On Saturday, March 11, the Harvard Arab Alumni Association will host the Harvard Arab World Weekend 2017 Conference in Jordan to highlight the theme of “Building Tomorrow,” which will explore initiatives across the region that are currently (re)shaping the face of the Arab world. The HAWC proposes several panels that bring together multi-disciplinary leaders to discuss the region’s tomorrow for future generations in healthcare, education, entrepreneurship, policy, and law. CGBC Founding Director Ali Malkawi will speak as apart of the “Entrepreneurship Panel & Startup Pitch” panel. His presentation is entitled “The Future of Buildings: the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities”.
The Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities Research Team has filed a patent application for the following work: An Open Platform for Automated HVAC Fault Detection and Smart Building Applications. This research and application provides an automated fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) solution that transforms energy-efficient building operational data into actionable information by detecting and tracking energy inefficiencies and system faults. It gives valuable insights on building performance in real time so that facilities can identify, prioritize, and fix faults quickly to avoid costs.
According to the Department of Energy, more than $10 billion US dollars can be saved through FDD and energy information systems for commercial HVAC systems every year. In China, it is estimated that there are more than 30% energy savings potential out of total energy consumption in large-scale commercial buildings, according to Tsinghua University. CGBC’s new research aims to improve FDD by using a robust data-driven algorithm for FDD that takes uncertainties in operations into account. It can detect abnormalities in whole building energy consumption; detect faults on the component-level of HVAC and other mechanical system operations; and estimate energy savings potential of what-if scenarios in building commissioning and retrofitting projects.
CGBC’s web-based forecasting application was developed from this research to allow users without coding background to build Gaussian Process (GP) models to make predictions and evaluate the impact of certain variables. It also has a decentralized architecture that is salable and extensible to easily incorporate new data sources, enhancing user experience by optimizing the design specifically for FDD. The tool’s forecast gives an estimate of how significant the impact of the investigated parameter is on total energy consumption. This rapid estimate could be useful in early decision-making in building commissioning/retrofitting projects. Engineers can now use this information to select control variables that have large impact to optimize. The proposed GP modeling process is a direct and rapid modeling method based on actual data, and it avoids input configuration and calibration.
Late last year, the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE) launched a new online video initiative, Harvard Speaks on Climate Change, to share expertise of Harvard faculty across many disciplines who contribute to solutions through teaching, research, and leadership. In the videos, faculty from across our campus discuss the many dimensions of the climate challenge: from law, business, and public policy, to public health, design, the sciences and engineering, and the humanities. Each video leads to an individual faculty page with more resources for those who want to dig deeper. CGBC Founding Director Ali Malkawi participated in the initiative and his video segment discusses computational design decision support as it relates to the energy efficiency of buildings. Learn more and watch the video here.
On Wednesday, February 17, Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya bint Hassan of Jordan was welcomed by CGBC Founding Director Ali Malkawi at the Marshal’s Office during her visit to the Center for Green Buildings and Cities at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Professor Ali Malkawi accompanied her, along with three aides during her trip. Her visit also included stops at Widener Library and the Harvard Art Museums. See more here.
On Monday, January 23rd, 2017, Microsoft announced that it awarded Harvard CGBC an Azure Research Award, which gives the center sponsored access to Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing platform and infrastructure. It is used to build, deploy and manage applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers, and the award offers free access to cloud computing resources for projects across the world. CGBC researchers will use the award to support a computational research and development agenda. Specifically, the center will employ the platform for a range of the following research projects: using sensors, machine learning algorithms and prototypes to assess energy optimization of buildings; investigating intuitive and efficient smart building data visualization, monitoring and analyzing interior air quality; monitoring and analyzing building surfaces; documenting and annotating periodic building performance and personal status; and, assessing virtual environments and interfaces.
Microsoft started the Azure4Research program in 2013. It offers cloud computing resource grants to researchers and scientists who continue to explore emerging challenges, basic research, and new applications related to the ubiquitous devices and networking that comprise the Internet of Things (IoT). Other awardees include innovative leaders in areas such as climate research, industrial automation, electrical engineering, and green building technologies.
On Wednesday, January 11, Le Laboratoire Cambridge will host CGBC Research Associate Salmaan Craig, lecturer in materials science and energy at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, who will lead a talk on entitled “The Thermal Resonance of Massive Buildings.” Craig, a designer who specializes in materials design and building physics, conducts research on new types of ‘architecture-d materials’ for the thermoregulation of future buildings. This lecture is part of the ArtsScience series, where architects, biologists, engineers, musicians and others talk about “creativity and culture at the edges of art, science and design.”
CGBC researchers have launched a new web app that uses statistical modeling and historical data to help predict building energy consumption. The Gaussian Processes Forecasting Tool allows users to upload data, configure features, train/validate a model and make predictions. For a deeper analysis, the app helps more advanced users to explore the impact of certain inputs on output.
Intended to help designers and planners forecast energy consumption of buildings, the app can use inputted data to produce a simulated total energy graph regression throughout the year to see which features have the highest impact. The data can also be configured for different metrics and accuracy, allowing users to explore patterns of energy consumption.
Building energy simulations often have to deal with uncertainty from input parameters, such as the number of occupants, schedule of occupants and occupant habits, as well as simplifications in modeling, whether physics-based or data-driven. Creating more accurate models can be difficult because no single tool can simulate the whole process and it might require more parameters and hence have more parametric uncertainty. With their new app, CGBC researchers have created a more accurate system by analyzing historical data to create a baseline to predict uncertainty in modeling of building data.
Existing tools normalize energy consumption by weather using simple regression methods, while the center utilizes machine learning with the Gaussian process which requires fewer training data points and higher prediction accuracy compared to other machine learning techniques. Additionally, it can evaluate the impact of system control parameters on energy consumption for potential optimization. While it was designed for use with a time-series plot, the app is flexible and can be used to analyze a range of data, such as stock market analysis, power generation and even health changes.
CGBC researchers’ recent article about the Influence Region in simulations for natural ventilation design was accepted and published in a new edition of Applied Energy, a journal that offers “information on innovation, research, development and demonstration in the areas of energy conversion and conservation, the optimal use of energy resources, analysis and optimization of energy processes, mitigation of environmental pollutants, and sustainable energy systems.” Zheming Tong, Yujiao Chen and Ali Malkawi investigated the accuracy of natural ventilation analyses relying on how the CFD domain and Influence Region is chosen. This study demonstrates the importance of assessing the sensitivity of the selected Influence Region in CFD simulations to reduce unintended modeling errors and computing expense.
CGBC researchers’ recent article entitled Energy saving potential of natural ventilation in China: The impact of ambient air pollution was accepted and will be published in a new edition of Applied Energy, a journal that “provides a forum for information on innovation, research, development and demonstration in the areas of energy conversion and conservation, the optimal use of energy resources, analysis and optimization of energy processes, mitigation of environmental pollutants, and sustainable energy systems.” Zheming Tong, Yujiao Chen, Ali Malkawi and Richard B. Freeman, along with co-author Zhu Liu investigated the impact of air pollution on the indoor air quality of a naturally ventilated building in a quantifiable manner.
On Tuesday, October 18, world-renowned architect Richard Rogers will deliver the 2016 CGBC Annual Lecture at the Graduate School of Design. Situated within the Harvard GSD Lecture Series, the lecture intends to expose a large audience of students, faculty and members of the public to the importance of green design and planning by highlighting the work of key leaders within this movement. Richard Rogers is a founding partner of Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners and a Pritzker Prize Laureate. Over a career spanning more than fifty years, he and his partners have advised national & city leaders and designed many buildings including Centre Pompidou, Lloyd’s of London, the Bordeaux Law Courts, the Welsh Assembly, the Millennium Dome, the Leadenhall Building, and new terminals at Madrid Barajas and London Heathrow airports. The CGBC Annual Lecture was inaugurated last fall by Norman Foster.