University Awarded $1.2 Million to Develop New Energy Saving Technology
Syracuse University researchers have received $1,200,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E). SU will partner with SRI International, a nonprofit research center, to develop a low-cost, high-accuracy sensor platform that accurately detects human presence inside buildings to dramatically reduce energy use in residential settings. Fifteen teams from across the U.S. were selected to be supported under ARPA-E’s Saving Energy Nationwide in Structures with Occupancy Recognition (SENSOR) program. Their goal is to reduce the amount of energy used for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) by as much as 30 percent.
“One of the major goals of this program is to develop sensor systems, for occupancy detection that will have a huge impact on energy savings if they are successful. The team we have assembled has great expertise in this field of research, and we believe that the technology we are developing could lead to large energy savings,” says College of Engineering & Computer Science Associate Professor Senem Velipasalar, who is the principal investigator of the project. “We are looking forward to collaborating with SRI and the Syracuse Center of Excellence, and applying our research to providing significant energy savings for residential buildings.”
About 13 percent of all energy produced in the U.S. is used to heat, cool and ventilate buildings. HVAC is the largest consumer of energy in commercial buildings, totaling 37 percent of all energy used in this sector. Much of this energy is wasted by heating, cooling and over-ventilating unoccupied or partially occupied spaces. Due to a lack of accurate and reliable occupancy information, existing building automation and control systems are limited in their ability to substantially reduce HVAC energy use.
“We are delighted to bring SRI’s expertise in embedded vision and machine learning to deliver a portable solution that is robust, and without loss in privacy,” says Sek Chai, program director for SRI International. “Automated identification of small objects in low-resolution images remains a challenging problem, especially in cluttered environments. Our goal is to develop technology that will result in a disruptive change to the state of the art, enabling distributed IoT devices that are usable, effective, low-cost and easily deployed.”
The Syracuse University team, partnered with SRI, will develop a low-cost, high-accuracy residential occupancy sensor that can operate independently for several years on typical alkaline batteries. The device will pair a low-resolution optical camera (which inherently preserves privacy) with an infrared sensor, microphone and low-power processor to understand its surroundings and determine human presence. Algorithms will be developed to analyze and combine data from these sensors to enable occupancy sensing that would be impossible by each sensor alone. The collected data will be processed locally, so that the device will not require connections to the internet or cloud to function.
The project team includes faculty researchers from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the School of Architecture. The Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems played a vital role in the success of this proposal and will be a major contributor to the execution of the award. Substantial cash and in-kind contributions will be provided by NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) and Syracuse University.
About Syracuse University
Founded in 1870, Syracuse University is a private international research university dedicated to advancing knowledge and fostering student success through teaching excellence, rigorous scholarship and interdisciplinary research. Comprising 11 academic schools and colleges, the University has a long legacy of excellence in the liberal arts, sciences and professional disciplines that prepares students for the complex challenges and emerging opportunities of a rapidly changing world. Students enjoy the resources of a 270-acre main campus and extended campus venues in major national metropolitan hubs and across three continents. Syracuse’s student body is among the most diverse for an institution of its kind across multiple dimensions, and students typically represent all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Syracuse also has a long legacy of supporting veterans and is home to the nationally recognized Institute for Veterans and Military Families, the first university-based institute in the U.S. focused on addressing the unique needs of veterans and their families. To learn more about Syracuse University, visit http://syracuse.edu.