ORNL’s Smart Sensors Improve Building Energy Management Systems

ORNL

Innovative wireless sensor technology yields better energy efficiency

R&D Magazine, March 2, 2015

Regulating comfort in small commercial buildings could become more efficient and less expensive thanks to an innovative low-cost wireless sensor technology being developed by researchers at the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE)’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Buildings are responsible for about 40% of the energy consumed in the U.S. Studies indicate that advanced sensors and controls have the potential to reduce the energy consumption of buildings by 20 to 30%.

“It is widely accepted that energy-consuming systems such as heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) units in buildings are under, or poorly, controlled causing them to waste energy,” said Patrick Hughes, director of ORNL’s Building Technologies Program. “Buildings could increase their energy efficiency if control systems had access to additional information.”

Collecting data such as outside air and room temperature, humidity, light level, occupancy and pollutants is currently cost prohibitive, whether the information is gathered by inexpensive conventional sensors that must be wired, or by using today’s expensive $150 to $300 per node wireless sensors.

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