-- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) – Richland, WA
-- Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) – Oak Ridge, TN
-- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) – Berkeley, CA
FY16 DOE Funding: $1,200,000
Project Term: October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016
Funding Type: Direct Lab Funding

Project Objective

In order to enable and ensure persistent energy savings energy savings through advancements in sensing and control systems in building, PNNL, in partnership with ORNL and LBNL, will develop and investigate the following:

  • Open-source energy-savings control algorithms for air distribution management using occupancy-based ventilation control
  • Open-source fault detection, diagnosis, and self-correcting control algorithms to advance building automation
  • R&D opportunities that will result in market viable automated mapping solutions of building control system points and enable automated configuration and plug-and-play capabilities
  • A quantitative assessment of the potential national energy savings from advanced sensing and control technologies for buildings that will inform the stakeholder community (government, national labs, small businesses, industry, and building owners and occupants) of the impact of further R&D advancements and market introduction of these solutions

Project Impact

Buildings consume 41% of the primary energy (74% of the electricity) produced in the United States, and commercial buildings account for 46% percent of total building energy consumption.1  Over 90% of commercial buildings are small (< 5,000 square feet) or medium (between 5,000 and 50,000 square feet) in size with little or no whole-building automation systems.2  Low-cost sensors and controls along with retrofit building automation systems have the potential to reduce the energy consumption of buildings by 20%–30%, representing 0.3-0.4 quads in total energy savings when deployed on existing stock of small and medium-sized commercial buildings.3  Furthermore, cost-effective and high-performance sensing and control can also impact large commercial buildings with or without existing energy management and automation systems. For example, improvements in air distribution management through occupancy based-control will improve building ventilation, which consumed 4 quads, or 8% of total energy consumed in commercial buildings in 2014.4  According to Zhang et al. a national average (across all U.S. climate zones) energy savings of 18% of whole-building energy consumption is estimated for use of occupancy-based ventilation controls.5


DOE Technology Manager: Marina Sofos
Principal Investigators: Srinivas Katipamula and Michael Brambley, PNNL



1 Energy Information Administration (EIA). 2015.  Annual Energy Outlook 2015, Table A5, p. A-12.
2 Kiliccote, Sila et al., March 2014, “From the Buildings Perspective”, DOE/EE-1052
3 TIAX LLC, 2005, “Energy Impact of Commercial Building Controls and Performance Diagnostics: Market Characterization, Energy Impact of Building Faults and Energy Savings Potential,” NTIS PB2006-100567
4 Energy Information Administration (EIA). 2015.  Annual Energy Outlook 2015, Table A5, p. A-12.
5 Zhang et al., 2013, “Energy Savings for Occupancy-Based Control of Variable-Air-Volume Systems,” PNNL- 22072