Simulation, Challenge Testing & Validation of CO2 Technologies

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Project Term:
09/01/2018 - 08/31/2021

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 occupancy sensor systems are often used in buildings to adjust lighting levels, but they are not accurate enough, nor are they typically connected to HVAC systems to achieve significant energy savings. New innovative sensor systems can include human presence sensors, people-counting sensors, and low-cost CO2 sensors. Their improved accuracy and reliability can enable advanced control of HVAC systems, thereby reducing overall annual energy consumption for homes and commercial environments.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Reliable, accurate CO2 measurement to inform building system operations can substantially benefit energy use in U.S. buildings. To meet this need, a demonstrated evaluation protocol is required to assess accuracy and reliability of CO2 sensing technologies across a number of influencing factors The Iowa State research team will develop comprehensive testing protocols and contribute to development of guidelines to assess the accuracy and reliability of CO2 sensing technologies being developed through the SENSOR program. The outputs of this project will also inform both the R&D and standards communities in the evaluation of emerging CO2 sensing technologies and facilitate identification of new pathways for innovation.

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.


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.


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.


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.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Marina Sofos
Project Contact:
Mr. Paul Kremer
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