The United States and India have a long and successful strategic partnership in the energy sector. In November 2009, the United States and India launched the Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE), which is working to accelerate inclusive, low carbon growth by supporting research and deployment of clean energy technologies. Under PACE-R (research), the U.S. and India support research in solar energy, building energy efficiency, advanced biofuels, smart grid, and energy storage.
As a part of that initiative, the U.S.-India Center for Building Energy Research and Development (CBERD) was established in 2012 to advance building energy efficiency technologies. Building energy use accounts for 40% of U.S. energy consumption and 33% of India’s energy use. CBERD is promoting collaborative research in innovative energy efficient technologies for smart buildings, which have the potential to contribute to significant energy savings in both the United States and India.
Multidisciplinary experts from 11 leading research and academic institutions collaborate with over two dozen industry partners to create a dynamic public-private partnership that promotes clean energy research and development in both countries. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) administers CBERD for the U.S., while the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology and Department of Science and Technology, with support from the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum, administer the program for India. The lead research organizations of this research and development (R&D) consortium are Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University (CEPT University).
CBERD R&D addresses two primary areas: building information technology systems and building physical systems, with a cross-cutting focus on triple bottom-line cost of energy efficiency technologies. Within building information technology systems, researchers are focusing on the areas of simulation and modeling, monitoring and benchmarking, and integrated sensors and controls. In the other primary area of building physical systems, researchers are focusing on advanced HVAC systems, building envelopes, and climate responsive design. The research teams for these areas are multidisciplinary across the U.S. and India, creating diverse groups of experts to better determine the specific problems and next solutions in smart buildings and energy efficiency.
To this end, one of CBERD’s major achievements has been through its researcher exchange for bilateral transfer of scientific approaches and methods. To date, nearly 40 two-way researcher exchange visits have occurred, resulting in access to new ideas, training on scientific approach and test beds, technical assistance in capacity building, and even the development of new tools and technologies, as described further below. Two senior scientists visited India for an extended period, and throughout their stay, worked partly on CBERD, thereby strengthening the bond between U.S. and Indian partners. In addition, a new BHAVAN fellowship program on buildings energy efficiency has also been instituted in India, through which exemplary Indian researchers are also currently placed at CBERD-U.S. partner institutions.
Key examples of joint technology development between Indian and U.S. R&D teams are sensors and controls technologies. Low-energy wireless motion sensors, and smart power strips have been developed that can identify plugged-in devices through machine learning. These are both integrated into a novel, personalized workstation energy management system, which integrates air conditioning, ventilation, lighting, and plug loads while responding to energy prices; and for this, a joint IP disclosure has been filed between U.S. and India R&D partners. Another prototype under co-development is a new microchannel heat exchanger for lightweight, energy-efficient air conditioning units with low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants.
The CBERD program has championed the development of state-of-the-art research infrastructure, i.e. the design and construction of seven new test beds and apparata in India, with technical assistance from the U.S partners. These are being used to test novel building materials and technologies being developed at partner institutions, as well as the capacity to provide unbiased third-party testing of new products ranging from solar LED lamps to advanced air conditioning equipment.
New software tools have been developed and provided free online, such as COMFEN India, Non-coplanar Shading Tool, and Cool Roof Calculator. COMFEN is a user-friendly software tool that can model energy performance of complex fenestration systems and shading devices. It is a prime example of the CBERD partnership, as it was developed by LBNL using DOE’s EnergyPlus engine and then customized as COMFEN India for Indian wall constructions, HVAC systems, operation, and internal load schedules. The Non-coplanar Shading Tool and Cool Roof calculator characterize and can inform test protocols for building envelope design and materials. In addition, three more tools are in the CBERD R&D pipeline. These include eDOT, Early design stage optimization tool, a new practitioner-oriented early design assistance tool integrating energy issues into broader architectural design in both countries. A new model predictive control (MPC) tool for buildings is also under development, for use during building operations, as is a code compliance rule set relevant for the Indian Conservation Building Code (ECBC).
CBERD’s research areas, researcher exchange, joint tool and technology development, and research infrastructure and testing facilities are advancing the state of building science and practice. To learn more about CBERD, visit their website at cberd.org/home.