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Occupancy Sensing for Commercial Venues

Boston University (BU)

Scalable, Dual-Mode Occupancy Sensing for Commercial Venues

Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$998,728
Location: 
Boston, MA
Project Term: 
05/01/2018 to 04/30/2021
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) consumes a significant portion of the energy used in buildings. Much of this is wasted energy, used when buildings are either not occupied at all, or occupied well under their maximum design conditions. Traditional motion sensors are often used in buildings to adjust lighting levels, but they cannot provide advanced quantitative information about the environment. New classes of sensor systems used to enable advanced control of HVAC levels can include human presence sensors, people counting sensors, and low-cost CO2 sensors. Their improved accuracy and reliability can reduce energy consumption for homes and commercial environments.

Project Innovation + Advantages: 

Boston University (BU) will develop an occupancy sensing system to estimate the number of people in commercial spaces and monitor how this number changes over time. Their Computational Occupancy Sensing SYstem (COSSY) will be designed to deliver robust performance by combining data from off-the-shelf sensors and cameras. Data streams will be interpreted by advanced detection algorithms to provide an occupancy estimate. All processing will be performed locally to mitigate security concerns. The system will be designed to accommodate various room sizes and geometries. Occupancy data will be sent to the building control system to manage the heating, cooling, and air flow in order to maximize building energy efficiency and provide optimal human comfort. Energy costs of heating and cooling can be reduced by up to 30% by training the building management system to deliver the right temperature air when and where it is needed. The system's use of components readily available in the market today promises low cost and fast commercialization.

Potential Impact: 

If successful, SENSOR projects will dramatically reduce the amount of energy needed to effectively heat, cool, and ventilate buildings without sacrificing occupant comfort.

Security: 

Lower electricity consumption by buildings eases strain on the grid, helping to improve resilience and reduce demand during peak hours, when the threat of blackouts is greatest.

Environment: 

Using significantly less energy could help reduce emissions attributed to power generation. In addition, improved interior air quality could help prevent negative effects on human health.

Economy: 

Buildings will require less energy to operate, reducing heating, cooling, and ventilation costs for businesses and families. In addition, better controlled ventilation may lead to improved indoor air quality (ensured by an accurate occupant count, and validated via widespread CO2 detection) may lead to improved worker productivity and academic performance.

Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Jennifer Gerbi
Project Contact: 
Dr. Janusz Konrad
Release Date: 
11/16/2017