California Institute for Energy Efficiency Conference highlights six years of research accomplishments

August 13, 1994

By Jeffery Kahn,

Six years ago, researchers in LBL's Energy and Environment Division helped establish an unusual collaboration that joined California's utilities with researchers at colleges, universities, and laboratories around the state. Two weeks ago, the fruits of this effort were apparent when the California Institute for Energy Efficiency (CIEE) conducted its fourth annual conference in Berkeley.

The conference brought together CIEE researchers from throughout the state who are involved in a broad program devoted to energy efficiency and related air quality issues. In addition to the exchange of information that took place between researchers, the conference also gave utility professionals, policy makers, and regulators a look at the new technologies being explored by CIEE. Likewise, the conference showcased new information about the state's energy-related environmental problems and new approaches to dealing with them.

CIEE Director Jim Cole of the E&E Division gave the opening remarks at the conference, which also featured three keynote speakers.

Norm Bryan, chair of the CIEE Board and PG&E vice president, spoke about the future of the utility industry and the role of R&D in helping to serve future customer needs. In his address, C. Judson King, vice provost of the University of California (and LBL researcher), identified CIEE as a model for university, industry and government collaboration to develop new end-use efficiency technology that benefits California residents and the nation as a whole. Peter Fox-Penner, DOE principal deputy assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, congratulated CIEE on its accomplishments in developing and demonstrating new end-use efficiency technologies.

E&E researcher Haider Taha provided new analytic insights into the effects of the "Cool Communities" Initiative. The project, now a key component of President Clinton's Climate Change Action Plan, proposes to cool hot cities by increasing the number of trees and by replacing dark-colored roofs and roads with white surfaces. This should lower air temperatures, reduce air-conditioning needs, and improve air quality.

Taha modeled the effect of this proposed project on California's South Coast Air Basin. His results quantify the effects of increased vegetative cover and white surfaces on air temperature and urban ozone concentrations in the basin. The model shows that feasible increases in the reflectivity of building roofs, parking lots, roads, and other surfaces within the air basin would reduce temperatures between 1 and 2 degrees C and reduce overall ozone concentrations by 20 parts per billion.

E&E's Mark Modera discussed what is being discovered about improving the air distribution systems in both residential and commercial buildings. He said past studies show that the air leakage and conduction losses from a typical residential duct system can be as high as 20 to 40 percent of the energy used for cooling. To remedy this, Modera has designed and performed lab tests of a system that can be used to seal duct leaks from the inside. The technology, which should cut duct-sealing costs in half, is being patented by LBL.

Steve Selkowitz, LBL's Building Technologies program leader, discussed how an integrated approach to the design of commercial buildings can make them more efficient. He noted that a range of tools--including energy-efficient lighting, glazing, daylighting controls, and architectural design software--are now available. However, Selkowitz said, these tools have the greatest impact when they are employed as a package rather than piecemeal.

Researchers currently are involved in a multi-year project to develop an integrated system where the components work synergistically. This not only maximizes the benefits but minimizes the necessary architectural and engineering efforts.

A number of other LBL researchers spoke at the conference. They included Nancy Brown, David Faulkner, William Fisk, Helmut Feustel, Nance Matson, Joe Huang, Francis Rubinstein, Guoping Li, Jeronimo Garay, Greg Traynor, Michael Rubin, Deborah Hopkins, Corina Stetiu, and Jan Maurer.

The CIEE partnership includes the California Energy Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Pacific Gas & Electric, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas, and the U.S. Department of Energy.