX model, Mizner and his team identified ways for Sandia to meet its energy reduction goals. These measures include the use of higher-efficiency lighting, heat exchangers, improved central plant efficiencies, digital control systems for buildings and operational changes.

“We have already reduced our energy use by more than 9 percent in less than three years and saved over $2 million,” Mizner said.

The IX project, in its third year and with phase one due to be completed this month, will help Sandia meet its ambitious goal of reducing its energy consumption by 25 percent by 2017, he added.

“Big institutions all over the world will need to reduce their energy footprints,” Passell said. “IX gives us a tool to help figure out how to do it in a smart and effective way. We already have smartphones, and we’re talking about getting smart grids. This work is about creating smart and sustainable institutions.”

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