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Project Info ACTIVE Project Title

Occupant-Centric Micro-Zone Control for Commercial Buildings

Project Number ET23SWE0072 Organization SWE (Statewide Electric ETP) End-use HVAC Sector Commercial Project Year(s) 2023 - 2025
The proposed project involves field demonstration and evaluation of an emerging technology, which is micro-zone control for ducted variable air volume (VAV) systems in medium to large commercial buildings. The technology is the only commercially available product in the U.S. today that can be added onto and work with existing BMS and HVAC equipment. It uses advanced sensors and smart dampers to modulate airflow into each individual space (micro-zone) in a zone. The advanced sensors monitor temperature and humidity for occupant comfort; infrared, light, sound, and Bluetooth beacon for space occupancy; as well as CO2 and volatile organic chemicals (VOC) for air quality in each space. The technology then uses machine learning to analyze the sensor data and history to predict space occupancy at the micro-zone level, which is then used to control the damper to modulate ventilation as well as cooling/heating provided to the space. The technology’s machine learning can be tied to scheduling and is up to optimal learning patterns after 8-10 weeks.  Energy savings are obtained by reducing the amount of conditioned airflow going into unoccupied spaces in both cooling and heating modes. With the traditional VAV system, the minimum ventilation and conditioned airflow is determined based on the occupancy at the zone level. In comparison, the emerging technology can further reduce the ventilation and conditioned air flow because the occupancy is determined at micro-zone level. When the demand for conditioned air is reduced, the energy consumptions of the AHU fan as well as the central plant equipment (chiller/boiler) are also reduced, resulting in energy savings. The manufacturer reported that a past installation showed to save over 36% in HVAC energy usage while only being installed on 30% of a building.  In addition, the technology solves the hot office and cold office issues that are usually the result of the over-conditioning of occupied spaces by enabling micro-zone level temperature control. Moreover, the technology continuously monitors CO2, VOC, PM 2.5 to make sure adequate amount of ventilation is provided to each space when the space is occupied, leading to a heathier workplace for occupants.    The filed performance of the micro-zone controls will be evaluated through M&V to show energy savings and occupant comfort over traditional VAV system.    
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The ETCC is funded in part by ratepayer dollars and the California IOU Emerging Technologies Program, the IOU Codes & Standards Planning & Coordination Subprograms, and the Demand Response Emerging Technologies (DRET) Collaborative programs under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. The municipal portion of this program is funded and administered by Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.