Flipping the switch on Lawrence Berkeley Lab's smart-energy center

Flipping the switch on Lawrence Berkeley Lab's smart-energy center

It won't necessarily take you around the world, but Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's new FlexLab facility wants to give companies fresh views literally on how to boost energy efficiency.

The $15.9 million facility in the hills above the University of California, Berkeley, campus was officially unveiled Thursday in a ceremony highlighting actual commercial space users, builders, energy companies, academic researchers and government officials.

The project was funded by Recovery Act funds through the U.S. Department of Energy.

FlexLab researchers, building contractors and end-users of buildings use the facility to see how lighting, heating, cooling and air conditioning, building materials and the placement of tables and chairs play together in spring, summer, winter and fall before an actual season ever crosses their construction projects.

But where this kind of testing has been done for years, FlexLab is notable because it brings all those factors together, said LBNL Director Paul Alivisatos. That way, researchers, contractors and users can see how a change to lighting, for example, impacts heating and cooling and how those variables can be synced with other building systems.

FlexLab's opening is timely. University of California President Janet Napolitano has directed the UC system to be a zero-net energy consumer by 2025, and Napolitano said Thursday that UC must be a leader in sustainable energy research as well as sustainable practices.

FlexLab consists of four buildings, each with two test cells. The highlight, however, is a "muscular" test bed as Energy Department Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman called it that slowly rotates 270 degrees to show how different parts of a building can be affected by different angles of sunlight, for example.

Source: San Francisco Business Times

SMART GRID Bulletin March 2018

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