Carleton's energy facilities heat and cool the buildings, turn on the lights, provide hot showers, and power the labs. These same facilities also generate enormous amounts of data. What temperature is it in Weitz 225C? Is the fan on above the CMC 3rd-floor office hallway? How much power is being generated by the wind turbines? How much power are we drawing from the grid? Which of the hundreds of outside air dampers are open or shut?
In 2011, Carleton committed publicly to its Climate Action Plan, whose central goal is carbon neutrality for the campus by 2050, with intermediate emissions goals set for 2020, 2025, and 2030. As part of our pursuit of these goals, Carleton has also created a Utilities Master Plan, which involves, among other things, geothermal heat pumps, solar power, and conversion of the campus heating systems from steam to lower-temperature water. One of the first and biggest steps of the Utilities Master Plan will be the installation of a new energy station beneath the new science building after Mudd is demolished this coming fall. The Utilities Master Plan is a long-term investment intended to support responsible management of the campus for a century or more.
Making good on our commitments to the Climate Action Plan is a complicated business, involving human challenges as well as technical challenges. Martha Larson, Carleton's Manager of Campus Energy and Sustainability, works with those challenges every day, and she would like to add some tools to her toolbox.
One such tool is the relatively new field known as Energy Analytics, which concerns itself with using data analysis to reduce the energy costs of running buildings and groups of buildings.
Here's a simple-minded energy analytics question that might be answerable by analyzing energy systems logs: are we currently heating and cooling a building at the same time? If so, we could save energy by turning off either the heat or the air conditioning, and reducing the output of the other. This question and its answer become less simple-minded, however, when you ask whether it might be sunny on one side of the building while the other side is in shade. If we made these proposed adjustments, might one side of the building get too hot, and the other too cold?
Here's a weirder question. On several occasions during the past two years, electricity use in Boliou has spiked for several hours on a Saturday. So far, nobody knows why. Is the answer in the data?
For this project, you will apply energy analytics techniques to Carleton's energy data in hopes of generating insight into how we could more efficiently use our energy resources. This project is on the research-y side, with all the attendant uncertainties of research. We don't know exactly what is achievable, but the datasets are rich and the motivation to learn the lessons in the data is high, so we're going to dig in and see what we can find.
The project will involve:
Participants in this project should have: